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Oban to Inverness

We are planning our first trip to Scotland in late August. We are spending our first three nights in Edinburgh. We then plan to spend three days in the Highlands and our last two days in Glasgow. Currently the plan is to follow Rick's recommendations for the Highlands - spending one day making our way from Edinburgh to Oban, one day making our way from Oban to Inverness, and the final day making our way from Inverness to Glasgow.

In trying to figure out what we want to do each day I'm finding there are a lot of suggestions from Oban to Inverness. There seem to be several historical sites in Kilmartin Glen, a lot of sights in and around Glencoe, and then there is Loch Ness. This seems like a lot to see in one day. Is this possible? I don't want to spend too much time in the area right around Oban only to run out of time and have to skip Loch Ness. Maybe these stops don't take as much time as I imagine. What are your must see stops between these two towns?

Thanks for any input.

Posted by
3122 posts

There are two routes to Oban from Inveraray, and Kilmartin Glen is on the more southwestern one, along Loch Fyne to Lochgilphead and then north. I don't know that route beyond Kilmartin Glen (i.e., went to KG from the Inveraray side, but did not continue onward toward Oban), but it is a secondary road so I expect it would be slow going. Kilmartin Glen is really cool if you love stone cairns and medieval carved stones. By all means stop in the little tiny museum in the village and buy the map, otherwise you can drive right by the cairns as they are not very prominently signposted.

The other route out of Inveraray (a town I totally love, BTW -- I recommend Brambles for daytime meals and for overnight lodging) takes you up the A85 past the picturesque ruin of Kilchurn Castle, best photographed from across the loch. At Lochawe there's the Ben Cruachan "Hollow Mountain" hydropower plant visitor centre, which is terrific for anyone interested in science, and has a nice cafe. If you have time (we didn't) you can take a tour under the mountain. Driving over the Connel Bridge and along Loch Linnhe toward Fort William is very scenic.

The two routes I've described miss Glencoe, which most people rave about for beautiful scenery. That route is on the A82, which I would say is a somewhat more heavily traveled highway.

Outside of Fort William, we enjoyed visiting the ruin of Old Inverlochy Castle and then driving over to Banavie to walk up Neptune's Staircase. Much nearer to Inverness on the north shore of Loch Ness, we enjoyed Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition.

Hope this helps!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the information. I think we are pretty sure we want to see Glencoe so it sounds like I need to take a closer look at the route options to decide what else we can fit in that won't require a lot of out of the way driving or backtracking.

Posted by
1467 posts

Glencoe was fogged in the day we were there so we spent half an hour. The sunny day photos look very green and the experience is very weather dependent. Although Urquhart Castle was a fun stop, the drive by Loch Ness is bland for miles. I'm personally promoting the Lowlands with lots of Midieval and Rennaisance History such as Abbeys, Castles and Palaces and New Lanark which is an Industrial Revolution site on the World Heritage list is south of Glasgow. The Highlands does have more Jacobite War locations and crowds for the Outlander devotees and more Clan Castles. Also some great Georgian and Victorian Palacial homes. The Western Isles are trending to be the next destination; make reservations as accommodations are more limited. Check Visit Scotland, Secret Scotland and National Trust for Scotland web sites for great photos and info.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, Tonia,

Unless you have a specific reason to visit Oban (ferry to Mull?), it's not that charming a place. Kilmartin Glen could take up most of your day, as there are so many ancient sites. Oban is a good spot for an overnight, if you're visiting Kilmartin Glen, which is south of Oban.

Oban to Inverness, via the A82 (along the west shore of Loch Ness) is about a three hour drive. You don't see much of the loch, except for around Drumnadrochit. There are a few places where you can pull off the road to get a better look, but Loch Ness is far from the most scenic of Scottish lochs. You may want to spend more time in Glencoe, and just give Loch Ness a flying visit. You could take an early morning boat trip on Loch Ness, weather permitting, on the day that you're leaving Inverness for Glasgow. Inverness to Glasgow is about four hours via the A9/M9/M80, unless you have other towns you'd like to visit along the way.

Best wishes for your holiday. You still have lots of time to finalize your plans.


Mike (Auchterless)