Wolsey Lodges guide to the National Parks of the UK and Ireland
- Travel Guide
A History of Britain’s National Parks
Great Britain came late to National Parks. It was perhaps easier for other countries to create National…Read More
There’s a reason why most car advertisements are shot in Scotland. Deserted roads sweep through dramatic landscapes, conjuring images of freedom and the open road. Wolsey Lodges B&Bs can make it easy to give your car the driving experience it deserves. Make this the year you take a Scottish Road Trip yourself, and drive Scotland’s great scenic routes.
Start from the South. The north of the Lake District is a natural launching pad before you cross the border, where there are plenty of Wolsey Lodges for a final taste of England, while another route follows up from Northumbria on Scotland’s eastern coast. So head into Scotland where your great Scottish driving holiday really begins.
Pick up this route at Warwick Hall B&B near Carlisle, or perhaps Heads Nook Hall B&B near Brampton, for a hundred-mile journey to the Capital, Edinburgh. Travellers in a hurry will risk the speed cameras and traffic of the A74(M) but a far more satisfying route travels via the A7. Highlights along the way include textile mills and tartan weaveries, a working Victorian coal mine, glassblowers at work and the stately home of Sir Walter Scott.
An alternative route would be to stay at Post Office House B&B by Lindisfarne in Northumberland and follow the A1 along Scotland’s east coast: the journey to Edinburgh can take as little as an hour and a half. Towards Edinburgh the route can take in Rosslyn Chapel, as featured in the ‘Da Vinci Code’.
When you get to Edinburgh you have a choice of Wolsey Lodges, including 23 Mayfield B&B and Kingsway B&B in the city centre – both with free off-street parking – The Dean B&B on the East Lothian Coast and Parkhead House B&B in South Queensferry.
Start at West Barmoffity Farm House to abbreviate the Galloway Tourist Route, stopping off at Threave Castle and Robert Burns’ birthplace, and thread through the UNESCO-registered Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, with its internationally-recognised landscapes and wildlife. It’s a comfortable drive of less than two hours though there is plenty to see so it’s best to allow a few days.
Try for at least one night on the road to look up: this was the first place in the UK to be granted ‘Dark Sky’ status and is excellent for stargazing.
An adventurous extension would be to turn south at Ayr and head south down the coast. This slips you onto part of the South West Coastal 300 and turns your drive into a real exploration of Western Scotland. This is a wonderfully remote experience, with quiet country roads skirting the coast in a long gentle loop, with chances to stop at sheltered sandy beaches, rocky coastal stretches and tiny fishing villages.
Start in Braefield B&B, just outside the lovely market town of Biggar, with its popular puppet theatre and the Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum. The Clyde Valley Tourist route keeps you off the main roads and follows the River Clyde and though the drive itself takes less than an hour there’s so much to see and do along the way the journey could take all week. Highlights include Ruallan Raptors, where you handle birds of prey, Lanark Lock, the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve, horse-riding at the Scottish Equestrian Centre, the ruined tower house of Craignethan Castle, Chatelherault hunting lodge and estate, and the Low Parks Museum.
Drive from Edinburgh to Stirling on the 40-mile Forth Valley Tourist Route, taking in the Forth Bridge, Blacknesss Castle (made famous by the ‘Outlander’ Series), Linlithgow Palace, the battlefield of Bannockburn, the Falkirk Wheel and Stirling Castle. Add half an hour along the coast by beginning at The Dean B&B in Longriddny, or start from the city centre with 23 Mayfield B&B and Kingsway B&B. Alternatively, if you don’t want to start your drive with city traffic Parkhead House B&B is a few miles in on the Forth Valley Tourist Route and is just where it gets interesting. The time saved by starting here gives the option of extending your journey up the Forth Valley beyond Stirling, continuing for 20 minutes through Garshellach Forest to your next Wolsey Lodges B&B, Cardross in Kippen.
Greenhead Farm B&B is the perfect place to adapt the Fife Coastal Tourist Route to explore the whole of Fife. From your Glenrothes base this four-hour circuit will take in the Devilla Forest, the Royal Burgh of Culross, Dumferline Palace, Aberdour Castle, St Andrews and the British Golf Museum. The small fishing villages of Crail, St Monans and Anstruther are unbelievably quaint and you can round off your journey with a stop at the Kingsbarns Distillery. The drive itself takes the best part of four hours so you’ll either need to take a few days or be selective about how often you stop, but there are few better ways to quickly experience the variety Fife can offer.
North of Edinburgh there are more driving options. These can be started from all the Edinburgh Wolsey Lodges, but make the short drive north across the Forth Bridge to Greenhead Farm B&B, and this is a great place to hit the route running. The best thing to do here is to combine the spectacular Snow Roads with the Coastal part of the North East 250 for the best of all worlds.
Head north to Lys-na-Greyne B&B, already in the Cairngorms, and continue to Blervie House beyond. This spectacular route covers many of Scotland’s most scenic mountain roads, with snow-capped peaks, towering Munros and walks and hikes on every side. In winter it’s an adventure – and occasionally impassable – but in summer it’s a glorious, sunsoaked thrill.
Though the main Snow Road is signposted take local advice from your hosts: all our lodges will suggest favourite driving roads of their own. And it’s easy to combine a Snow Road adventure with the gentler charms of a section of the North East 250, including unforgettable highlights such as Dufus Castle, Abroath Abbey and the chance to snack on some Abroath Smokeys.
The combination will do more than just add some bracing sea air: it means, in combination, you’ll catch all the whisky distilleries of Speyside, the mountain passes of the Cairngorms and the castles of Royal Deeside.
The Snow Roads are the classic intro for travellers heading north for the North Coast 500, the ultimate Scottish Journey, and Blervie House B&B is a perfect place to make a stop. The North Coast 500 is very much Scotland’s answer to ‘Route 66’, a 500-mile voyage around the northern coast of the British Isles that reaches John O’Groats and takes in some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe. Stately castles, glittering sandy beaches, and the occasional distillery make this a memorable journey and a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience.
Overseas travel looks difficult this year, but that’s no reason to limit your ambitions. Scotland is a whole other country with some of the best untrodden roads, dramatic landscapes and rewarding whiskies in the world. Make this your year for a Scottish Driving Holiday.
For much more information about driving routes in Scotland, see VisitScotland’s excellent guide.