Please sign in to post.

Driving from Isle of Skye (Portree) to Edinburgh

Hi there! My husband and I are about to leave on our honeymoon to England/Scotland. We'll be doing a bit of driving and our longest driving day is a trek from Portree on the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh. We're planning to leave in the morning and drive largely the whole day, stopping a few times. I was wondering if anyone had any tips/advice on places to stop to eat or just have a driving break? It looks like the quickest route (pending traffic) is via A87 / A9 (those seem to be the main roads).

We know it'll be a long day (TheAA says about 5 hours 10 mins without stops) - but we already have hotels booked in both places, so we won't be adding an overnight stop. Any interesting, quirky, pretty, or yummy places along the way would be much appreciated!

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, bedofstars,

First of all, congratulations on your wedding! You couldn't ask for a better place to spend your honeymoon!

You're right that it will be a long day, because there are so many places that you'll want to stop that it'll definitely take you longer than 5 hours and 10 minutes!

However, since you're booked in Edinburgh, your plan to leave Portree early is good. I'm assuming that you're taking the Skye Bridge as opposed to the Armadale-Mallaig ferry. The A87 actually ends at Invergarry, where you'll join the A82. Once you reach North Ballachulish, stay on the A82 through Glencoe, and on to Crainlarich. From there, you can follow the A82 down the west bank of Loch Lomond, through Dumbarton, then cross the Eskine Bridge, and follow the M8 in to Edinburgh.

Your other option, after you reach Crainlarich, is to head east on the A85. This would be your more scenic option. You could either take the first major left turn on the A827 for Killin and Aberfeldy, or stay on the A85 through Creiff and on to the A9 at Perth, where you can pick up the M90 for Edinburgh. If you take the A827, it runs along the north bank of Loch Tay, and drops you out on the A9 just south of Pitlochry. Those options give you more places to stop for lunch.

Another option would be to stay on the A85 to Lochearnhead, then take the A84 south to Callander (good place to stop for lunch), and then on to the M9 at Stirling. At Doune, you could possibly take a side trip on the A820 to Dunblane, and visit the cathedral. You could get on the A9 there.

Lots of choices. Since you're going to be on your honeymoon, please don't eat at any of the Little Chef restaurants that you may find along major roads! Of all the towns I've mentioned, Crieff, Crainlarich, Aberfeldy, and Killin would be the most likely stops for lunch, and if you end up taking the A827 through Aberfeldy, then turning south on the A9, Dunkeld would also be quite nice.

Once again, congratulations! As Portree to Edinburgh will be your lone long drive, take your time, and enjoy!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
2566 posts

Yes, congratulations and best wishes on your marriage!

Mike (Auchterless) has given an excellent summary of your route options.

If you choose the west bank of Loch Lomond, you could stop for lunch at Duck Bay, which has a nice mid-price restaurant with a huge picture window giving a commanding view of the loch. Instead of going over the Erskine Bridge (which could get you stuck in Glasgow rush hour traffic), you can head eastward from the big roundabout at Balloch on the A811. That will take you through Stirling where you'll pick up the M9 to Edinburgh.

You really can't go wrong with any of the routes, you will see awe-inspiring scenery on any of them.

Posted by
29 posts

Mike and epltd thank you SO much!!! That’s going to be so incredibly helpful!! We’ll be driving by the western side of Loch Lomond in our way to Portree (we’re doing Glasgow to Ballaculish and then next day there to Portree) so I wasn’t sure if doing the same route or mixing it up would be fun - taking into account the drive times. Seems like we’ll have lots of options! We know it’ll be long and we won’t be able to see all we’ll want to, if we want to get to the rental car return in time, so we’ll just have to pick :)

I have to ask - JG, why do you say we’re not Harry Potter fans tho? We’re huge Harry Potter fans actually. We’ll be stopping by Hagrid’s Hut (at least the land) on the way there and sadly the Hogwarts Express Jacobite train won’t be passing by any time that we’ll be going through. Is there something else on the way that I’m missing that you could share?

Posted by
29 posts

Good luck! We will be there before the summer times start. And I have a motion/dizziness disorder so the ferry is out sadly. I hope you get to see it! We may try to stop and just see the famous bridge area on the way up.

Posted by
29 posts

And thanks for the Edinburgh tips! We’re planning to go on a Harry Potter walking tour while there too 😊

Posted by
29 posts

You know it’s actually not sadly!! I have been to the one in LA and while I definitely love it :) I’ve seen videos and read about the Florida one and they have twice as much as we have here. We only have Hogsmeade here and I think there’s Diagon Alley in FL too?? I’d love to go there too one day :) But I’m def super happy every time I even drive by and see “Hogwarts” from the freeway!!

Posted by
906 posts

Hi again, bedofstars,

My wife has the same motion/dizziness disorder that it sounds as though you have. We've been on many of the CalMac ferries, including in a gale, and she resolves the problem by sitting (or standing) outside in the fresh air during our voyages. I don't know whether that would make a difference in your case, but it may be worth a try, as the Armadale to Mallaig run is one of the shortest in the CalMac schedule (30-35 minutes). As long as new hubby is doing the driving once you leave the ferry, you should be okay.

As an alternative, you could take the A830 out of Fort William, and take the ferry outward. That way, you'd only have the short trip from Armadale to Portree after you get off of the ferry, instead of Mallaig to Edinburgh. If you wanted to see the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, as seen in the HP movies, it's about 15 miles west of Fort William on the 830.

As you can probably tell, I love the ferries in Scotland!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
29 posts

Hello again! My apologies for the lack of response sooner - we've been travelling. We're actually on Skye now and heading out tomorrow so I was revisiting the post (when I realized I hadn't responded). I think your wife might have something different than me, Mike, since my dizziness is something that gets worse after travelling (on boat, train, plane, anything long with constant movement). So sadly the ferry is out.

I was looking over the route you gave and it is definitely different than the one Google Maps is giving me as the fastest. On the way here we came up from Glasgow via the west side of Loch Lomond and then through Glencoe and Fort William and it seemed that was an option you had given, but will add some time. Just wondering your thoughts on the route below? So, Google Maps is telling me the fastest route is:

-A87 to
-A82 to
-A86 to
-A889 to
-A9 to
-M90

It looks like it makes sense, even if it isn't the most scenic route, but just want to make sure this is a normal way people would go (ie. it's not driving on tiny remote roads and most people would go another route - since a larger road in the end might be faster)? Here's a link if it works to see: https://goo.gl/maps/fUMBTcYdSZF2

Posted by
29 posts

Oh and James - we're not far off (House Ravenclaw married to a Slytherin :P - I always wanted to be a Hufflepuff though)

Posted by
906 posts

Hi once again, bedofstars,

Hope you and hubby are having a wonderful time on Skye! Sorry to hear that the ferry isn't an option. It's normally a smooth voyage, and you don't even feel as though you're moving. However, if the water is choppy, it would most definitely be a problem for you.

The route you outlined is fine. That would have been my second choice. Just make sure that you don't miss the turnoff for the A889; otherwise, you have to go up to Kingussie to turn south on the A9. (There is a connector at Newtonmore.) Using that route, you can stop for lunch in Pitlochry or Dunkeld, before getting on the M90 at Perth. Both are attractive towns, with numerous places to eat. Pitlochry more so than Dunkeld.

How's the weather on Skye?

Best wishes for the rest of your honeymoon!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
12 posts

Congrats on the wedding...

I made that drive 2 yrs ago. Definitely longer than 5 hrs. I absolutely loved the scenery in Glencoe. I think i stopped a million times because it was that beautiful.

Do you have plans for Stirling? William Wallace memorial is there as well as Stirling castle. Also, the cathedral in Dunblane is spectacular. It was one of my favorites (Glasgow being tops).

Good luck and enjoy!

Posted by
29 posts

Hello! Just posting here because I received an email notification for some reason today about it. I wanted to report back in case anyone finds this later that - at least from a North American perspective - the drive from Portree (on Isle of Skye) to Edinburgh was a breeze. So many Brits worried me about this (not just on here by any means) and we were so worried that we were taking on something too long, but it was such an easy going, not long feeling drive. If I remember correctly, after breakfast, we drove from Portree to Eilean Donan Castle (I believe 1.5 hours maybe? Maybe a little less) and took a 15 minute stop to take some pictures. (We'd gone inside on the way to Skye, but this day was better weather.) We then drove to Invergarry Castle, which is more of ruins of the castle than something you can go into. No one else was there, so that was neat to explore for maybe 20 minutes (that drive was about 1 hour?). Then thanks to the excellent suggestion, we drove another 1.5 hours the the House of Bruar which was honestly such a random place! We got lunch there and walked around the store a bit (maybe there for a little over an hour), used the bathroom and all that. Got back on the road and drove 30 mins to Dunkeld - which was a cute little town. We wanted to stay on track to drop off our rental car, so we gave ourselves 45 minutes there. We went into the big cathedral and used some of Rick's info to know what we were seeing. Then we got back in the car and went the rest of the way to Edinburgh which was another 1.5 hours (maybe a little less).

We left Portree around 10 or 10:30am (later than we wanted.....) and arrived at the Entreprise return place in central Edinburgh at about 6pm. We did make sure we kept to a schedule, but in general it was a very relaxed drive and did not feel like we just sat in the car all day with all the stops. Plus, so much of the landscape from the car is so beautiful! We did have great weather, so that could have helped. We also had been driving for about a week at this point, the road narrowness and left-side driving wasn't new to us.

But for anyone else reading this, debating doing this drive in one day - at least from a North American perspective (where you can drive for 24 hours straight and only be part way through the country) - it's incredibly doable and nothing to stress about.