Six of Scotland’s Best Road Trips

04 Jun 2018
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One of the best ways to discover Scotland’s stunning scenery, rich heritage and culture is to get behind the wheel and set off on a scenic self-drive tour.  

Here are just some of the road trips you can take around Scotland. Whether you choose to spend a few days just cruising around or weeks really exploring the length and breadth of the country, the possibilities are endless.

1. Snow Roads Scenic Route

Spanning 90 miles of snow-capped peaks, rugged glens, outdoor adventures, cycling and delicious food and drink; the Snow Roads Scenic Route is a distillation of the finest elements of the Cairngorms National Park.

Running through the eastern portion of this magnificent landscape, the route owes its name to the highest public road in Britain, and boasts some of the wildest, most dramatic Highland scenery imaginable. Steep climbs, 'blind' summits, and sharp twists and turns makes this one of the slower driving routes, and the gentler pace allows you the time to soak in the extraordinary views at ‘Instagram-ready’ vantage points and explore the various attractions along the way.

From whisky distilleries including Royal Lochnagar and fairytale castles such as Corgarff, to the jewels of Royal Deeside and the winter sports playground of Glenshee Ski Centre and The Lecht; the Snow Roads offers plenty of short, easily accessible detours during the course of your journey.

You can even extend your journey by an extra day or two and get out and really explore this lesser-known corner of the Cairngorms National Park.

Discover more about the Snow Roads Scenic Route.

2. South West Coastal 300

After a leisurely drive over a long weekend? The South West Coastal 300 is a joy to drive. Enjoy over 300 miles of quiet roads through the beautiful countryside of Dumfries & Galloway and south Ayrshire.

Along the way, encounter wonderfully secluded stretches of beach and rugged clifftops, colourful towns and villages, and gently rolling hills purple with heather. Soak in postcard-perfect beauty spots like Sandyhills Bay, browse handcrafted artworks in the creative hotspot of Kirkcudbright, and delve into a world of Vikings, saints and Iron Age life at Whithorn, the earliest known Christian site in Scotland.

With the romantic ruin of Sweetheart Abbey and gorgeous gardens, as well as the dazzling starry skies visible from the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park; the South West Coastal 300 boasts splendid locations and rich heritage in equal measure.

Hit the South West Coastal 300.

3. North Coast 500

 

Riding from Gairloch towards Torridon. The biggest problem when travelling in Scotland is the need to stop every 5 minutes to snap photos. Honestly, a 30 min route can turn into 2 hours. But with a light like this expect some epic shots. Tip: Extra SD cards and batteries are a must. . . . #visitscotland #thisisscotland #scottishhighlands #scottishspirit #travel2018 #travelmore #exploretocreate #exploreeverything #neverstopexploring #riding #motorcycletrip #roadtrippin #motorcyclediaries #motorcycleculture #thedailybite #ourplanetdaily #theoutbound #stayandwander #staywild #solotravel #wanderlusting #optoutside #letsgosomewhere #discoverearth #visualsoflife #visuallyinspired #travelphotography #landscapephotography #NC500

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Scotland’s answer to America’s legendary Route 66 has swiftly established itself as one of the world’s most iconic driving routes. It follows a sweeping loop around the whole northern tip of Scotland; from Inverness all the way to John O’Groats in the north east, along jagged coastline overlooking the North Sea to Durness, then down the west coast before returning inland at the Applecross peninsula.

The Scottish Highlands are synonymous with untouched wilderness and when it comes to awesome scenery the North Coast 500 does not disappoint. Discover the dazzling white sands of deserted beaches like Balnakeil, endless views of the Atlantic, tantalising islands scattered just off shore, geological marvels like the mysterious Smoo Cave, and lofty heights along the single-track roads through the mountains.

Set against this glorious natural backdrop are a great deal of historic sites and other attractions. Along the way you’ll encounter the French-style chateaux of Dunrobin Castle, countless ancient standing stones at Hill O’ Many Stanes, drams of the finest malt at distilleries Glenmorangie and Old Pulteney, and the occasional free-roaming Highland coo.

See more about the North Coast 500.

4. North East 250

The North East 250 is Scotland’s best-kept motoring secret, encapsulating everything that makes Scotland so enchanting. Much like the North Coast 500, this is a circular route that winds through such captivating regions as Speyside, the Cairngorms, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, the East Coast and the Moray Coast. Its condensed length makes it perfect for those who want to spend less time driving and more time exploring the attractions that are all within easy reach of the route.

Spanning the Malt Whisky Trail, the route offers the opportunity to visit some of the most famous distilleries in the world such as Glenlivet. Dozens of Munros – mountains over 3,000 ft (914.4 m) – also line the route.

 Along the route you can tee off on world-class golf courses including Braemar Golf Club, which is known as the highest course in the country. And don’t forget the castles. The North East is positively brimming with them with Braemar, Ballindalloch and Balmoral just a few of the magnificent properties you can visit on your route.

Just off the route lies the Banffshire coast, home to some of the finest beaches in Scotland. Feast on freshly caught seafood in delightful fishing villages.

Explore the North East 250.

5. The Argyll Coastal Route

Starting just north of Glasgow, the Argyll Coastal Route is like discovering the romantic Scotland of bygone age.

Spanning Tarbet to Fort William, it follows a coastal fringe of tranquil bays and fjord-like inlets on one side with soaring mountains on the other. Iconic castles, the bonnie banks of the Loch Lomond, wildlife sightings and an oyster bar line the route.

You can extend your journey by taking a detour off the main route to discover Scotland’s ‘Secret Coast’. The route follow the road to the Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne. A relatively undiscovered corner of Argyll, it features miles of natural splendour. Soak in dramatic Highland vistas, romantic glens and lush forests, and get out from behind the wheel to explore charming historic villages, empty beaches, and plenty more surprises along the way.

Follow the Argyll Coastal Route.

6. The Borders Historic Route

Heading to Edinburgh? Follow the generations of eloping couples before you to Gretna Green and continue onwards into the heart of the Scottish Borders, Sir Walter Scott country.

Weave through a beautiful countryside strewn with immense ruined abbeys, castles and country houses which hark back to a storied and sometimes turbulent past filled with fierce clashes, fair damsels and daring heroes.

Swing by Scott’s beloved home of Abbotsford, watch as authentic tartan and tweed is woven from scratch at Lochcarron of Scotland and the Borders Textile Towerhouse, and make a very worthwhile stop at a special independent craft brewery on the outskirts of Edinburgh

Explore the Borders Historic Route.

Discover more about Scotland’s driving routes on VisitScotland.com

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