For many, the Scottish Highlands are one of the most beautiful places on earth. The turbulent and moving history of the region dates back to ancient times.
The Scottish Highlands are not only a witness to the country's history, they are also home to some of the most stunning landscapes in Scotland. The Scottish Highlands road trip leads through uninhabited lands with breathtaking vistas. The Jacobit rising bloody battles in 1745 left the region sparsely populated. Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, reigns over the rest of the highlands, which constantly changes its shades to green, yellow, red and brown. Any time, along the route, there are breathtaking sceneries, and the trip from Inverness to Durness is said to be one of the world's best road trips.
The route from Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, to Durness on the northern tip of Scotland is 103 miles long if you take the A9 road. This time applies only when you are not making any stops, and this is something you won't be able to resist - you will be itching to take pictures around every turn on the Scottish road trip. Make the most of the journey in the Highlands with a car hire in the UK from Auto Europe. Be the master of your time and journey!
Since the road trip begins in Inverness, the best location for a car hire is Inverness Airport. You will be able to reach Inverness downtown in only ten-minutes drive. The city belongs to the six largest cities in Scotland. Inverness has a rich history and a thriving arts scene. One for the top highlights is the Inverness Castle. Built on a hill, the castle hosts a great view of the river Ness, the same that flows into Loch Ness. It is still believed that the monster Nessie lives in the waters of Loch Ness. If you fancy a trip to Loch Ness, there are two options, a boat trip via the Calledonian Canal or by a car hire from Inverness. Either way you choose, you are bound to experience the Highlands at its best.
Inverness boasts many interesting sites and attractions. One of them is the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, located not far away form the castle. The entry to the Scottish museums and art galleries is free for all! Do not miss this opportunity and pay a visit the gallery exhibiting modern art and old masters works. Follow down Church Street, and you will encounter some of the oldest buildings in the city, including Abertarff House - a fine example of domestic architecture, built in 1593.
Turn to the riverside to find shops and restaurants where you will be able to try out the local dishes. Inverness has a lot to offer to its visitors. Various music and modern art festivals take place throughout the year. The Inverness golf championships and the Highland Games attract a lot of attention worldwide.
The city boasts a number of different accommodation options, be it B&B, luxury and traditional inns. Culloden House is a popular tourist choice, the hotel was included in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List of 2010. The Royal Highland Hotel is the best-rated hotel in the city, while the Glen Mhor Hotel offers accommodation at more affordable prices in a Victorian-style house.
Wildlife is at your fingertips in the Scottish Highlands. North Kessock, a small village overlooking Beauly Forth, offers the perfect setting for watching dolphins. These friendly and intelligent animals swim in through the Moray Firth to find their food. Arriving in North Kessock from Inverness is easy. Take the A9 road north and pass the Kessock Bridge. The village is just off the A9 road. Free parking is offered by the North Kessock iCentre.
Watching dolphins in Scotland has become a popular holiday activity, and there are many places for you to watch the wildlife. The Scottish Highlands road trip gives you another possibility to watch dolphins at Chanonry Point. The village is located on a narrow peninsula on the Black Island. To arrive there from North Kessock, continue via the A9 towards Tore, and on the roundabout turn right to Fortrose. Once in the village, when you pass the police station, turn right and you will arrive at the car park near the lighthouse. The watching point is behind the lighthouse on the narrow beach.
Take a closer look at the trees you pass while on the road trip to North Kessock. You may notice pieces of cloth wrapped around the branches and tree trunks. These mark Clootie Wells - springs and wells with trees around them. The tradition originates in Celtic beliefs. Pilgrimages to the wells dip a piece of cloth in water, say a prayer to the well's spirit and tie the cloth to a tree. It is believed Clootie Wells have healing powers.
Should you like to take in the local spirit, stay overnight in Old Drynie House or the Herdsmans Cottage, both places offer you rustically charmed rooms on beautifully located properties.
Drive into the wild on the third day of the Scottish Highlands road trip. Explore the countryside of Scotland at its best with your rental car from Inverness. This part of the route will take you to the most amazing places you will drive through. North of West Kessock, while following the A9, you will see West Knockbain Woods unfolding to the right and Muckernish Wood to the left. Take your time to enjoy the scenery or even stop and take a walk in the woods to recharge your inner batteries. Once you pass the woods, you will see the colourful mountains and the glistening water of Cromarty Firth. A few moments later, you will arrive at the Cromarty Bridge.
If you feel adventurous, turn right after the bridge to explore the mountainous terrain and discover the lakes hidden in the mountains, Loch Garve and Loch Luichart. The trip to the lakes would probably make you a little hungry, so head back to the A9 and stop at Storehouse of Foulis to enjoy fresh food made of local produce and the friendly atmosphere of the place, and take advantage of free WiFi. If the weather is nice, dine outside the restaurant by the shore of Cromarty Firth. Should you like the food in the restaurant, try its shop and stock up with local products and souvenirs.
Now that you have had something for your body and soul, it is time to hit the road again. Follow the A9 until the fork with the B9176 road, which will take you through the Scottish farmland and woods. You will pass through the most remote regions of the road trip and drive up and down the hills and will be able to see some of the most beautiful countryside scenery in Scotland.
Once you reach the A836, turn left. You will have the Dornoch Firth on your right and Ardchronie village on your left. If you follow up the road, you will drive in to the little village of Ardgay. Here you will be able to rest, eat and even do some sightseeing. Take a stroll to the historic Croick Church and visit Alladale Wilderness Reserve, where, if you book in advance, you will spend a night in the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
Waking up in the heart of the Scottish Highlands will make a great beginning to the last part of your journey. Get to your car hire and and sett off on a new adventure of your UK road trip. Steer back to the A836 road and pass the Kyle of Sutherland over the Bonar Bridge. Having driven that far, you know that crossing each bridge brings along new delights and breathtaking impressions of the Highland's nature. Bonar Bridge Artgay Golf Club is something all golf fans should pay a visit to. Having scored a couple of aces, you will be back on the road, this time to the more hilly and rocky part of the Highlands. While you will be driving up north, the picturesque Loch Shin will unfold on your left-hand side and the Shin Forest will appear on the right-hand side. This part of the Scottish Highlands road trip leads along gorges, lakes and woods. Have your camera ready, as you willl be amazed by the beauty of the place. Once you pass Allt Caenn Locha, another lake on the route, you will slowly enter the rocky and mountainous terrain.
Follow the A838 north to Durness. The road goes through the vast uninhabited areas of serene nature. Once you reach the end point of your road trip to Durness by the Atlantic Ocean, you will realise, the village is sparsely populated and you will be surprised by its uncompromising beauty, and it is where John Lennon found inspiration to his song "In My Life". One of the local attractions is the small garden dedicated to the musician.
A definite must-see in Durness is the Smoo Cave, where the fresh and sea water mix, providing a gathering place for marine wildlife and birds. This northern tip of Scotland is also home to the highest cliffs on the British mainland. Clo Mor Cliffs reach 922 feet and boast some spectacular views. Durness Beach, Sango Bay, and Balnakiel Beach should also be on your list.
Another popular place with tourists, is the Balnakeil Old Church, where an infamous bandit and killer, Donuill Mac Morraichaidh, is buried. If you are interested in history and archaeology, you should pay a visit to the dig sites near Loch Croispol and Loch Borrallie. Additionally, golf enthusiasts, can try their chances at Durness Golf Club, where golfers come from all around the world to test their skills on the challenging rocky terrain.
Since the trip from Durness to Inverness takes about three hours and the village does not have its own airport, you would probably like to stay overnight and head back the next day. We would recommend the boutique B & B Mackay’s Rooms.
Now that you have an idea of the Scottish Highlands road trip and what places are there to visit, you can begin planning your trip. Should you opt for staying in smaller hotels, hostels and family-run B&Bs, we recommend booking your accommodation in advance. Staying overnight in the Highlands allows you to make the most of your holiday and learn the place more thoroughly.
You also wouldn't want to leave booking your car hire in the UK from Auto Europe till last minute. If booking in advance, you are getting a better price and have a wider choice of car categories. We hope that our guide will help you enjoy your trip to Scottish Highlands to the fullest.
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