7 Days road trip to Scottish Highlands

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We travel to Scotland once a year and it has now become a family ritual . The ritual is established because we fell head over heels in love with Scotland back in 2009. And I doubt there is anyone who has visited Scotland once and never went back.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of queries for sample itinerary/suggestions/recommendations for Scotland travel. So I took this as an opportunity to write a couple of blog post to help people planning their epic road trip to Scotland.

We are a big fan of road trips, and feel self drive makes your journey memorable and gives you more time to explore different places. If you are one of those who stay in Scotland or closer to Scotland border, well I envy you 🙂 For those who stay a bit far like us, let’s get started 🙂

Trip to Scotland include Scottish highlands by default. So if you are driving from far, I will recommend you to break your journey at Edinburgh for couple of days.

  1. Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh:

  1. Edinburgh Castle – Worth a visit and will take half of your day.
  2. Walk on the Royal Mile Road – We have done it several times, and still enjoy this walk exploring different pubs, street shows, restaurants.
  3. Camera Obscura – It is a world of illusions, mirror maze etc and if you are travelling with kids they will enjoy it too.
  4. A stroll in Holyrood park and a gorgeous hike to Arthur Seat giving you panoramic view of Edinburgh.
  5. A small hike via steps to Calton Hill and a gorgeous view of old & new Edinburgh from the top. There is an unfinished monument at the top, a beautiful photo spot.
  6. Dynamic Earth – another interesting attraction to know more about earth and sciences.

2. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Afterwards you can start your journey towards Scottish highlands. Drive to Loch Lomond & The Troassachs National Park and stop over in various villages of the national park. Take a cruise from one of these villages: Luss Village , Balloch or Tarbet.

Even a simple stroll is beautiful & quaint in these villages. To read more, check out our blog post on Luss(Herb) Village Walk, Argyll

3. Inverary, Argyll

This little beautiful coastal town is home to Live Inveraray Jail, Inveraray Castle, Loch and beautiful cottages. You can easily spend a day or two here.

To read more, check out our blog post – Beautiful Inveraray, Argyll

4. Glencoe

Driving in the valleys of Glencoe is awe-inspiring. It is majestically beautiful yet quietly boasting different mountain ranges in it’s vicinity. We can spend weeks here and still not get bored of it. But if you have only a week, stay over a night , go for a hill walk and in night lie down outside for star gazing. Believe me it will not get any more beautiful.

5. Fort Williams

Town of fort Williams is no far from Glencoe and it is home to the highest mountain of the UK – Ben Nevis. If you are fit and up for a hike, do the hike to Ben Nevis. It is challenging but views all the way is a reward to the eyes & soul. More about the hike on this post Hike to Ben Nevis- Britain’s Highest Mountain

Do not worry, those who want to take it a bit easy. You can still get to the top of Nevis Range by visiting Nevis Range Gondola Centre 

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If you have interests in gems, fossils & crystals, a visit to Treasures of Earth will be worth it. May be bookmark it for a rainy Scottish day . More of it on the post Treasures of the Earth

Shout out for Whisky lovers, a must visit to Ben Nevis Distillery, you can take a guided tour and at the end of the tour treat yourself with real Scottish whisky while sitting in Scotland 🙂

6. Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

Not far from Fort Williams is a little hamlet of Glenfinnan.

Shout out for Harry Potter fans, the very famous The Hogwarts Express rides over the Glenfinnan Viaduct Bridge, which is closely visible by a long walk from here or you can see it from far distant from station museum.

Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series. To read more, check out our blog post Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

So this was our list for 7 days in Scotland. You can customize the number of days you would like to spend in each place. Hopefully it gives you an overall idea on what can you do for 7 days in the beautiful highlands.

 

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Oban- You may fall in Love

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On my search of beautiful coastal towns in Scotland, I came across a website that introduced me to the town called Oban. How Oban was quoted on the website is – Be Careful! You may fall in love.  And that’s it those lines were just more than enough to lure me into visiting this little town. And Guess what? Yes I did fall in love with Oban.

Oban, meaning a little bay, is a small town on the west coast of Scotland in the county of Argyll. It often referred as ‘seafood capital of the Scotland’ .

The town is colonized by the hills surrounding Oban Bay and is a very busy summer town with great cafes and restaurants, and a big list to select your activities and day trips across various islands & in the highlands itself.

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A very popular attraction within Oban is McCaig’s Tower, the Colosseum lookalike which stands above the town. The Tower is 10 minutes hard walk uphill from the centre of the town that provides spectacular & mesmerising views over the town and onto the neighbouring islands.

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There is an Oban Distillery too right onto the high street, beneath the steep cliff that overlooks Oban. Built in 1794, this is one of Scotland’s oldest sources of single malt Scotch whisky. Unfortunately we could not take the tour due to time issues. But I am sure it will be worth a visit for people who loves the whisky making technique.

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Imagine all of this, and you do not even need to walk a lot or rent a car, all these attraction as visible as you enter the town. We walked down the whole town, walked upto the pier that opens up a wider view of the seascapes and tiny islands at the far distance. It was truly a magical place.

We never planned to stay in Oban as we had to drive to Fort Williams that evening, but may be I will come back sometime to re-visit this little town and spend few days here.

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Beautiful Inveraray, Argyll

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Source- Internet

Source- Internet

During our trip to Scotland, we took an unexpected turn on to the Inveraray, on the way to Oban. On my google search on what to do in Oban- I found a link to Live Inveraray Jail and thought it might be interesting. I told Asho, let’s take a little diversion and check out this place.

It was an accidental visit, and I am glad that happened. As soon as we reached Inverary, my first reaction was “Wow”. Am In a wonderland 🙂 The castle, the loch front, cottages, bridges, everything looked beautiful.

Inveraray is a small town in Argyll and Bute, on the shore of Loch Fyne. Duke of Argyll founded this town, alongside his Inveraray Castle. The town was designed and built by the Edinburgh-born architect Robert Mylne between 1772 and 1800.

Whether you are looking for a day picnic, adventures or just a sun soaked afternoon (rare are such days 🙂 ) near the Loch, it is definitely a place to be. Quaint and quiet in its own way. Breath-taking views sweeping across a wide landscapes & seascapes, it is a treat to eyes.

Few pictures from the trip, taken on my iPhone so might come dark at few places. We had a good day, a mixture of thick clouds and few sunny intervals. I am glad it did not rain 🙂

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Treasures of the Earth

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Those who have been to Highlands in the Scotland knows very well that how they get captivated by the natural beauty around them, how those eyes can never have enough of it. But at the same time, if it is a rainy highland visit, that is the only time you get to discover the hidden indoor attractions that are truly worth a visit not only on rainy occasions but any time of the year.

So during this visit, we headed out to walk along the Glenfinnan woodlands, when it starts to pour down heavily. We needed a shade on top of the head, and while doing a google search I located a small museum/attraction called ‘Treasures of the Earth’ which displays a collection of crystals, gem stones, and fossils. It is located in the village of Corpach.

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The building has been simulated to give you a feeling of cave, mining environment with it’s dim lights and UV lights. But you will know why they did that when you start seeing the displays around you. Here you can find a display area showing off a impressive collection of minerals, as gold, silver, various forms of salts. There are displays on the concept of geological time, and on the formation of fossils, with some dramatic fossils to illustrate the process.

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There is also a section which displays a collection of minerals in natural light and UV lights which will make you wonder that these stones have such magnificent color to them.

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There is also a gift shop which sells all these stones, lucky gems, chain/ear rings etc. My mum-in-law got some pearls for herself 🙂

Feel free to take your camera along, people are very welcoming.

 

 

Luss(Herb) Village Walk, Argyll

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During our stay at Glasgow, we planned to visit Luss village for the view of Loch Lomond in loch lomond and the Trossachs national park [http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/]. But when I arrived at the Luss Village, which was at that time overshadowed with the Mount Ben & clouds, made me fall me in love with it. It was once again love at first sight. Oh God! What a beautiful tiny quaint village. In Gaelic Luss meant ‘Herb’ and it is now a ‘conservation village’.

We arrived at the village information centre, which has got a pay & display car park, a village shop & post office at the centre. Information centre has leaflets for various walks around the village, short or long walk, choice is all yours 🙂

Since I loved the village so much for its first look itself, I decided to learn a bit more about the village, spoke to the locals out there and hail the Internet 🙂

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Earlier ages village was known as Clachan Dubh which meant the Dark Village, because of high mountains all around it which gave it lesser amount of sunlight, especially in winter times. It is also associated with different meaning for its name, so people believe Luss to be a herb plant other thinks it meant Lily.  A related story on the same [sourced from google] – One related to that of the Baroness MacAuslin, who died in France, whilst her husband was fighting at the siege of Tournay. Her body was brought back to Luss covered with flowers, especially the fleur-de luce. Some of the flowers grew to the surface of the grave ” and became miraculously efficacious in staying a pestilence then raging through the countryside”.

When you walk in the village, there is an amazing tranquillity all around you that makes you peaceful and delighted. Cottages in the villages caught my eye, very low and mostly built of loose stones with a layer of turf, decorated with row of flowers and it just looks gorgeous. You can walk upto the Luss Pier, a number of cruises and boat trip starts from here for the loch lomond.

PS: For the people who have watched ‘Take The High Road’ a Scottish drama, Luss village was a prime location for it.

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Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

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Once again back to my one of favorite place – Scotland. It was a week long trip with Ash and my in laws, great fun, we explored few museums, local sights etc. A lot of strenous walking was not in the trip list this time 🙂 Over the weeks you will be seeing a lot of small posts from the recent trip. Here goes the first extract 🙂

We visited Lochshiel in Glenfinnan, a 393ft deep fresh water loch in the Lochaber, Highlands. It is surrounded by the mountains, giving it a bit of Fjords look. This river ultimately drains out to the Sea.

It is a pleasant walk around the loch, a very much woodland area. While at loch Shiel always keep an eye on it’s surrounding as you might be able to spot an elusive Golden & White-Tailed Eagles, Red Deer, Black-Throated Divers, Hen Harriers , Osprey and many other species of Rare Wildlife that frequent the area. Go with a picnic basket if it is sunny out there, unfortunately weather was not that good for us that day 😦 and only thing we could spot was rain drops 🙂 There are several cruises company that organizes tour on Loch Shiel.

Get on top of Glenfinnan Monument for a mesmerizing view of the loch and to gauge it’s beauty.

Closer to the area there is a Glenfinann station museum as well as a famous attraction of the area. It tells the story of the West Highland Railway, it construction and development from 1889 till today. It also hosts the famous Jacobite Steam train 🙂

There is a Glenfinnan viaduct bridge you could see from the station museum car park area, And I am really not sure if it is the very famous Harry Potter movie bridge. But while we were there, I saw a lot and lot of people clicking pictures of the bridge and I assumed it is what people thinks. I am yet to validate that 🙂

For the harry Potter Fans- Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series.

Few pictures I clicked on my phone, it was raining in between so pictures might not have come great.

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Talisker Distillery

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Can not agree more :)

Can not agree more 🙂

While on a holiday to Isle of Skye last year, it started to rain very heavily one morning and there was a windy storm. We were camping in the foothills of Cuillins and our tent was at the verge of knocking off and flying away from the ground. We had no choice but to get up, come out of tent and run some place where we have shelter on top of our head. We packed(wrong word, infact we dumped) everything into the car and decided to utilize this rainy day for a visit to Talisker Distillery in Carbost, Isle of Skye.

Ash is a whisky fan and he loves visiting distilleries to see what all process and efforts go in to to make that bottle of whisky.

Talisker is the only and oldest distillery on this island, that started in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth Macaskill. It is located on the shores of Loch Harport in the village of Carbost, on the beautiful Minginish Peninsula, with enchanted views of the Black Cuillins. The location of the distillery works in its favour as Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery. More than half of the work force that works at the distillery is from the family owns the business, generation after generation took the ownership & pride in the family business.

The distillery operates five stills- two wash stills and three spirit stills. All the stills use worm tubs rather than a modern condenser, which are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour. Now a days , the whisky is produced using conventional double distilling.

The team at distillery organises tour as well and they are lovely bunch of people who will answer to all your questions. At the end of the tour, you will get to taste some of their finest whiskies too. During the peak summer times, you might have to book a tour in advance if you are looking for a particular time, else there are ample no. of tours that runs around whole day. At the end you can buy some whiskies for your family, friends and ofcourse for yourself 🙂

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Back to Scotland!!!

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I guess sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places, further proof that spontaneity is more rewarding than a meticulously planned life

It is going to be a long post as opposed to my normal way of writing small ones, So bear with me my people 🙂

It was the Christmas eve, we had a yummy, rich and heavy lunch of roasted lamb, gravy, baked parsnips & carrots, potatoes, veggie balls, prawn cocktail, champagne and Christmas pudding!!! I am already salivated with the thought of that drooly food 🙂 After this heavy meal, we cleaned up and sat to listen and groove.

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Well the post is not about what I ate for Christmas celebration, instead the story starts now.

My Husband (Ash) says all of a sudden – Let’s have breakfast in Scotland tomorrow, to be specific Edinburgh, at 11.30PM. And taking it as a joke we said Yes in uniformity and wore the jacket, put the shoe and headed out to our car. We sat, Ash started driving and what was racing in our mind- Aaah It’s the brandy in pudding speaking and after 30 mins we will be back home. But that did not happen and Ash kept on driving , it is then we realised Man we are going to Scotland, a 800 miles drive without any hotel booking, no extra clothing, no tooth brushes. Literally what we had- what we wore, a couple of us had their wallet (thank god)

I got super excited, a spontaneous & unplanned trip. I wanted to see how we will be managing all this in the season of bitterly winters and when we are on a real tight budget. The excitement gave everyone a high and we were already on this amazing trip.

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp :)

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp 🙂

Around 4AM, all of us started feeling sleepy (after effects of heavy meal and champagne), with no accomodation booked and everything pricey due to Christmas season, we stopped over York to stay in a YHA dorm room for £13 pp/night. Can you believe it? God Bless the guy at reception who entertained us at 4.30am in the morning and allotted us a room. We went In and slept like a log for next 4 hours. Got up early morning, with no brushes or facewash, we had to skip those rituals and replace it with a rinse. We had to have breakfast at Edinburgh as per the plan so had a coffee and went on driving to Edinburgh.

Coffee at YHA, York

Coffee at YHA, York

After driving for next 5 hours, Yey we reached Edinburgh- not for breakfast but for Brunch, Well who cares!! As long as it is a good meal in a beautiful historical city, all is well 🙂 Then we booked another hostel for the night and started to venture out pubs of Old Town Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a such a gorgeous city, with its untouched poised Victorian and Georgian architecture, those Gothic churches and beautiful town hall- it looks splendiferous. We went for a pub hopping, some visit pubs of the Ediburgh are :

The Last Drop (A haunted pub as per the stories)- http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thelastdropgrassmarketedinburgh/

The Three Sisters- http://www.thethreesistersbar.co.uk/

Guilford Arms- http://www.guildfordarms.com/

The World’s End- http://www.worldsend-edinburgh.co.uk/

Also visited Edinburgh Winter wonderland, It was a blissful experience.

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We called it an early night, as while drinking another plan took birth and that was for me. I wanted to drive to Scottish Highlands, see the snow and get my eyes all glorified with the beauty around. Next morning 5am we left for Fort Williams, one of the most beautiful drives of my life. Once you entered Highlands, what you see is Snow capped mountains kissing the sky, frozen lakes, bridges covered by Snow. It was a beautiful sight, a sight that could bring tears of happiness in your eyes. We just had a random destination post code of Fort Williams that was picked by our Sat Nav, we were not destined for a particular arrival.

 

We turned the car where we felt the road ahead will be beautiful, we stopped the car where we felt I want to get down and capture this sight in my eye. It was a spontaneous trip with spontaneously created memories. While taking one of the turn on the road we saw a sign board for Nevis Range Gondola Trip, and who could stop us. We took a ride to 300ft up to 2150ft on the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain. Played in the snow, took pictures and had an amazing Mountain Hot Chocolate at the Cafe on the mountain.

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Now I am back into my world after having to drive 1200 miles for a breakfast and breath-taking view, and everything was worth it.

Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

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Fairy Pools, an another mystical place in Isle of Skye, it lies at the foot of black cuillins near Glenbrittle.It’s a pool of crystal blue water on the river brittle. As the name suggest this place is to be believed a pool of fairies. I have not seen any during my visit, but place itself is so magical that it will make you wonder and may be believe that after all fairy must have lived here.

Many people around the world visit this famous pool to experience wild swimming and stunning landscape around.

Me and my husband also visited Fairypool on a summer evening in June, it was partly cloudy and sunny weather, I was sure that I am not finishing this holiday without visiting this pool.

How to get there- The nearest village to the Fairy Pools is Carbost on the West of Skye, the start of the walk is on the road to Glenbrittle. You will notice a sign board for Fairy Pools on the way, and there is a free car park as well.

Weather- It rains almost all the year around in Isle of Skye.If you are the lucky one you may choose to visit this place on a dry day. Do not forget water will be icy cold, so you might want to carry a swim suit with you.

From the carpark, you will cross the road to opposite side with impressive views out towards the Black Cuillins, the source of the River Brittle. Your walk to fairy pool will start from the point, short walk to the first pools follows a gravel path that is in good condition most of the way, but does involve river crossings over stepping stones. It takes about 20 minutes to get the first and largest waterfall that marks the start of the pools. You can explore the pool in your own time as there are several of them some are very deep, some are shallow.

Me and my husband took dip in couple of pools, but as water was cold and it was getting dark and misty we head back to car park after spending a good hour over there.

Sharing some of the pictures.

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Budget Travel: Fort Williams & Isle of Skye

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Last month me & my hubby went for a 9 days trip to Highlands & Isle of Skye. It was one of those most awaited trips of the year, and being the summer season a hot favourite destination for many tourists and travellers like us. Being Scotland and famous for it’s weather, everyone wants to enjoy the sunny days and as the forecast changes people plan their holiday to this majestic land. Lodging becomes expensive, infact in many cases you will not be able to book one as the cheaper ones will be booked out a long time ago.

Travelling does not have to be expensive if you are flexible and plan well in advance. I will say planning Well in Advance adds more fun to your most awaiting trip. Of course we can always have unexpected expenses in our travel.

We had an awesome trip in Skye and fort williams with an expense of £250 per person that included our food, lodging in camps, travelling and sight seeing for 9 days. Hereby I am sharing with fellow readers my budget details for the trip.

PS: Our trip included more of hiking, walking and enjoying the serenity around. Our aim was to soak the beauty around and live in the nature. We camped in the beautiful valleys of Scotland.

How to get Around: There is public transport available, but it is not so frequent as population around Fort Williams and Isle of Skye is not very dense. It is a good idea to rent a car to get around these islands. I am not sure the cost of renting a car because we had our own so we had expenses only for fuel. We visited Fort Williams in Highlands and Glenbrittle, Aird of Sleat, Elgol, Dunvegan, Portree in Isle of Skye. Travelling from one place to another is not time consuming while on Isle. It is a small island, and it will not take more than 45 mins to go from one town to another.

Accommodation: One of the best part of camping in Scotland is that you can camp for free in various places. And Yes believe me you can camp in some of the most beautiful foothills, into the woodlands, near to a lake or may be in a field next to a quiet road. We wild camped in Isle of Skye for two days near the foothills of Black Cuillins. It was the most beautiful place I have stayed in during any trip. We stayed at two beautiful campsites:

Glen Nevis Holidays – You can not imagine a site better than this in fort williams, right at the foothills of Ben Nevis (Britains Highest Mountain). Ideal location for hikers or walkers. Clean toilets, washing area, bathrooms and a food cart shop in the site. Link- http://www.glen-nevis.co.uk/ – £10/night pp.

Glenbrittle Campsite – Another most beautiful site, I have never stayed in a campsite beautiful than this one. For those who are not willing for wild camping yet, this is an ideal site to get the taste of it. Link – http://www.dunvegancastle.com/content/?page=s20 – £8/night pp.

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Food- After lodging the next big money saver is Food. For a camping trip or self catering trip, try to pack as much as you can back from home. You can always buy milk, bread or fruits from a local store. But most of the food you can pick up from your home itself instead of buying new packets for the trip. Believe me packing up spices, sugar, tea/coffee, jams, biscuits, energy bars, cereals, ready to eat food packets, snacks to nibble on, cling film or air tight packed for sandviches so that you can carry your lunch along with you as well. Read to eat packets will save you some money on stove fuel as well. So pack food according to your needs and carry it along.

Sight Seeings: We walked around to see places. For rainy days we kept some distillery and brewery, castles on the list as well. Well these are the places worth spending money on instead of an expensive hotel or a restaurant. I have already written my posts on various places I visited while in Scotland, please go through the Scotland page from drop down menu. Walk, Cycle or Drive – You have lots of place to explore and discover. I am going back to Highlands and Skye next summer.

Elgol Lake Shore

Elgol Lake Shore

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PLAN IN ADVANCE, summer is popular, lots of people want to go there, and everyone is planning same things, you would not want to miss anything from your list.