Around two years ago a study was conducted by Mobil, with help from celebrity chef and motoring enthusiast James Martin, to find the best road in Britain.
After hours and hours of driving a special car which measured road bumps, and testing the heart rate and stress levels of the chef, Martin and Mobil concluded that Scotland’s A82 between Glasgow and Fort William is the best drive in the UK.
This stretch of road is famously scenic, and for a visitor to Scotland it is a great way to view pretty much the full spectrum of visual delights that the country has to offer. Starting in Glasgow you can experience the culture of this football mad university city, and then make your way out to the more remote and rugged destination of Fort William.
On leaving Glasgow the initial drive that greets you isn’t particularly attractive, and unfortunately even though you drive close to the coastline for a large stretch it’s not visible. However things start to perk up when you pass Dumbarton, and as you creep closer to the Loch Lomond &Trossachs National Park you are greeted by dramatic mountains with not a building in site. The drive through the park takes you right alongside Loch Lomond, which really is a beautiful journey – miles and miles of clear water against a backdrop of hills. Stop off at Tarbet for a break and to take some pictures and visit the little visitors’ hut, or if you’re a golfer you could enjoy knocking some balls in the park.
Once you’re past Loch Lomond the beauty doesn’t stop, but it changes into the more rugged and sometimes barren landscape of the Highlands.
The road climbs from Crianlarich through Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy to cross the vast wilderness expanse of Rannoch Moor. At this point you are around 1,000 feet above sea level.
As you proceed to the far side of the moor, the mountains rise up again and the traveller enters the most stunning part of the journey – the trip through Glencoe. Glencoe is infamous for the Massacre in 1692. In more recent times the Glen has become one of the best locations in the UK for climbing and mountaineering and outdoors people flock here year-round.
As you start to approach Fort William you go past another Loch – Linnhe – which is actually a sea loch. The views get prettier and less wild the closer to Fort William you get, and on arrival you are greeted with a pleasant and welcoming historic town.
This certainly does offer a tourist a lot, however some critics have said that the A82 is actually one of the worst roads in the UK due to its accident rate – it has in the past been named the most dangerous. However for sheer variety and drama, it is a wonderful drive.
It is by no means the only impressive drive in Scotland though. The A93 through the Cairngorms between Perth and Aberdeen will take you on the UK’s highest road and give you views of two royal palaces – Balmoral and Scone – making it a popular route for tourists.
Less well known but arguably a contender for best drive is a highland route on the Applecross Peninsula in the Highlands, called (wonderfully) The Pass of the Cattle. This historic road has the steepest ascent of any road in the UK, and its hairpin bends are reminiscent of the Alps. You get stunning coastal views as the road takes you frighteningly close to the cliff edges, and the mountain and sea views really are glorious. Travel this road to Applecross and stay at the Inn by the water, which provides fresh meals of local seafood and a real Scottish experience. Just make sure your car is up to the task of negotiating this road before you start your drive!
This post is by Kat Morris, who has had many memorable holidays throughout Scotland, and who blogs about driving for Car Loan 4U.