Featured image by Garry Burns
Heading to Glasgow this summer to catch some top athletics action? The eyes of the world will be on Scotland’s largest city on 23 July as the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games gets under way. The likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will be competing alongside thousands of athletes in locations throughout the city. So if you’re busy planning out all the events you’ll be attending, keep in mind that the games are spread out across 12 days – leaving plenty of time for you to hire a car and explore the west of Scotland in between events.
Here at Europcar we’re always looking for an excuse to hit the road and discover some of the UK’s top cities and beauty spots. Hire a car and make most of your time in Glasgow with our guide to some of the best spots on Scotland’s West Coast.
The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty, hence why there’s no better place to kick off your West Scotland road trip. Once you’ve picked up your car hire in Glasgow, head north-west from the city and you’ll find yourself on the banks of Loch Lomond within the hour. Stop off in Balloch and wander around Loch Lomond Shores; a lively visitor centre boasting a variety of shops, restaurants, outdoor activities and fantastic nature trails.
From here you can decide which part of the park to explore, be it by car or foot. Loch Lomond is the largest stretch of fresh water in Britain and is a popular fishing and sailing spot throughout the year, while the surrounding mountains and dense forests are home to countless hiking trails and spectacular scenery.
The village of Killin is located near the southern tip of Loch Tay, roughly an hour and a half’s drive north of Glasgow. Expect your passengers to be permanently glued to their windows as the narrow roads wind their way past lochs, mountains and forests – providing the perfect introduction to the striking Highland landscapes. Before you reach Killin, stop by the Balquhidder Kirkyard and visit the final resting place of Rob Roy – one of Scotland’s most legendary outlaws.
As you reach Killin, you’ll be greeted by the sight of The Falls of Dochart – reportedly the most photographed waterfall in Europe. An old bridge splits the village in two and also doubles up as the location of choice for those wishing to capture the Falls on camera, so park up nearby and take some snaps of your own. On a sunny day there’s no better place to take in the view than from the outdoor seating area of The Falls of Dochart Inn, a charming village pub which dishes up hearty meals and live music throughout the day and evening.
The Highland town of Fort William attracts visitors throughout the year, thanks, in part, to its close proximity to the UK’s highest mountain – the majestic Ben Nevis. Fort William is often referred to as the outdoor capital of the UK and is hugely popular with walkers, mountaineers, water sports enthusiasts and all-round lovers of the outdoors. The three hour drive from Glasgow to Fort William is a treat in itself, while the activities on offer in the town are ideal for those looking to keep the whole family entertained.
If you fancy venturing further west while you’re there, then the one hour drive to the quiet fishing village of Mallaig is just the ticket. The road follows the picturesque West Coast Railway Line, a unique railway route which is still frequented by passenger steam engines. The nostalgic route runs between Fort William and Mallaig and is described as ‘the greatest railway journey on earth’. So great, in fact, that it played host to the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets movie.
The route from Glasgow to the Highland capital weaves its way through some of the country’s most stunning areas of natural beauty, so prepare for a truly memorable road trip which should take you just over three hours to complete. The City of Inverness is built around the idyllic banks of the River Ness and features Inverness Castle (which now serves as the local court house), an eclectic mix of Old Town buildings and a wealth of restaurants, shops and hotels.
If you’d prefer to focus solely on soaking up the scenery on your travels north, then simply hop on a train or bus from Glasgow. You can then pick up a car hire in Inverness and check out some of the nearby towns and beauty spots at your own leisure. History buffs may want to head to the Culloden Battlefield in the outskirts of the city; the site of the famous Battle of Culloden in 1746. The visitor centre tells the story of the last full scale battle to take place on UK soil.
The mountain town of Aviemore is a just a 40 minute drive south of the city and is a haven for outdoor thrill-seekers all year round. Mountain biking, white water rafting and canoeing are just some of the activities on offer. But if you’re pretty much done for the day, don’t despair; there’s plenty of bars and restaurants for those looking to take things easy.
Ready to explore more of Scotland? Check out our other blog posts you might like: