The Bonnie Botany Tour
Explore RBGE’s wonderful Living Collection of plants across its four stunning Garden locations.
The Bonnie Botany Tour is a long distance driving route in the south of Scotland, conceived for lovers of gardens, scenery and Scotland, to complement the North Coast 500. It takes in some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and offers drivers the opportunity to see the very best of Scotland at their own pace.
Featured in ‘Take the Slow Road: Scotland’ by writer, camper van explorer and TV presenter, Martin Dorey, the 380 mile loop links up RBGE’s four gardens, through the Galloway Peninsula (Logan), near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, in Argyll and Bute (Benmore) and Edinburgh.
The Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh is the start and finish of this epic drive around Scotland, especially if you are flying in and want to hire a camper or motorhome. As cities go, Edinburgh is one of the finest, with wide streets and a cosmopolitan feel. Stay as long as you like but take the M8 towards Glasgow when it’s time to make your escape. It’s not wildly exciting for the first section, but once you cross the Clyde on the Erskine Bridge and follow the A82 up the western bank of Loch Lomond it starts to get interesting. As with Route 4, take the A83 at Tarbet up to the Rest and Be Thankful before hitting the southern shores of Loch Fyne on the A815.
You’ll enjoy fine views of Inveraray Castle opposite as you drive right along the lochside to Strachur, where the A815 turns southwards towards Benmore Garden along the shores of Loch Eck. You’ll know when you have reached Benmore as you’ll notice the trees get larger here.
From Benmore, travel south on the A815 into Dunoon to take the Western Ferries’ crossing to Gourock. Now you’re on the coast you’ll skirt the shores of the Firth of Clyde until you reach your next stop at Logan Botanic Garden. Follow the A770 south and then join the A78 towards Ayr via Largs and West Kilbride and then turn inland at Ardrossan. At Turnberry the road hugs the coast again, along a stretch of road that’s at once beautiful and a bit grubby, busy but isolated. Continue travelling south on the A77 to Stranraer and take the A716 along the coast on to The Rhinns of Galloway towards Logan Botanic Garden. This is a great part of the drive and includes some lovely stretches of unspoiled costal road, with views over the bay to the Galloway hills.
On leaving Logan Botanic Garden travel north to the A75, which takes you all the way to Dumfries. At Dumfries take the A701 to junction 15 of the M74 where you cross the motorway (don’t go on to it) and pass through Moffat before continuing on the A701 to the source of the River Tweed. This will bring you neatly to Dawyck Botanic Garden. From here it’s a relatively easy roll back into Edinburgh on the A703. And you’re done.
Driving route and map (courtesy of Martin Dorey ‘Take the Slow Road: Scotland, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Map illustrated by David Broadbent
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