The Perfect Scotland Roadtrip Itinerary

“Always take the scenic route”. And a roadtrip in Scotland is surely the right way to do it. As a family, we’ve gone on numerous roadtrips within India, and have got to see so much. The experience is really exciting, enriching and beautiful.

So when it came to driving in Scotland, we were all thrilled at the idea.

On the road

The beauty of driving around in a different country is great! We came across a number of lochs (lakes), yellow mustard fields, lots and lots of sheep and Highland cows, and the famous Scottish Highlands. Don’t think twice about driving in Scotland, just go for it!

Overview:
4 days / 3 nights

Day 1 : Edinburgh to Fort William

Distance : 132 miles via A82

Our roadtrip began after we rented a car from Thrifty in Edinburgh. Initially it’s all city but eventually we found ourselves in the midst of green pastures and hills. And so many lochs! The strong, cold winds and gray skies simply adds more character to the scenic route, making the experience more exciting.

Our first stop after an hour of driving was the Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat wheel connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The fascinating thing about this is the structure and the engineering behind it. A boat enters into one ring gear, the wheel makes a 180° rotation and lifts up the boat.

The Falkirk Wheel | Jonathan Thomas Photography

Is it worth going on the Falkirk Wheel? Personally, no. The entire boat ride is almost an hour long and all you’re doing is being transported 35 metres higher while sitting in a boat. For those who really want a feel of this unique boat ride should definitely get onto it, while the others should watch the wheel make a 180 and take a time lapse video! Exactly what I did.

Lunch :

Mac And Cheese with Garlic Bead

-At the Falkirk Wheel

Once again we were back on the road to continue our journey. It was as beautiful as ever. The good part about Scotland roads are the numerous photography points. Rather than halting in the middle of the road, one can pull up in one of these points and click pictures while enjoying the cold, breezy winds.

One of the photography points includes the Glencoe Viewing Point which gives a you sight of the mighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain of the British Isles. Located in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, the mountains stand at a great height of 1,345 metres above sea level, and is often populated by hill climbers.

Glencoe Viewing Point

Four hours later, we reached our first destination – Fort William. For the night, we were put up in a cozy Air Bnb house which had a perfect view of the Loch Linnhe. The owner of the house lived on the ground floor while we had taken both the rooms of the upper floor. We soon headed out for dinner to the High Street – the main shopping street of Fort William which included several eateries.

The day came to an end after eating some great Scottish grub as we sat by a window with a view of the lake.

Dinner :

Stuffed breast of chicken with haggis served on a mustard grain mash
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties served with a whiskey and peppercorn sauce
Beef chilli served in taco shells and side salad
Beef burger served on a brioche bun with salad and Monterey Jack cheese and chips

– At Munro Restaurant

Day 2 : Fort William to Inverness

Distance : 50 miles via A82

After a good night’s sleep and some breakfast, we hit the road once again. Today’s mission – Find Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster!

On our way, we took a halt at Loch Laggan. Uneven rocks and stones, blue waters and the Scottish hills. The view was breathtaking! But it was extremely cold; so cold that at times we were contemplating whether or not to get out of the car. But stepping out was worth it!

Loch Laggan

Our next stop was the Caledonian Canal and the Loch Ness. We walked along the canal for a bit (don’t forget to spot the cute houses) and then watched a bridge move to make way for some yachts. Definitely not something you see everyday.

Caledonian Canal
Walking along the Caledonian Canal

The movable bridge makes way for the yachts

Now it was finally time to begin the hunt for Nessie! So we took the Loch Ness Cruise, a boat ride that is one hour long. On the cruise, look out for the beautiful and green scenery, the mountains and the several castles of which some are in ruins.
This time, Nessie refused to show up, but I’m sure the monster will get tired someday and finally decide to reveal itself.

On the Loch Ness Cruise

Around an hour later, we finally reached our next destination – Drumnadrochit, Inverness. We once again stayed in an Air Bnb house, and this time we had the entire villa to ourselves. It was really cute and cozy. After a stroll and an early dinner in the main city area, we ended our day by the fireplace back at the villa.

Dinner :

Creamy Cajun Chicken Penne – Strips of spicy fajita chicken, Penne pasta, mixed peppers and onions bound in creamy white wine Cajun sauce. Served with garlic ciabatta.
Chicken, bacon and leek pie – Roast breast of chicken, bacon and leeks bound in a béchamel sauce. Topped with flaky pastry and served with chips
Sirloin Steak – Seasoned and grilled. Served with seasoned chips, peas, grilled tomato and onion rings
Hog Roast burger – Beef burger topped with pulled pork, sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce, crisp lettuce, red onion and gherkin

– At The Auctioneers

Day 3 : A Day Trip to Isle of Skye
It’s day three, and we were not yet bored of travelling alongside the hills and lakes! Our first stop for the day was the Eilean Donan Castle. This picturesque castle has appeared in many films such as Made of Honor (2008), The World is Not Enough (1999), and our very own Bollywood film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)! Eilean Donan is a tidal island where three lochs meet; Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, and the Eilean Donan Castle dominates this island. Scotland is filled with numerous castles, and going inside each one these castles would be time consuming. Touring one or two castles will give you a gist of the others, hence you won’t be missing out on anything. Since the Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most famous and historic castles of Scotland, a tour is a must!

Eilean Donan Castle

Next thing, we’re back on the road and on our way to the scenic Isle of Skye. For a detailed description of our Isle of Skye trip, click here.

Day 4 : Inverness to Edinburgh

Distance : 172 miles via A9

And now comes the last day of our roadtrip and sadly, our last day in Scotland.

On our way back to Edinburgh, we visited the Tomatin Distillery because you can’t visit Scotland without going to a distillery. Located in the village of Tomatin, south of Inverness, the Tomatin Distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery.

Due to time constraints, we couldn’t take a tour of the distillery, so we sat through a quick video and later shopped a bit.

Tomatin Distillery

As we were back in Edinburgh, it marked the end of our memorable roadtrip. Scotland was beyond amazing! It was such an epic experience, and like I’ve mentioned before, just hire the damn car! It’s worth it and definitely the best way to explore Scotland.

A few tips :

  • The time taken to reach a destination wouldn’t be exact because you will definitely want to take many photography stops.
  • If you’re the driver, always acknowledge other drivers when they give you way on the tiny roads.
  • If you want to eat light when you’re hitting the road, opt for ready to eat meals from convenient stores like Co-op, Tesco or Sainsbury.
  • Two roads can be driven on when in Scotland – A82 and A9. While A82 is the more scenic route, it takes more time, whereas A9 is a boring expressway which is faster to drive on. With no doubt, I’d prefer the A82 because after all, Scotland is all about the hills and the lakes.

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