Our Scotland road trip
In this month’s travel feature, we’re highlighting scenes of Scotland from our Scotland road trip. When we decided we wanted to go to Scotland for our next trip, I wasn’t sure whether it was a relaxing vacation I needed or one involving lots of hiking and physical strength. I pictured myself on a beach with a book in one hand and a margarita in the other. But when the husband has a say in it as well — and he really wanted to go to Scotland — well, there’s little you can do than go along with it. So we drove all the way from London to Scotland. In November — perfect to witness the autumn foliage!
Our Scotland road trip started in Edinburgh. Here we did the usual sightseeing (Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat). Edinburgh was our way of getting to know city life in Scotland for a bit. Edinburgh has its charm. It’s full of gothic architecture, there’s loads of hints to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world and there’s this eerie vibe that lingers in the otherwise modern cityscape.
Glasgow & Stirling
The next stop of our Scotland road trip was Glasgow. With only a couple of miles apart from Edinburgh, it is a completely different vibe. We stayed one day in Glasgow and headed to Stirling the next day. The highlight of this visit was Stirling Castle. We must have spent a day wandering around the castle to discover one of the most important castles in Scotland, historically and architecturally. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed the history class. A tip if you’re planning on visiting several castles in Scotland: get the explorer pass. The pass will give you access to loads of castles, including Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle and Urquhart Castle.
THINGS TO SEE IN LOCH LOMOND NATIONAL PARK
Falls of Dochart
Falls of Falloch
Benmore Botanic Garden
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Lake of Menteith
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
After Stirling, we headed straight into the wilderness. Well, as wild as it can get in a national park. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park was one of my highlights of the entire Scotland road trip. It’s easily one of the most impressive national parks in the United Kingdom. We could have stayed here a whole week if we had the time. The national park is full of camping and hiking opportunities and has loads of outdoors activities you could do with a family.
One of our first stop was to view Ben Lomond. There’s a special viewpoint in Gartocharn at the Loch Lomond RSPB Reserve where you can get an excellent view of the mountain. The viewing shelter provides a perfect frame of Ben Lomond. We did some bird spotting here and even spotted wild deer. There’s something truly powerful about seeing a majestic deer in the wild. Definitely a highlight of our Scotland road trip!
Another viewpoint you don’t want to miss is the Mirror Box near Loch Voil. The artwork by Angus Ritchie and Daniel Tyler is an innovative design that stands on the banks of the lake. The mirror design blends in beautifully with the crisp blue skies and green scenery. The stunning contemporary piece creates an intriguing contrast with the natural landscapes as a backdrop.
Loch Fyne Oysters
Before driving out to Glen Coe, we made sure to stop at Loch Fyne Oysters. Nothing beats the Gillardeau oysters for us but the Loch Fyne oysters are now our second favourite oysters. The Loch Fyne Oyster farm is acclaimed for their fresh, rich and creamy oysters. It’s so creamy! Stop by the restaurant for a dozen and we recommend ordering the langoustines, seafood pasta and lobster bisque as well. A point you cannot miss on your Scotland road trip.
Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 16-35mm f2.8
Canon 50mm f1.2
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro
Various ND Filters
One of the most beautiful stops on our road trip was Glen Coe — the heart of every Scotland road trip (or should be). Glen Coe is located in the Lochaber Geopark in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a deep valley with towering (I kid you not) mountains of Glen Coe and shows the Scottish Highlands in its natural beauty. We learned that the valley was carved out throughout centuries by glaciers and volcanic explosions. We flew our drone through the highlands and the valleys. It’s vast! It’s an impressive sight for sure — so much we didn’t dare fly our drone all over the rugged mountain peaks.
If you’re planning on visiting Glen Coe (which you should) we recommend staying at least two days to get a broad scope of the things you can see here. There’s a lot of hiking trails you can do. Go on a trail into the deep valley or hike along the picturesque part of Glencoe Village.
Around Glen Coe there’s also several filming locations you can visit. For James Bond fans, Glen Etive is worth a visit. In Skyfall there’s a scene where James Bond visits his hometown. For our Harry Potter fans, hike out to Signal Point. In the area, Hagrid’s hut was filmed.
THINGS TO SEE IN GLEN COE
Three Sisters Viewpoint
Glencoe Lochan Trail
Bidean Nam Bian
Meeting of Three Waters
And for diehard Harry Potter fans, there’s of course the infamous bridge where the Jacobite train rides, as seen in many of the Harry Potter films. This is in Glenfinnan and it’s about an hour away from Glen Coe. There’s a viewpoint where you can see the train passing on the viaduct. It’s a short walk from the parking lot. We didn’t expect the site to be this crowded. There were at least 500 people waiting with cameras and tripods (us included) to capture the moment the train passes. It was well worth it for the photo though!
Isle of Skye
The next leg of our Scotland road trip was Isle of Skye. At this point we thought we had seen it all but Scotland has so many gems to discover. It’s impossible to cover all in a two-week road trip. We’re already planning on heading back again in the future to cover places we weren’t able to visit on this trip. Isle of Skye is a whole new chapter in our road trip. Skye is home to some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes. From grand mountain ranges to miles and miles of dramatic coastlines, there’s so much to see.
There’s loads of hiking opportunities in Skye. The Old Man of Storr hiking trail (an intermediate hike I’d say) was well worth our time and efforts. It was rainy and windy the day we were there, scary windy at times even. But once you’ve reached the foot of the Storr, it’s magnificent to see. The thing with Scotland hiking is, prepare well. So bring your wind jacket, rain jacket, hiking boots, hiking bag with enough water and protein bars to get you to the top. At the top of the Storr, look back down to see the breathtaking peninsula behind you.
Fairy Pools is a short, easy hike to see several groups of waterfalls. If you’re travelling with kids, I’d say this is a good hike to do. There’s eight waterfalls in a row you want to see and on the right side of the trail, you’ll find majestic mountains towering over you.
Neist Point is also worth the hike. There’s few scenes that can beat the iconic Scottish sea views with rugged peninsulas, the sound of waves clashing against rocks and an infinite horizon. We went out just before sunset. This turned out to be a great time, with the sun just setting, colouring the seascape in a warm orange glow, and the nighttime falling, giving the lighthouse a time to shine.
Lastly, you cannot miss the Oyster Shed on Skye. I’d go back just for the grilled langoustines if I could. This tiny shed is where you can find fresh oysters, beautifully charred langoustines, fresh crab claws and more. I’d go back again in a heartbeat!
THINGS TO SEE IN ISLE OF SKYE
The Old Man of Storr
Neist Point Lighthouse
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
The Brother’s Point
THINGS TO SEE IN NC500
Stacks of Duncansby
North Coast 500 (the long end of our Scotland road trip)
The last leg of our trip was covering the North Coast 500. This is a long drive — and I mean long. We drove past miles and miles of white sandy beaches. Had it been summer, we would’ve probably tried dipping our toes in the water. But it was freezing and we didn’t want to catch a cold! But the views were amazing. Especially standing on the rugged coastline, looking out at the sea. This is a place where you come to wind down, book a room at a bed & breakfast and stay for weeks on end to write a book (which is exactly what we plan to do in the future). There’s nothing like a never-ending coastline and endless sea views. We didn’t take many photos here as it was rainier and windier than our previous days. But we’ll definitely be coming back here on our next Scotland road trip.