Highlands of Scotland Itinerary: 3 Days

Have a look at our suggested Highlands of Scotland Itinerary – 3 days to experience a true taste of this remote and beautiful region. This driving route starts at Ullapool which is already a fair way north. If you are starting in Edinburgh, allow an extra 5 hours driving time to reach Ullapool. 

Scotland Itinerary 3 Days Highlands Road Trip

Three Days in the Scottish Highlands

Highlights of this Scottish Roadtrip

Highlights include the picturesque fishing town of Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom, the mysterious prehistoric Bone Caves and the magical sunset at the Hermit’s Castle. However, the real highlight of this 3 day driving route is a chance to experience the remoteness of this Highland region. You will feel very much at one with nature and will see lots of wildlife and plant life, explore ancient caves and take in magnificent vistas. Every turn in the road will present a new view which will not disappoint.

Total time/distance

3 days from Ullapool, 4/5 days from Edinburgh

Scottish Highlands 3 day itinerary

3 Days Highlands Itinerary Stage 1

From Ullapool to Lochinver

Your three day tour of the Scottish Highlands begins at Ullapool, gateway to the Northern Highlands. Despite its small size, Ullapool is a busy Highland town, with ferries sailing regularly to the Outer Hebrides and a working fishing fleet.

Things to do in Ullapool

If you have travelled up the night before, or have an extra day to spare so can stop the night, and you are in the right season, take a boat trip to nearby Handa Island to see the puffins. In the evening pay a visit to the Ceilidh Place, which is well known for its welcome and nightlife or sample the local seafood caught that day. If you are just in Ullapool for an hour or two, you can learn about the crofting life in Ullapool’s small museum or just soak up the atmosphere and watch the boats come and go from the harbourside. A short distance heading north out of town is pebbly Admair Beach which is great for bird watching, crabbing or rock pooling.

Scotland itinerary 3 days Ullapool

Don’t linger too long in Ullapool as the drive north towards Assynt on the A835 is the star of the show today. From Ullapool the road to Assynt gradually becomes more twisted, the climbs steeper and the traffic begins to dwindle dramatically. The road north to Assynt takes you through some incredible scenery dominated by the peaks of Suilven, Canisp, Conival and Quinag.

Loch Lurgainn and Stac Pollaih

The region is very sparsely populated there is plenty of scope to just pull up in your campervan and enjoy the views or stop for a walk in the tranquil landscape. Take a left at Drumrunie and visit Loch Lurgainn. It is a spectacular setting with Stac Pollaih to the north. There is a short circular walk to Stac Pollaidh from Loch Lurgainn. Despite being only 5km, it’s not for novices so check the guide to the circular walk to Stac Pollaidh before setting off.

Scottish Highlands 3 day road trip

The Bone Caves

Continue northwards and you will come to the Bone Caves, prehistoric caves named after the bones of bear, lynx, polar bears and reindeer that once roamed the area were found there.

There are three caves set in the northern crags of Beinn an Fhuarain and to reach them you need to follow the A837 and park 2 miles south of Inchnadamph at the Inchnadamph Hotel car park. You then take the path upstream past the waterfall. As you cross the river the path can become quite steep. The walk to the caves and back takes between 1.5 and 2 hours. You will need to follow directions to the Bone Caves to find the walking route and the caves. Nearby are the Traligill Caves, the deepest cave system in the country.

On the map this region looks like it is more water than land but the land actually has many different types of terrain. Views of munros will recede and the incredible landscape of Assynt and Coigach comes into view. The hills here stand upright in the otherwise flat moorland in a dramatic fashion.  The area has been designated the Northwest Highland Geopark, which received UNESCO Geopark status in 2004.

After your visit to the caves continue north past Inchnadamph and the road will turn west and follow the northern shoreline of Loch Assynt. You will pass the ruins of 15th Century Ardvreck Castle. The road continues westerly and then splits. Continue on the A837 and you will come to Lochinver, a pretty fishing village famous for its pies. Or turn onto the B869 before Lochinver to visit the stunning beaches of Achmelvich Beach or Clachtoll Beach.

Camping

You can camp at the beautiful Clachtoll Beach Campsite overlooking the stunning white sands and turquoise waters of Clachtoll Beach. Take the A837 towards Lochinver and turn off on the B869 road to Clachtoll. Another idyllic spot to park up for the night at Clachtoll Beach is Motorhome Pitches by the Beach. It is a park up with electric hook up and water.

An alternative is family-friendly Shore Caravan Site at Achmelvich. Achmelvich Bay is another stunning white sand beach accessed by a single track road. It is a great place for watching birdlife and sealife and there are stunning sunsets here. Turn off the B869 about 4 miles before Clachtoll.

Around Lochinver: Stage 2

Scotland Itinerary: 3 Days in the Highlands

A day exploring Lochinver and the Assynt coast

Lochinver

Lochinver is a lovely fishing port with beautiful views. There are great seafood restaurants here or try a venison and cranberry pie from The Lochinver Larder. You can also pick up a souvenir and see potters at work in the town’s Highland Stoneware Pottery. Another great thing to do in Lochinver is take a sunset cruise along the coast to spot whales, porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks and sea eagles, whilst watching the sun set behind the mountains. North Coast Sea Tours run sunset cruises and daytime wildlife cruises between April and October out of Lochinver.

The Hermit’s Castle

The coastline north of Lochinver has lots of interesting spots to explore. By Achmelvich Beach, the Hermit’s Castle is said to be the smallest castle in Europe. The castle was built as a folly in the 1950s and sometimes provides shelter to walkers stopping for the night or people watching the sun set. Follow the signs to Achmelvich Beach on the B869 and from the car park head past the caravan site towards the rocky peninsula.

Highlands Scotland 3 day driving route

The Old Man of Stoer

Further north up the coast, The Old Man of Stoer is an incredible 60m sea stack. It is quite a tough walk to the Old Man of Stoer if you want to reach it yourself over sometime rough terrain. However, you will be rewarded with amazing coastal scenery and beautiful wildflowers in the summer months. You may also see climbers attempt the 60 metre ascent before abseiling back down to sea level.  You are also likely to see dolphins or whales from the clifftops. Take the B869 past Clachtoll and then the minor road towards Point of Stoer where you will find the start of the path.

The Wee Mad Road

South of Lochinver lies a stretch of road affectionately known as The Wee Mad Road. This twisty and turny narrow road, part of the NC500, winds its way through some of Scotland’s most dramatic and untamed landscapes. Beginning at Inverkirkaig, just south of Lochinver, and winding its way down to Achiltibuie, the road is an exhilarating journey through some of the most ruggedly beautiful Highland landscape.

There are numerous twists and turns and hairpin bends and it is not a route for the nervous driver. Towering mountains, ancient rock formations and wild heather cloaked terrain come into view as the road skirts the edges of crystal clear lochs and the wild coastline overlooking the Summer Isles, with only a few quaint cottages sporadically punctuating the landscape.

Clachtoll beach campsite pitchup scotland

Camping

Stay a second night at either Clachtoll Beach Campsite and the Park Up Motorhome Pitches by the Beach overlooking  Clachtoll Beach or Shore Caravan Site at Achmelvich Bay.

If you are taking a drive along the Wee Mad Road you might want to stop for the night at the stunning Port a Bhaigh campsite, a waterside campsite, with views across to the Summer Isles.

Scotland Itinerary 3 Days in the Highlands: Stage 3

South to Edinburgh

Route Overview

The final day of our 3 day exploration of the Highlands sees us heading south to Edinburgh, taking in haunting Beauly Priory and Loch Ness en route. It is around a 6 hour drive back to Edinburgh using this driving route. You can cut it by an hour by taking the direct route from Inverness, but it seems a pity to miss a drive along the western shores of the iconic Loch Ness for the sake of an hour. However, it won’t leave you long for stops. So, if you have another day to spare, there are easily enough viewpoints and places to stop along this stretch to take two days for the return leg.

If starting from Clachtoll, take the B869 northwards along the coast, taking the A894 into Unapool. If you are taking a couple of days to get back to Edinburgh, those interested in geology might make a stop at the Rock Stop Cafe and Visitor Centre in Unapool. Here you will learn about the amazing landscape’s geological history, as well as enjoy fine views over Loch Glencoul. Afterwards leave town by the A894 and head south on the A837. At Ledmore Junction, take the A835 towards Drumrunie. You’ll pass the Knockan Crag Nature Reserve on the way.

Beauly Priory

If setting off from Port a Bhaigh, head towards Drumruie. It’s a single track road that follows the northern shores of several locks before meeting the A835. From Drumrunie simply continue on the A835 until it brings you to the ruined Beauly Priory. Founded in a peaceful and picturesque, riverside setting in the early 13th Century by Valliscaulian monastic monks, the name Beauly is said to come from the French for “beautiful place”.

Loch Ness

From Beauly it is a short drive until you reach Loch Ness where you will pass Urquhart Castle. Follow the A82 along the western shore of Loch Ness south until you reach Fort Augustus. If you are planning to break your journey and stop the night we recommend Loch Ness Shores Camping and Caravan Site on the eastern shore, just a short drive from Fort Augustus.

Final Leg of your Scottish Roadtrip

Otherwise, continue on the A82 to Spean Bridge. You then head east along the A86 through open countryside, following the River Spean until it reaches Loch Laggan. Your route traces the northern shore of the Loch and just into the Cairngorms National Park. The final stretch along the A9 south to Edinburgh passes through quite different, woodland landscape as you head south. You will pass through the Tay Forest Park, before joining the M9 at Perth for the last hour of your return journey to Edinburgh.

Big Sky Campers Campervans for Hire

Scotland

Big Sky Campers is based in Rosyth, just outside Edinburgh. We offer our customers free, secure parking for the duration of their hire. We also will pick customers up from nearby transport links from Edinburgh. There is a regular train service from Edinburgh to Inverkeithing. We are also served by the airport bus. All our campervans for hire come fully equipped with everything you will need for a road trip through the Scottish Highlands. There are no hidden extras – everything is included in the price, including unlimited mileage, insurance for one driver, gas bottle, camping accessories, bedding, towels and extra sets of bedding if requested. 

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