Scotland is undeniably beautiful. It’s got something for everyone – rugged countryside, beautiful beaches, towering peaks. Scotland simply has to be on your bucket list. If you’re on the west side, north of Glasgow, you’ll no doubt already know of Loch Lomond and other such places. This list is, hopefully, going to help you plan some more stops around some of the lesser-known places. If you’re considering how to make this trip even more special, consider doing it in a van.
- The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters of Glencoe, or Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach, are mountains which sit right alongside the A82. You’ll literally drive past them if you head north from Glagow and towards Glencoe.
You really have to stop in one of the parking places to get the best view and some time to soak in the majesty of it all. In the wet, you’ll see the water rushing down the faces of the hills and standing out in the rain is a great way to have more of the place to yourself. In the area are plenty of walks too so grab a map and go and explore.
2. Glencoe National Nature Reserve Visitor Centre
Whilst in the area, it’s worth stopping at Glencoe National Trust Nature Reserve Visitor Centre. The parking is currently £4 but it’s well worth it to learn more about the area and its history, and take in some of the excellent scenery.
You’ll also find a replica of a 17th-century turf house with plenty of information and a chance to wander inside. If you’re interested in history, you’ll find this up your alley
3. Castle Stalker
The highlight of this list for me is Castle Stalker which sits on its own island in Loch Linnhe. The 14th-century building, which eventually became used as a hunting lodge, isn’t well-advertised and we spotted zero signs for it from the road. That meant, when we found it, we had the whole beach to ourselves.
You can book a tour via the Castle Stalker website but we found that sitting on the beach and taking it all in was plenty enough for us. Another thing to note is that the beach is accessible by foot or bike only – there’s no driving to this one – which makes it all the more magical in my eyes.
4. Kilchurn Castle
We arrived late in the afternoon at Kilchurn Castle, free of charge, to find it surrounded by fencing due to the unsafe nature of the building. Even despite this, to see a castle perched so close to the edge of a loch was stunning. Surrounded by water, it seemed this spot was perfect.
I’d suggest taking a dip in the loch too! The car park is nearby and the water is incredibly shallow at the rear of the castle. Getting a view from the loch was all the more special and, if you don’t mind a bit of cold water, is something I’d recommend.
5. St. Conan’s Kirk
With more views of Loch Awe (the same loch as Kilchurn Castle), this church is actually a bit of a tourist hot spot. The limited parking proved to be a little tricky but was well worth the effort in the end. Despite the build only starting in 1881, and opening in 1930, making this one of the least historic places on this list, the church has been noted as one of the top 10 buildings in all of Scotland in the last 100 years.
Its intricate details and beautiful attention to different styles make it worth a visit. It’s free too.
6. The Three Lochs Drive
If you’re looking for space and some breathtaking loch-side views go here. Seven miles of forest track to drive along with more pull-ins than you could ever need. Dotted around the forest are waymarked walking and cycling trails, plus there are loads of ways down to the water. If you’re interested in wild swimming, this is one not to miss.