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West coast of Scotland by car

I need some route planning help for a first trip to Scotland in July. What would be the most interesting/scenic route from the Lakes District to Oban and from Oban to Kyle of Lochalsh? We love the sea and great beaches. Thanks, Jenny

Posted by
5563 posts

There are likely multiple ways to get from the Lake District to Oban. I went via the Debatable Lands--saw Hadrian's Wall, Hermitage Castle, checked out the Abbey's. This takes you bit more toward the Center. If you have interest in Sir Walter Scott, his home Abbotsford is near Peebles. It's been closed, but may be opening by when you drive. The abbey's in the borders are interesting. Of course, they are all ruins due to Henry VIII, the rough wooing and the dissolution of the monasteries. I also like Traqhair House. Alternatively, you could drive along the south coast of Dumfriesshire. The Solway Firth is what separates Cumbria from Scotland. If you go this route, you'll go up past Ayre and you should check out Rabbie Burns birth place.

Heading out of Glasgow, you've got at least a couple of ways to go,but for any of the routes I would suggest going up the east coast of Loch Lomond. If you want a place to stop and check out the Loch, Luss would be a good place. When you get to Tarbet and the A89 you either keep going North or head West. Either route will be scenic. North will be faster, and you can cut over to Oban or skip Oban, (which in my view is ferry port and not worth a detour unless you're going to Mull, but I know others disagree), or you go north to Ranoch Moore and drive through Glencoe. At this point you'll drive along Loch Linhe to Fort William. Alternately, you can head west, back down by Loch Lomond. You'll need to wind southward along Loch Fyne to Lochgilphead where you pick up the A816. This route takes you right though Kimartin. This one of the great ancient sites in Scotland. Dunadd is hill worth climbing. It has really interesting ancient history and is an easy climb. Follow the road north to Oban and then on to Fort William.

From Fort William there are two ways to Skye. One is to head west on the A830 which will take you past Glennfinnan where Prince Charlie landed and you'll see Harry Potter's viaduct and it's a beautiful drive. If you have time and want to explore where few travelers go, at the end of Loch Eil take the A861 and explore Sunnart, Moidart and Ardnamurchan. Make sure you have lots of gas. :) When you get back on the A830 it will take you to Mallaig where you catch the ferry. Alternately, you can head north on the A82 toward Loch Ness. Just outside of Spean Bridge stop and visit the Commando Memorial. Take a look at Ben Nevis if the weather is good. Realize that this is where the commando's trained for all those missions in WWll. At Invergarry take the A87 west. If you have time, take the side road along Glen Garry. It's a beautiful loch. You'll need to backtrack to return to the A87 which will take you west to Loch Duich, past Eilean Donan to Kyle of Lochalsh.

Do go to Via Michelin and plot these routes to see the times. Add 25% for photos and traffic etc. The roads are wee and winding, but the scenery is beautiful. Let me know if you have more questions.

Pam

Pam

Posted by
108 posts

Thank you, Pam! So much great information, I have a lot to think about. I'm inclined to head north through Dumfriesshire since I've been told that's the land my dad's family came from back in the day. I'd like to see Ayre and Troon as well. From Glascow to Oban I was fairly undecided until I saw pictures of the Kilmartin area and literally got chills. That told me I need to go that way. I so appreciate your letting me know about that route. We will most likely do some kayaking in the Oban area, that's why we're staying there a couple days. From Fort William I like the route that heads west. We'll take some time to check out the Silver Sands beaches and the Sound of Arisaig, where the beach scenes of my favorite movie, Local Hero, were filmed. How far ahead can you book the ferry from Mallaig? Also, what route do you recommend from Skye to Inverness? More scenic to go along Loch Cluanie and Loch Garry (since we would have missed it enroute to Skye by taking the ferry) and eventually along Loch Ness, or go a bit north along Loch Carron on A890 and arrive in Inverness from the northwest? Thank you, Jenny

Posted by
714 posts

I second Pamela's suggestions for the route -you will see fantastic scenery and drive through a lot of history. Glencoe and Rannoch Moor in particular are very atmospheric - gorgeous in the sun and mysterious in the rain.

I recommend that you get some good maps of the area: M personal favourite are the Ordnance Survey who produce very detailed maps showing monuments and trails and footpaths. Order on line from the Ordnance Survey in the UK. Also check out the website of the Automobile Association (the British version of the AAA) http://www.theaa.com/travel/index.jsp. They do very good tour guides and hotel lists as well as restaurant recommendations, car rentals, roadside assistance etc.

Posted by
7 posts

The route from Glasgow to Oban is a great drive with amazing scenery along the way. Besides Loch Lomond you can take a quick stop at Inveraray and a see the magnificent castle. We only looked at the outside due to time but it was a nice stop about half way along the road trip. Oban might be a small village but we enjoyed spending the night there and wished we had an extra day to explore the village. Roads are windy and narrow and weather and traffic can slow you up a bit. So give a reasonable assesment of drive time in your planning. We left Glasgow at around 10 am and pulled into Oban at around 5pm and that felt like a relaxed pace with several stops along the way.

Posted by
108 posts

Thank you Lesley for your website and map suggestions. I love good maps! Thank you Brian, too, for giving me a time-frame for the drive. That helps a lot. Jenny