Wanderlust: ‘A strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.’ (This is me)

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Take a three day road trip around Scotland with International Student Ambassador Sofia.

My perfect 3-day trip started in Edinburgh and led to exploring Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and its surroundings.

If you are one of those lucky people who don’t have class on a Friday or Monday and enjoy the pleasures of a long weekend then why not make the most of it. Take those days and travel somewhere around Scotland that you have never been. If like me, you don’t want to venture too far north and spend hours driving, then here is my small trip around mid to west of Scotland. Spoiler alert, I got lost between the picturesque and enchanting Scottish villages.

Enjoying the outdoors

Why rent a car?

There are many options to travel by bus to places like the Isle of Skye, Inverness and the Highlands but we wanted to get a bit off the beaten track. Car rental is very easy and relatively cheap in the UK as long as you have a valid driver’s licence. For our travel we chose Enterprise Car Club where you can rent a car starting from just £25 per day. Enterprise has cars scattered around Edinburgh and on becoming a member you can rent one for under £5 per hour, which has come in very handy on many other occasions as well. But back to the trip!

Overview of the trip

Total distance: 790km

Total days: 3

Nights spent on the road: 2

Number of people: 3 (lovely) students

Cost: £170 for the car / £30 each for accommodation / £120 total per person

So we hopped in our small rental, kept repeating ‘’Remember to drive on the left, drive on the left’’ like a chant and ventured on!

Day 1 - approaching Loch Lomond

Our first stop was the small, old village of Drymen (pronounced ‘drimin’ and not ‘dry-men’, as we soon discovered). After sufficient research we decided to make this our basecamp for exploring Loch Lomond. It was easy to find affordable accommodation through Airbnb and after settling in, we set out to explore the surrounding area.

One of the places we visited was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) nature reserve in West Dunbartonshire on the south-east shores of the lake. Entrance to the reserve is free, however you can choose to go on guided walks along the trail if you like for an extra fee. We walked around in the woodlands.

Next we visited Balmaha where we admired the view, took lots of pictures and looked around in its visitor centre. The sunset found us admiring the landscape as we headed back in Drymen to have a nice hot meal and try out the locally distilled scotch in the local pub of the town.

 

Day 2 - Loch Lomond banks

Our destination for the next day was Kinlochleven, a small village lying at the foot of the Mamores Mountains. We had booked a stay at the MacDonald Hotel Cabins which promised us a spectacular view staying in one of their wooden cabins overlooking Loch Leven for just £20 each.

We took the route across the west shores of Loch Lomond, making occasional stops to admire the view, take lots of pictures and have a mini picnic! I would suggest taking your time driving across this patch of the journey, there are so many places to see. The places that stood out for us along the way were:

  • Aldochlay, where you can admire the views of the scenic island of Inchtavannach and even pay it a quick visit by boat.
  • Inveruglas, where you can make a stop to regroup, have a quick snack (better to have something prepared since you can’t find many shops around here) and, you guessed it, take lots more pictures. The place offers amazing views of the lake and you can also see the renewable Hydro Electric power station opened by Queen Elizabeth in the 1950s. Don’t forget to explore the wooden installation viewpoint which has won many architectural awards and is truly magnificent on a sunny day!

Day 2 - road to Glencoe

Driving towards Glencoe is definitely one of the most scenic routes I’ve ever taken. It’s hard to keep your eyes on the road when you are surrounded by beautiful woodlands interchanging with the mountainous landscape of the Scottish Highlands. The only time we strayed off our route was to visit the Falls of Dochart, Killin where after a small hike you are rewarded with the views of the majestic falls and the historic bridge of Dochart.

Killin falls

When we finally reached Glencoe we were too tired to take one of its famous walking routes so we decided to just have some tea and sweet pumpkin soup at Glencoe Café. However, if you are more energetic than us please consider one of the hikes starting from this incredible location. You’ll get great views of Glen Etive if you decide to take the route that brings you straight to Kinlochleven which is where we spent the second night, waking up to truly majestic scenery!

Day 3 - last stops before Edinburgh

Having decided on a circular route, our last day was meant to be free to basically stop wherever we thought was most beautiful along the way. We headed towards the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, none other than Fort William, where people come to attempt their climb of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK. Being us, we stayed firmly at ground level and proceeded to explore the cultural side of the town, paying a visit to the West Highland Museum which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Before going back to Edinburgh, we stopped over at Perth. Our intention was to explore Scone Abbey, where we had heard the King of Scots was crowned, visit the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, one of the oldest museums in Scotland or the beautiful church of St George’s Kirk. Instead, we found ourselves at The Venue, a beautiful local tavern to which we were drawn to by the sounds of people dancing and of the live music featuring a fiddle and a guitar!

Should you decide to take this route or another one, the Scottish scenery doesn’t disappoint and you’ll find yourself among beautiful landscapes. So all that is left for me to say is try not to get lost, and happy adventures!

'I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.' – John Green

Sofia
Sofia is from Greece and is studying MSc Wildlife Biology & Conservation at Edinburgh Napier University.

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