A family-friendly road trip through Scotland

It may be small in size. But, what it lacks in stature, Scotland makes up in sheer variety. In just a short space of time, you can see rugged mountains, deep lochs, cosmopolitan cities and remote islands. Here are just a few of the best road trips in Scotland to see some of the most family-friendly attractions this small, but perfectly formed country has to offer.


From Berwick to Edinburgh

If you’re travelling from England over into Scotland, then taking in some of the spectacular Northumberland cost line before heading north over the border is the perfect way to start your trip. From Berwick, driving along the east coast, you’ll find two of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring castles. Don’t stick to the main A1 road, but dive off onto the A198, which will take you to Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle. Dirleton Castle has a pit dungeon, which is horrifically fascinating for little ones who love Horrible Histories, while Tantallon Castle is a dramatic semi-ruined mid 14th century fortress. Kids will love to see the replica gun in the East Tower, which looks exactly like the one which was used to defend the castle against James IV and James V in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Drive time: 2 hours

Glasgow to Oban

It has a reputation as a grittier, more streetwise city than Edinburgh, but Glasgow also offers plenty to do with little ones. The Glasgow Science Centre, with its hands-on displays and interactive workshops, is a must-do, as is the Hunterian Museum, with its dinosaur, Egypt and meteorite displays. From Glasgow, the route along the A82 offers plenty of opportunities for breathtaking pitstops. Loch Lomond should be your first stop. You can cruise the loch on one of the ferries which take you to little islands and villages or you can hire your own boat to explore at your family’s pace, perhaps stopping off to enjoy a picnic. From here, head north and west on the A85 and the road winds dramatically through rugged terrain before you get to Oban and the surrounding coastal villages. Ganarvan beach is perfect for kids, with safe, shallow waters, swathes of sand and rock pools to search for sea creatures. From Oban, you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Mull, heading north to Tobermory, made famous by the television series Balamory. If you’re ready for a stop-off mid trip, then Parkdean’s Wemyss Bay site makes a great base for exploring Scotland’s west coast.

Driving time: 2 hours 15 minutes


The Scottish Highlands

Just about anywhere you drive through the Scottish Highlands is guaranteed to be stunning. But no road trip through Scotland would be complete without driving along the incredible mountainous route though Glencoe to Fort William. While the Glencoe Mountain Chair Lift was designed to carry skiiers and snowboarders in the winter season, it’s worth a diversion even if you’re here during the summer months as it stays open year-round, affording excitement for children and spectacular views for everyone. You soar high above waterfalls, admiring views across Rannoch Moor from 2200ft.

Driving time: 30 minutes


 Around the Isle of Skye

There’s not really any right or wrong route around the Isle of Skye, the most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides. Try the A855 road, which loops around the Trotternish Peninsula. You’ll pass the Old Man of Storr, a rocky hill made famous through its appearance in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus as the birthplace of the alien. From this otherworldly landscape, further north, you’ll find plenty of places to watch dramatic waterfalls tumbling into the sea. The best is the Kilt Rock and waterfall. Also worth a visit is The Skye Museum of Island Life, a quirky museum housed in a selection of thatched cottages, which gives an insight into life there in days gone by.

From the mainland and driving a circular route around the peninsula: Around 3 hours


Tarbert to the Isle of Islay

The road from Tarbert to catch the ferry to the Isle of Islay gives you incredible views of the Arran mountains. The little fishing village of Carradale is worth a stop. Impossible pretty, the village has a harbour and a broad sweep of sand, with shallow, shelving water. Just south of the harbour, there’s a herd of feral goats, which has thrived on the rough grass and seaweed here as long as anyone can remember. From here, you take to A83 to West Loch Tarbet, where you can catch the ferry to Islay. Here, you can try pony trekking, kayaking and paddle boarding, or just meander around some of the single-track roads on the island. Try the Port Ellen to Ardtalla circular route, which will take you alongside the appropriately-named Seal Bay, where you’re likely to be lucky enough to see seals resting on the rocks. If you want to stay for a while and immerse yourself in island life, then the Ballygrant Inn is a good option when travelling with kids as there are two-and-a-half acres of grounds to let off steam in.

Driving time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Wherever you drive in Scotland, you’re sure to be met with incredible scenery. As the old Scottish saying goes, guid gear comes in sma’ bouk’, or good things come in small packages.

Photo credit: Flickr