Top 5 Best Drives Around Scotland
Hi everyone! It sure is good to find a little time to write a new post! As I am writing this, My Saturday Drive has just turned 1 year old! Although I haven’t been the most active blogger, I have been a fairly busy traveler and photographer (dodges boo’s and random food items being flung at him)!
I know, I know, it sounds very cheesy and very Instagrammy but hear me out. My Saturday Drive was born out of my passion for photography, travel and cars. It is an entity where I highlight some of the best places in Scotland and where I hope you find some inspiration when it comes to traveling to this country, even more so if you live here and want to explore!
My most active social platforms are Facebook and Instagram, so if you haven’t done so already, head over there and smash the like/follow buttons to stay up to date with my latest photos and travel diaries.
In this article, however, I would like to highlight some of my best drives/trips this year. If not entertaining, I hope you find some inspiration here to go out there yourself and see these wonderful places. Scotland is beautiful, we have a finite time here, so may as well make the most of it and feast our eyeballs with all the beauty that’s around us.
All the trips mentioned here involve you needing a car. I know, it’s a shame, not all of you drive/can afford a car. I will try at some point to put together some destinations reachable by public transport but given the wild nature of Scotland and the lower density population, it is preferable to travel by car. All of the trips mentioned here take 1 day for the return journey and all start and end in Glasgow. Depending on where you are it can take longer. I suppose if you’re coming from England, it would be wise to stay over somewhere. I highly recommend you book an Airbnb close to Glasgow or even further north. Using my link you can get £25 off your booking and I get up to that amount as a reward. Please use it if you intend on booking a place regardless so we can both benefit. Any proceeds I get will go back into My Saturday Drive for me to produce more content.
Anyways, without further ado, here it goes, in no particular order!
1. Eilean Donan Castle
This was a big one. Probably one of the fullest days we had. It’s a great trip to do with someone who hasn’t seen much of Scotland as they will get to experience quite a bit of it and it’s great if you want to keep it cheap and not stay overnight somewhere. This was My Saturday Drive’s birthday present to our friend, Mary, who has always supported our blog and adventures. It felt right to show her first hand what a “typical” Saturday drive looks like!
We set off from Glasgow relatively early, at 8 am. Our first stop was Falls of Falloch. Located just after Loch Lomond on the A82, Falls of Falloch is a wonderful little break from the road trip, being a decent hour and a half from Glasgow and. Given that it’s only a 5 minute walk from the car park, it’s a nice leg stretcher too and you get to see some wonderful scenery. Some crazy people even do wild swimming here!
Our next stop was Loch Tulla Viewpoint, only half an hour away from Falls of Falloch. You just follow the A82 winding up into the hills and at the very top there’s a nice big car park where you can stop and admire the view, and if you are lucky enjoy the silence of the valley. Well… maybe you’ll hear the occasional “baa” from the distance but it’s part of Scotland’s character I suppose!
Following on the A82, heading into Glencoe valley, some of the most scenic views in Scotland present themselves to you. It’s hard being the driver in this area as the road is so beautiful and so rewarding to drive but at the same time the scenery is absolutely spectacular. We didn’t stop at the typical Glencoe cottage spots, instead we trucked along to Glencoe Lochan, an absolute gem of a lochan hidden in the forest just outside the village of Glencoe. After we wandered around it for a little bit, we had lunch in Glencoe at a very lovely place called Glencoe Cafe!
With a belly full of soup and sandwich, the car took us to our next little spot, just outside Fort William, called Neptune’s Stair Case. It’s something that everyone should visit as you get to see how you can travel by boat between the Scottish lochs and the sea when there’s a change in altitude.
From there on, the longest leg of the journey took us all the way to the border with Isle of Skye, in Dornie, where our final, most important stop of the day awaited us, Eilean Donan Castle.
I won’t go into detail about the castle here, as I think an entire blog post can be dedicated to this castle.
To put things into perspective, we timed it so that we made it for the last entry, which was around 4 PM. On the way back we had dinner in Fort William and bombed it down to Glasgow from there, arriving around 11PM.
All in all, a long day, but we got to see quite a bit of Scotland and we had an amazing time! And what’s more important, you can do this yourself, whether you live in Glasgow or close by and want a quick getaway or it’s your first time in Scotland and need ideas for places to visit!
2. Isle of May
Another great idea for a day trip would be visiting one of Scotland’s many little isles dotted around its coast line. One such isle is Isle of May. Funny enough, this trip was again in celebration of someone’s birthday, this time my partner’s, Maryanne!
Located in the north of the outer Firth of Forth, Isle of May is accessible by boat from a (quite famous now) small fishing village called Anstruther. This village is only 2 hours away from Glasgow. The boat trip to Isle of May can take between 30 minutes to an hour depending on which boat you get on.
Although it sounds counter intuitive, I think you will have fewer chances of feeling sick on the smaller faster boat, compared to the larger one. Our skipper was amazing, super knowledgeable and there wasn’t a single moment where we did not feel safe!
The reason why I think anyone should visit Isle of May, especially in the month of May (ha!) is because it’s a bird sanctuary and around that time of the year, many a seabird come to the isle to mate. One particular such bird is the puffin! Fair to say, it was on Isle of May that I saw my first ever puffins! And I didn’t see one or two… At that time there were nearly 40000 puffins on the isle!!
There weren’t only puffins though. At the peak of the mating season, there are over 200000 birds from 12 different species on the isle! You have about 3-4 hours on the Isle with either boat package which is plenty of time to see the whole place. Some of our favorite birds were of course the puffins but also the eider ducks. The ducks were spread all over the isle, sitting on their eggs. They are such protective creatures, they would rather die than get off their egg! Do watch out while you are walking though as they are almost the same color as the ground and they are nested right next to the footpaths! Also, bear in mind that puffins nest in the myriad of tunnels under the ground of the isle and walking on anything other than the paths can lead to destroying their underground nests!
When you’re back on mainland after visiting this little gem in the middle of the ocean, do go ahead and get some fish and chips from the local chip shops in Anstruther! You will not be disappointed!
3. Steall Falls
There is no question I love hiking and love being in the middle of forests, on top of mountains or on deserted beaches and I do love me a waterfall. Rated as one of the best short walks in Scotland, the route to Steall Falls is carved through the Nevis Gorge and it only takes about 1 hour one way (maybe less if you are quite a seasoned hiker) to walk.
Getting to Steall Falls car park is relatively straightforward. It’s only about 2.5 hours away from Glasgow and it’s the usual scenic drive alongside Loch Lomond and the Glencoe Valley. Once you’re there, boots on, and just follow the path.
It’s a relatively easy path, clearly marked but it does get rocky at sections. There are no crazy climbs or anything more technical. Once you make it you will be rewarded with amazing views of this waterfall.
There is also a steel rope bridge if you are brave enough to attempt to get you across the river at the bottom of the water fall!
All in all, I think this would make for an excellent day out as it’s only 2.5 hours away and it’s not a long hike, so you get to fully enjoy the scenery. And of course, you can always also stop at the aforementioned stops along the way to Glencoe to make the best of your day out!
4. Puck’s Glen
Another lovely hike, this time in Argyll and Bute, Puck’s Glen is a deep woodland gorge with cascading waterfalls!
Getting there from Glasgow is about 1.5 hours, so nothing really compared to the previous examples. This time, you keep left at Tarbet, instead of driving alongside Loch Lomond towards Glencoe. One beautiful stop that you have to make on the way if this is your first time around here would be the Rest and Be Thankful Stop. You get fantastic views of the old valley road built during the Jacobite rebellion by general Wade!
Once you are in Puck’s Glen, just follow the red posts for the gorge trail which take you along the Victorian walkway, through the rocky gorge which is also known to be home to cheeky spirits! Hate to disappoint though, as we didn’t see any spirits while we were there.
We were, however, surrounded by peace and tranquillity and the only noises we heard were the distant chirp of the birds and the constant chatter of the tumbling burns and waterfalls. It’s a lovely walk, suitable for the entire family and if you are a dog owner, it can be heaven for your pup!
This day out can seem a little short for some, so why not include Inveraray Castle while you’re in the area. I’ve written a separate article about this castle here, which I highly encourage you to read. You can visit the castle in the morning and after lunch, head over the other side of Loch Fyne and have a wee stroll through Puck’s Glen!
As a bonus, if you are in this area, there is a nice little rest stop called Loch Fyne Oysters. If seafood is your thing, do check this place out!
5. Mull of Galloway
Last but not least, one of the lesser known places in Scotland (everyone seems to be fixated with Glencoe Valley and Isle of Skye lately) but a stunningly beautiful place non the less is Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point!
It’s not too far from Glasgow, just over 2.5 hours of driving one way if traffic is good. The quickest route is via the west coast through south Ayrshire! It’s a stunning drive as well. One interesting thing to see on the way, I would say, is Ailsa Craig, a wee isle just off the west coast of Scotland. Just like Isle of May, it too is a bird sanctuary. I will need to find the time to visit this lovely isle soon!
Another stop, this time closer to Mull of Galloway is Portpatrick. It’s a nice wee town, right on the sea on the Rhins of Galloway Peninsula. If you have the time you should go for a short walk and see the ruins of Dunskey Castle.
Finally, arriving at Mull of Galloway there are plenty of spaces to park. You’ll find there is a nice little coffee shop right next to the lighthouse and it has a balcony facing south, towards Isle of Mann. Even if it’s a bit cold, I would recommend you sit out – it’s like eating on the edge of the world!
You can also climb all the 115 steps to the top of Scotland’s most southerly lighthouse and feast your eyes. Unfortunately, when we visited it was under renovation, but I suppose that gives us another reason to go there! They also have a working foghorn, which I highly recommend you wait to listen to. It’s quite an experience hearing that thing roar!
So there you have it! These are 5 of my favorite drives this year. It was a blast discovering these places and sharing them with you! I hope you find some inspiration in this when planning your next day trip or just your visit to Scotland. There will be more articles like this in the future, and I think it was a bit different from your typical Isle of Skye/Highlands recommendations that everyone seems to sing in unison. Not to say that those are not nice places, but I think there is more to Scotland than that!
So what do yo think? Would you go on any of these day trips? Do you have any other recommendations/hidden gems I should visit? Leave a comment, either here or on Facebook/Instagram! Would love to hear your thoughts!