Getting Around Highland

  • View from the bus
    View from the bus
    by travelfrosch
  • Loch Ness Youth Hostel
    Loch Ness Youth Hostel
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  • The concourse
    The concourse
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Most Viewed Transportation in Highland

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    THE END OF THE LINE - RAIL TRAVEL

    by DAO Written Oct 10, 2012


    Thurso Train Station is the end of the line – quite literally. It is the northernmost Rail Station in Great Britain. Located on Princes Street, this small station is they way to travel south to Inverness where you can then access the entire British rail network. The station was opened on 28 July 1874. It was actually selected for closure in the 1960s, but survives to this day so you can travel to the very top of the UK mainland.

    The station itself is open Monday-Saturday 09:50-16:54. For some reason some websites show them opening 1 hour late on Saturday. I base the times on the sign on the wall inside that station. There is a side gate to get to the single platform (of course!) outside of opening hours. You can buy a ticket on the train without any problem.

    During opening hours you have:
    • Rail staff for any questions, tickets, assistance
    • Accessible unisex toilet
    • Induction loop at ticket office window (for hearing impaired passengers)
    • Luggage trolleys
    • Post Box
    • Car park (3 spaces, 1 is handicapped) – 24 hour
    • Taxi rank
    • Public (pay) phone
    • 3 cycle racks. (not covered)

    They also have Left Luggage Lockers for £3 a day. They are accessible Monday - Saturday 10:00-16:30, closed Sundays!

    Thurso station is on the Far North Line and is 154 miles (248 km) north of Inverness.
    After arriving at Thurso the trains often go back to Georgemas Junction and then on to Inverness in around 3 ½ hours. The journey follows the coast line for most of your journey and is arguably the most scenic rail journey in the UK.

    Address: Princes Street, Thurso, Highland, KW14 7DL
    It is about a 5-7 minute walk to shops and accommodation (300m/1000ft). You may want to just walk to most places rather then asking for a taxi.

    For details of onward bus services, visit www.travelinescotland.com or call +44 (0) 871 200 22 33 (24 hours).

    For full details of train times and calling points (stations), please have a look at the National Rail Enquiries Website

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    Beware of… funny road signs :)

    by nani80 Written Jan 25, 2012

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    You certainly won't see many cars on local roads in Scottish Highlands. But there's plenty of road signs that will warn you about creatures you might encounter instead – deer, cattle and sheep warning signs being the most common. Some signs will warn you about not so common animals, and some will even make you laugh, like this „Beware of toads and people“ sign on the Assyint road B869 near Richarn.

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    Driving Single Track Roads

    by nani80 Written Jan 24, 2012

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    When I first sat at the driver's seat of our rented car, I was scared stiff. The steering wheel on the 'wrong' side, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road and like that's just not enough, I had to cope with the single track roads which are still quite common in the Highlands.
    It's worth to mention that I don't like driving at all, not even at home. So, if I made it just fine, I guess no one should worry about it. Of course I didn't drive the Bealach na Bà to the AppIecross, but on many other single track roads I did just fine.

    In a way, driving single track roads is one of the loveliest memories from the trip. It's almost like a rule: the narrower the road – the more beautiful the landscape. Of all the single track roads I've seen, the most scenic was the Assynt coastal road (B869) and local roads of Stoer peninsula. Another scenic road is Torridon Pass (A896), whose sections had been widened to a standard two-way road.

    I really enjoyed the way the drivers acknowledge each other with a wave.

    Personally, the worst thing about driving in Scottish Highlands is that you cannot really appreciate the wonderful landscapes you're driving through. Everything else is quite simple.

    There are a couple of rules you should follow.
    1. Never park your car at the passing places.
    2. Use the passing places at the left side of the road, and if the passing place is on the other side - wait for another driver to use it to pass you by.
    3. If you're planning to drive slowly and admire the landscapes (which you should!), use a passing place each time you notice a car behind and allow the other drivers to overtake.
    4. Don't ever forget to drive on the left side of the road. I know it's obvious, but sometimes you won't pass another car for miles and it's easy to fall back upon instinctive patterns of driving on the right side.

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    Cruising to Iona and Staffa

    by globetrott Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Check out carefully the time-tables of the ships taking you to Staffa and Lunga, they differ a lot when it comes to the time that you may spend on the islands of Staffa and / or Lunga / Tresnish-islands.
    On my picture you may see the boat that took us to Staffa and Lunga. We had to step up 20 minutes to the cliffs in order to get to the holes under the grass , where the puffins have their nests, so you should really take one of the cruises, that leaves you at least 2 hours on the island of Lunga.
    For Staffa 1 hour might be enough , because Fingals cave is where you will dock, and there is not a lot to see on the island itself, except the basalt-rocks at the small stoney beach !

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    Take the Road to the Isles

    by scottishvisitor Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Rathad nan Eilean - doesn't it sound romantic? Or more common - Road to the Isles is a magnificent scenic journey which provided some of the most spectacular vistas of Lochs, Mountains, hills and forrests. Starting at Fort William and ending at Malliag you could not wish for a better drive, passing through moody Glenfinnan, Lochailort, sleepy Arisaig, Morar and finally ending in Malliag. Around twenty years ago this road was nearly all single track but it has been much improved with large sections of dual track, not to be confused with dual carriageway, it is still single carriage way. Have the drive of your life here as you gain speed on the two way roads only to be slowed down again on single tracks. Use the many passing places on your side of the road only and let local traffic pass and to give priority to oncoming vehicles. Check your mirror frequently as local traffic can get a bit frustrated as you meander along admiring the scenery.

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    Corran Ferry

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Corran Ferry (Highland Council) runs across the Corran Narrows and gives direct access to Morvern, Moidart and Ardnamurchan. It is 9miles south of Fort William and saves the enormously long trek round Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
    It also provides a link with the crossing to Mull from Lochaline.
    On the east side there is a car park and toilets.
    Every 20mins on weekdays and 30mins on Sundays.
    I think the fare was about £6.

    Please note that during peak holiday times, queueing is necessary and can add some considerable time on to your journey. 2009 crossing from Ardgour to Corran we queued for half an hour.

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    Bealach na Baa Pass

    by nickandchris Updated Feb 20, 2009

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    I really didn't want to take this route, being in a 24 feet long motorhome. It is the highest pass in Great Britain, reaching 2053 feet above sea level at it's peak and consists of a single track road with some wicked hairpin bends.

    The morning of our leaving Applecross was very breezy so Nick decided it would be less windy on the inland route, the Pass, rather than take the exposed coastal route. "Do you think that wise, visibility is already limited?" says I. "No problem," says he. OK, all seemed well when we set off, we could see and we were following another motorhome, so I felt we weren't the only silly beggars! Soon, the gradients became considerably worse and down came the cloud. We couldn't see a thing. Just as I was thinking this was a daft idea, a large lorry headed downhill towards us. As we pulled into a passing place, the van began hissing and filling up with steam. "We're boiling" shouts Nick. Oh, clever boy. At least the kind-hearted local lorry driver backed up to see if we were ok and told us we still had a mile to go to the summit and that there was plenty of water gushing down the hillside close by.

    The whole event took on an unreal feeling; - we couldn't see outside the van and we couldn't see in it. To cut a long story short, the heater had blown a gasket and my very clever husband managed to disable it and patch things up. We proceeded up to the top with our breath held and our fingers crossed. We made it. Not only that, a couple of days later, we went on to travel over the Rattagan Pass with no problems.

    It's such a shame that we couldn't see anything of the fantastic views because of low cloud. They are supposed to be breath-taking. Going down the other side, the steeper side, Nick had to have two bites at one of the hairpins to get round the corner, mmmm, wouldn't have liked that on the way up!!!

    I would say there is absolutely no problems taking a car over this route, on a good day you can see traffic from afar and there are plenty of passing places. Think twice about ascending with a large motorhome over the steeper side. Even on such a wild and dreary day, when visibility was not good, plenty of people were using this route. In fact, the day before, Nick had seen from where we were camping, a breakdown truck towing a VW camper over. Don't know how it got round some of the hairpins!!!!

    As you can see, we didn't manage to take any pictures of the road!!!! L[Please look at the website for photos.]

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    B869 Lochinver to A894

    by nickandchris Updated Feb 20, 2009

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    This road heads north from Lochinver and takes in the lovely beaches of Clachtoll, Achmelvich and Clashnessie as well as the pretty remote village of Drumbeg. There are amazing views out towards the nearby islands in Eddrachillis Bay and further to the Summer Isles. The impressive hump of Suillven cannot be missed on this route and the further south you head, the more prominent it becomes.

    Clashnessie beach is a beautiful, quiet sandy beach, whereas both Clachtoll and Achmelvich, though gorgeous beaches, are much more popular, having campsites behind them.

    The road is narrow but has passing places and parts are pretty steep. The road is only tricky in a motorhome on parts where you can't see oncoming traffic. I would recommend this route for the stunning views and lovely beaches.

    For more info on this area, please look at my Lochinver and Stoer pages.

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    Unclassified Road South Of Lochinver

    by nickandchris Updated Feb 20, 2009

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    From Lochinver there is an unclassified road running southwards, through the Inverpolly Reserve and past the unmistakeable peak of Stac Pollaidh. This road is not for the faint-hearted if you are travelling in anything larger than a small car, as it is very narrow and lacks decent passing places. Naturally, we took this route and yes, it had it's hairy moments but we felt we would have missed out on this corner if we hadn't chanced it. It was only later in the evening that Nick admitted it was the most challenging road he had driven in the motorhome, and that includes the Beallach Na ba.

    The road passes the tiny hamlet and pretty bay of Inverkirkaig, where disappointingly there is nowhere to stop and admire the view. That seems to be the problem with this road,(certainly at the more northerly end) there is nowhere to actually stop and take a few minutes to look around you.

    At some stage, Nick realised we had lost one of the motorbike straps, so stopped in a passing place to tie another one on. No sooner had we stopped than a huge motorhome came past, only to meet another vehicle coming the other way and we were in the passing place. Somehow or other, the two vehicles managed to pass, after a lot of manouvreing from everyone.A nasty moment.(Photos taken from the passing place.)

    The road passes loch after loch, or so it seemed.The main freshwater loch is Loch Sionascaig, with many tributaries and smaller lochs dotted about. This is all part of the Inverpolly Estate and is a national nature reserve.You are in wild country with practically no habitation, apart from Inverpolly Lodge.It is beautiful countryside with supposedly magnificent mountain views but unfortunately, the day had turned extremely hazy, making photos not worth the effort.

    Finally, we made it to the road that joins this one, running along Loch Osgaig, Loch Bad a Ghaill and Loch Lurgainn.It is still an unclassified road, but you are on the flat, mainly, from here onwards, heading westwards. Eastwards takes you in about 10 miles onto the A835 Ullapool road.

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    Ratagan Pass

    by nickandchris Updated Feb 19, 2009

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    A stunningly beautiful journey, the Ratagan Pass seems to climb and twist forever. It reaches 1115 feet at it's highest point and is not to be missed, purely for it's amazing views down to Loch Duich and to the Five Sisters of Kintail mountain range. Make sure you make this trip on a clear, bright day for worthwhile photos.

    The road begins at the head of Loch Duich, from Shiel Bridge and turns left after about a mile.Then the climbing begins and continues for a long way. Some of the hairpins have been widened and parts of the road are two lane but mostly it's single track, especially on the Glenelg side.

    When the road was first built, in the 1700's by General Wade, the sheer drops over the edges were very much visible but now trees blot out the terrors of these drops and to us, it seemed fairly tame after our experience in the motorhome of boiling on the Applecross Pass!!! Parts of this mlitary road were improved in Victorian times by Thomas Telford and some of his corbelled bridges remain on today's road to Glenelg.

    There are a couple of parks with stupendous views on the way up from Shiel Bridge. Do stop and take in the vista before you while your vehicle has a chance to cool down before the next climb. Once over the peak, it's plain sailing with a much straighter road as it becomes the old military road, with plenty of passing places. And finally it flattens out as you reach Glenelg, a pretty coastal village looking across the Sound Of Sleat.

    We were extremely fortunate with the weather when we travelled this route. The day before, it was misty and raining so we delayed this journey until the following morning b which time the sun was cracking the tiles.

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    From East to West

    by nickandchris Updated Feb 19, 2009

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    The Caledonian Canal, starting at Corpach in the west and ending at Inverness in the east, is a 60 mile short-cut across the country. It saves on the long voyage around western Scotland.
    38 miles of it include Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness with the remaining 22 miles on canals. There are 29 locks on the Caledonian Canal, Neptunes Staircase near Fort William having an impressive ladder of 8 locks over 500 metres.

    British Waterways (Scotland) own it and there are plans to repair the canal and upgrade facilities.

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    The Jacobite Train & a different name!

    by scottishvisitor Written Aug 29, 2006

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    I was delighted when visiting Glenfinnan to firstly hear the train's loud whistle, then turning towards the sound, see the great puffs of steam as she passed over the great viaduct. You have probably seen this train when she was painted red & used in the Harry Potter film. The 84 mile round trip starts at Fort William & ends in Malliag with a brief stop at Glenfinnan. The train journey is from 10.00am till 4.00pm a one and a half hour stop in Malliag is included in the journey time.
    Journey days Monday - Friday from 29th. May to 13th. October
    Sundays 28th. May - 27th. August
    Fare Adult £27.00 1st. Class £40.00
    Child £15.50 " £20.00
    The Jacobite Train is very popular especially with children so booking is strongly recommended - go on see the "Road to the Isles" by train.

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    The Lochaber > Harry Potter's train

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Lochaber is the name of the landscape west of Ft.William - and it is also the name of the old steamtrain that runs regularyly on wednesdays during summer seasons from Ft.William to Mallaig. This steam-train is shown also in a Harry Potter-movie and plenty of people wish to take it, so you better reserve it a long time in advance !!
    I have done the ride once,a long time before Harry Potter did, but I actually prefer to - like many other tourists - to follow the train by car and watch out for good places to take a pic of the steam-train passing by. It might be the best to explore the track of the railway some days in advance, check out for parking-possibilities and the best places to take your pictures in combination with the lovely landscapes and scenery.
    The train will stay quite a long time in the different stations, so you have a good chance to catch it at many places, once that you know where you may park your car easily etc.
    On my last picture you may see Glenfinnan Viaduct, a giant bridge built for that train !

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    Corran Ferry

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Corran Ferry is a small car-ferry in a distance of about 50 km south of Ft. William and it saves you more than 150 km of your way on the small roads around the fjords on your way to the southern part of the Strontian Island and on your way to Lochaline, where you might want to take the ferry to the island of Mull.The ride across the fjord takes just a few minutes and the ferry is leaving as soon as there are enough cars on the ferry or waiting at the other side of the fjord.
    Corran ferry really makes sense in many cases and you should also considder, that in Ft. William you will get the cheapest gasoline in the highlands and the further you are away from the main roads, gasoline-prices will increase 10-40% (Western Hebrides)

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    the boat from Elgol to Lough Corruisk

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    The ship to Lough Corruisk leaves at ELGOL, a small village on the west-coast of the Isle of Skye. The road to that village is a single-track-road with passing places and you will need about 1 hour to get to Elgol from the mainroad, that you are leaving at Broadford .
    The boat is able to transport about 25 passengers, and the trip included a tea-break with scoones, as there is absolutely no kiosk, restaurant or any other facilities at Lough Corruisk.
    The cruise-boat to Lough Corruisk will need about 2 hours one way - and you will have about 2 hours to explore the lake before they will take you back.
    Another possibility to get to Lough Corruisk is to walk from Glenbrittle ( there you may leave your car and may even spend the night in a Youth-hostel ). Such a hike will take the whole day !!

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