Isle of Skye to Edinburgh via Fort William

Isle of Skye to Edinburgh via Fort William

This post is a special post – it marks the 100th post on Thank you so much for visiting, reading and following along. It has been a blast to share this very unique time in our lives with you and I hope you’ve found it useful for your own travels or expat transition.

The Best Route from Isle of Skye to Edinburgh via Fort William

For many of our travels, we’ve been really lucky. We’ve (Andrew) has planned things really well and we’ve done most of the things we’ve set out to do. Our trip back to Edinburgh from the Isle of Skye hit a bit of a hiccup, however.

I had tried to buy ferry tickets from Isle of Skye to the mainland online before we left for Scotland, but I could not for the life of me figure it out. Then in the run up to preparing for the trip, I forgot about it. On the trip, however, we decided it really was a great idea. By the time I figured out how to buy ferry tickets from my phone (the day or so before), they were unfortunately all sold out. Bummer/fail/booo.

So, we didn’t take the best route for this trip, but I can pass on what I have learned – it is possible to buy tickets for the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig online and it is the best way to travel from Isle of Skye via Fort William to Edinburgh. It doesn’t save you much time overall, but it does cut out a lot of redundant drive from the route via Loch Ness, and gives your driver a rest during what is a long journey (6.5 hours if you skip the ferry!).

The other benefit of taking the ferry versus driving is that you’ll pass by the beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct. We had to skip it due to time, but it looks stunning.

And so, without ferry tickets, we set off by car on Sunday morning from Isle of Skye to Edinburgh. The weather was overcast as we drove off the island, using the little bridge.

Though it was overcast, it was stunningly beautiful to see the fog and clouds over the lake by Eliean Donan Castle (which we visited here!).

As we traveled, winding through the hills of Scotland, the clouds dissipated and the sun began to peak through. By the time we made it to Fort William, the sun was out and sparkling on the water as we drove along the road following the sea. Near Fort William is where we picked up the route that we would have taken if we had gotten ferry tickets.

Inspired by our trusty guide, Rick Steves Scotland, we decided to skip a stop in Fort William and continue onto the more quaint town of Glencoe. There we’d stop for lunch.

Glencoe and The Glencoe Forestry Lochan

A “glen” is a valley and as you drive through Scotland, reading signs along the way, this hilly country is filled with glens.

Glencoe is said to be the most romantic glen in Scotland and it is truly beautiful. Surrounded by peaks, filled with lush green fields and darling cottages, it is peaceful and lovely there.

We grabbed lunch at Glencoe Cafe and decided we wanted to explore a bit and stretch our legs before getting back into the car for another long journey. We set off for the walking trails at The Glencoe Forestry Lochan.

This beautiful area is fascinating, thanks to it origins. In the 19th century, a man had the forest planted here from trees from the Pacific Northwest of Canada, his wife’s home. He recreated this forest scene for her around the lochan to soothe her homesickness. A romantic gesture, indeed!

The stunning views and well maintained trails are definitely soothing, though I’m not sure how it worked out for him and his wife.

After a walk up into the hills then down around the lake, we had sufficiently stretched our legs enough to begin the next park of our journey.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Our route took us through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Whatever we may have been expecting from this drive, I can assure you we had no way to anticipate the incredibly beautiful scenery that surrounded us during this leg of the trip. The mountains are gorgeous.

Passing through this park, we saw tons and tons of motorcycles! The day had turned out to be beautiful so it definitely was a good day for a ride. We also saw lots of RVs throughout our trip, on Isle of Skye as well.

There were several times we pulled over to take pictures as it was just so beautiful under blue skies and sunshine.

Edinburgh is just over an hour outside this national park. You’ll pass through Stirling on the way, which is home to a famous castle. We had considered stopping at Stirling Castle, but decided against it as we would have had less than an hour until closing and were ready to relax in Edinburgh. Stirling itself is said to be lovely as well, so worth checking out if you have more time!

It was around this time, after many long hours in the car after several days filled with long car rides, that the whole crew was starting to get a bit antsy.

Scotland road trip crew! Complete with upside down RICK!

Our fearless driver, Andrew, decided to grab a classic Scottish soft drink to put some pep in his step for the final leg of our journey to Edinburgh. Having never tried it, but having heard and read lots about it, he got himself an Irn Bru (pronounced iron brew). This bright orange drink is incredibly popular in Scotland.

We have been fascinated by Irn Bru since reading about the fall out from the company’s decision to cut back on the sugar content. To me, it tastes a bit like bubble gum and I really didn’t enjoy it. The national attachment to this incredibly unhealthy beverage reminds me a little bit of how we South Shore natives go absolutely bananas for deliciously disgusting Mary Lou’s coffees, so I appreciate that though it may not be the healthiest beverage, there’s an identity aspect to it all, too. Which is why we had to try it. Pretty sure we won’t be trying it again any time soon, but it did get Andrew through the last leg of the journey!

Stay tuned for our Edinburgh adventures! For more our drive up to Isle of Skye from Edinburgh via Loch Ness, click here.


Jenn is an American expat living in London, spending her time freelancing, traveling and writing on this here blog. Thank you for reading. Are you planning a trip here? Tell me your plans in the comments!

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