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West Highlands explorer day

Explore the raw and unforgiving landscape of the Scottish Highlands with the help of a local guide on this full-day tour designed to discover some of its most arresting scenery and hidden charms.

Get off the beaten track to glorious lookouts, spot red deer grazing in the woodland, visit film locations and folk museums, and a get a deeper insight into the history of this incredible place and the people who live here.

With the option to take some short walks and a cable car ride up Ben Nevis (Scotland's highest peak), this is a rewarding day featuring a diverse number of locations and activities.

The day starts when your guide picks you up from your hotel to begin a private tour of the West Highlands, which includes both Ben Nevis and the dramatic scenery of Glen Etive. The road to Glen Etive is a narrow and bumpy track which takes you off the beaten path and presents some of Scotland’s most unspoiled scenery.

The view changes with every turn as you head toward Loch Etive at the end of the road, and you are likely to see red deer, either grazing peacefully on the surrounding hillsides or spilling unconcernedly across the road in front of you, necessitating a wait until the herd has passed.

Scenes from the James Bond film Skyfall were shot along this road, the bleak and wild landscape a fitting backdrop for the childhood home of Bond, played by Daniel Craig. There is no sign of human habitation until you near the very end of the road in this truly remote area. Along the way, look out for eagles, and possibly even otters in tranquil Loch Etive.

From here return to the main road and continue on to Glencoe village, a small and mainly residential place where you can spend some time and have lunch (not included).

There are a few nice cafés and art galleries here along with the Glencoe Folk Museum, which is housed in a traditional thatched cottage. It has some interesting displays on the history of the village and the surrounding area, including information on the infamous Massacre of Glencoe. There is also an attractive lochan (small lake) at the far end of the village, as well as a few short, circular walking trails.

From Glencoe, drive along the shore of beautiful Loch Linnhe and then through Fort William to the Nevis mountain gondola. The gondola takes around 15 minutes to transport you up into the Nevis range, to a height of 655 m (2,150 ft). The journey allows you to see the surrounding landscape from nearby Ben Nevis to the Great Glen and even as far as the Inner Hebrides on a clear day.

From the top of the gondola there are two well-marked looped hiking trails which take between 45 minutes and an hour to complete. On a clear day, these offer views, as well as good opportunities to discover the local flora and fauna.

Once you have taken the gondola back down the mountain, return to your hotel.

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who's been there
Audley Travel specialist Aislyn

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.