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Driving through the Scottish Highlands

About Scotland
Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom and is placed in the northern side of the island. It occupies one-third of the northern United Kingdom and shares its border only down south. The Atlantic ocean surrounds it on all other sides. Apart from the mainland, there are in all 790 islands in Scotland with Hebrides and Northern Isles. It’s capital, Edinburgh is a top tourist spot in the region. The second largest city is Glasgow and then comes Aberdeen. The fact that the region has a long coastline, makes these two cities shipping hubs.

It is highly recommended that you rent a car and visit Scotland because the essence of the place lies in the exotic locations, countryside drives, local pubs, beer bars, whisky distilleries and delicious food hubs that can be easily missed otherwise. Reaching a place of interest is easy with the navigation system and the warm hospitality of the people of Scotland will make you feel at home.

One week Road Trip
Ideally one can plan a one week road trip to Scotland and stretch the sight seeing hours to cover maximum places. The freedom and convenience of a car allows flexibility and accessibility to maximum places and gives value for money as well. The high point of the region in this trip are the natural and well preserved Scottish mainland, freshly brewed beer, Single malt whiskey distilleries, smoked salmon, pure wool clothing, some delectable short breads, the lavish and beautifully preserved castles and enormous clear lakes.

At the onset of the trip, you just need a rented car and a valid driver’s licence. The journey starts in London and one must aim to begin the drive early so that you can make the most of the day and avoid traffic hours. The first stop from London as you drive north towards Scotland is the Peak district. It is a beautiful and highly recommended tourist place with enormous lakes, mountainous terrain and lovely villages rich with culture.

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The peak district is a relatively large area and driving around is the best way to enjoy the sceneries. One can choose to visit any village in the Derbyshire district, however, Castleton is what I would recommend. The whole peak district can be seen in just a couple of hours.

One of the most amazing spots in the Peak district is the Chatsworth house. It is located a mere 45 min drive from Sheffield and there are guided tours of the extremely beautiful and maintained property. The property has a lavish 105 acre green garden, masterpiece paintings, lovely interiors of the house, a well equipped gift shop and some amazing dining options.

The night can be spent in any of the awesome bed and breakfast options available in Scotland. One of the most popular budget hotels is Travelodge that has accommodation in all major cities and towns of the UK. Apart from this you can book some luxury hotels also for a more enjoyable time.

The second day one can finally arrive in the Scottish mainland and the most exciting places to visit here is the Lake district. There are 20 major lakes here and ideally one must choose a hotel or B&B option that is located somewhere close to any of the major lakes. This allows a great viewing sight and also activities for tourists.

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We chose to stay close to Ullswater lake. Some of the attractions around the lake are the Aira Force with a magnificent 70ft (21m) multiple fall with viewing bridges above and below. There is a seasonal tea room, a car park and toilets on site.

One can then head to get a real feel of the lake with a steamer ride that is easy to book with multiple timings to choose from. After this you can pick from a variety of historic houses that are open for public visits and very well maintained. One of them is the Dalemain Mansion with creatively kept gardens and well furnished interiors.

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The Lowther Castle is another worth visiting site close to the Ullswater lake and most B&B cottages and hotels have parking facilities so it is easy to reach anywhere in the area in no time. The castle is spread in a huge 130 acre land and has some breath taking view points.

The third day one can head further into the Scottish territory and we chose to go closer to Loch Lomond and Trossachs national park. The place has a lot to see and do and there are hundreds of fantastic options when it comes to accommodation. One can choose as per the budget and taste. We chose Dunblane as it is close to the Drummond Safari park, Stirling castle, Glengoyne distillery and Aberfoyle.

The Stirling castle is the royal residence of Scotland’s Kings and Queens and there is a lot to learn about the history, culture and heritage of the region with a guided tour of this beautifully located castle. The whole tour takes about 2 to 3 hours and the rest of the day can be used to drive in the Drummond safari that will give you clear and close views of the lions there.

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You can then chose any popular single malt distillery in the Scottish highlands and visit the site for a guided tour and tasting session that gives an insight in the processing of the world’s tastiest single malts. We chose the Glengoyne distillery set in the Scottish highland region. The whisky here is made with the natural spring water and distillery has a systematic manufacturing plant owned by a family for years. Apart from the whisky, they also sell some tasty whisky candies.

The distillery is close to the Loch Lomond lake so we drove there. It is a freshwater Scottish loch, which is the largest inland stretch of water in the UK by surface area. This is a must visit place for professional hikers and adventurers as there are amazing walking trails that are as long as 93 miles and go right up to Fort Williams.

We, however, enjoyed the loch and headed to Aberfoyle to get some of the pure Scottish wool kilts and shawls. It is a charming village on the banks of the River Forth in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, part of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

If you want a pure and traditional Scottish holiday feel then book a B&B in this popular place. There is an attractive main street with individual shops, cafés and restaurants. The Scottish Wool Centre has a huge variety of souvenirs, woollen kilts, scarves, jackets and that too at great prices. We had the tastiest smoked salmon, which is famous in Scotland with a glass of wine and completed the wishlist of our Scottish holiday.

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In the evening we were back in Dunblane and visited the famous Golden post box that is dedicated to the Olympian Andy Murray. Dunblane is Murray’s native town and after he won the Wimbledon a bench dedicated to his victory was placed next to the post box.

Next morning you can drive out of Dunblane and reach Edinburgh in straight two hours and spend the whole day sightseeing the most happening places there. The Scottish capital is well connected and has some of the best food and stay options. You have everything from hotels to serviced apartments there. The Royal Mile is the high street and tourist hub.

You can see the Edinburgh castle and learn about the history and background. The best thing you can do in the capital city is take a old city walking tour for a up, close and personal experience of the place. The Royal mile has most of the prominent buildings and places to see in Edinburgh like the castle and St. Giles Cathedral. You also get loads of shopping options and multi-cuisine restaurants.

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The next day you can drive further up north and cruise through the FIFE tourist route that covers the coastal strip and takes you right up to St. Andrews. You can see the Secret Bunker enroute Dundee. After reaching Dundee you can decide whether to see museums or drive along the coast or take a city walking tour. Either way, your day will be packed with fun, beauty, delicious food and lovely memories.

Most places in Scotland has a parking fee with automatic ticket machine on road sides so you can easily park your car and be within walking distance of any landmark spot.

After Edinburgh we drove to Glasgow and made sure we visit a fine craft beer pub and chose BrewDog for a fun experience. Glasgow is also a shipping hub and one of the most prominent cities of Scotland. Glasgow Botanic gardens are another attraction in the city for nature lovers. The high point of Scotland is that every castle, park, safari or lake is beautifully maintained and very well connected.

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For those who have few more days to spare, a visit right up to Fort William and Inverness is recommended. We, however, started out south, back to London after a blissful and stress relieving holiday that will stay close to our hearts forever.