Driving to the North West Highlands!

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:-

  1. Whiz up the M74, spot the first sight of a Munro (Ben Lomond), cross the Erskine Bridge, join the renowned A82.
  2. Try desperately to overtake any slow traffic before the narrow Loch Lomond section.
  3. Try desperately to concentrate on the bends rather than the views (repeat for next 4 hours)
  4. 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!
  5. First sight of Ben More (my first ever Munro) & Stob Binnein,
  6. 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)
  7. See imposing Ben Lui to left, Beinn Dorain ahead

    Driving to the Highlands_6

    Beinn Dorain from the A82 through a fly covered windscreen

  8. Then Tyndrum (ice cream stop), Rannoch Moor, the little tree growing out of a rock,
  9. 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!

    The Buachaille from the driving seat on the A82

  10. 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.

    Glen Coe - and the compulsory lorry

    Glen Coe – and the compulsory lorry

  11. Ballaculish Bridge (a personal favourite), never sure which way to look, probably left to Ardgour, certainly never straight ahead:-)

    Ballachulish Bridge

    Ballachulish Bridge

  12. 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.
  13. Off again with Ben Nevis to the right, hoping slow traffic turns off at Spean Bridge!
  14. Past the Commando Memorial,
    Commando Memorial

    Commando Memorial

    Commando memorial

    Commando memorial

    Commando memorial

    Commando memorial

  15. 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),
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Eilean Donan sunset from the car park September 2011

    Eilean Donan sunset from the carpark June 2012

  20. Continue on and hopefully see Skye & the Cuillins before approaching Kyle of Lochalsh.
  21. 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……
    On the Kyle to Plockton road looking north east

    On the Kyle to Plockton road looking north east

    …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.

    Duirinish on the Kyle to Plockton road with Skye on the horizon

    Shaggies and Bull in Duirinish on the road to Plockton

  22. 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.

Plockton evening from Harbour Street

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 🙂

Highlands Drive Times Notes

Geeky Highlands Drive Times Notes

PPS, more on this journey; Scenic A82 named best road in Britain


Hillwalker with dodgy knees and dodgier sense of humour. Lover of the outdoors, Lakes, Highlands, Cheviots, nature, good food, real ale and leaf tea.
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10 Responses to Driving to the North West Highlands!

  1. Hooray. You’ve joined the blogging set. I loved this Mart. The image of Eilean Donan is exquisite.
    And I want to know more about your mate Alan too.

    • Mart Lawton says:

      Thanks very much Chloe, I’ve just ‘approved your comment’ this is all new to me 🙂 Might not get my ‘Alan’ post done before Scotland but i’ve warned him all his negative phrases will be revealed 🙂

  2. David W. says:

    Great stuff! And keeping lists and notebooks isn’t geeky. I do it all the time. I have a list of every walk I have done since 1978; a list of every book I have read since 1975 etc etc. My wife has diagnosed me as suffering from what she calls “Skod” ie Some kind of disorder!

    David (www.fellbound.co.uk or @FellBound)

    • Mart Lawton says:

      Thanks David, am slowly transferring some of my driving notes to the Smartphone but the Notepad stays in the car ready to be updated next trip. We should all write a blog on our disorders 🙂

  3. Mark Brierley says:

    Hi Martin! I very much enjoyed your first adventure in the blogosphere. I hope there are many more of them. One day, I’ll come to the UK and visit Plockton! It sounds like a disease of the nether regions but I’m willing to venture into those sorts of parts if it’s as good as you say 🙂

  4. graham drew says:

    great blog.
    I love the drive up to Fort William and have also been to Plockton totally agree amazing scenery look forward to more

  5. Graham says:

    Interesting post Mar, never been up there myself but wouldn’t mind giving it a go.

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