It's not every day that a car rental company offers you the chance to showcase the country you love, visit some fabulous places along the way, and of course drive an amazing car to show how we would celebrate St. Andrews Day like true Scots! We don't have a car so when Europcar asked it only took two seconds to think of a reply - er, yes!
We plotted our route and took receipt of a fab wee Mini Cooper SD, part of Europcar's Prestige range, and set it through its paces...
Mr Foodie loves to drag me off to the countryside and the large, often desolate but cultured Skye, a 5 - 6 hour drive away was the aim. We picked Skye as it is accessible by a toll-free road bridge, boasts incredible scenery and now has two Michelin starred restaurants and so armed with a copy of this year's Great Britain & Ireland Michelin Guide we set off but with being winter we had to leave Glasgow around 7am and out first stop for breakfast was just over an hour away at Mhor 84 Motel with the best Eggs Benedict Ms Foodie has tasted. Review here.
After breakfast we were quickly back on the road, and the A82 up to Fort William is a favourite of ours. With stunning scenery, that you can see even when driving - you can't really miss a huge Glen! As well as places to stop along the way for a break.
Just after Fort William we stopped off at Neptune's Staircase. Neptune's Staircase is a staircase lock comprising eight locks on the Caledonian Canal. Built by Thomas Telford beteeen 1803 and 1822, it is the longest staircase lock in Britain.
Following the Caledonian Canal, it was soon time for a tea break. A welcome farm shop sign meant a cuppa and a photo of some Shetland Ponies called Maisie and Iris, however they seemed to be more interested in their lunch!
Back on the road, it was another hour before we reached what is Scotland's probably most photogenic castle - Eilean Donan Castle.
And then shortly afterwards we were within sight of the Skye Bridge.
There's a really good view of the bridge just before Kyle of Lochalsh (look for the P stop for the Murchison Memorial and follow the path to the memorial).
By this point we were starving, thankfully we had booked lunch at the Michelin Starred Kinloch Lodge and when travelling so far it would be rude not to visit! At £32.99 for three courses, this was an excellent value lunch.
After this we headed off to Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company as we had heard all about them and wanted to hear about their story.
Wth water from Loch Snizort dried naturally to produce the sea salt the only human interaction is the sieving and packaging of the salt. No machines and no power involved. The packs are completed by hand and are made by 90% recycled content.
We were impressed by the lack of impact on the environment as well as the use of recycled card in the packaging. The salt is made in small quantities and is used in places such as Kinloch Lodge, Cafe St Honore as well as The Three Chimneys.
Surely time to rest?!
Yes! A short drive to our hotel to check-in and have a quick rest stop, well we were offered a complimentary whisky each on arrival!
But no rest for the wicked, soon it was time for dinner, this time The Three Chimneys in Colbost. Having gained a Michelin Star this year, we were lucky to grab a space.
Driving in the dark, and slightly concerned that we were going the wrong way down a single track road with lots of spooky sheep by the roadside made this an eventful drive! We arrived safely and headed into the cosy restaurant. A delicious meal and service, well worth seeking this one out!
Next day we were up and refreshed ready to drive homeward via Trotternish and the Quiraing in the North-east of Skye.
It was sad to leave Skye, such a beautiful place and so easy to drive around. We'll be back!
Homeward we got to stop at Loch Garry which looks a bit like the shape of Scotland just as the sun started to set.
And then a bonus of the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge in the gloaming.
We had a fabulous time driving about, seeing the scenery and being able to visit some amazing places, and after the excitement of 2 Michelin starred restaurants we settled for fish & chips on the way home - but the chippy had run out of fish! No worries as they had everything else still on the menu.
Many thanks to Europcar for providing us with a car and fuel for our overnight trip! The Mini Cooper was a great wee car to drive, it handled the twisty Highland roads very well and was surprisingly spacious & comfortable to sit in - a great way to experience the country. Click to find out more about their Prestige range of cars.