Summer Driving Tour Of Scotland

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Travel Features >> Summer Driving Tour Of Scotland

Summer Driving Tour Of Scotland

June 03, 2013

Scotland is well known for its awe-inspiring scenery which take in epic mountains, deep and wide lochs, hidden glens, ancient walls and quietly impressive islands. It’s a magnet for travellers who want to be close to nature amongst Scotland’s glorious north European colours, experience its fine cites, sample whisky at famous distilleries and explore its open frontiers. Getting off the beaten track and touring by car is one of the best ways to explore its treasures. We have put together a guide to make the most of Scotland in three driving tours which feature suitable pit stops. It’s even better to take the trip during the summer when the temperatures increase. The longer days also mean it’s possible to not only enjoy the driving route but also relax at a newly discovered favourite place.

Edinburgh to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
A visit to Edinburgh is a must for anyone planning a trip to Scotland. In the summer the city is home to several international festivals, the most well-known being the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s also famous for own its historic attractions including Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens among others. It’s worth using it as a starting point for day trips, and a base to consider longer car trips to nearby areas of interest.

A very scenic driving route from Edinburgh going north will start with taking the M9 and leaving it at the end near the town of Dunblane. Here join the B824 towards Doune. From Doune take the A84 to Callander and then the A821 to Brig o' Turk passing the lovely lakes in the area, Loch Venacher and Loch Achray. Then head on to the pretty village of Aberfoyle for a bite to eat. From Aberfoyle you continue driving on the A821, then take the A811 towards Balloch/Erskine Bridge. It’s possible to stop at Balloch or any of the other delightful villages along the way. From Balloch join the main road north, the A82. This part of the drive will run along the full length of Loch Lomond's gorgeous west shore. Then continue on to and through the barren and rocky pass of Glen Coe. This route takes the traveller through much of the National Park's most magnificent scenery of low mountains and serene lakes. This is the country of Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy and his poem, Lady of the Lake. At Trossachs it’s a good idea to explore more by booking a water sports activity or even hop on a river cruise to see Loch Lomond and the park in its complete beauty. Why not stay the night at one of the many hotels, B&Bs or campsites.

Inverness to Fort Augustus including the Cairngorms and Loch Ness
Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and known as one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Starting at Inverness head south on the A9 and the A95 through beautiful Scottish countryside and into the Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in Britain. An area of outstanding natural beauty the Cairngorms National Park contains 52 mountain summits including four of Scotland’s highest peaks. Rivers, locks, and forests are interspersed with farms and small hamlets. The park also embraces a number of old castles, a few rural museums and some Scotch whisky distilleries so it’s a place packed with things to do. The park’s most interesting stretch is the Victorian Heritage Trail that includes the royal family’s Balmoral Castle.
Stop off for lunch in bustling Aviemore, located on the Spey at the foot of the historic rock of Craigellachie or quiet and pretty Kincraig. Continue on to the A86, whisking you through the fabulous scenery in the park, out and along the banks of Loch Laggan. Head north on the A82, once again skirting the banks of a Scottish Loch, imaginatively called Loch Lochy. Finally, you will reach Fort Augustus, nestled at the south bank of notorious Loch Ness. For Augustus is an excellent central base for exploring all the Highlands. The village takes its name from a fort built after the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. Today almost nothing is left from the original fort. The village itself is split into two by the Caledonian Canal. To the north it joins Loch Ness. You can take a boat cruise across Loch Ness from Fort Augustus. Drive on to the bucolic village of Drumnadrochit a mile from Loch Ness, at the entrance to Glen Urguhart. It’s here where there have been most sightings of the monster. You can also take a short driving journey to visit the pretty village of Invermoriston, and lovely Glenmoriston where it’s best to get out of the car to see the dramatic and spectacular Moriston Falls. Drive back to Fort Augustus which is a perfect place to eat and stay. When you’re ready to move on, why not complete the loop and return to Inverness via the A82 north, all the way along the banks of intriguing Loch Ness

Applecross and Isle of Skye
For the more outward-bound and adventurous drivers who are truly looking to head off the beaten track the journey to Applecross peninsula is a must if indeed challenging. From Shieldaig up in the rural and blanketing highlands, take the winding road that hugs the coast through pretty villages and crofting townships all the wat to the peninsula whose Gaelic name means sanctuary. With stunning views across to the Isle of Skye, Applecross is a remote and peaceful destination for travellers and recorded as one of the earliest outposts of Christianity in the UK. Stay at the Applecross Inn or local campsite and relax in the beautiful surroundings. Continue your journey along the Bealach nam Bo, the Pass of Cattle. The Bealach na Ba rises to 2053ft in heigh from sea level in about five miles and is the most spectacular pass in Scotland so an achievement and an example of technique for drivers choosing the route. The crux of the pass is as the road climbs the headwall of the corrie to the east of the highest points. Follow the zig zig upwards in way that feels more Alpine than Scottish. It’s here that it’s well worth stopping to take in the amazing views as far as the Outer Hebrides, or for those incline, take a break do some serious mountain climbing. Following on your driving journey at Tornapress, take the A896 south through Kishorn and round Loch Carron on the A890 and onto the A87 down to the bridge across to the mystic Isle of Skye. Romantic and timeless, Skye is home to jagged Cuillin Ridge, sleepy fishing villages and soft sand bays, not to mention delicious seafood. After the long and demanding drive take the opportunity to wind down in the peaceful town. And while there why not sample what's on offer at its own Whiskey distillery.

Author Bio: By Laura Abrar, a blogger on travel and destinations who has travelled across 15 countries by car and public transport. She works alongside B&B Edinburgh, a stylish and unique four star hotel in Edinburgh's West End.

Flickr Image credit: Loch Ness by Malavoda

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