Ramble On is a series highlighting some of the most beautiful and interesting drives around Scotland.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of the most worthwhile activities in Scotland is simply to get in the car and drive. Scotland is such a beautiful country that you will find yourself pulling off to the side of the road to snap photos more often than you’ll reach the speed limit.
Driving in Scotland is truly a voyage of discovery. Follow the small, unmarked roads into the hills and through the forests and stumble on ancient bridges, wild vistas, and pockets of wilderness untouched by the advance of time. If you need help making up your mind on whether or not to rent a car in Scotland, I hope this article settles the matter.
The drive at the heart of this post began as I left the remarkable Deanston distillery and made my way back to home base in Pitlochry. I didn’t want to just speed back to Perth and up the A9. Instead, I chose a much longer, more circuitous route that was a mystery to me. Those are always the best ones. If you’d like to see the route on a map, check it out here.
I don’t recommend starting long drives around Scotland from distilleries. Now that that’s out of the way, head west on the A84 out of Doune toward Callander. The pretty River Teith, the same water Deanston uses for their whisky, nudges the road as you drive toward the eastern edge of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Snow-capped hills greet you as you cross into the park, and scenery becomes a lot more epic.
Continue north on the A84, in the shadow of Ben Vorlich, through some very hilly terrain. The A84 becomes at the A85 at Loch Earn, so continue north on this road. As you pass Loch Earn, you may want to have someone hanging out the window shooting photos or you may never get to your destination. This is postcard landscape and dangerous territory for the photographer.
In the northeast tip of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the A85 turns west and the A827 turns east. Jump on the smaller A827 and follow it along the River Dochart to the small town of Killin. The Dochart is a gorgeous river flowing over sheets of rock that reminds me of the Rocky Mountains. The Falls of Dochart can be found in Killin with its many-arched bridge. This is a good spot to have lunch on the sun-warmed rocks as the river chugs past.
Follow the A827 out of Killin and continue east along the massive, 14-mile length of Loch Tay. This beautiful stretch of road runs above the loch, which huddles between hills like Ben Lawers. You’re probably feeling thirsty by this point, so pop into the Ben Lawers Hotel and sip a pint of real ale on the hotel’s back deck overlooking the loch. Listen to the wind tumble over the hills as sheep nibble grass upon the hillsides.
At the northeast end of Loch Tay, cross the first span of the River Tay at Kenmore and continue east on the A827 (you could also drop into the Tay Forest Park here for a hike). Before too long you’ll find yourself in the attractive town of Aberfeldy, which is home to Dewar’s. This is another great place to fuel up the car and stock up on pr0visions.
The last stretch of road from Aberfeldy to Pitlochry mirrors the River Tay’s snaking watercourse. It’s a helpful reminder to take this section slow – mainly to avoid a road accident but also because it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch of river, hill, and forest. Once you cross the River Tay, you’re about 10-15 minutes from rejoining the A9, which will zip you back to Pitlochry. Before that happens, however, make a stop at the Logierait Inn and fill up on some Scottish comfort food. The fish and chips were excellent!
So there you have it. A beautiful drive through the Scottish heartland and some of my favorite terrain in the whole of Scotland!