Home Featured Scottish Highlands Road Trip: 10 Day Trip Report

Scottish Highlands Road Trip: 10 Day Trip Report

by Mandy
0 comment
Views of Dunnottar Castle during our Scottish Highlands road trip

A Scottish Highlands road trip promises rugged landscapes, dramatic views, ancient castles, rich history and picturesque lochs. When it came to us picking a trip away for our wedding anniversary, 10 days in Scotland was a no brainer for us!

Between us we had already enjoyed a weekend trip to Edinburgh. Mandy has also climbed Ben Nevis previously, but of course there was (and remains) still so much to see in Scotland. We managed to cram a lot into 10 days in Scotland, but we definitely only scratched the surface.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, below is our trip report from our Scottish Highlands road trip. We explored the Isle of Skye, (taking in sights along the way such as Eilean Donan Castle), Inverness and the Loch Ness, plus some of the many, many distilleries found in the Highlands around the Cairngorms and so much more!

Planning a road trip around the Scottish Highlands

First things first, we had to plan our route carefully. We only had 10 days in Scotland, and driving up from the UK’s south coast meant we needed to maximise our time in the Highlands. But more importantly, we would be taking Lady with us. She is already a well travelled cat and not fussed by our travels. But at 10+ hours this would easily be her longest car journey ever. Although the somewhat spaced out look on her face says otherwise, she handled the car journey like a champ!

The journey to Scotland was just one facet to consider, we also needed a good base! We wanted squeeze in as much sightseeing as we could, given the distance we were travelling, but without leaving Lady on her own every day for huge periods of time. Usually during a road trip, we move from place to place. But we couldn’t do this without unsettling Lady massively.

After much research, we settled on the small town of Nairn. Very much a “locals town”, this wasn’t the most obvious choice, but it was a perfect base. It had great local takeaways (tick)! It was roughly equal-distant to many of the places we wanted to visit, particularly the Cairngorms (tick)! Plus it was a short train ride to Inverness for dinner or a night cap (tick)!

Our black cat, Lady, looking wide eyed during her first long distance trip in the car
Our black cat Lady looking out of the window from our Airbnb in Nairn during our 10 Days in Scotland
Views across the sandy dunes to the ocean, from Nairn, during our Scottish Highlands Road Trip

Day 1 / 10 Days in Scotland

Nairn may not have been an obvious base during our Scottish Highlands road trip but just LOOK AT THOSE VIEWS! The rugged beaches offering  views of Scotland’s rugged coastline in the distance did not disappoint! After a day travelling from Portsmouth, spending 10+ hours in the car, we woke up on our first full day in Scotland feeling refreshed and ready to explore. We had grabbed a local takeaway on our first evening and made sure Lady was settled and happy. We felt comfortable leaving her for a few hours on day one, but kept things local in any case.

Our first morning was spent exploring Nairn beach. The weather was dry and sunny, but chilly and windy for early July! After a short wander and explore of the area, we hopped in the car and headed straight for the Cairngorms. We are both partial to a tipple of whiskey, so ticking off some distilleries was high on our agenda!

Glenfiddich Distillery & Balvenie Castle

One hour from Nairn, in the Cairngorm’s National Park, is the famous Glenfiddich Distillery. But perhaps something most people miss when visiting the distillery are the castle ruins of Balvenie Castle, just behind the distillery. We had read about the castle in advance of our trip, so we arrived early for some exploring.

The things we were most looking forward to from our Scottish Highlands road trip were the incredible views, impressive castle ruins, and whiskey! We were only a few hours into our first day and Scotland was already exceeding our expectations!

The ruins are incredible and relatively intact. Our tickets were £7.50 each, and you can spend as much time as you like exploring the ruins. Our personal highlights were seeing the old kitchen and dining area, plus the top “floor” with views over the castle grounds and beyond. We spent 45 minutes here before making our way to the distillery.

We ordered our tickets in advance, directly from Glenfiddich, and grabbed an early afternoon tour. Our tickets were £25 each and included a 90 minute tour, plus 4 drams of their whiskey. We have visited a number of distilleries and wineries over the years, and to be honest, they’re all very similar. The overview of the distillation process is much the same wherever you go, but it’s always interesting to nose around different distilleries, experience the brand, and learn about the small tweaks they make here and there to make their product unique.

We are not whiskey connoisseurs by any means. We know what we like and don’t like (even if we can’t explain why), so it was fun to sample a few different whiskeys at the end of the tour. Oli was the designated driver, so he got to take his samples home.

A blue and red vintage transport truck with distillery branding
Spending 10 days in Scotland at Glenfiddich Distillery

Day 2 – Exploring more of the Cairngorms

Day two of our Scottish Highlands road trip and we were up and out the door early once again, making the 45 minute drive through the Cairngorms to Aviemore. This is a cute “outdoorsy” town, known for being a good base for exploring nearby secluded lochs and ancient forest, plus lots of mountain trails and ski runs in the winter. 

Exploring nearby lochs was exactly on our agenda today! We grabbed some breakfast at The Coffee Pot; a great little café on the main high-street of Aviemore. Feeling fuelled up for the day, we hopped back in the car and headed for our first loch

Loch an Eilein

If you’re newbies to Scotland like we were, Loch an Eilein is definitely worth a visit. We loved the tranquil atmosphere, listening to the loch lap at the shores, surrounded by birdsong. What’s not to love! There’s a car park a short walk from the start of the circular walk you can do around loch, and a few people were hanging out by the waters edge, relaxing. As we began the walk around Loch an Eilein though, it became more and more remote and we found we had the loch all to ourselves throughout our walk, which was heaven!

The circular walk takes about 2 hours to complete. There’s a clear footpath throughout, but some of the path did turn into a single track, with tree roots to step over and some uneven ground, so it wouldn’t be accessible for everyone. Something to keep in mind. 

The scenery around the loch is just stunning. Surrounded by the rolling rugged hill of the Highlands, and huge towering trees. If the loch itself isn’t picture-perfect itself, perhaps the rival star of the show are the castle ruins, which sit on a small island within the loch.

The ruins are the remnants of a 13th century fortress, once owned by powerful landowners during the medieval times. During its history, it witnessed multiple conflicts and changed hands several times during (wow if those walls could talk). However fell into disrepair and was abandoned in the 18th century, resulting in the much loved ruins we get to appreciate today. Access to the island is not possible, but the view of castle from across the shores of the loch is what it’s really about.

Macallan Distillery

Any fans of the TV show, Suits?? We’ve said that neither of us are whiskey connoisseurs, but Harvey Spector absolutely put Macallan whiskey on the map for us! As fans of the show (and as we were in the area) it would be rude not to go!

The distillery is 1 hour’s drive north from the loch, in the region of Speyside. This took us (somewhat) back in the direction towards Nairn, and seemed worth squeezing into our day. Whether you’re fans of Suits or not, Macallan’s distillery is seriously impressive! Featuring state of the art technology and super sustainable and eco-friendly architecture, the vast majority of the distillery is completely automated; run by just 2 people who oversee the whole distillation process!

While there was zero expense spared developing the distillery, we did find the overall experience quite cold and clinical. The building is impressive, but it was too much of a well oiled machined. We preferred the rough-around-the-edges charm and character of the more traditional distilleries, and appreciated the hands-on craft.

Our trip here was in no way negative though and we highly recommend a visit. 1) the distillery is unlike anything else you will see in the area. 2) it’s a great opportunity to sample some fantastic whiskeys probably out of your price range (speaking for ourselves). It was also where we saw our first highland cow! Cute!

We were back at the Airbnb by mid-afternoon. We checked on Lady, had a cuppa, and relaxed for a couple of hours after all our travelling. The plan was to have dinner at home, so we could chill on the sofa with Lady for some lap cuddles. Before settling down, we headed to a local cocktail bar in Nairn called Mack’s for a couple of swift ones.

Day 3 – The Glenfinnan Viaduct

After a couple of “local” days, we felt comfortable that Lady was settled at the Airbnb. So we decided to have the first big drive of our Scottish Highlands road trip. From our little place in Nairn, we drove 2 hours to see the incredible Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Any Harry Potter fan will know that this is the bridge from the films that the Hogwarts Express crosses. Not only that, but you can see the train cross the bridge too! The Harry Potter fan girl inside me was screaming big time! Oli was not a Potter fan, and was less enthused about the whole thing (photo evidence below). But he earnt himself some husband points by indulging me and actually enjoyed it!

Thankfully it was relatively quiet. The viaduct is a big attraction in the area, and visiting in July made us think twice about how busy it would be. Luckily there were only a handful of other people at most there!

Whether you’re a Potter fan or not, this is a great day out! The viaduct itself is impressive, but even more jaw-dropping is the stunning scenery which completely surrounds you! As we made our way up the hills towards the viewpoint, we were rewarded with views of the viaduct, plus dramatic mountains and uninterrupted views of Loch Shiel. The scenery was the best we had seen so far and we were only 3 days in to our 10 days in Scotland! What would the rest of our time have in store!? 

We have written a separate post, about our time at Glenfinnan Viaduct and how to get to the best view point. Plus some tips on how to time your trip right to see the Hogwarts Express too!
At Glenfinnan Viaduct during our Scottish Highlands Road Trip
Oli unimpressed as we waited for the Hogwarts Express
Views of the Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, during our 10 days in Scotland
Incredible views from the Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint

Exploring Inverness

Once the train had crossed the viaduct, most people headed back the way they came, but we continued along the trail, back towards Loch Shiel so we could do a circuit back to the car. Along the trail we stopped off at the very cute Glenfinnan Dining Car, which is a small café inside a vintage converted train carriage. It might not be the Hogwarts Express, but it’s the next best thing! They offer breakfast and lunch, plus a delicious cream tea, which we highly recommend!

Feeling full and happy, we made the 2 hour journey back to Nairn. We had a chilled afternoon at home, relaxing with Lady and recapping on our day. As evening rolled around, we felt fully refreshed and ventured into Inverness, just a 20 minute train journey from Nairn!

We grabbed a pizza for dinner from a local restaurant, before heading to The Malt Room. We had heard great things about this place before we started our Scottish Highlands road trip, so we knew we had to check it out! The bar is dark, moody and cosy – right up our street! They offer over 350 single malt whiskeys, plus a selection of craft beers and cocktails – but it’s the whiskey you really want to visit here for! We settled down in a couple of comfy chairs and each ordered a flight of 3 whiskeys. This included a dram each from Glenmorangie, Glenlivet and Ardbeg, which was the perfect warm-up for what we had planned the following day!

Day 4 – Whiskey tour!

Whilst the trip was mostly a Scottish Highlands road trip, we were actually away for our first wedding anniversary. When researching ideas for how we could celebrate, we came across Wow Scotland, who do a full-day whiskey distillery tour (among many other tours). “What a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary” we thought. We caught the train to Inverness, where we were then picked up. It was thankfully a small group tour, which was great, as we hate huge tours and included a light lunch, trips to 4 different distilleries, plus Speyside Cooperage. 


Our first stop was Tomatin Distillery, a little bit outside of the Cairngorms. This was a great distillery to kick-off our day with. They’re a small outfit, so the tour felt very intimate and hands on, with everything the distillery does pretty much all under one big roof. We enjoyed our tour of the site, which then ended with a few tastings of their whiskey (who doesn’t want whiskey at 10:30am!?).

Tomatin make mostly single malt Scotch whiskey. However, they also had a special edition smokey-based whiskey called Cù Bochan which we really liked! We are ordinarily not fans of peat or smokey whiskey, but this was an exception! We even treated ourselves to a bottle from their giftshop.

Inside Tomatin Distillery during our Scottish Highlands Road Trip


We spent about 90 minutes at Tomatin, before we made our way to our next distillery: Glenlivet. The journey was super scenic, and we admired the views as we made our way across the Cairngorms.

Having enjoyed a little tipple of Glenlivet the previous night, we were looking forward to nosing around the distillery and sampling a more of their wares! We again, enjoyed our tour, before being brought into their tasting room to sample 3 drams of Glenlivet. Their tasting room felt super posh, with a long solid wood table in the middle which could easily sit 20 people, and a whole back-lit wall at the end filled with all their whiskeys. The room felt quite empty with just 10 of us sat there!

We really enjoyed our time at Glenlivet and particularly enjoyed some of their “Founders Reserve” whiskey. So we bought a bottle of that at the giftshop too (oops).


From Glenlivet we made the short journey to Glenfarclas. By now my memory should be getting a bit hazy, but is surprisingly intact! We hadn’t heard of Glenfarclas before, so it was interesting to go somewhere new and learn about their brand and history. The distillery is surrounded by rolling hills, as we walked around the grounds during the tour is was hard not to get distracted by all the beautiful views surrounding us.

The thing we enjoyed most about the tour here was (strangely enough) their storage barn. From here, we learnt a lot more about the storage process for their whiskey and the types of barrels they use. They had whiskey stored that was decades old, and we managed to find barrels of whiskey labelled from each of our birth years. We all had a dram of whiskey to enjoy as we went about the guided tour, before heading into their tasting room for a couple more samples!

Speyside Cooperage

Next on the list was the Speyside Cooperage, just a short drive up the road. We weren’t sure what to expect from our visit here, we had never even heard of a Cooperage before, let alone knew what they did. However, this easily became the highlight of the tour!

Upon arriving, we were taken on a guided tour of the site, which ended at a top floor viewing platform, where we got to watch the team at the cooperage actually hand-make all the barrels used for storing and maturing whiskey. We watched them shape the staves, assemble the barrels and actually char the inside of the barrels too. They not only handcraft these barrels, but they also repair old barrels too, all using traditional techniques which in many cases have been passed down through generations! The tour was so insightful and honestly watching the Coopers make the barrels and the speed at which they do it, was fascinating! It was a part of the whiskey tour we didn’t know we needed, and we were so pleased we had booked with Wow Scotland, as we would have completely missed this place if it wasn’t for them.

A trip to Speyside Cooperage during our Scottish Highlands road trip
Views over Speyside during our 10 Days in Scotland


Our final stop of the day was at Aberlour Distillery. Much like Tomatin, this was a smaller distillery and felt a bit more rough around the edges, so it was nice to visit such a wide variety during the tour. Much like the previous distilleries, we enjoyed our tour of the site and a couple of samples. The Wow Scotland day ended about 4:30pm, but not before our guide treated us to one last thing.

Aberlour is located just alongside the River Spey. We all met on the bridge, and were treated to one last dram of whiskey by our guide, who cracked open a fresh bottle for us. He also gave us all Wow Scotland branded whiskey glasses, which we thought was a nice touch. We all enjoyed our extra whiskey, chatting and admiring all the views of Speyside surrounding us.

Wow Scotland dropped us back at Inverness, where we caught the train back to Nairn, and had a lovely dinner at home, relaxing also with Lady.

Day 5 – A Day at Loch Ness

We were already halfway through our 10 days in Scotland. We couldn’t believe where the time was going, although not surprising as we had packed a lot into our time in Scotland so far. Today, we had planned to visit perhaps the most famous loch of them all: the Loch Ness. We were excited for another day of epic views, exploring castle ruins and hopefully learning more about the urban legend of Loch Ness.

We were up early once again, and our day started with a walk around Dog Falls. The drive was a little over one hour from Nairn, but the falls are just 30 minutes from Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. Dog Falls is a series of small waterfalls, along the River Affric. While the falls themselves may not be the highest or most impressive, it is a beautiful and scenic forest walk, through ancient pine forest. We spent roughly an hour here exploring, before we hopped back in the car to our next destination.

Dog Falls during our Scottish Highlands Road Trip
A trip to Dog Falls during our 10 Days in Scotland

Urquhart Castle & Loch Ness

For our first time in the Highlands, of course we had to visit Loch Ness. Of course it was much more touristy than some other places on our itinerary during our 10 days in Scotland. However, the things we wanted most from the trip were epic castle ruins and stunning views, which this place had plenty of!

Urquhart Castle dates back to the 13th century, with a very turbulent history. It was built as a fortress and played a strategic role across various conflicts in Scotland’s history. During its lifetime, it changed hands multiple times between English and Scottish forces. Eventually it was partially destroyed during the late 17th century. Today however, it is a magnificent ruin, honouring Scotland’s past and offering incredible views over Loch Ness.

We bought our tickets from the Visitor Centre on arrival. It was busy, but we were expecting it to be much busier during a Saturday in July. Our visit started with a short film in their cinema room, detailing the history of the castle. After the film, we were free to roam and explore the castle grounds. There are lots of sections to explore and there were also several talks taking place across the grounds, where you could learn more about life at the castle and its history. We enjoyed our explore of the ruins and admired the expansive views surrounding us.

The Castle at Loch Ness during our Scottish Highlands Road Trip
Views over Loch Ness from the castle during our 10 days in Scotland

The urban myth of Loch Ness

We have all heard of Loch Ness and its famous sea creature. But where did this legend come from? The Loch Ness Monster is said to inhabit the deep waters of the loch, with sightings dating back centuries! However, the modern day legend gained widespread attention after an article was published in the Inverness Courier in 1933. The article described strange sightings of a creature in the loch seen by locals. The article sparked widespread interest, with subsequent sightings, rumour and photos further fuelling the myth.

Over the years, numerous expeditions and investigations have been conducted to prove the existence of Nessie, but no conclusive findings have been reported. Over the years, this legend has become a cultural phenomena in Scotland, capturing the attention, imagination and curiosity of people all over the world! It remains very much up for debate whether “Nessie” truly exists or not. Even we found ourselves swept up in the moment, gazing across the loch for a glimpse ourselves! What are your views?

Exploring Loch Ness

Whether you think the Loch Ness is over-rated and overly touristy or not, you cannot deny how impressive the loch is. It is vast beyond belief! Standing at the loch’s shores, all you can see is open water, and dense forest and foliage as far as the eye can see. It is honestly beautiful!

The loch spans roughly 56sq km (22sq miles) and its maximum depth is 230 meters! It is not actually the biggest loch in Scotland – that would be Loch Lomond, which has the largest surface area at 71sq km! However, Loch Ness is the largest by volume, said to contain more water than all the English and Welsh lakes put together!

The landscape is rich and picturesque, with mountains, moorlands and forests, providing a natural habitat to red deer, pine martens, and a various bird species, making it an important area for wildlife conservation. We fell a little bit in love with Loch Ness. Learning more about its history and legend just made us love it even more. It became a surprising highlight during our 10 days in Scotland!

Loch Ness views during our 10 Days in Scotland

Exploring the area

The purpose of our Scottish Highlands road trip, was to see as much as we could from Scotland’s impressive roads. There is a road which stretches along one side of the loch, then up into the hills on the other side. We decided to drive this “ring road” around the loch, drinking in all the gorgeous views as we went. Towards the southern end of the loch, is the Glengarry Viewpoint, a scenic overlook with stunning panoramic views of Loch Oich. The viewpoint is a popular spot, with lots of places and lay-bys to pull over.

From here, we continued around the loch and stopped off for lunch at Dores Inn. This is a small pub, serving good food and drinks, located right on the shores of Loch Ness. Dores Inn is just a 40 minute drive from Nairn, so we hopped back in the car and headed back home for the afternoon.

 In the evening, we caught the train back into Inverness and ordered dinner and drinks at Scotch & Rye. We stumbled across this place so it was a bit of a punt, but it definitely didn’t disappoint. They served amazing gastro-style burgers and incredible, inventive cocktails. From dry ice and smoke-infused cocktails, to candy floss laced glassware, they served everything! We had a really enjoyable night here, working our way through their cocktail menu, before catching the train back to Narin.

Day 6 – Heading east to Aberdeenshire

Having already packed a lot into our Scottish Highlands road trip, we weren’t about to slow down now! Today we decided to travel east into new territory and explore the sights of Aberdeenshire. There was one particular castle which had really piqued our interest in the area (but this comes much later in the day).

We made the 2 hour journey from Nairn to Aberdeenshire, starting our day with a trip to Dunnottar Castle. This is an old medieval castle, situated on a sheer cliff overlooking the North Sea. The ruins are well in-tact and you can have a good explore around all the castle grounds. However it’s the location of Dunnottar Castle that really makes this a unique visit, as you get to fully appreciate the commanding views of the surrounding coastline. We may have gone a bit overboard on the photos below, but this really is such a pretty location! As we looked out across the sea, we also got to watch some dolphins too!

Dunnottar Castle on our 10 days in Scotland during our Scottish Highlands road trip
Views from Dunnottar Castle during our 10 days in Scotland
Dunnottar Castle located on its own little rock island, with views across the ocean. View looking towards the castle during our scottish highlands road trip during our 10 days in Scotland
Views of Dunnottar Castle during our Scottish Highlands road trip

Brewdog Brewery

From the castle, we drove 25 minutes up the road and managed to squeeze in a quick explore of Aberdeen. Unfortunately the weather rolled in which stopped us exploring too much. We grabbed lunch in the city centre though and waited for the rain to clear. But what we were really waiting for was a trip to the Brewdog Brewery!

Located 20 minutes outside of the city centre at Ellon, BrewDog originated in Aberdeenshire, where you can visit its brewery, headquarters and original bar. The brewery is a complex sprawling site, consisting of production facilities, offices and a visitor centre. We booked our tour tickets in advance from Brewdog’s website directly. Tickets cost £20 each and included a 90 minute tour of the whole site, plus a tasting of their beers and gin. This was easily one of the best breweries we have visited. We have always been fans of the BrewDog brand and having a sneak peek of the facilities and offices was really interesting. They had not long launched their Lone Wolf gin, so we got early access to their distillery too.

New Slains Castle

We were making great progress during our Scottish Highlands road trip, ticking off lots from our bucket list! After the tour, we hopped back in the car and drove 20 minutes up the road to New Slains Castle. We had read lots about the castle before our 10 days in Scotland and knew a trip here had to be on the cards!

Not only did the ruins look incredibly impressive, with its vast vaulted frontage, but we were also intrigued by its more modern history. Rumour has it the castle inspired the Bram Stoker to write Dracula. It is believed the imposing silhouette, set against the rugged Scottish coastline left a lasting impression on him. While there isn’t any direct evidence, there is apparently an old hotel guest book signed by Stoker, who referenced inspiration to the castle. Whether this is true or not, we loved the story!

Originally built in the 16th century, the castle fell into disrepair in the 20th century. Much of the castle has collapsed or been destroyed over the years. However, huge parts of the castle walls, towers and courtyards still remain today. The castle is striking in appearance and we felt this was actually one of the most impressive ruins we visited! The interior is a maze of rooms and corridors, and there are some incredible views from the top of its tower, overlooking the Scottish coastline.

The view of New Slains Castle during our 10 days in Scotland
Views from the castle during our Scottish Highlands road trip
Views from the top of New Slains Castle during our Scottish Highlands road trip

Day 7 – Off to the Isle of Skye

By having a base in Nairn, we may not have been road tripping in the traditional sense, but we certainly got around during our Scottish Highlands road trip! We were already 7 days into our 10 days in Scotland and we were making the most of it. This day was our longest drive yet, with a 2-3 hour drive to the Isle of Skye!

We have an ever growing list of things we want to see in Scotland, and the Isle of Skye has always been top of the list. However we don’t know how soon it will be before we’re back in Scotland once again, so we weren’t prepared to give up the opportunity to visit Skye, even if only fleetingly. Lucky for us we also enjoy driving!

Eilean Donan Castle

To help break up the distance, we stopped off at the very pretty Eilean Donan Castle on the way. This was roughly a 2 hour drive from Nairn for us, and 1 hour away from Portree, on Skye. Eilean Donan Castle is a stunning medieval fortress, nestled among the dramatic Scottish Highlands, including the iconic mountains of the Isle of Skye.

Eilean Donan Castle is idyllic. With its distinctive features and battlements, Eilean Donan Castle is considered one of the most iconic symbols of Scotland, and its easy to see why. The castle is uniquely perched upon a small tidal island where three lochs meet: Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. It also has a turbulent history, leading to its destruction in the 18th century and meticulous restoration in the 20th century.

We have written a separate post on how to visit Eilean Donan Castle if you’d like to know more.

Eilean Donan Castle from across the river on a sunny day on our Scottish Highlands road trip

Isle of Skye

As soon as we crossed Skye Bridge, we knew the drive was worth it. The landscape instantly became more dramatic and more Jurassic in appearance. Every twist and turn of the road introduced new mountainous views and landscapes. We were absolutely in awe and in love. While a partial day visit is in no way enough to fully appreciate this stunning island, it gave us a taste and we will definitely be back for more!

Our first stop were the Fairy Pools; a series of waterfalls with vibrant blue pools. Sadly they were not so vibrant for us. We assume the grey weather that day dulled the pools as much as it dulled the sky. But we were no less impressed and loved our time hiking along the River Brittle to visit the Fairy Pools. 

Afterwards we visited the cute fishing village of Portree for lunch and a wander. However, only spending 1 day on the Isle of Skye meant we had to be ruthless with our time. We only stopped for a quick lunch, before we hopped back in the car to tour some more. We drove the main loop from Portree to the north of the island. The weather was not on our side, so when we visit again we would love to hike The Old Man of Storr. We stopped at one of the Isle’s most northern beaches to explore, where we could see as far as the mountain skyline of the Isle of Harris.

While our day did mostly consist of driving, we explored as much of Skye as we could. It was unlike anything else we had seen during our 10 days in Scotland. If the views are anything to go by, next on the cards is definitely a trip to the Outer Hebrides!

The fairy pool waterfall on our Scottish Highlands road trip

Day 8 – Spa day!

It finally happened. All our driving and touring of the Scottish Highlands caught up with us. It was a pretty miserable, rainy day and we fancied a day indoors for once. We looked for things to do in the local area and came across the Golf View Hotel & Spa. Thankfully we packed swimwear! This was purely luck, as let’s be honest, it’s not an obvious packing choice for Scotland!

The Hotel was just a short walk from the Airbnb which was ideal. It also has enviable views over the Moray Firth with gardens leading down to the shore. We booked a package online, which included afternoon tea (with fizz), plus a treatment each. We spent our morning relaxing on the loungers by the pool, reading our books and chatting. A very different pace from the rest of our Scottish Highlands road trip!

The hotel also has a lovely outdoor hot tub, with views to the shoreline. Although it was raining, we thought “we’re going to get wet anyway” so hopped in the tub, which we had all to ourselves. The afternoon tea was also delicious! We headed to their lounge area in our robes and tucked into the sandwiches, cakes and scones on offer. Feeling well and truly relaxed and very full, we retired back to our poolside loungers until it was time for our afternoon massages. Heaven!

Day 9 – An epic hike at Loch Affric

Of course the previous day’s slower pace of travel didn’t last long… Today was the last full day of our Scottish Highlands road trip, and it was going to be an epic one! We were eager to drink in more of the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands and picked Loch Affric as our base for the morning.

Located 90 minutes from Nairn, Loch Affric is in a particularly remote and unspoiled part of the Highlands. We wanted views and scenery and Loch Affric did not disappoint! The weather had thankfully dried up, leaving behind some eerie low clouds, which clung to the mountain sides surrounding Loch Affric.

Loch Affric is small compared to other lochs. It spans a total of 4.3 miles with a maximum depth of 48 meters. Size doesn’t matter though. We would say Loch Affric was easily the most beautiful loch we visited during our 10 days in Scotland. The loch itself was still, and pristine, with a mirror finish of the mountains and forest – we couldn’t wait to explore!

We followed a circuit walk, which took us around the whole of Loch Affric. Walk Highlands has full details on the route if you’re interested. Depending on your level of fitness, they state the walk can take 4.5 – 6.5 hours. We followed the circuit at a leisurely pace and completed this comfortably in 4.5 hours.

10 Days in Scotland, visiting the mirror finish loch of Loch Affric, surrounded by lush green forest and fauna
View across Loch Affric during our 10 Days in Scotland, admiring the cloud covered mountain peaks overlooking the loch

Off to Inverness

No amount of images could actually do justice to how achingly beautiful Loch Affric is! This easily became our favourite place we visited during our 10 days in Scotland, and we’re so glad we somehow saved the best till last!

Although it wasn’t a hot sunny day in July it was muggy as anything. After 4.5 hours of hiking, we were starving and eager to finally sit down and rest our feet. From Loch Affric we drove back on ourselves and headed to Inverness for the afternoon.

A strange insider tip that we picked up during our 10 days in Scotland is that you can buy alcohol from taxi ranks?? Strange but true. Taxi ranks in Scotland are actually licenced to sell bottles of alcohol! We wanted to buy another bottle of Tomatin’s Cù Bochan as a gift for some friends. This was a special edition whiskey though, so not every supermarket or store sold it. We had heard however that the taxi ranks randomly stocked it. We spent the afternoon exploring a little more of Inverness and popped into a taxi rank on the off chance. As luck would have it they did stock the Tomatin we were after!

We grabbed a bottle for our friends followed by dinner at Thai Dining. Thai is easily our favourite cuisine, so we never pass up an opportunity to visit a good Thai restaurant and this place absolutely did not disappoint. Feeling full with all our Thai food and sleepy from a our long morning hike, we headed back home for an early night.

Day 10 – Scottish Highlands road trip: complete

Actually our final day ended up being a travel day. We had planned to explore the beaches and coastline of Nairn a little further. However, we knew our 10 hour drive back to the south coast would be a big undertaking! We grabbed some breakfast, packed up the car (and all of Lady’s belongings) and hit the road once more! 

Our little black cat, Lady, on our last day during our 10 days in Scotland

This was easily the biggest trip we had taken Lady on. Although she was a slightly older gal at the time (12, going on 13) she handled the trip like an absolute champ. She wasn’t bothered by the lengthy car journey, and quickly settled into the Airbnb as her second home.

We were all sad our Scottish Highlands road trip had finally come to an end. But what a whirlwind it had been! Although we had only just scratched the surface, we felt like we had squeezed every bit of exploring we could into our time. The question is definitely when will we back in Scotland again, not if? We can’t wait already!

Get in touch

We hope you enjoyed our post about our Scottish Highlands road trip as much as we loved looking back on it! If you have any questions, or tips you’d like to share, please pop them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

If you found our blog helpful, check out our Insta @welovetravel.in – if you give us a follow feel free to drop us a message to say hello 👋

For more travel inspiration check out our other guides and Trip Reports below:

You may also like

Leave a Comment

exploring the world, one adventure at a time


About Us

We live and work in the UK, trying to travel and tick off our bucket list destinations as and when we can.

Our Travel Map

View our map for a log of where we have visited so far, and our dreams and ambitions of where we hope to go exploring next!

Recent Posts

@2023 – All Right Reserved. All content owned by Mandy & Oli