It doesn't get more beautiful than this!
Some personal recommendations:
Heart of the Borders Trail (63 km). Starts from GPS: 55.412056, -2.820336 / Region: Lothian & Scottish Borders
The Heart of the Borders Trail requires 2 Ordnance Survey Explorer maps: 331 & 330 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
This is a very scenic route crossing the heart of the Borders. Parts are 'pastoral', gentle and pleasant while other sections are bleak and lonely.
- Start on the B711 direction Tushielaw, just south of Hawick (A7) and after 3,5 km turn right for Harden and Borthwickshiels.
- Another 3 km and you turn left for Borthwickshiels/Roberton/Tushielaw. Reconnect with the B711 after 3,7 km and follow the signs for Tushielaw.
- At Tushielaw (a wonderful inn!) (https://www.facebook.com/tushielaw/videos/620789894792661/?t=68) after 16 km, turn right on the B709 (Innerleithen). At Mountbenger (11 km), turn left on the A708 (Moffat).
- Cappercleuch is another 7 km. Here you turn right towards Tweedsmuir (another 19 km).
Glen Roy and the Braeroy Road (27 km). Starts from GPS: 56.891136,-4.841782 at Roybridge / Region: Fort William, Ben Nevis & Lochaber
The Glen Roy and the Braeroy Road requires Ordnance Survey Explorer map: 400 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
This very pretty single track route starts out from Roy Bridge and runs up Glen Roy to 'finish' at Turret Bridge. You can get a lot farther if you're up to it, but it is not a through road. Eventually you have to return to Roybridge! The route takes you through the Nature Reserve and the views are outstanding. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. More than worth it!
Ardnamurchan, Remote and Beautiful (49 km). Starts from GPS: 56.721750, -5.232636 / Region: Fort William, Ben Nevis & Lochaber
Ardnamurchan, Remote and Beautiful requires 2 Ordnance Survey Explorer maps: 391 & 383 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
Ardnamurchan (Àird nam Murchan) translated as "Headland of the Great Seas", feels truly as the end of the known world and very much off the grid. The peninsula with it's narrow winding roads, ruined castles, and open skies has a sense of utter remoteness. A great place to get away and 'loose' oneself.
- Start from Corran. The ferry takes you in a few minutes to Ardgour.
- From Ardgour follow the A861 south to Inversanda. Once there turn left on the B8043 if you like stretches of utter remoteness, or continue on the A861 for more wooded scenery, villages and great coastal routes (Strontian, Salen, Acharacle). THIS scenic trail turns left!
- Follow the B8043 untill you get to the A884. Turn left (Lochaline). From Lochaline you might take the ferry to Mull, another treasure!
Quintessential Assynt (85 km). Starts from GPS: 57.895040, -5.161248 / Region: Caithness, Sutherland & Ross
Quintessential Assynt requires 2 Ordnance Survey Explorer maps: 439 & 442 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
If there is one route that is a must: THIS is it! From pleasant Ullapool to 'far away' Kylesku runs the Quintessential Assynt Route. There is absolutely nothing official about it. This route originated from my very own 'memory vault'. Skirting small lochans, winding around low lying hills the route enters and leaves (after a stroll with coffee and a pastry maybe) the town of Lochinver to continue, seemingly with wild abandon, towards the bridge at Kylesku.....and that's not the end of it.
- From Ullapool take the A835 north to Drumrunie. At Drumrunie turn left for "Achiltibuie And The Summer Isles".
- The road soon follows the shores of Loch Lurgainn and Loch Ad a' Ghaill. Shortly after the loch turn right for Lochinver.
- Roughly 19 km to Lochinver and it's wonderful. After Lochinver follow the A837. Soon you'll get to the turn off for Drumbeg (A869). You'll love it!
- At Drumbeg the A869 continues on and finally connects with the A894. Turn left for Kylesku.
After Kylesku this great route continues al the way to Durness and the far north. Why not do the same!
Bealach na Ba (17,5 km). Starts from GPS: 57.418380, -5.602729 / Region: Isle of Skye & Kyle of Lochalsh
The Bealach na Ba requires Ordnance Survey Explorer map: 428 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
The Bealach na Ba ("Pass of the cattle") is the highest pass in Scotland and a great drive in its own right. The route (with passing places!) starts at Tornapress and, after many hairpins, finishes at the most delightfull village of Applecross. The only option than is to turn back or (much better!) to continue along the coast to the picturesque village of Shieldaig (total: 57 km)
I've done this route quite a few times and it is a fantastic drive along one of the most dramatic roads on mainland UK, rivalling many a Swiss mountain pass and with terrific views across much of Wester Ross, the whole of Skye, and the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides.
A serious warning: If you have a caravan in tow, or are driving a large motorhome, or are an inexperienced driver, you should definitely NOT attempt it! There is a warning sign at the beginning of the road at Tornapress and you might want to think twice at this point! This is not scaremongering, this is FACT.
The Northern Highlands (60 km). Starts from GPS: 58.068598, -3.792562 / Region: Caithness, Sutherland & Ross
The Northern Highlands requires 3 Ordnance Survey Explorer maps: 444, 449 & 448 (Scale 1:25):
New link in week 29!
For wide open landscapes and a 'roaring silence' this route is out of this world!
- Just 7,6 km past Brora, travelling on the A9, you reach Lothbeg and the sign for Glen Loth. Turn left to follow this “road” all the way (15,5 km), until just past Kildonan station. Left again on the A897 and after 10,5 km you reach Kinbrace:
- Either continue on the A897 or turn left on the B871.
- A897: After 12,5 km you reach Forsinard and the magnificent Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve. Another 21 km and you reach the A836. Turn right for Thurso, turn left for Bettyhill, Tongue and Durness.
- B871: A beautiful 25 km to Syre and another 19 km on the B873 to Altnaharra. From there follow the sign for Hope (33,5 km), where you connect to the A838: 33,5 km.
And than there are.....
.....the underneath routes & trails. Details are to be found at: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/driving-road-trips/routes/planner/overview/
Speyside's Malt Whisky Trail (118 km)
This one of a kind trail takes in world-famous working distilleries and the fascinating Speyside Cooperage. Speyside is famous for its wonderful whisky and is often called 'Malt Whisky Country'. It's home to more than half of Scotland's malt whisky distilleries, making it the ideal place to discover more about this ancient art. The area is one of Scotland's five whisky regions.
Visit the Glenlivet Distillery, the Cardhu Distillery, the Speyside Cooperage, the Glenfiddich Distillery, the Glen Grant Distillery, the Strathisla Distillery, the Glen Moray Distillery, the Benromach Distillery and the Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery.
Scottish Film & TV Locations Itinerary (1144 km)
Scotland has played its part in a wide variety of films, from the Da Vinci Code's mysterious Rosslyn Chapel to the breathtaking Highland scenery found in Braveheart, Harry Potter, Skyfall, The Eagle, Centurion and of course in Outlander. Find out why the sheer dramatic impact of these landscapes lures filmmakers back to Scotland again and again.
Visit: Burrows Head, St Ninian's Cave, Culzean Castle, Glasgow, Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Balmoral Castle, Dunnottar Castle, The town of Pennan, Fort William, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glencoe, Falls of Dochart and Doune Castle.
Tour Scotland With Outlander (1302 km)
See where Sam Heughan (Jamie) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire), shot their scenes at Outlander filming locations and visit Outlander book locations. You’ll also explore historic attractions with real-life Jacobite connections, where you can delve into the true story of the Jacobite cause.
Visit the Palace of Holyrood House, Linlithgow Palace, Bo’ness Station, Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House, Midhope Castle, Doune Castle, Drummond Castle Gardens, Stirling, Culross, Falkland, Auchindrain Township, Inverness, Urquhart Castle, The Great Glen, Glenfinnan Monument, Glen Coe, Glasgow, Pollok Country Park, Dean Castle and Traquair House.
North Coast 500 (805 km)
The North Coast 500 is in a league all of it's own. The route was created as a Scottish equivalent of the iconic American Route 66; it has become very popular, especially in the summer and you really should book accommodation in advance, including caravan parks. Take your time, don’t rush it, stop off in the villlages, talk to the people, and explore some of the smaller roads.
The NC500 is in essence a great number of interesting places to visit. Study the map, plan your stops and how to get off the beaten track. Rather than heading north on the A9 from Inverness all the way to Wick, you might take the A897 from Helmsdale to Melvich, a lonely route through the Highlands. On the way south visit Lochinver, stop for a couple of days in Gairloch or Poolewe and go for a walk in the hills. All the NC500 passes through breathtaking landscapes and that is, in my opinion, the main attraction.
Here are a few fantastic sites for additional information:
Angus Coastal Route (109 km)
The Angus Coastal Route runs from Dundee to Aberdeen, passing a range of charming towns, beautiful nature reserves and more than a few great attractions. Enjoy great views of the Grampian Mountains to the west and the North Sea to the east as you drive north.
Argyll Coastal Route (208 km)
Set off from the banks of Loch Lomond to explore Scotland’s west coast and travel the Argyll Coastal Route route from Tarbet to Fort William. Discover Loch Fyne, the fascinating history of the Kingdom of Dalriada and the astonishingly diverse landscapes – from sea shores to mountain top.
Borders Historic Route (143 km)
The Borders Historic Route picks up near Carlisle before passing into the lush countryside of the Scottish Borders. Follow the route to Edinburgh and explore the charming villages and many a historic site you pass en route before reaching Scotland’s historic capital city.
Go and see: Gilnockie Tower & Reiver Centre, Johnnie Gilnockie's Grave, Melrose Abbey, Scott's View, Dryburgh Abbey, Borthwick Castle, Crichton Castle and the many attractions and sites of Edinburgh itself.
Clyde Sea Lochs Trail (104 km)
The Clyde Sea Lochs Trail takes you into the heart of the coastal communities to the south west of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. This established driving route is well sign posted and easy to follow, with panels packed with information located at each of the points of interest along the way, all with good car parking nearby. Start the route in Dumbarton or further north in Arrochar, with plenty to explore in between.
Clyde Valley Tourist Route (61 km)
Deeside Tourist Route (174 km)
A wonderful route from Perth to Aberdeen, via the towering splendour of the Cairngorms National Park. The Deeside Tourist Route is an epic drive, passing through the fruit-growing farmland of Blairgowrie, the jaw-dropping National Park and the lush landscapes of Royal Deeside.
Fife Coastal Route (124 km)
The Fife Coastal Route follows the glittering Firth of Forth coastline, passing places such as the Royal Burgh of Culross, the beautiful fishing towns in the East Neuk and historic St Andrews.
A Fife fishing village
Forth Valley Tourist Route (69 km)
Wind your way along the Firth of Forth, through West Lothian and into the Forth Valley on this excellent alternative route to Stirling, a city that’s bursting with fascinating history. Explore locations such as the Forth Bridge and Antonine Wall, which are both World Heritage Sites, the impressive metalwork of The Kelpies by Andy Scott and the fascinating engineering feat that is The Falkirk Wheel.
Galloway Tourist Route (148 km)
This is a delightful route from Gretna to Ayr. Stop off at superb attractions, including Threave Castle and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. There’s also ample opportunity for adventure with woodland trails to explore on foot or by mountain bike and the waters of Loch Ken for a whole range of thrilling watersports.
Highland Tourist Route (187 km)
If history is your 'thing', this route is a real treat. It takes in no less than four castles as well as Culloden Battlefield and many museums along the way. Nature lovers and active types will also be enthralled as the route travels through the mighty Cairngorms National Park – where you can see rare species or have a go at an exhilarating sport.
Moray Firth Route (128 km)
Enjoy the wild beauty of the North Highlands on this meandering route from Inverness to Loch Fleet, via the glittering waters of the Beauly Firth, Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth. You’ll pass through the rugged landscapes of Easter Ross and Sutherland, two of the most breathtaking and untouched parts of the country.
North East 250 (402 km)
This circular touring route combines the whisky distilleries of Speyside with the incredible mountain passes of the Cairngorms National Park, the castles of Royal Deeside and the Aberdeenshire coastline. Explore the picturesque villages along the Moray Firth Coast, wander through the historic streets of Aberdeen and make sure you uncover the fascinating history in the many attractions and castles along the North East 250.
North and West Highlands (254 km)
The North and West Highlands route links Ullapool with John O’Groats and passes through the stunning North West Highlands. On the route you’ll be treated to some of the most spectacularly wild landscapes in Scotland, complete with panoramic sea views, tranquil lochs and towering mountains.
Perthshire Tourist Route (69 km)
The Perthshire Tourist Route kicks off just north of Dunblane and finishes in Ballinluig. It's a short but spectacular drive through the woodland and towering landscapes in the heart of Scotland. Watch as the peaceful cultivated landscape changes dramatically just north of Crieff, where you’ll find the heather covered slopes of the rugged Sma' Glen.
Snowroads (144 km) (no snow from March-November!)
This route shows you some of the most scenic points in beautiful Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Moray Speyside and the Highlands. Mountains, rugged glens, towering Munros, outdoor adventures, cycling, delicious food and drink and more. The Snow Roads Scenic Route encompasses some of the Cairngorms National Park’s finest areas. Starting in the picturesque market town of Blairgowrie, the route passes through the towns of Braemar, Ballater, and Tomintoul before finishing in Grantown-on-Spey.
South West Coastal 300 (482 km)
The South West Coastal 300 takes in miles of beautiful coastline along quiet country roads, with hidden gems and stunning scenery along every curve of the tarmac. Sheltered sandy bays, rocky stretches and charming coastal towns can all be found on this road trip.
The circular route follows roads along the coast of Dumfries & Galloway and into southern Ayrshire and one of Scotland’s forest parks – the Galloway Forest Park. It’s the perfect way to discover the unique character of the south west of Scotland, with many places to stop and uncover fascinating heritage, stunning natural beauty and unique experiences.