Driving to the North West Highlands is an adventure in itself with a wonderful array of visual highlights helping to break up the journey into sections of pure joy. Ultimately it becomes an increasingly brilliantly evolving trip into a vast mountain wonderland.
Yep I still get extremely excited heading to the Highlands. For those familiar with the western drive you know what awaits, for those that don’t then you really really need to do it – and hope the weather’s good.
This is how it works for me on a drive to Plockton:-
- Whiz up the M74, spot the first sight of a Munro (Ben Lomond), cross the Erskine Bridge, join the renowned A82.
- Try desperately to overtake any slow traffic before the narrow Loch Lomond section.
- Try desperately to concentrate on the bends rather than the views (repeat for next 4 hours)
- Pass the incredibly quirky Drovers Inn, often a food stop on the return journey, full of stuffed animals of every type including a Bear & a Haggis, you HAVE to call in!
- First sight of Ben More (my first ever Munro) & Stob Binnein,
- Drop into Crianlarich, (stayed here a few times), turn LEFT and prepare for fun, (though a new by-pass is being built to sadly miss the village entirely)
- See imposing Ben Lui to left, Beinn Dorain ahead
- Then Tyndrum (ice cream stop), Rannoch Moor, the little tree growing out of a rock,
- Next it’s everyone’s favourite, the peak of Buachaille Etive Mor the Shepherd of Glen Coe, it’s difficult staying on the road here!
- On through Glen Coe, the Aonach Eagach to the right, Three Sisters to the left, busy car parks, possible piper, Japanese tourists, then tempt death by trying to overtake a coach or lorry.
- Ballaculish Bridge (a personal favourite), never sure which way to look, probably left to Ardgour, certainly never straight ahead:-)
- Fort William – actually an anti-climax, but useful for overtaking a few slow tourists. The last petrol station past the town is also the last chance of cheapish fuel, (quick choccy break). Update July 2013, last petrol station more expensive than the first two.
- Off again with Ben Nevis to the right, hoping slow traffic turns off at Spean Bridge!
- Past the Commando Memorial,
- Carry on up by Loch Lochy past the Letterfinlay Lodge Hotel with it’s “Osprey Sun Deck” sign, (not a highlight, just think the names a bit tacky & I bet they never see an Osprey….or much sun),
- Finally leave the A82 behind, turn left on the A87 and up to the Glengarry Viewpoint where a whole new horizon of marvellous mountains bursts into view, causing yet more driving distractions.
- Drop down to the start of Glen Shiel, a stunning giant version of Glen Coe with imposing steep mountains and changing views, a memorable drive northwards best done in the quietness of an autumn evening.
- Leave the confines of Glen Shiel for the openess of Loch Duich and yet more breathtaking views this time over the water. Scotland’s most photographed castle, Eilean Donan lies ahead, ridiculously busy during the day but if a nice evening a quick stop at the car park yields stunning sunset pics. You can even hop over the wall onto the bridge and walk round the castle headland saving yourself a few quid.
- Continue on and hopefully see Skye & the Cuillins before approaching Kyle of Lochalsh.
- Now there’s two roads to Plockton, the first should be ignored as it’s enclosed & tedious, the second however turns right at Kyle heading north east along the coast. This is a personal favourite of mine with incredible views west and north along a twisty single track road……
…with the hamlet of Duirinish a particular highlight often with Highland Cattle. Sunsets over the Cuillins & Raasay offer further distractions in the rear view mirror.
- If you haven’t driven off the road yet then finally you arrive in Plockton, simply stunning in its own right and a fitting end to a driving adventure. It also has some bloody good food and beer too.
So that’s my Highlands drive, thanks for reading my first blog and please do let me know if I’ve missed anything?
PS; for many years we’ve kept a “Driving Times” record in a little notebook in the glove-box; it’s kinda fun looking back, we even used to give each trip an amusing title. My mate Alan did this one, (more of him later) you can tell he’s an ex train spotter can’t you 🙂
PPS, more on this journey; Scenic A82 named best road in Britain