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Driving A82 advice

Memphis
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Driving A82 advice

I apologize on the front end for the length of this post and hope it makes sense.

Based on piecing together ideas from searching older posts on the forum, I'm trying to put together the best drive to see and experience the western Highlands. We will depart Glasgow driving north on A82 with the desire to drive through Glen Coe en route to Fort Williams. I'll also be deciding if we should continue north via Loch Ness to Inverness or just spend more time exploring Glen Coe (but that's for another post).

What I'm trying to decide is would it be the best drive for both time and best scenery to stay straight on A82 all the way to Fort Williams, or at Loch Lomond to drive west on A83, north on A819 and then west on A85 to Oban before continuing north.

The reason for considering that detour other than I've seen it mentioned in a couple of guide books, is that I'm interested in seeing Kilchurn Castle and I definitely want to drive through Glen Coe. We would be driving through in the early evening so I'm not sure it would even be possible to visit Kilchurn. And I don't plan on spending much time in Oban, it's just seeing Dunstaffnage there intrigues me as well. We will have a 5 year old boy with us and I'm trying to find a couple of castles if possible.

We do plan to visit Caerlaverock Castle in the southwest of Scotland, so if there aren't any castles in the Highlands along our journey, well, so be it.

Scotland
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1. Re: Driving A82 advice

"What I'm trying to decide is would it be the best drive for both time and best scenery to stay straight on A82"

Absolutely the best way to go both for time and scenery. The detour will take longer -which might not be great with a 5 year old in the car- and you'll miss out on the very best scenery.

Only you can say if it's worth it in order to see a ruined castle. You could always return via Glencoe.

What time of year are you travelling. You won't see anything in the evening if it's in the next few weeks as it's dark so early

Memphis
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2. Re: Driving A82 advice

We will be traveling in late May. Also, my 5 year old son is unique in the fact that he enjoys sitting in cars for many hours without saying a word. Might be hard to believe for some parents, but as long as I stop about every three hours he loves it.

That helps. Thanks. So maybe I would stay straight on A82 and find a place to stay the night around Glencoe village. Other than Loch Lomond are there notable sights along the way that would be worth a stop? I think our next day, which will be our only full day in the Highlands, we'll want to explore the area, possibly get out on some shorter hikes. And I'll be fine backtracking a bit along A82 to see an area more in depth, but just wondering if there are any notable sights for a pause along the way to Glencoe.

Scotland
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3. Re: Driving A82 advice

It depends what you consider a notable sight. There's Rannoch Moor which is a stunningly beautiful wilderness in good weather but there's absolutely nothing to see if the rain is horizontal. Not unusual in Scotland.

If it's wet you could go to Kinlochleven to the Ice Factor.

There's a nice tearoom - does lunches- near Appin with great views of Castle Stalker.

It's really an area for the outdoors though so here's hoping you get dry weather.

Edinburgh, United...
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4. Re: Driving A82 advice

Hi, your son sounds incredible!

FWIW, I actually dislike driving the A82 - portions of it wiggle along lochsides in a stomach-churning way, and you will not be able to average more than 45mph (because of the limitations of the road, the ubiquitous caravans and the tour buses trying to own the highway!). I haven't driven along the alternative route you propose in many years, so can't really comment.

Plenty of people use the A82 every day, but I wouldn't be one of them!

Abs :)

Georgia
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5. Re: Driving A82 advice

I'll echo the GW's question, what time of year? If summer, you've got lots of daylight time.

2nd questions are where exactly are you planning to travel and for how many days? I can see the Glasgow> LochLOmond> Oban >GlenCoe > FW piece, but where else? THere are castles all over....

OK, Glencoe. Yes, an absolute must see. Plan to go to the Visitor Center and also to get out and walk a bit. If time allows, consider a little side journey down Glen Etive. Going north on A82 at the top of Rannoch Moor before descending in Glen Coe, you'll see a road on the left (just after Kinghouse). It's 13m of single track road if you go all the way to Loch Etive, then you have to turn around and drive out. Don't go all the way, it will take a couple hours, the Loch is beautiful, but the extensive logging isn't). BUT, driving a few miles in, you get amazing views, but without the whizzing traffic of A82. Fantastic places for a picnic! Just a suggestion.

As for Glencoe (AND depending on your exact route and plans after) you can either stay straight on A82, OR side track to Oban, up Loch Linnhe and then up into Glen Coe. Either drive up and back or make a loop of it.

re: Kilchurn Castle

We found Kilchurn to be one of the most picturesque, atmospheric visits of our whole trip. Mind you, one of the best of 25+ castles we visited!!! It is a ruin. It's about a 20min walk out on a peninsula at the head of Loch Awe. NOTE, check your map and know exactly where it is. We saw no signs, though the parking lot was right off the HW, next to the RR tracks. Driving from the east toward Oban, if you cross the bridge over the stream, you've gone too far. We did and I knew exactly where it was. BTW, you can't see the castle from the parking lot. Follow the path under the tracks and around the corner and suddenly the Castle reveals itself. Most awesome!!!

Here is the clincher!!! Your 5 year old will absolutely love it!!! As I said it is a ruin, quite ruined in parts. BUT, they have built up stairs and platforms. You can get to a platform at the top over the front, maybe 30-40 ft up. Absolutely stunning!

Here' s another thing. It's open access. So whether your plans have you passing at 7am or 9pm (depending on daylight), you can walk out anytime. My wife and I got there at 7;30am. No one there the entire 1.5 hrs we were there except a couple teenagers camping over night out front.

Your sidetrack to Oban brings you right by. OR, if you plan to go straight up A82 into Glencoe, you can still sidetrack over eto Kilchurn. It looks like about 15 miles one-way. 15m back to Tyndrum after, all nice HW. Well worth the <30min drive, if only to watch your 5 year old rollicking around the castle!!!! But you'll like it too.

OK, selling done!

Kevin

Edited: 31 January 2012, 16:09
Memphis
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6. Re: Driving A82 advice

Wow, wonderful advice from all. Thanks. I must get some work done for a bit before I truly digest everything that has been written, but I will be back with specific responses.

Driving and seeing the scenery is a must. Would love to do some hiking. I can handle it; I run marathons and grew up playing in the woods as a child. We'll just have to find easier hikes terrain-wise. Also, my time will be limited; we'll be leaving Glasgow on a Tuesday afternoon to drive north and then have all day Wednesday. That's it, unfortunately. So that's why I need to probably just concentrate my time south of Ben Nevis. Any little villages (Glen Coe?) that might have a tiny bit of strolling/shop browsing would be a plus.

And we definitely expect it to rain, but don't plan on letting that ruin anything.

The scary drive (I think mentioned near Loch Lomond?) might bother my wife a bit so that will be something to think about. In case you've seen Big Sur in California she was quite terrified on that drive (it's my profile picture).

And Kevin, I've used your past thread discussing your castle trip to research castles. I want to find a few. We will see Edinburgh Castle and hope to go to Caerlaverock Castle as we drive south into England. I definitely would love to have your incite on castles in the Highlands. I'm afraid we won't be able to make it over to Castle Country (that's what they call Aberdeen?).

Wow, I said I would respond later after I digest everyone's suggestions and look at my long message. So obviously I'll have more questions in a bit. Again, thanks so much for the information.

Scunthorpe, United...
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7. Re: Driving A82 advice

Picking up on your comment about Caerlaverock Castle (excellent choice - it is a great place) I was wondering if you had any other plans for this area.

About an hours drive west is Threave Castle on an island in the river Dee. It was once home to Archibald the grim. It is reached by a short walk along a footpath and you have to ring the bell to all the ferryman to row you across to the island.

historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/…

undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/castledouglas/thr…

This was the highlight of a holiday when daughter was a similar age to your son.

Edinburgh, United...
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8. Re: Driving A82 advice

Hi again!

I think maybe I gave you the wrong idea about the drive - it is not scary per se. It is all flanked by crash barriers and is beside a loch, not on a mountainside or up in the forest. But it is very wiggly, and the camber is not well-fashioned in parts, making it literally stomach-churning (because you are wiggling, not because it is scary!)...

Abs :)

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9. Re: Driving A82 advice

The "scary" bit of the A82 is the section between Tarbet and Inverarnan, 10 miles long, will take about 15 minutes to drive. The road is not up to current design standards, its twisty and narrow and there are many blind bends where you wonder what you'll encounter when you round the corner. It can be a tense drive especially if raining. You can bypass this section by taking your alternative route: A83>A819>A85. This takes you on better engineered roads and goes through the picturesque village of Inverary where you could perhaps visit Inveraray Castle. When you leave Oban head north on the A828 past Loch Linne and enjoy the view of Castle Stalker. The downside of this plan is you miss Glencoe but you can always return that way.

Memphis
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10. Re: Driving A82 advice

In case it was missed, we will be there the last week of May. We will be driving up from Glasgow because my wife, an interior designer, design writer and lover of architecture, cannot miss Mackintosh sights. So I'm afraid we will be driving north late afternoon.

I'm not sure yet which way I'll go, but I think the best idea would be to make it a loop with up A82 and back down around by Oban or vice versa. Again, the main consideration for the drive up will be that it will be in the 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. range that we're driving, so I don't want to go through an area that has shops or attractions that close by 5 or 6. And I guess I'm also wondering if it would be worth considering driving east toward Aberdeen to then drive down A9 on way back south.

Also, I do plan on spending a lot of time driving and getting in and out of the car to enjoy sights. I would absolutely love to enjoy a few hikes. However, my wife won't be keen on walks that have rough terrain, especially if it's raining. So I need not only easier walks but also backup plans for in case the weather just doesn't allow for these walks. (I have come across a link listing Highlands hikes, so don't feel you need to list hikes; just stating a fact).

I like the look of Rannoch Moor if weather cooperates and some of the side drives that have been mentioned.

As far as options in case the weather is terrible, are there any villages worth having a stroll around, possibly with shops to pop into? I've seen mention of Oban and a couple of others in guidebooks, but I just don't always trust guidebooks. I like to read what TA forums like to say. Also, I love beer and definitely would enjoy a taste of whiskey, so if there are any particularly noteworthy pubs or distilleries that would be nice too.

Lastly, knowing that Kilchum Castle can be seen no matter the time, I will make a stop there. But are there other castles in this region that anyone would recommend?

In reading this back I feel terrible for posting all these questions when I know I can find the answer to a lot of these with just a quick search. So please don't feel you need to answer all of these questions. But any and all advice from you all is much appreciated. I will have more questions that I can post in the forum separately.