I went on one of Macs Adventure's 'Drive and Hike' trips in May this year – Skye, Outer Hebrides & NW Highlands. It’s a great introduction to how varied the landscape is in Scotland and how it constantly changes with every corner you turn. Here are my favourite stops on the trip that aren’t necessarily the go-to spots.
Talisker Bay, Skye
If you are staying in Broadford, this is only a short 12-mile detour from the main route up to Portree, and it is well worth the extra 30 minutes in the car. Make sure to get there early as there is limited parking. Once you have parked up, it’s a gentle 30-minute stroll down to this stunning bay. If you go early in the morning or later in the evening, you may be the only ones there. Don’t forget to check out the astounding waterfall cascading down the cliff on the far-right-hand side of the bay.
I’ll confess that this isn’t a hidden gem, but if you are contemplating a half-day hike on this trip, this is a great option, taking around 3-4 hours to complete the entire circuit. Even driving into the carpark, you are greeted by spectacular views. As you would expect, it’s a busy trail, but it gets quieter once you pass the first few geological features. The views are out of this world and unlike any mountain range you have ever seen.
Ardroil Beach, Isle of Harris
The beaches in Southern Harris attract all the fame, and there is no doubt Luskentyre beach is Caribbean-like (although not in terms of temperature!). Still, several beaches in the North-West of Harris give Luskentyre some stiff competition. Ardroil (also referred to as Uig Sands) is the best of the bunch; the landscape is so unique and it’s such a vast expanse of flat sand surrounded by dunes and rolling hills.
Lochinver – Kylesku, NW Highlands
The NC500 is undoubtedly stunning, but it would be foolish not to occasionally stray from the official route. There is so much beauty to be found off the main drag when heading North from Ullapool. I recommend taking the A837, along the shores of Loch Assynt, then onto the B869 that takes you right back round to Kylesku Bridge. The road isn’t for the faint-hearted; it is primarily single lane and very steep in some sections, but that’s all part of the beauty! It’s hard to resist a short stop in idyllic Lochinver for a brief stretch of the legs and a famous pie from Lochinver Larder.