The magnificent drive along the A82 from Loch Lomond to Glencoe

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If you’re travelling in the Scottish Highlands, a drive along the spectacular A82 all the way from Loch Lomond through to Glencoe simply has to be on your itinerary.

This was part of our honeymoon road trip after our wedding in Gretna. We hope our account captures the majesty of the drive and inspires you to make this journey yourself if you’ve not already done so.

Let’s head to the Highlands…

VW motorhome at Grey Mare's Tail, Scotland

The A82 from Loch Lomond to Glencoe

On the first morning of our married life, we left Grey Mare’s Tail (shown in the picture above) on the A708 in the Southern Uplands, and made our way down through the Moffat Hills before heading north along the M74.

Although preferring to avoid motorways wherever possible, this main route to Glasgow was a lot quieter than what we’d been used to in England.

Once through Glasgow we headed west of Loch Lomond, following the water’s edge for several miles along the A82, before heading north to Glencoe.

Road Trip Tip: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park get busy in the summer. Although parking is free in the daytime, if you want to camp overnight from 1st March to 30th Sept you need a parking permit. This will cost you £4 per night in a motorhome. Find out more here

We only found out about the parking situation at Loch Lomond in Martin Dorey’s excellent book ‘Take the Slow Road’, essential reading if you’re travelling through Scotland and don’t want to miss anything.

Take the Slow Road Scotland - Martin Dorey

Wild camping in Scotland

Continuing north, the A82 snakes its way through the glens, sometimes right by the water’s edge, the scenery becoming more impressive as the miles pass.

By the time you reach Loch Tulla you get a sense that you’re just about to enter the mountains proper. We stopped for lunch at the view-point, as had many other motorhomes, despite the signs saying ‘No motorhomes between 7am and 7pm‘. Seems a little crazy if you ask us!

(Elsewhere in the UK it would probably say ‘No motorhomes between 7pm and 7am’, in other words, ‘no overnight camping’)

Indeed, this would make a great spot for an overnight wild camp. However, this was only midday and we were hungry for the real mountains by now…

RELATED CONTENT: Is it legal to wild camp in a motorhome in Scotland? Find out what you need to know

road trip Scotland - No motorhomes sign
The viewpoint at Loch Tulla on the A82 to Glencoe

The Sirens of the Highlands

A few miles on and we entered another world…

By now the clouds had gathered and the first few drops of rain were starting to fall. The windscreen wipers were casting a hypnotic spell on us…

Driving through the low-lying ground across Rannoch Moor where the water comes right up close, it was as if we were being enticed by Nature herself, a Siren’s song creeping down from the Highlands like swirling mist, drawing us right in.

The mountains of Glencoe loomed large on the horizon. Big, green, rugged mountains that have the power, like the Sirens, to lure you ever closer.

A note of caution though: be mindful here because there are one or two narrow bridges along the A82 and tourist buses round these parts stop for no-one! For example, it was a tight squeeze going over Etive Bridge with a bus coming in the opposite direction…

The 3 sisters of Glencoe

Don’t let the majesty of the surroundings take your eyes off the road! It gets busier the closer you get to Glencoe.

Indeed, it wasn’t much further until we saw tourists – like us – with their cameras and selfie sticks standing at viewpoints, or hikers getting ready to traipse along one of the many mountain paths amongst what are known as the ‘three sisters’ – the peaks of Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach.

It seems that there is something in our DNA that needs to get higher, to rise up, to see things from a new vista, to marvel in awe at Nature’s creation. This is the lure of the mountains. They call us home.

And ‘mountains calling us home’ shouldn’t really make sense to us Suffolk folk where mountains are alien territory. But it felt right to be here. It felt like we belonged.

Perhaps we were getting closer to understanding T.S. Eliot’s famous lines…

We will not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

Hiking in the mountains of Glencoe

If you get a chance, pull over and soak it all in. There are plenty of places to do so, including a dedicated car park area for the 3 sisters.

You see, before you know it, you’re right through the main section of high peaks in Glencoe and out the other side. So it pays to park up and wander for a bit or just enjoy the scenery.

Or, if you’re a serious hiker, climb over 1000 feet up one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains, Buachaille Etive Mor…

Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe, Scotland
Image: Greyeme

But of course, you need the right gear if you’re entering serious mountain territory.

It’s worth checking out what Murray Wilkie is doing…

‘Steaming Boots’ produces the best videos we’ve seen of Scotland’s Mountains and we recommend you subscribe to his YouTube channel.

He puts up many videos of his wild camps in Glencoe and sometimes talks about the gear he uses.

Have a look at this one and lose yourself in the majesty of these mountains…

From motorhome to Chieftain tank

After driving a little further we stumbled upon a campsite next to the Glencoe Visitor Centre and our road trip for the day was done. It was raining gently, which is quite the norm for these parts. Indeed, the late, great Alfred Wainwright reported that it rained every time he visited Glencoe.

And it has to really…

There is a heavy, mournful air about the place, steeped as it is in historical massacre.

Whatever the weather, it had been an amazing journey, so good in fact that next morning we decided to drive back the other way through the high peaks again. And this time the sun was shining. Even better!

But it was at this point that Cree, our van, blew a hole in her exhaust. We sounded like a Chieftain tank echoing through the glen!

Trudi mentioned something about a “quick exhaust repair kit” but Gav didn’t want to get drawn back into normal life, fixing things at garages or going into Motorspares and the like. We wanted our honeymoon to last forever.

So, Cree filled the mountains with raucous sound. They, in return, filled our hearts with soul.

Thank you, Glencoe! To the mountains and the men who laid the A82, we shall return.

piper in the mountains of Glencoe, Scotland
Photograph by Alan Ingram

Check out part 2 of our Scotland road trip

We hope you’ve enjoyed this road trip story and feel inspired to drive the A82 yourself. It’s certainly one of the best we’ve done.

Check out where we went next in Part 2 of our Scotland Road Trip – From Ben Nevis to the Isle of Skye

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