Travel Advice: When is the best time to travel to Scotland?

MY WIFE AND I PLAN A SELF-DRIVE TRIP TO SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN ISLAND IN SEPTEMBER. GOOD TIME TO VISIT? CAN YOU SUGGEST DRIVING ROUTES? FERRY FROM BELFAST TO SCOTLAND, AND BETTER TO HIRE A CAR SEPARATELY IN BOTH COUNTRIES? K. FOOT, METFORD, NSW

September is perfect. If you go to the Visit Scotland website, visitscotland.com, click on "See and Do", then click "Tours" you'll find several suggestions for self-drive tours and road trips. The North Coast 500 – and that's miles, not kilometres – weaves its way around the coast in a huge loop starting from Inverness. If you've a week to spare, it's highly recommended. To find driving routes in Northern Ireland, go to the Ireland website ireland.com, look under "Itineraries" and you'll find some suggestions for self-drive routes. Stena Line Ferries stenaline.co.uk operate between Belfast and Cairnryan in Scotland. The crossing takes just over two hours and there are several sailings daily. Do it in two separate car hires. In the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland, unless you return to the same place as the pick-up you'll pay a hefty one-way fee. There are car hire outlets close to the ferry terminal at Belfast and a Hertz outlet at Cairnryan.

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