Discovering a new country on a road trip is an exhilarating way to tour. It offers you total freedom o move at your own pace and to linger when lingering is desirable. Outside, the cities, hills, forests, and mountains roll past. But you’re never disconnected—a simple top-up of gas can give you a read on the local culture, or invaluable advice as to your next stop. With a decent plan behind your route, you can absorb a great quantity of detail about a new place in a relatively short time frame. And be always open to spontaneity.
Especially as the unexpected is one of Scotland’s greatest traits.
From the main road, unpromising, grassy tracks tempt you away to discover hidden glens. The itch to discover where they conclude is irresistible— how can it get more remote and wild than the stretch you’re currently traveling? It’s almost always worth the detour. You arrive at forlorn lochs with unpronounceable names, at the foot of forgotten fortifications, or abruptly at an elemental coastline as something ominously dark sweeps off of the white-capped seas.
You’ll also be tempted by the signs, handmade and hammered into heather verges. These will be the most memorable meals, at a local café or seafood shack, their exterior insouciance concealing quality seasonal fare within. Select the right table and you can see the fishing boats bringing in their haul—seafood in Scotland is literally minutes from creel to crunch.
Finally, we come to the locals who you stand beside while waiting for drinks in a pub or ask for directions from, and who tell you, where the tour buses turn right, to turn left. “You can’t go there and not cast a fly on the river”…“Don’t leave without trying the oysters”…“You’d be a fool to miss the view from the ridge”… And so you begin reshaping your ideas, aware that tomorrow it’ll probably all happen again. Amid the epic beauty of Scotland, attempting to adhere to that original, carefully planned route is a fool’s errand. Let it be a journey of discovery—after all, you’ve got the wheels.