Start the journey of all journeys on the A82 and never look back. This golden road, which is the second longest in Scotland, is full of history (it evolved from military roads built in the 18th century) and is graced with exceptional scenery.
Keep on keeping on until you hit the Trossachs National Park. Hop out and meander around the ever-so inspiring Loch Lomond — a muckle stretch of water as bonnie as they come. After soaking up the serenity and singing ‘The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’, make it your mission to scale Ben Lomond, perhaps the easiest of the Scottish Munros. Avid climber or not, it’s worth investigating, especially when reaching the summit.
After breathing becomes easier following a hefty dose of stunning views, prepare for round two and nip back on the A82 to witness the majesty of Buachaille Etive Mòr. Rendered as one of Scotland’s most recognizable mountains, this postcard-worthy mountain exhibits a pyramidal form and is strategically placed on the route towards Glen Coe. Shortly after, be prepared to make a pit stop when Glen Coe comes into view. This is the moment to recreate that famous Skyfall scene when M and Bond stop to stare and pontificate over what’s yet to arise — ‘storm’s coming’.
All that adventuring can work up quite the appetite; satisfy your taste buds with dinner at The Lime Tree. Situated in one of Fort William’s oldest buildings, The Lime Tree An Ealdhain Restaurant has a stellar reputation, top-notch surroundings, award-winning food and even an accompanying art gallery and rooms to stay in. Although The Lime Tree is too good to surpass, The Lochan Cottage Guest House is the quintessential Highland cottage tailormade to the true Highland experience.
Wake up, embrace the cinematic views and enjoy a good Scottish fry-up. Once fed and watered, let the A82 — your new best friend — guide you north. There is truly something magical about driving alongside the shores of Loch Ness. Naturally, no trip here would be complete without a good search for Scotland’s very own denizen of the deep — Nessie. Elusive and intriguing, countless sightings of this water creature have occurred on the road, so keep all eyes peeled.
Next up: Urquhart Castle. Although ruins, there’s no denying its ‘wow factor’, considering that it dates all the way back to the 13th century. This castle, which boasts transcendental views overlooking beloved Loch Ness, was once a former royal residence and has links to the 14th-century Wars of Scottish Independence.
Once all castled out, make way for Inverness, the cultural capital of the Highlands. Grab a bite to eat, have a wander and brush up on your Scottish history at the Highlanders’ Museum. A registered historic monument, Fort George was built to guard the entrance to Inverness after the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. This former military garrison and training hub, with its estimated count of 20,000 artifacts and 10,000 documents and photos, is the largest regimental museum in Scotland. Once more, it’s a great way to learn about the Highlanders, descendants of renowned Scottish Regiments stemming from the clans.
Following inhaling a mountain’s worth of history at the Museum and touring Inverness, escape the city and head west on the A96. Indulge in a well-deserved night of luxury at the Boath House. This period stately home is a family-run hotel with glamorous furnishings and a relaxed welcoming vibe. The cherry on top happens to be its Michelin-starred restaurant.
Wake up early and witness the dancing light and striking colors of a Scottish sunrise — it’s the kind of visionary experience that induces the greatest of epiphanies. After a spot of breakfast (preferably the smoked bacon, black pudding, duck egg and tomato sauce) get back on that old road.
The adventure, this time, starts on the A94 before a brief detour to the Logie Steading. This converted steading was made for lazy Sunday wanderings and boasts a grand array of shops, including an art gallery, bookshop, café, whiskey and wine place and an antique store.
After a spot of shopping ‘Scottish-style’, venture north on the A94 and continue west until the Strathisla Distillery enters into focus. Situated in Keith, this beauty is the oldest running Highland distillery. Upon arrival, expect a wee dram before soaking up all the fascinating facts from the guided tour, followed, naturally, by another dram. A true sip of Scotland, this is the perfect way to grasp a taste of the Highlands.