Five POI's worth visiting when riding in Scotland

Is it the love of peaty whisky, tartan kilts and a wee bit of ceilidh - Gaelic for ‘party’ -  which lures us towards the upper part of Great Britain?

Or is it their monster at the bottom of a Loch, or maybe, just maybe, the mind-boggling combination of towering mountains, glittering lochs, dense woodlands, windy walks and miles upon miles of wintery shoreline?

Whatever your reason to ride up north, the reward is ever-present. We’ve quarried five preciosities out of the gem mine called Scotland, and poured them into five Motorcycle Diaries’ POI’s. Ye’re welcome!

 

Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument (Highlands)

If ever we’ve seen a fairytale-like view which rang a bell… No wonder, as this stunning sight has been the stage setting for the second and third Harry Potter movies - Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for you movie-buffs, with the Hogwarts Express calling at Glenfinnan.

A nice thought when you’re wandering around the area - if you’ll have any time to think while you’re gasping for air, as you witness the dazzling surroundings. 

Because Glenfinnan is situated at the head of the impressive Loch Shiel, a twenty-eight-kilometer long lake that rambles its way from Glenfinnan southwestward, draining into the River Shiel, and eventually emptying into the sea loch Moidart.

The upper reaches of Loch Shiel, toward Glenfinnan, are framed by steep mountains reaching elevations of up to 900 meters.  Another high-rise is the famous Glenfinnan viaduct that carries the railway to Glenfinnan Station across a 300-meter span, 30 meters above the ground.

A 36-pound single ticket will get you aboard the Jacobite steam train, which train runs from Glenfinnan to Fort William and Mallaig in summer months. 

At the foot of these majestic mountains, you’ll find the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre, which commemorates the Jacobite clansmen who fought bravely in the mid-18th century and gave their lives in support of "Bonnie Prince Charlie".

A visit to the monument will answer any further questions you might have. If you rather take a ride, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fact this POI is perched right next to one of our MD Roads: the 63 kilometer-long stretch of A 830 from Mallaig towards Banavie. 

You can link up this one to the A861 for a ride framed by four Lochs - Loch Sunart, Loch Shiel, Loch Eil, and Loch Linnhe - fairly easily. To do so, just take a right just after Banavie (assuming that you’re coming from Mallaig) and head for Fort William.

From thereon, just ride south towards Corran, where a small ferry will take you over Loch Linnhe to Ardgour for a mere 3,1 pounds. A bargain, as at the other side of the Loch, the A861 awaits again. Go!

The Fairy Glen (Isle of Skye)

The next gem of this jewelry box is hidden along the magnificent A87, leading you from Invermoriston towards the heart of the truly fairytale-like Isle of Skye in Uig. 

The latter adjective is not as far-fetched as it might seem: the Isle of Skye has a long history involving the Fairies, most of which are related to Dunvegan Castle and their ‘Fairy Flag’. 

The Fairy Glen, much like the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle, sadly has no link with fairies apart from the simple fact that the location is unusual - the road winds around small round-topped grassy hills with ponds in between, which gives the glen an otherworldly feel  - so it has been given the nickname Fairy Glen.

A bit of a bummer for the ‘believers’, but a true treat for everyone who ever laid an eye on it - it’s a truly stunning view. 

One of the hills still has its basalt topping intact which, from a distance, looks like a ruin and has therefore been nicknamed Castle Ewan. In the low cliff behind Castle Ewan there is a very small cave where it has been said pressing coins into cracks in the rock will bring good luck.

Nope, no fairies involved in the rocky circles on the ground either: in recent years’ visitors have started to move the rocks to create spirals - all for the ‘Gram’, right? Sigh.

Just leave the rocks where they are and make sure to hang around until all tourists have gone, as the sunset over this site is from another planet.

Motorcycle-Diaries top-tip: is possible to climb to the top of Castle Ewan. There’s not much room, but two and a small bottle of wine should fit...

You’re very welcome!

 

Callanish Standing Stones (Isle of Lewis)

As you’re in the neighborhood now anyways… You might as well keep hanging around. Hop on your bike, ride the A855 from Uig to Portree and back - and don’t forget for a quick coffee (both ways, if you’re a caffeine addict) in the Single Track Art Gallery Espresso bar.

You’ll need a shot of energy, as we’ll be crossing the so-called ‘Little Minch’, the upper part of the Sea of The Hebrides, by ferry.

The latter is taking off from Uig on the Isle of Skye, and will take you towards the Isle of Lewis in just less than two hours.

A return ticket with your motorcycle will set you back around 45 pounds - but it will be well worth the investment. 

As on the other side, amongst other marvels, The Callanish Standing Stones await. These stunning, Stonehenge-like rows of monoliths stretch outward from a stone circle, forming a sort of rudimentary cross, and are free to visit at any given time. Historians figured out that Neolithic people erected the Callanish Stones about five millennia ago, but their exact purpose remains unclear.

The most widespread theory, based on recent archaeological research, claims that the giant rocks acted as some sort of astronomical observatory or a celestial calendar.

But - as is the case with many mysterious prehistoric creations - the Callanish Stones are rich with legends and myths. Local folklore says the stones represent giants turned into stone for refusing to convert to Christianity, while another one pleads it was the exact spot where a magic white cow appeared to save the islanders from starvation. Both sound - eh - very plausible. 

But whatever their true purpose might be, visiting the stones is a truly enchanting experience, regardless of the season: in the summer, they stand tall under a barely setting sun, while during winter months, the Northern Lights will turn the night sky above them into a bonfire of green and purple shades.

Bucket list material.

 

The Scottish Crannog Center (Aberfeldy)

As you’ve noticed by now, Scotland isn’t only (rightfully) famous for its stunning scenery, but almost as much because of rich history, which captures the imagination.

If you’d allow us, we would like to take you to the Scottish Crannog Center in Aberfeldy: a place that’ll take you on a fascinating journey into Scotland's prehistory.

In this modern reproduction of a primitive pile dwelling, you can walk in the footsteps of the original Crannog dwellers and immerse yourself in village life: this interactive museum is home to a bunch of original artifacts and provides demonstrations of cooking and ancient crafts.

The Scottish Crannog Center itself was opened following the reconstruction of a splendid Iron Age Crannog - a local archaeological experiment - and has ever since evolved to become a unique insight into life in the Iron Age.

A must-see! 

More of the active kind? Well, maybe you’d want to consider to paddle into prehistory in one of their replica log boats, by making a small tour on Loch Tay.

The latter being a perfect backdrop for a stunning picnic. Located in the shallows of Loch Tay, the center is a stroll from Kenmore village, a few miles from Aberfeldy or Killin and within two hours of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness.

After the visit, you’ll be glad to discover we’ve got a bunch of Motorcycle Diaries Roads lined up to take in the surroundings on your way out of Aberfeldy.

There’s an unnamed, small road leading you from the ‘front door’ of the Crannog towards Amulree in the east, or the Road leading you from Aberfeldy over Tummel Bridge and past Loch Tummel, where you can enjoy a splendid outlook at Queens View. Stunning stuff!

 

Dunnottar Castle (Aberdeenshire)

We’re finishing this shortlist with a ride to Scotland’s east coast, where - perched on a giant rock on the edge of the North-Sea - we find another jewel, just 20 miles south of Aberdeen. Just shy of the ‘city walls’ of Stonehaven rests this romantic but haunting ruin of a castle - a genuine photographer’s paradise ànd a history buff’s dream.

Not in the least because the importance of the Dunnottar ruins – an impregnable fortress that holds many rich secrets of Scotland’s colorful past - can’t be underestimated.

Not only was the clifftop fortress once the home of the Earls Marischal - once one of the most powerful families in the land - but even William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and King Charles II were once guests in this majestic stronghold.

But maybe even more famously, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months during the English Civil War (halfway the 17th century) and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction.

Later on, it served as a prison before it was abandoned during the 18th century and slowly crumbled into its current state.

Although we can only imagine how it used to look during its glory years, this one is most definitely worth your time and effort of making a small detour.

After a visit, the alluring north sea coastline offers a great ride towards the north, and the Cairngorms National Park is only a fifty-something mile ride away.

We don’t have a lot of MD Roads in this part of Scotland yet, but don’t hesitate to contribute yours! Because - as you might know - one of the most important parts of Motorcycle-Diaries is our community: you know your local roads better than anyone, and you're all traveling to stunning destinations where you’ll probably discover a bunch of scenic roads on the way, as well as great places to stay overnight.

And we would love to hear about them! The best part of it is you can win precious prizes every month by doing so. So don’t hesitate, join in

Where next?

Explore the best roads & POI's around and plan your next trip based on those roads.

 


 

 

Mehr Geschichten

Away from the Alps Vercors & Chartreuse

Away from the Alps Vercors & Chartreuse

RTWPaul: America Coast to Coast on Dirt, The Trans America Trail

RTWPaul: America Coast to Coast on Dirt, The Trans America Trail

Nomadik and Co: From Ireland to South Africa - Part VI

Nomadik and Co: From Ireland to South Africa - Part VI