MOUNTAINS, sea and islands will unfold before you on some of Scotland’s most scenic roads
Bealach na Bà (Pass of the Cattle), Ross and Cromarty
You won’t forget a drive on the Belach na Ba, the road to glorious Applecross. It’s only fair that, whoever drives there, gets to be the passenger on the way back because once you’re behind the wheel you’ll miss most of the tremendous views of Wester Ross, Skye and the Outer Hebrides, such is the focus required.
It’s all eyes on the hairpin bends and narrow single track sections. Once I drove over here and my friend from London started crying in the back because she was so afraid of plunging off the side. Once safely through the gates of the campsite, I fell into a deep sleep as soon as I got out the car from concentrating so hard. But you’ll experience every inch of this road and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Things to remember: Keep your eyes on the road, and your hands on the wheel.
A83 Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll
Once you hit the west side of Loch Lomond and the road starts to rise and undulate with Ben Vorlich coming closer into view, you know you are off to somewhere special with the city firmly in the rear view mirror. Take a left at Tarbert and you’ll hit the Rest and Be Thankful. The highest point sits at 803 ft above sea level and divides Glen Kinglas from Glen Croe. In the autumn, it is particularly beautiful with the Queen Elizabeth Forest fully on show. Stop at the viewpoint and cast your eyes over the route you have just taken. It can take your breath away.
Things to remember: Your flask, for a cup of tea as you take in the vista.
Ullapool to Achmelvich, A832
On a day of bright blue skies, there’s nowhere more stunning and surprising in Scotland as the road to Achmelvich. It’s one of those places you could mistake for a tropical idyll of white sand and clear blue waters when the light is right. Getting there is all part of the experience as you head north from Ullapool and start pulling up into Sutherland, with the crazy forms of Suillven mountain and its neighbours in the Inverpolly Nature Reseve making for a jaw dropping backdrop. Such is the drama that the most ancient peaks take you to a place like no other. Find the turnoff for Achmelvich and you will buzz past the deepest green water pools topped with lily pads before the sandy shores of this most splendid corner of the country unfold.
Things to remember: Your camera
Fort William to Mallaig A830
The Road to the Isles has got it all and shows that west can be best when it comes to driving in Scotland. Head through Corpach, past Loch Eil before hitting beautiful Glenfinnan, the rallying point for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army later made famous all over again by the rail viaduct that featured in the Harry Potter film franchise.
As you drive into Arisaig you will see Rhum and Eigg over the water and that sensation of land giving way to sea will be upon you. It’s worth turning off at Morar to see the glorious Silver Sands and with any luck the sun will be out. Push on and you will be at Mallaig. You will have had roughly an hour’s worth of goosebumps by then.
Things to remember: A guide to the 1745 uprising. This is a road steeped in history so bring it to life while you can.
Port Askaig to Port Charlotte, Islay
Roll of the ferry at Port Askaig and let the Islay adventures begin. The route at first might not look that dramatic but when you get down into the guts of the island you’ll know you are somewhere special. Turn right at Bridgend and pass the bluebell woods to your right, keep going and you will start to skirt the sides of Loch Indall. You’ll be the same level as the water. You will see the striking sight of the Bowmore distillery to the east. Look back the way you came and you’ll see the Paps of Jura. Soon you will pass Bruichladdich on your right, its distinctive turquoise barrels marking the spot of this fine distillery. Port Charlotte will be the next village you come too, where the hotel does a mean lunch and a good line in hospitality. A good stop but you might want to push on past the Alpaca farm to to Portnahaven, where you can catch a top, hot bite to eat at An Tigh Seinnse, and watch the seals bob about in the harbour.
Things to remember: Leave the car behind one day on Islay and get a taxi tour between distilleries. Split the cost with other holidaymakers. Everyone likes a dram while on the island.