Ramble On: A Drive Around Perth & Kinross and Stirling

by Keith Savage · 12 comments

On the A84 Through Stirling

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!

Boyd StokesNo Gravatar July 7, 2015 at 12:03 AM

Good morning Fleurishgirl and wishing you a great time in Scotland. If you do not choose to go to Orkney then may I offer an alternative for consideration. We are based near Elgin in the beautiful county of Moray, with it’s beaches, castles and of course the whisky of Speyside and it’s large number of distilleries. We operate a small fleet of Caterham 7 sports cars which are great fun and ideal for touring Scotland. From our base you can readily visit the Cairngorm National Park, Skye, Applecross or for me the NW of Scotland (Ullapool to Durness) is really very special. Have a wonderful vacation, whatever your choice I’m sure you will enjoy a wonderful time. Kind regards Boyd

FleurishgirlNo Gravatar July 6, 2015 at 10:19 PM

Can you sell me on the idea of going to Orkney?!?!?!!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 7, 2015 at 8:57 AM
fleurishgirlNo Gravatar July 6, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Discovered your website today! Wish I had found it earlier as half of our trip to England/Scotland is already planned. : ) That said, we have a few days open in the middle of our trip and I’m having a hard time narrowing down where we should focus our time. We will be in London (from the US…South Dakota as a matter of fact) August 7 through the 11/12th. We have the 12, 13, 14th free to do whatever. I’ve saved the last two days of our trip (the 15th and 16th) to spend in Edinburgh before we fly out of Edinburgh on the 17th and I do have a reservation made at a B&B on the outskirts of Edinburgh for those two nights, but otherwise that middle part of our trip is unplanned.

My dilemma is: Do we focus on visiting areas within an hour to two of Edinburgh or really do it up good and shoot for the Isle of Skye area and work our way back down? I do have a B&B on the north side of Skye that is holding a room there for us for two nights, so we would have lodging if we would need it. I do worry that we are cramming too much in (by possibly taking sleeper train to either Fort William or Inverness, renting a car, visiting Skye for two days and then working our way back down to Edinburgh.) I’m a photographer, and researching out places to visit in Scotland is like being a kid in a candy store. : )

If you had 3 days to spend outside of Edinburgh, where would you focus on?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 6, 2015 at 5:06 PM

If I only had three days, I’d fly to Orkney and rent a car there. I wouldn’t waste time on travel and I’d maximize my time in an amazing destination.

It’s hard to go wrong in Scotland wherever you choose, especially as a photographer. The problem with going to Skye is that you would spend the majority of your time traveling to and from the island. If Skye is really important, then perhaps that’s worth it, otherwise I think a good course of action is to maximize your time by day tripping from Edinburgh to places like Perthshire, the Scottish Borders, Fife, Stirling, etc.

LindaNo Gravatar April 17, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. The roads you mention were once so familiar. I had (still do but so long since I’ve visited them) friends in Perth, and before I had children and when they were small we went to visit them so often. The drive up from England, through the Lake District and Borders is lovely too. Thanks for the memories!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM

My pleasure, Linda. I would love to visit the Lake District (and more of England, really) some day!

BoydNo Gravatar April 17, 2013 at 1:05 AM

Wonderful yet again Keith, informative, enjoyable cracking photo’s. Thanks for the read. Are you coming over this year?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 17, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Hey Boyd! This drive would be perfect with a Caterham 😉

Unfortunately, it looks doubtful this year given the work with my book. 2014 for sure!

DaveNo Gravatar April 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Hey Keith, I really enjoyed your ‘Ramble On’ feature. I don’t think I’ve seen one of them before, is it a new series? I look forward to seeing more of them!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 16, 2013 at 3:49 PM

There’s one other one at the moment, about Shetland: http://www.traveling-savage.com/tag/ramble-on/

Thanks for the feedback!

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