Copper mountains, streams and waterfalls, spectacular wildlife and the lonely landscapes; the Scottish Highlands harbour some of the largest areas of wilderness left in Europe. The remote Outer Hebrides, a unique archipelago lying off the northwest coast of Scotland, offer a great escape from it all. This road trip takes you to unspoiled nature and deserted powder-white sands. Truly magical!
In a nutshell
- Highlights: Highland Games – Isle of Skye – Spectacular beaches of Hebrides
- If you like: Whiskey, traditional pubs, great views, wilderness hikes
- Duration: 12-14 days
- Transport: Car & Ferry: To reach The Outer Hebrides, take the ferry in Uig, Isle of Skye. The crossing to Tarbert (Harris) or Lochmaddy (Uist) takes about 2 hours.
1. Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond has two routes that run up its shores. From Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, prepare yourself for a long, breathtaking road trip starting on the shores of Loch Lomond. The largest loch in Scotland divides the Highlands from the Lowlands.
At the north end of Loch Lomond, we make a stop at the legendary Drovers Inn. For over 300 years The Drovers Inn has welcomed guests including the notorious Rob Roy. The inn, known for its old fashioned hospitality, is said to be “haunted” and there are many tales of ghouls and ghosts roaming around this ancient Scottish Inn.
Following the west coast of Loch Lomond, the route goes north to Pitlochry. A picture-perfect valley harbours Scotland’s smallest distillery, The Edradour. The distillery is known as the Scotland’s little gem. Only two men are brewing such a twelve whiskey barrels per week.
The drive to Glencoe is one of the most spectacular and jaw-droppingly stunning parts in Scotland. Especially on a rainy day, as soon as you enter this historical glen, you can imagine the swords and kilts you know from ancient tales.
The main road runs through the famous glen itself, traveling further, through Fort William, will take you past Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.
Lying in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Fort William is known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’. The place is also known for its downhill mountain bike track and the best thing people love to do at Fort William is climbing up the Ben Nevis.
Fort William is also the starting point for the Jacobite steam train, also known as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express. Which became popular as one of the great railway journeys of the world. This 84-mile ultimate round trip takes you to through the Glenfinnan Viaduct with its 21 arches, past Britain’s highest mountain, deepest loch, and the shortest river.
4.The Isle of Skye
Crossing the Skye Bridge we reach the magical Isle of Skye, one of the most famous islands. The Isle of Skye is nicknamed as the “island of mists” and you should indeed be lucky to see the blue sky. The place has a number of attractions including the Dunvegan Castle, Bright Water Visitor Center, Fairy Pools, The Quiraing and much more.
Portree, the island’s capital, is definitely worth a visit. Stroll around the picture perfect harbour and the brightly painted houses.
Portree is home to the yearly Skye Highland Games. The Highland tradition and its culture is a highlight on the Isle of Skye calendar and is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.
In Skye, people find many opportunities for hiking and cycling. A must see is the Trotternish ridge with its spectacular cliffs and rock formations, that is to the north of Portree. The main attraction of Trotternish, is the Quiraing, a surreal combination of cliffs, plateaus and pinnacles of rock that passes through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland.
Off course, a Scottish road trip isn’t complete without having pitched your tent in the rough, desolate landscape. The perfect place to spend a couple of days in the lap of nature is the remote Glenbrittle Campsite, located on the west coast of Skye. This is the camping experience at its best; a peacefule sense of isolation, overlooking the foothills of the threatening Black Cullins Mountains, backed by a mysterious, edge-of-the-world beach and the sound of blaring sheep taking a stroll on the campsite. Idyllic!
5. Isle of North and South Uist
The Outer Hebrides are also known as the Western Isles. The islands are sub-divided into two groups- The Inner Hebrides to the east and The Outer Hebrides to the west; these groups are separated from each other by means of channels called Minch and Little Minch.
The North Uist can be reached by riding a ferry from Uig on Skye to Lochmaddy. This island is located at the center of the Outer Hebrides. The Hebrides contain more than 40 islands. North Uist is popular for walkers, bird watchers, cyclists, and motor homers.
The South Uist is known for its mountain scenery. The place is populated with different kinds of craft shops and cottage museums. The place is also known for fishing and bird watching.
6. Isle of Harris & Lewis
These islands are known as “The Long Islands”: as they stretch to 100 miles. The Isle of Harris is joined to the Isle of Lewis and are separated by a short border. These islands are known for attracting visitors for their seemingly beautiful wildlife, sporting adventures, boat trips, historical attractions, and the deserted, powder-white sand beaches.
Drive to Luskentyre, an extensive, long golden sand beach with clear and fresh turquoise Atlantic waters and a completely isolated environment. The Isle of Harris is a destination designed to rest, to forget schedules and duties, and give yourself a few days without tasks to do, with no more obligation than to enjoy every minute you spend there.
Seeking for a great place to escape the bustle of the city and spend some time in the wild? Lickisto Blackhouse is the place to be. The camp site is located in a natural landscape on the east coast Harris Island of Scotland overlooking the Minch. The campsite is made of unique temporary accommodation units called yurts. The guests also have access to the “Blackhouse”, a permanent stone hut where they can cook or hang out.
7. Back to the mainland
As you head towards home, you’ll go back to the Trossachs and throw a last glance at Loch Lomond. While looking back at the ferry rides, sandy beaches, the trekking and the Highland culture, you’ll realize you just experienced sheer magic.
Download route on Google Maps
When to go?
The summer months of June, July and August are regarded as high season, and can be the best time to visit, although July and August also are the busiest period.
However, if you enjoy midge-free strolls, mild temperatures and long daylight, May and September are meant for you.
Haggis: the dish can be enjoyed in many shapes and forms. It is an aromatic dish containing sheep’s pluck, crumbled with onions, oatmeal, spices, and salts. The dish is traditionally wrapped in animal’s stomach, although the description may not sound appetizing the dish has an excellent aroma and delicious flavor.
The Hebrides is known for its unbeatable whisky distilleries like The Hebridean Brewing Company, Isle of Harris Distillery and also for one of the best Tea Stores: The Hebridean Tea Store
Braveheart. This award-winning story by Mel Gibson in 1995 covers a potent story of Scotland’s most famous freedom fighter “William Wallace”. In the film, the sublime Highland landscape was beautifully showcased. As soon as you enter the Scottish glens and mountains, you can imagine the swords, kilts, and the plucky Highlanders.