The Scottish Highlands. 5 Breathtaking Highland Road Trips in a Campervan
The Scottish Highlands. 5 Breathtaking Highland Road Trips in a Campervan

The Scottish Highlands. 5 Breathtaking Highland Road Trips in a Campervan

Explore Scotland’s Stunning Highlands with These Unforgettable Campervan Adventures

The Scottish Highlands, a rugged and enchanting land of towering mountains, pristine lochs, and ancient castles, beckon adventurers from around the world. There’s no better way to experience the untamed beauty of this region than by embarking on a road trip in a campervan. With the freedom to roam at your own pace and the comfort of a mobile home, you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality that the Highlands have to offer.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through five incredible road trips in the Scottish Highlands. We’ll cover key stops, route details, and places to stay with your campervan, ensuring you have an unforgettable and hassle-free adventure. So, fuel up, pack your bags, and get ready to hit the open road in the Highlands of Scotland.

1. North Coast 500: The Ultimate Highland Odyssey

The North Coast 500, often dubbed “Scotland’s Route 66,” is an iconic 516-mile circular route that circumnavigates the northernmost part of mainland Scotland. Starting and ending in Inverness, this epic road trip takes you through some of the most dramatic and picturesque landscapes the Highlands have to offer.

Key Stops:

  • Inverness: Begin your journey in the capital of the Highlands. Explore Inverness Castle, take a stroll along the banks of the River Ness, and stock up on supplies for your trip.
  • Dunrobin Castle: This fairytale-like castle is a must-visit, with its stunning gardens and coastal views.
  • John O’Groats: The northeastern tip of Scotland offers rugged cliffs, a famous signpost, and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Ullapool: A charming fishing village where you can enjoy fresh seafood and take a boat trip to the Summer Isles.
  • Applecross: Conquer the winding Bealach na Bà, one of the UK’s most challenging roads, for breathtaking views of the Applecross Peninsula.
  • Torridon: Explore the Torridon Hills and their tranquil lochs.
  • Durness: Visit Smoo Cave and the beautiful beaches along the northern coast.

Route Details:

The North Coast 500 offers a diverse range of terrains, from coastal roads to mountain passes. You can complete the journey in 5 to 7 days, depending on the pace you prefer. Be prepared for narrow single-track roads in some sections and ensure you have a good map or GPS navigation.

Places to Stay:

  • Campsites: There are numerous campsites along the route, such as Sands Caravan and Camping Park, providing essential facilities for campervans.
  • Wild Camping: Scotland has lenient wild camping laws. Ensure you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and camp responsibly.
  • B&Bs and Hotels: If you fancy a night indoors, you’ll find a range of accommodations in the towns and villages along the way.

Explore North Coast 500

2. Isle of Skye: A Fairy Tale Adventure

The Isle of Skye, located on the west coast of Scotland, is a mythical land of misty mountains, dramatic cliffs, and magical landscapes. This road trip to Skye in your campervan will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.

Key Stops:

  • Portree: The island’s main town with colorful harborfront houses and quaint streets.
  • Fairy Pools: Crystal-clear pools and waterfalls surrounded by the Cuillin Mountains.
  • Old Man of Storr: A famous rock formation that makes for an epic hike.
  • Dunvegan Castle: Visit Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited castle.
  • Quiraing: A jaw-dropping landslip with otherworldly landscapes.

Route Details:

To get to Skye, you can either drive across the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh or take a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. Once on the island, you’ll find a network of roads that lead to Skye’s remarkable attractions.

Places to Stay:

  • Sligachan Campsite: A popular campsite with stunning views of the Cuillin Mountains.
  • Wild Camping: Skye offers incredible wild camping opportunities. Always follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • B&Bs and Guesthouses: Skye has a variety of accommodations, but book in advance during the busy season.

Explore Isle of Skye

3. The West Highland Way: A Hike and Drive Combo

For those who want to combine the thrill of a road trip with the adventure of hiking, the West Highland Way is the perfect choice. This long-distance trail stretches for 96 miles from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the heart of the Highlands.

Key Stops:

  • Milngavie: The starting point of the West Highland Way. Fuel up before hitting the trail.
  • Loch Lomond: Hike along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and enjoy the stunning views.
  • Glencoe: Experience the haunting beauty of Glencoe’s rugged mountains.
  • Ben Nevis: Conquer the UK’s highest peak in Fort William.

Route Details:

The West Highland Way is a linear trail, so you’ll need to arrange transportation to the trailhead and from the endpoint. This road trip can be customized based on your hiking pace and preferences. Plan for around 7 to 10 days to complete the hike and explore the surrounding areas by campervan.

Places to Stay:

  • Campsites: Camp along the trail at designated sites or in nearby campgrounds.
  • Hostels: Budget-friendly hostels are available in some towns along the trail.
  • B&Bs and Hotels: Treat yourself to a comfortable bed and hot shower at the end of your hike.

Explore West Highland Way

4. Cairngorms National Park: Wilderness and Wildlife

Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in the UK, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. This road trip will take you through the heart of the park, where you can spot wildlife, hike in ancient forests, and marvel at the vast, unspoiled landscapes.

Key Stops:

  • Aviemore: A bustling town and the gateway to the Cairngorms. Visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre.
  • Rothiemurchus Forest: Explore this ancient forest, home to red squirrels and stunning Loch an Eilein.
  • CairnGorm Mountain: Take a funicular railway to the summit for panoramic views.
  • Balmoral Castle: The summer residence of the British royal family, set amidst beautiful gardens.

Route Details:

Start your journey in Aviemore and explore the Cairngorms National Park at your own pace. You can choose to follow specific scenic routes or create your own itinerary based on your interests.

Places to Stay:

  • Campsites: Campsites like Glenmore Campsite and Mar Lodge Estate offer excellent facilities in the park.
  • Wild Camping: The park allows wild camping in certain areas. Check the park’s guidelines for details.
  • Lodges and Cabins: For a cozy retreat, consider renting a lodge or cabin in the park.

Explore Cairngorms National Park

5. The Whisky Trail: Sip Your Way through Speyside

If you have a taste for whisky, this road trip through Speyside will be a dream come true. Speyside is Scotland’s whisky heartland, home to some of the world’s most famous distilleries.

Key Stops:

  • Aberlour: Visit Aberlour Distillery and its visitor center for a whisky tasting.
  • Glenfiddich: Explore the Glenfiddich Distillery, one of the few remaining family-owned distilleries in Scotland.
  • Macallan: Discover the Macallan Distillery and its impressive architecture.
  • Glenlivet: Tour the Glenlivet Distillery and enjoy the serene countryside.
  • Elgin: Explore Elgin’s historic town center and visit the Elgin Cathedral.

Route Details:

Speyside is located in the northeast of Scotland, and you can easily reach it from Inverness or Aberdeen. The Malt Whisky Trail offers a well-marked route to explore the region’s distilleries. Make sure to have a designated driver if you plan to indulge in whisky tastings.

Places to Stay:

  • Campsites: Camp at designated sites or stay in campervan-friendly accommodations in the area.
  • B&Bs and Cottages: Experience traditional Scottish hospitality by staying in charming bed and breakfasts or self-catering cottages.
  • Distillery Accommodations: Some distilleries offer unique accommodations, so check if your favorite distillery provides lodging.

Explore Speyside Whisky

The Scottish Highlands

These five road trips through the Scottish Highlands promise to be exhilarating journeys filled with breathtaking scenery, cultural richness, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you choose to tackle the North Coast 500, explore the mystical Isle of Skye, combine hiking and driving on the West Highland Way, immerse yourself in the wilds of Cairngorms National Park, or savor the spirits of Speyside, each adventure offers its own unique charm.

Remember to plan ahead, stay safe, and respect the natural environment and local communities. The Scottish Highlands are waiting for you to discover their wonders, so rev up your campervan, hit the road, and let the Highland magic capture your heart.

Disclaimer: Please check local travel advisories and regulations, road conditions, and availability of accommodations before embarking on your Highland road trip adventure.