General / Off-Topic Driving Scotland

At the end of June, I am renting a car and driving around Scotland. Edinburgh, Iverness, Oban, Glasgow then back to Edinburgh. I don't want to hit the normal touristy places so any tips? We are really into live music in small venues and independent bookstores.

Any tips?
 
Head to greenock my good man , 25 miles from glasgow and we have all the junkies that you could ever want.

Stay west coast for the dreaded scottish 'midge' , glencoe has some stunning views , loch lomond also but again you mist be prepared for the midges or theyll eat you alive.
 
When you hit Inverness, take the A9 and A95 to Tomintoul and down to Ballater, and then either on east through Deeside and on to Aberdeen and the jaunt south to Edinburgh, or west down through Glenshee on the way to Perth.

Both lovely routes to take and there used to be some awesome pubs for a cheeky pint and a pie on the way - but I don't believe you can actually have a pint and drive these days.

Either way - enjoy your trip!
 
As an American who drove through Scotland in 2016, my main word of advice is do not get a large car. Stay as small as possible, especially for driving around old town Edinburgh. I took the 'suggested' upgrade to a Vauxhall insignia and almost got the car stuck in a little back alley road in Edinburgh.

I started in Glasgow and went up the west coast. Cairndow and Inverary, then around loch Lomond and through Glencoe, Ft. William and on to Kintail. Then along loch Ness to Inverness, and back down to Edinburgh.

The roads are great to drive with some absolutely breathtaking views and landscapes.

Can't really speak for music venues, but I have heard that jazz is fairly popular in Edinburgh. I stayed in an AirBnB in this great little market area at the foot of the castle and there were two clubs/restaurants that had live music.

If you were going to Ireland I could name off a few good locations for you....lol.
 
Awesome advise, everyone!

So, our first night is in Perthshire then we hit Inverness for 2 days. I was thinking about that A93 route... It's not the main road... off the beaten track but not too far off... yeah.

By the time we get back to Edinburgh, we will have turned the car back in. There are 5 of us going, so it's gonna be a larger car. And I am looking forward to driving on the other side of the road with jet lag. woo!

While we don't have midges where I am from we DO have swarms of mosquitoes. The best thing for them is the Deep Woods Off Towelette with DEET. I am hoping to find something along those lines when we get to Scotland. We aren't checking bags, but taking a backpack each, and airport cops really don't like chemicals going through their machines. They tend to get testy.

As for pints... There's no rush to get from one city to the next... Google Maps says the longest drive we have in a day is 3 hours. And I am not much of a scotch guy, but beer or cider... now that is more my taste. Have a pint, wait a bit, maybe eat a little snack.... take photos... oh, man... I can't wait.
 
Don't bother with Oban - the best thing in it is the road out of it.

Lochgoilhead is worth it if the sun is out :



View from The Cobbler at Loch Long... It gets very Lord Of The Rings when you get higher up :

 
Bog Myrtle for midge's but generally avoid when they are active.
North Coast 500 NC500 is quite popular leaving from Inverness. This takes you round the North of Scotland and has had rave reviews. Music in Inverness, Market Bar, Hoot an any, Iron Works are all good.
 
Don't bother with Oban - the best thing in it is the road out of it.
Oban's not that bad, as an occasional visitor I like it - rainy or sunny!

Don't forget to climb to the top of Oban to get to the Colosseum-like McCaig’s Tower to get great views of Oban Bay.
There's plenty in and around Oban for a day or two of sightseeing.
 
Hi,
Driving in Scotland:-
Allow much more time for a route than you would elsewhere! Most "A" routes are ok, but tend to be two lanes - one in each direction. Overtaking opportunities are available - if you're lucky! Remember that the HGVs have a 40mph speed limit, regardless of the actual signposted one.
Do take a SatNav - up in the Highlands mobile phone signals can be elusive (we had to ferry a couple of tourists 20 miles so they could phone for hire car help - tyre blowout and no spare in the hirecar).

Fortunately, there are no "A" roads which are single track with passing places now - beware of the "B" roads, some are still single track. Avoid those with grass in the middle.

Scottish drink/driving law is stricter than English, so check carefully.

Depending on your beer preference, there are some great craft beers in Scotland, avoid the Tennants and remember that beer is sold in imperial pints and half-life (20 fl Oz or 10 fl Oz - larger than US pints).
Spirits are in 25 ml increments (avoiding the old problem of 1/5 gill in England and 1/4 gill in Scotland).

For music, look out for fiddle rallies, Highland games and individual flyers/pub notices.

Lastly, if you have any problems, ask a local (on the lines of "we're on holiday and from xxxx - insert country - can you help us?). ie identify yourself as not English, there's a long memory in parts, and still some ill feeling. Above all else, remember to use Scotland, Scots don't use England, English unless you mean the country to the south!

Enjoy!
Colin
Edited to correct autocorrect - it turned "gill" into "bill", obviously not knowing imperial liquid measures!
 
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If you're into books I can recommend going to Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway. It's Scotland's official "book town" (whatever that means) and is full of really cool independent book shops. Been there a few times and it's great. Also, just up the road is Newton Stuart, which has the pub that was the pub in The Wickerman. Say how-do.
 
If you're going to see The Giant's Causeway, which you - despite the touristy destination - should for its geological leetness, you can visit Wick, a small town in the Scotland's North. I was lucky enough to hit a Week of the Wick festival and see a load of bagpipe music, Miss of the Wick contest etc.. Nothing special there in general, went there for the camping site.
 
Do take a SatNav - up in the Highlands mobile phone signals can be elusive (we had to ferry a couple of tourists 20 miles so they could phone for hire car help - tyre blowout and no spare in the hirecar).
I expect/hope satnavs are a bit better now, but some years ago - back when they were still fairly new - I was asked for directions by someone parked in a field near a stone circle at the southern end of Mull. His satnav had led him down there, when he was trying to reach somewhere on the mainland. To this day, I have no idea how it's possible to be that far lost.
 
Also, if you're headed westwards out of Inverness - and if you have the time to spare - I can thoroughly recommend taking a jaunt into Wester Ross, around Loch Broom, Loch Ewe, Gruinard Bay, Applecross. It's the most beautiful of places, the finest corner of this island I'd argue. Also, easy to get from there to Skye.

The roads are slow going out there in the wilds, mind you. More time to gaze.
 
I'd recommend the Dukes Pass. Start in Aberfoyle and make your way over to Loch Katrine. I don't know what the drive is like in a car, but on a motorbike it's glorious. Just think of all the time you'd get to look at the view if you get stuck behind a slow-moving truck <grin>


 

The U.K has some of the most beautiful coastline in the world in my opinion. So Scotlands Coasts are where you should focus your driving trip.
 
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It's striking how many English folk have no clue that such wonders are to be found on this island, just a little way north.
The same could be said of many Scots and England. My mothers side of the Family are Scots and when ever they come visit the south, they are often struck by the locations we visit together. We have a Beautiful Island here and a little way north or a little way south is all it takes to see and enjoy it.
 
The North Coast 500 is going to have to be another trip... maybe just the wife and I...

As far as not seeing things in your own backyard... I live 5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park... you would think that after living here for 20 plus years, I would have taken the time to go see it. Nope. I want to, but every time we to planning a trip, something else comes up and we have to postpone it and then, oops, autumn hits and the park is closed.
 
The North Coast 500 is going to have to be another trip... maybe just the wife and I...

As far as not seeing things in your own backyard... I live 5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park... you would think that after living here for 20 plus years, I would have taken the time to go see it. Nope. I want to, but every time we to planning a trip, something else comes up and we have to postpone it and then, oops, autumn hits and the park is closed.
Mate if i lived next to Yellowstone National Park, id be there every opportunity i got.
Freaking out the locals with my Sasquatch costume. Good times.
 
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