From Glasgow to the Rugged Beauty of the West Highlands
Flee to the Highlands
Jump in your Avis rental to discover this region's rugged beauty
It is easy to forget that vibrant, cosmopolitan Glasgow is barely an hour away from the wild scenery of the Trossachs National Park, and barely two from the rugged beauty of the Highlands.
Hire a car in Glasgow, and you can begin the day sipping artisan coffee in Finnieston and spend the afternoon among the glens and forests of the Highlands. Along the route is Inveraray, and the road there from Glasgow is a famously scenic drive, passing the vast Loch Lomond, The Cobbler – recognised as one of the most “impressive summits in the Southern Highlands” – and Rest and Be Thankful, a beauty spot and viewpoint from which you can see the divide between Glen Kinglas and Glen Croe.
Loch Fyne stop-off
Before you reach Inveraray, stop for a sustaining lunch at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant, which specialises in seafood found in the eponymous lake. Since the 1970s, the company has been farming oysters and selling direct to the public; today, it has a reputation for producing locally made, delicious and sustainable food. The menus change daily, and include dishes that tip their hat to the Argyll region. Local whiskies are, of course, also available—but avoid them for now if you’re planning on driving on.
The town itself
Inveraray, just a short drive westward, is a picturesque planned town and the largest one in central Argyll. Its castle, a country house built in Gothic Revival style, is recognisable for its steep conical roofs, which give it the appearance of something from a fairytale. It sits on the shore of Scotland’s longest sea loch, Loch Fyne, and contains a vast collection of weaponry that includes pikes, muskets and swords. For those eager to stretch their legs after the drive, there is a pleasing and relatively easy hike which begins in the town and snakes up through thick forest and across the River Aray towards one of the best vantage points in the region. From the top you can see the loch, the town, the castle and, of course, the distinctive peaks and troughs of the wider Highlands.
From Inveraray it’s a straightforward drive into the West Highlands. If you head towards Glencoe, take the A82, which connects Glasgow and Inverness. It’s a narrow and serpentine road, but one universally loved for its surrounding scenery and the views it offers those who drive it. The section of road between Tyndrum and Glencoe passes across Rannoch Moor, a place described as one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. The moor is vast, and composed of bog, rivers, rocky outcrops and many varieties of plant and wildlife. There is a visitor centre for those who wish to explore further.
Continue on to the north-east and Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. For everyone else, head on at least as far as Fort William, and be treated to views that are some of the most stunning in all of Scotland. There is also the Steall Falls and Glen Nevis, which stretches across the horizon at the base of its big brother Ben. Park in the Braveheart car park – named for the film – and set off on foot along one of the many paths through the forest.
A rewarding ride
The route from Glasgow into the West Highlands is an ambitious one, but one that is equally rewarding. Along the way, without even leaving the car, you’ll pass rivers and streams, sprawling glens and dense forests in the shadows of the mountains rising behind. But you’ll also have a chance to get out and explore, to plot your own paths through hills and woodland, and to eat succulent, locally prepared seafood fished from Loch Fyne. And in the shape of Inveraray, visitors can immerse themselves in a little history and culture, stretching their legs as they do so before another picturesque drive through this dramatic Scottish countryside.