Talking about Scotland, what immediately come to your mind? Gloomy year-round weather in a sparsely populated land, or muscle men in red checquered skirts, playing traditional bagpipes, or mysterious lochs with their legendary monsters. For me, besides those things, Scotland is famous for major cities with medieval appearance, yet featuring modern atmosphere, endless winding highland roads through numerous glens and layers of mountains.
I fell in love with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, at the first sight. Driving on a deserted hilly road with layers of mountains from both sides, covered by low bushes and grasses, listening to the wind whistling through the car window in a showering rain was an unforgettable experience. It is not surprised when Scotland is named as a land of lochs and glens since I couldn’t remember how many of them I had passed throughout my journey.
- Day 1 & 2 : Edinburgh
- Day 3 & 4: Loch Ness (270km) and Isle of Skye (200km)
- Day 5 : Glenfinnan & sleep in Glencoe (224km)
- Day 6 : Glencoe and sleep in Glasgow (148km)
(Distance is measured by google map. Click to the links to move to that day)
Read more about the entire “2 weeks fascinating road trip through England and Scotland” here
I fell in love with Edinburgh at the first sight. The hilly streets with blocks of unpainted houses and lined up chimneys on the roof created a unique vintage look for this city.
We wandered leisurely the whole afternoon in Edinburgh old town, located in the center of the city, felt overwhelmed by the cutest gift shops, not just simply displaying the souvenirs, but it was an art of arranging and harmonious color mixing. The city was more sparkling during twilight. Getting inside a liqueur shop and trying out many kinds of well-known whiskies helped us to close our first day in a relaxing way.
On the next day, we took a bus to Circus lanes, famous for pretty houses fully covered by green leaves. The high roses and charming windows held us off for sometimes.
In the afternoon, we continued heading to Dean village, not far from there. It seemed that we had turned back in time and entered a previous century with a castle by the river and small houses decorated with colorful flowerpots. Wandering along the river and enjoying fresh air in the nice smell of trees and flowers was a pleasant feeling.
During twilight, we climbed to the top of Calton hill, admiring the panorama view of Edinburgh and iconic historical monuments.
Read more about my love at first sight of Edinburgh here
In the morning of day 3, we received our rented car and started our road trip. The destination of that day was Loch Ness, situated in the north, 270 km away from Edinburgh. We passed by Blair Castle on the way and were impressed with the row of big old green trees leading to the castle. The white castle appeared simply, but still maintained its vintage beauty.
Since we didn’t have much time, we decided not to get inside the castle, but have a pleasant walk in its garden. A lush greenery brought us a relaxing and peaceful feeling.
Along the way, whenever we saw nice places, we stopped our car, found a parking lot and wandered around, instead of sticking to our original plan. Beautiful houses and hotels in the shape of castle looked very impressive.
On the following day, we started exploring Loch Ness area. We were refreshed by the tranquility of Loch Ness lake, which is best known for legend of Loch Ness Monster. Its surface was calm and deep blue, outstanding under a clear sky with drifting white clouds. Loch Ness lake is not very large, around 3km, but has the record length at 37km, hence in terms of area, it is the second largest fresh water lake in Scotland (after Loch Lomon)
Urquhart castle on the side of Loch Ness is a perfect remark of this landscape. The castle appeared magnificently in the white clouds. Nowadays, there is nothing left inside the castle except mossy ruined walls.
We visited nearby Plodda falls. From the observation deck at the top, the falls seems to be located in the middle of a pine forest. However, the trail going down was not very dangerous.
After lunch, we continued heading to the West coast, to reach the island of Isle of Skye, connected with mainland by a huge bridge. We were fascinated by the massive panorama view from the top of the bridge. A picturesque landscape of the entire highland area with various lakes and rivers, surrounded by greenish hills appeared spectacularly in front of us.
The first destination of that day was Neist Point Lighthouse, located at the west edge of Isle of Skye. The road to get in was zigzagging, even more difficult under the gloomy sky due to drizzle. It suddenly stopped raining when we arrived the lighthouse, the faint sunlight brightened the scenery.
We parked our car by the side and walked down to the lighthouse. The trail was not very dangerous as it had steps and hand holders. The view from the top was magnificent with a fabulous mossy rocky cliff and the lighthouse at the far edge.
After that, we turned our car heading south to Glenfinnan where the famous “Harry Porter bridge” is located. Built in the 1890s, this railroad viaduct was the first structure in Britain to be built with mass concrete. There are 2 view points of the bridge. The one near Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor center allows you to see the bridge from far away.
But if you want to see the bridge in its famous curvy shape, you need to get behind the railway station and trek for 2 hours uphill. We walked under the drizzle on a muddy and slippery trail to admire this movie scene.
The view of the whole area of Glenfinnan was also picturesque with layers of mountains surrounding a big lake. Continue for another 1 hours passing by busy Fort William town, we reached our hotel at Glencoe.
The roads in Glencoe are the features of Scotland highland, look somewhat similar to South Africa with multi layers of mountains and hills covered by bushes, grasses and low trees. The scenery along the way was brighter as the green leaves gradually changed to golden yellow during the autumn.
Glencoe Lochan is famous for camping and trekking in Glencoe with many short trails marked by wooden columns in different colors. We decided to follow the trail around the lochan which was located in the middle of a pine forest where the ground was fully covered by colorful moss. Along the lochside path, there are several wooden platforms built out onto the lake for sight seeing or fishing.
We were amazed at the reflection of the trees on the lake under the sprinkle, just like a natural watercolor landscape painting.
Glen Etive had a magnificent mountainous scenery. It was a long and winding way to reach there. We truly enjoyed our picnic lunch in this fascinating atmosphere.
The road leading to Glasgow city is beautiful with charming houses fully covered by maple leaves. The main cathedral though was being restored, stills maintained its vintage solemnity, a feature of Scottish Gothic architecture.
The golden shinning appearance inside the cathedral enhanced its solemness and brought out the royal atmosphere.
To give you a better feel on the stunning landscapes along the Scotland highland roads, I made this short video clip. Enjoy and feel it with me.
Traveled in Sep, 2017