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So you have a week and want a some Scotland tours suggestions? And you want to see the best bits? You have a great choice. First of all, let’s start with one of the most popular tours, below. In the trade, this one is sometimes called the 'milk run' as it's the most obvious if you take a look at the map. It's still worth doing though for a flavour of Highland Scotland.
This straightforward option from Edinburgh crosses the Forth Bridge, then goes north up the A9 ‘the Highland Road’ to Inverness, the Highland Capital.
Forth Rail Bridge in winter - from the seaward side. That's why it looks back to front! (At least, it does to me.)
From Inverness, this most popular of Scotland tours turns south again and goes down the Great Glen, via Loch Ness, to Fort William on the western seaboard. Then it circles back by way of Glen Coe, scene of the infamous clan massacre, to Crianlarich, the junction community in the middle of Scotland (or you might say in the middle of nowhere, but in a nice way.) From this point you can turn south for Loch Lomond and Glasgow or return to Edinburgh via Callander at the edge of the Trossachs, and Stirling.
The A9 on an average day. Not the easiest of roads. One day it might be dual carriageway (divided highway) all the way to Inverness and make Scotland tours even more relaxing. But, apparently, we have to pay for Edinburgh's tram system first. Look, I'll be frank with you...we hate this road in its present state! So just take it carefully, will ya? We might be driving the other way.
In a good choice of Scotland tours, you can do this tour quite easily by public transport as well as by self-drive. And a piece of advice if you are thinking of renting / hiring a car. Car rental Scotland is quite straightforward. Please remember though that the A9 is only a dual carriageway (divided highway) some of the way and it’s always best to remember which section you are on. By the way, rush hour in Inverness is not too stressful – certainly not as stressful as leaving Edinburgh with an unfamiliar vehicle on the first day of your journey!
You can potter along on this classic Scotland tour in well under a week. So consider it as a touring option. Except that the Great Glen, though scenically quite interesting, isn’t the most spectacular bit of Scotland, while your chances of seeing the Loch Ness Monster on the way are about the same as the Scottish Bigfoot booking in at the same bed and breakfast as you. (Oddly enough you can see pictures of both of them, sort of, if you click on that link above.)
Finally - and don't let me put you off, because thousands of visitors can't be wrong - the Great Glen main road, the A82, between Inverness and Fort William can be very busy, tediously slow in places and is definitely the place to see impatient drivers at their worst.
The most scenically spectacular section of this trip is through Glen Coe. A National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre covers the story of the Glen Coe massacre in 1692, when a company of Campbell militia, acting under government orders, turned on their Macdonald hosts, with whom they were billeted. This act of genocide has echoed down through the centuries. Yes, it’s chilling stuff – the more so because it happened within the gloomy confinement of this steep-sided craggy glen. (More National Trust for Scotland properties to view: see Bannockburn and Culloden.)
Morning mist rises from the edge of Rannoch Moor. You can bag this sort of picture almost without stepping outside the car! Though on a morning like this, why would you not want to sniff the air, at least?
After that, the return leg is across Rannoch Moor and another glimpse of wild Scotland. You can see why the heathery wastes of the moor inspired the pursuit scene when David Balfour and Alan Breck are hunted by the redcoats in Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure story ‘Kidnapped’.
This is our dog Millie, a very small terrier contemplating a very large Rannoch Moor. (Yes, that is snow she is sitting on.) The road described in this tour is faintly to be seen quite far up in this picture, above Millie's head, and just between the lochs. Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain, is the most prominent almost centre on the horizon in the picture as well. This picture, as Munro-baggers will already have worked out, is from the summit plateau area of Beinn Achaladair, looking north.
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Scotland in Three Days