The 13 Best Road Trips in Scotland: Epic Scotland Road Trip Guide

Last updated on February 9, 2024

Best Scotland road trips

Scotland is one of the most epic road trip destinations in the world. It’s the perfect place to sit behind the wheel, whizzing along rugged coastline, past mountainous land, windswept isles and stopping for whisky along the way.

This is a guide to the best Scotland road trip itineraries. I got together with other top travel bloggers to bring you a comprehensive guide to Scotland road trip ideas and the very best road trips in Scotland.

From Scotland’s Route 66 – the most famous highland 500 route – to other scenic Scotland drives around islands and between cities, a Scottish road trip is the perfect way to explore this gorgeous land.

Also see our guides to the best UK road trips and the best road trips in Europe.

And if you’re heading to Edinburgh, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Edinburgh with kids. And a guide to Edinburgh’s festivals.

The Best Road Trips in Scotland

Best Road Trips in Scotland

Scotland road trip map

Scotland Road Trip Itineraries

Orkney Islands

Kirkwall – Birsay – Skara Brae – Italian Chapel – South Ronaldsay

Explore the wild and remote Orkney Islands with this one-week road that has a mix of history and nature.

By Suzanne at Meandering Wild


  • Experience the neolithic sites on Orkney including Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe Burial chamber.
  • Walk out to the Brough of Birsay, a tidal island with a Pictish village and lighthouse.
  • Visit Kirkwall, the capital of the islands and explore the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral and Earl’s Palace.
  • Take time to visit the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm island built by Italian Prisoners of War in the 1940’s.




7 days

When to go


Starting in Kirkwall take time to visit the red sandstone St Magnus Cathedral and the nearby Earl’s and Bishop’s Palaces. Close to the cathedral is a small museum that helps show the story of the islands through time.

After leaving Kirkwall, the road trip becomes more remote with beaches to explore. The most northerly point on Mainland Orkney is Birsay where there is another Bishop’s Palace and a tidal island. Look out for puffins close to the lighthouse in the summer months.

South of Birsay is the UNESCO world heritage sites of Neolithic Orkney, which includes Skara Brae village. Close to Skara Brae is the Ring of Brodgar, a neolithic stone circle and Maes Howe, an ancient burial mound.

Heading south to Lambs Holm and South Ronaldsay will take you across the Churchill Barriers, a series of causeways built to stop submarines entering the natural harbour of Scapa Flow.

The Italian Chapel is on one of the islands joined by the barriers and is stunning inside. A real gem where you wouldn’t expect to find it.

Where to stay

Isle of Skye

Portree – Old Man of Storr – Staffin – The Quiraing –The Fairy Glen – Coral Beach – Dunvegan Castle – Neist Point Lighthouse – Talisker Distillery – Fairy Pools – Elgol

Experience every corner of the enchanting Isle of Skye with a road trip to the north, west and centre of this natural wonderland.

By Rachel at Average Lives


  • Admire the colourful harbour in Portree
  • Hike to the iconic Old Man of Storr
  • Hunt for fairies at the Fairy Glen
  • Paddle in the clear, cold water at Coral Beach
  • Step back in time at the 13th century Dunvegan Castle
  • Experience the raw beauty of the Fairy Pools.





When to go


Stay in Portree in the north and use the town as a base to discover the island and complete the following each day as day trips to create a 3-day Isle of Skye road trip.

For the first day, begin by climbing to the Old Man of Storr, one of the best short hikes in the UK. Next, chase several mighty waterfalls, including Rha Falls, Lealt Falls, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, and stop in Staffin for lunch. To end your day, explore the Fairy Glen’s rolling hills and spot the fairies that roam the land. 

For day two, discover one of the most beautiful parts of the Scottish Highlands – The Quiraing – to see the iconic needle. Next up is the west of the island, where you can relax on Coral Beach, appreciate the picturesque scenery surrounding Dunvegan Castle, drink whiskey at the Talisker Distillery and feel on top of the world as you enjoy the sunset at Neist Point Lighthouse.

Finally, for day three, and to end your Isle of Skye road trip, experience the unthinkable at the Fairy Pools, where you can swim, hike and admire the Black Cuillin Mountains. After that you can explore the sleepy village of Elgol and traverse rocks to discover Spar Cave at low tide. 

Where to stay

Inverness to Oban via Fort Williams

Inverness – Loch Ness – Fort Augustus – Fort William- Glencoe – Oban – Urquhart Castle – Inverness

Enjoy the Scottish highlands and islands on this easy route with lots of pretty villages plus epic natural sights.

By Jumana at Planet Hopper Girl


  • Enjoy the Dores beach in Loch Ness
  • Watch the boats cross the canals in Fort Augustus
  • Climb Ben Nevis
  • Hike around Glencoe
  • Enjoy the Glen Etive drive
  • Visit Inveraray Castle
  • Enjoy seafood in Oban and watch the Caledonian ferries
  • See the Urquhart Castle on the way back up to Inverness in Loch Ness.




4-5 days

When to go

May – September

Start in Inverness and head south to Fort Augustus via one side of Loch Ness, where you can enjoy a small picnic at the Dores beach, which has lots of water sports on offer. This drive also takes you to the Scottish highlands around Fort Augustus, which gives a panoramic view of Loch Ness.

Stop at Fort Augustus, one of the most scenic towns in Scotland, and take a stroll. You can take canal rides here and watch the boats crossing the canals. This stop is worth a stay or else you can drive downwards to Fort Williams the same day.

The Fort Williams region has many attractions, including the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, sight of the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express.

Drive down to Glencoe and even hike up Ben Nevis if you have more time. The drive in Glencoe offers some of the most scenic highlands’ views, and has many hiking and walking trails to explore.

There are two hidden gems to discover on this route. One is the picturesque village of Kinlochleven. And the other is the Glen Etive road where the Skyfall movie is shot. This is known as one of the most scenic routes in Scotland.

You can do all this in one or two days (better to have at least two). But if you have more time, you could visit another stunning village, Inveraray, home of the Inveraray Castle. Spending one day here is highly recommended.

Next, head to Oban where you can have a taste of the Scottish island life, watch the ferries to the Scottish islands or simply enjoy the seafood. (You could also add some other islands to your itinerary or try this 3-day west Scotland itinerary).

If you are heading back to Inverness, you could where you started, you could drive back via the other side of Loch Ness and add another epic castle to your itinerary – Urquhart Castle. Invermoriston Falls on the Loch Ness route is a classic stop too.

You could do this trip in 3-4 days if you just hop from one place to another, or you could meander and take it slow, stopping in some of the cities or islands along the way.

It’s a good family road trip, especially with the Harry Potter element. We have lots of family travel tips, and here’s a handy guide to road trip food tips – particularly useful for travelling with kids.

Where to stay

Traversing the Outer Hebrides

Stornoway – Uig – Harris – Berneray – Lochboisdale – Barra

Take in the beauty of the landscape on this one-week road trip itinerary in the Outer Hebrides which includes two ferries and six causeways to hop between the islands.

By Kristen at Adventures with Ensuite


  • Admire the Bronze Age Callanish standing stones
  • Take a boat trip to the Shiants islands to see puffins and seals
  • Stroll along Luskentyre beach
  • Hike Berneray island looking for seals
  • Look out over picturesque Berneray beach
  • Watch a plane take off from the beach runway at Barra airport




7-14 days

When to go

Late March – September

Starting on the largest island, the Isle of Lewis, the trip takes you north to the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis. Then drive along the coast to the Bronze Age Callanish standing stones and the pretty bay of Uig.

At low tide, the whole bay of Uig is one large expanse of glittering white sand – although the most picturesque beaches are still to come on the Isle of Harris. Harris has many scenic hikes, an interesting gin distillery and it’s the perfect starting point for a trip to the Shiants for wildlife viewing.

Further south, the scenery changes as the islands become flatter.

Berneray island has its own beautiful beach and it is one of the best places to see seals and, if you’re lucky, otters.

Continue south to the island of Barra where the tidal beach is also the airport runway. It is the only place in the world where the official runway disappears twice every day as the tide comes in!

Where to stay

Amazing Argyll Coastal Route

Loch Lomond – Loch Fyne – Inverary – Auchindrain – Kilmartin – Easdale Island – Oban

Starting on the banks of bonnie Loch Lomand and ending in historic Fort William, the Argyll Coastal route is one of Scotland’s most atmospheric road trips.

By Izzy at the Gap Decaders


  • The viewpoint at An Ceann Mor, in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, gives a taster at the start of the trip of the sheer enormity of the landscape and sky.
  • The fresh seafood available everywhere along this route is incredible, especially the original Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd that have been sold by the roadside since 1978.
  • Hiking to the top of Dunadd Hill Fort, where the first kings of Scotland were inaugurated and getting a shiver down your spine at the history and legend of the place.
  • Enjoying a wee dram at the Oban Distillery, one of the smallest and oldest in Scotland.
  • The incredible view of Castle Stalker from the shores of Loch Linnhe, especially at sunset.




7 days

When to go

Spring / Autumn

If you want to feel the turbulent history of Scotland in the landscape around you, then forget about the more famous North Coast 500 and head west to arguably the most beautiful part of Scotland.

From mountain tops to loch-sides and the deep glens in between, this road trip will take you along the west coast of Scotland, through tiny villages, to iconic castles and historic sights. You’ll learn about the legends and culture that have shaped Scotland into the country it is today. Big skies and lowland landscapes give way to the wild and raw Highlands as you cross the Highland Boundary Fault heading north.

There are opportunities for activity and adventure along the route – hiking, bagging a few Munroes and taking a kayak from Easdale Island to scout for wildlife including porpoises, seals, dolphins and otters. If you’d rather not paddle, you can take an excursion to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool or take a whale spotting trip.

This road trip is as much about the seafood as it is about the history, with fish and seafood fresh off the boat daily, wherever you stop. Some of the best seafood restaurants in Scotland are along these shores and you should make it a part of your trip to visit as many as you can.

If you visit in spring or autumn when tourist numbers are lower and life relaxes a bit, you’ll also get to meet the locals who run local pubs, restaurants and hotels. The hospitality Scotland is so famous for will be evident as people stop to chat, share local tips and revel in your enjoyment of their traditional dishes created from fresh and local ingredients. Road trip the North Coast 500 for a week or two and you’ll come away with a flavour of the real Scotland.

Where to stay

North Coast 500 – Scotland’s Route 66

Inverness – Bealach Na Ba – Ullapool – Durness – John O Groats – Wick – Golspie – Black Isle and all the wee villages along the way

Enjoy the epic North Coast 500, Scotland’s answer to Route 66, taking in wild turquoise seas, pristine white beaches, historic castles, royal ruins, fantastic fresh food and fun live music.

By Gemma Armit at Two Scots Abroad

Best UK Road Trips - North Coast 500


  • Driving the crazy Bealach Na Ba
  • Views from Applecross
  • West coast beaches
  • Sunset at Sheildaig
  • Live music in Ullapool
  • Ardvreck Castle ruins
  • Duncansby Head
  • Dunrobin Castle
  • The Black Isle for dolphin spotting
  • Stacks of Duncansby




3 days – 3 weeks

When to go

Spring – Autumn

The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to Route 66, starting and ending in Inverness. The route can be done clockwise or anti-clockwise – there are no rules! However, it’s worth noting that most of the roads in the Scottish Highlands are single track and you have to pull over into passing places to let other drivers through. Please be mindful that locals use this route too.

Inverness is the starting point but worth a day of your time to visit the Culloden Battlefields and Clava Cairns.

Next, if heading west first, take on Scotland’s scariest road, the Bealach Na Ba and have lunch at Applecross. If camping, there’s a popular site. The midgies can be pretty brutal though.

Drive along the majestic roads stopping at Sheildaig, Gairloch and the beaches. Where you end up staying will depend on how many days you plan to spend travelling but I recommend a night in the lively town of Ullapool to hear Scottish music at the pubs.

Next, head up to Durness, stopping at more beaches, Ardvreck Castle ruins and then over to John O’ Groats. From here you can take the ferry to the Isle of Orkney or visit Duncansby Head and Stacks of Duncansby. Watch out for the surfers in Thurso.

Travel down east of the Highlands, stopping off to see castles such as Dunrobin Castle and distilleries like Balblair or Glenmorangie Distillery. The Black Isle is a lovely peninsula within Ross and Cromarty and the best location to potentially see dolphins.

The route ends back at Inverness, however most car rental pickups take place in Edinburgh so enjoy the ride back down the east coast through Aberdeenshire, Tayside and the Kingdom of Fife.

Where to stay

Fife Coastal Route from Tay Bridge to Kincardine Bridge

Tayport – St. Andrews – Crail – Pittenweem – Kirkcaldy – Burntisland – Aberdour – Dunfermline – Culross – Kincardine

The Fife Coastal route is one of the most scenic driving routes in the South of Scotland, with beautiful views of the North Sea.

By Lavinia at Continent Hop


  • Keep an eye out for red squirrels in Tentsmuir Forest
  • Visit the golf museum in St. Andrews
  • See the oldest standing castle in Aberdour
  • Watch Europe’s largest collection of sharks at the Deep Sea world
  • Admire the Romanesque architecture of Dunfermline Palace




3-5 days

When to go

April – September

The Fife Coastal Route has Tay Bridge on one end and the Kincardine Bridge on the other end of the course. The total distance of the road is 77 miles, and it takes about 2 hours if stops aren’t considered. However, you should consider spending at least 2-3 days on the trip.

The best time to go on the trip is from April to September when the weather and winds are pleasant, and the sky is clear so that you can see gorgeous views.

Some of the best stops on the route are Tentsmuir Forest, where you can take an enchanting walk through the forest and try to spot red squirrels and roe deer. Since Fife is famous for its golf courses, if you’re visiting it, you should see the Golf Museum in St. Andrews.

Kingsbarns Distillery should be next on your map if you’re a whisky lover. While still quite new (established in 2015), it takes you through the authentic process and has tastings on offer.

Then pass through the pretty villages of Crail and Pittenweem on your way to Aberdour castle to visit one of the oldest standing castles in all of Scotland.

Dunfermline Palace and Abbey is another stop worth visiting if you love history and culture.

Deep Sea World at North Queensferry is excellent for a visit if you have kids. And the route ends with Devilla forest, where you can again find red squirrels and admire the lochs.

Where to stay

North East 250

Aberdeen – Fraserburgh – Spey Bay – Glenshee – Aberdeen

Enjoy a circular route around northwest Scotland, taking in beautiful coastlines, picturesque villages, mountain scenery and plenty of castles and whisky distilleries along the way.

By Sonja at Scotland For Families

Best UK Road Trips - North East 250


  • Visit the ruins of Slains Castle, perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. It’s said to have inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula
  • Take a short walk to view Bow Fiddle Rock near Portknockie, a stunning rock formation surrounded by the swirling sea and a photographers dream
  • Stop in at various Speyside whisky distilleries. The area is home to some of Scotland’s best known distilleries including Glenlivet and Glenfiddich
  • The pink coloured Crathes Castle is like a fairytale fortress, and one of the most popular castles along the route




3 days

When to go


The North East 250 is the best of Scotland in one road trip. It’s a circular route around the northwest part of Scotland, encompassing beautiful coastlines, picturesque villages, mountain scenery and plenty of castles and whisky distilleries along the way.

While it’s possible to do the route in as little as three days and see some of the highlights, you could easily spend a week or more stopping at many more locations along the way.

You can travel either clockwise or anti-clockwise and join the route at any point depending on where you’re travelling from, but the most popular way to do it is starting and ending in Aberdeen and travelling anti-clockwise.

From Aberdeen you’ll travel up the east coast of Aberdeenshire, stopping in at beautiful sandy beaches and rocky clifftops.

From there you’ll continue along the north coast of Aberdeenshire, known as the Moray Coast, visiting historic fishing villages.

After you’ve had your fill of the sea it’s time to turn inland and taste your way through Speyside and the many Whisky Distilleries in the area.

Continue through the spectacular mountain scenery of the Cairngorms, before travelling through Royal Deeside and the highlight of “Castle Country”, with its many royal connections and stunning castles to visit, until you find yourself back in Aberdeen.

Where to stay

South West Coastal 300, Scotland

Ayr – Dalmellington – Thornhill – Moffat – Dumfries – Kirkcudbright – Mull of Galloway – Girvan

The South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) is a circular road trip exploring hidden gems in the south of Scotland. Taking in the pristine coastline from Ayrshire to Dumfries and Galloway and the hills of the Southern Uplands mountain range, this road trip offers a change of scenery for the adventurous road tripper.

By Kathi Kamleitner at Watch Me See


  • Go stargazing at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
  • Hike at the Grey Mare’s Tail National Nature Reserve
  • Visit the former home of Robert Burns in Dumfries
  • Shop for books in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town
  • Discover the lighthouse and gardens on the Mull of Galloway
  • Dance with locals to live music at the Grape Bar in Stranraer
  • Visit the stunning coastal palace of Culzean Castle




4-7 days

When to go


Start in the delightful seaside town of Ayr and visit the birthplace of Scottish national bard Robert Burns.

Move on to Dalmellington and spend an evening stargazing at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory and continue to the sleepy village of Thornhill. Spend some time exploring the area: from hiking in the hills near Moffat to wandering the romantic grounds of Drumlanrig Castle, which also featured in Outlander.

Continue south towards Dumfries, a bustling market town near the Scottish-English border and the charming coastal communities of Kirkcudbright (artist town), Newton Stewart and Wigtown (book town). The road hugs the coastline and offers stunning views of the Solway Firth.

After a detour to the Galloway Hills and a kayak tour on Loch Trool, continue down the lush-green Mull of Galloway peninsula. Visit the surprisingly exotic Logan Botanic Garden and stand at the southernmost point of Scotland from where you can see the coast of the Lake District, the Isle of Man and even Northern Ireland.

The final section of the SWC300 leads up the coast to the seaside town of Girvan and the fairytale mansion at Culzean Castle – a glorious end for an off-beat road trip through Scotland.

Where to stay

The Islands of Shetland

Lerwick – Scallaway – Unst

Shetland is a wildlife lover’s delight, packed full of amazing animals at every turn but there’s also history and culture in the bucketload.

By Nichola at Globalmouse Travels


  • Spend time in the islands capital, Lerwick, where you can enjoy the boutique shops and great foodie scene
  • Explore the crumbling castle at the heart of the old capital Scalloway
  • Take a boat trip to the island of Mousa where you can find the world’s oldest Iron Age broch
  • Experience the spectacular wildlife everywhere from puffins to seals




7 days

When to go


Start your road trip in the island’s capital of Lerwick which has some wonderful restaurants and shops and is a great place to see a busier side of Shetland.

From here, head to Scalloway, once the capital but now a sleepy little town with a wonderful castle to explore. This is also a great location to meet some of the island’s Shetland ponies which are the sweetest little creatures. If you’re visiting Shetland with kids they will love the chance to lead them out to the sea on a walk here.

Then head north to the Isle of Mousa, which you can walk around in an hour and if you visit in spring is perfect to see nesting Storm Petrels. You can also clamber up the world’s oldest broch on Mousa which dominates the landscape.

Finally, snake your way to the very tip of Shetland and the island of Unst, the most northerly inhabited part of the UK where Puffins swirl into the sky. The landscape here is beautiful, perfect for walking and there’s also some fantastic Viking remains to enjoy too.

Where to stay

Isle of Mull and Island Hopping

Craignure – Fionnphort – Iona Island – Ben More – Calgary Bay – Tobermory – Staffa and Treshnish Isles – Ulva Island

The Fife Coastal route is one of the most scenic driving routes in the South of Scotland, with beautiful views of the North Sea.

By Anuradha at Country Hopping Couple


  • Visit the 13th century Duart Castle, home to clan McLean
  • Dip your feet in the cool and crystal clear beaches near Fionnphort
  • Explore the compact Iona Island, known for Iona Abbey and Nunnery
  • Climb Ben More, the only munro in the Isle of Mull.
  • Take a short ferry and explore the untouched Ulva Island.
  • Swim in the pristine Calgary Bay, one of the best beaches in the whole of Scotland.
  • Explore the capital town of Mull, Tobermory, the largest settlement in the island. Photograph the colourful waterfront of the town, or go on a walking trails to nearby hidden gems.
  • Take on the wildlife tours from Tobermory or do island hopping to Staffa and Treshnish Isles, that are the uninhabited islands.




8 days

When to go

May – August

Isle of Mull is the fourth largest island in Scotland, and is a treasure trove full of stunning beaches, hidden coves, beautiful waterfalls, and postcard perfect villages.

Mull and the surrounding islands are also best places to do wildlife watching. You can either take the wildlife tours or go by yourself, but don’t forget your binoculars. You can spot golden eagles, otters, red deers, seals, puffins and a lot more.

While there is public transport, it is best to hire a car to explore the tiny corners of the island.

And as for Island hopping to the nearby islands – Iona and Ulva, there are only passenger ferries and car cannot be taken. Staffa and Treshnish Isles are uninhabited islands and it is best to book the tour in advance.

Where to stay

Edinburgh to Aberdeen

Dundee – Saint Andrews – Stonehaven

The ultimate road trip to explore Scotland’s East Coast.

By Victoria at Guide your Travel


  • See Dunnottar Castle
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Hike in Stonehaven
  • Saint Andrews University
  • Try Haggis and Scottish Whiskey




10 days

When to go


Start in the capital Edinburgh and explore the beauty of this incredible city.

Make your way up north to Dundee and Saint Andrews which are perfect for a relaxed few days seeing historic places. Your drive will take you along the coast meaning there is always a beautiful beach or cove nearby.

After a few hours, you’ll make it to the tiny fishing village Stonehaven. Here you’ll visit Dunnottar Castle, which is an incredible photo location.

And finally, you’ll make it to Aberdeen where you can enjoy the beach and explore the many nearby castles.

Where to stay

Edinburgh to Torridon

Edinburgh – Loch Leven – Cairngorms National Park – Inverness – Torridon

This road trip takes you through the most surreal and serene parts of Scotland. From the bustling city of Edinburgh to the roaring silence of the vast Torridon valley.

By Ucman Scher at Brown Boy Travels


  • Nature with lots of options to ditch the car and hike.
  • Loch Leven is a perfect spot in summer for a nice hike as well as a chance to visit the island on a boat trip.
  • Cairngnom National Park offers vast beautiful landscapes with lakes, streams and panoramic vistas. You can cycle, swim, kayak or just enjoy the nature.
  • The Torridon comes with the Torrid Loch, vast stunning scenery and a chance to enjoy the utter quiet of the Scottish highlands.




3-4 days

When to go

June – September

As soon as you leave Edinburgh, the scenery is beautiful with lush greenery all around. Your first stop is Loch Level. It’s a big lake with a small island in the middle, perfect for a stop to stretch your legs, enjoy your food and take the boat to the island (which is the best place to enjoy the peace and quiet of the lake).

The stretch from Loch Leven to Cairngorms National Park is the longest drive and you can stay somewhere on the way to break the journey. Perth is a good option for your first night.

Cairngorms is a massive park and you will drive right through it, but I would recommend stopping and spending the night here to enjoy the feel of rural Scotland, the wind rushing through the valleys and the stream gushing through.

The last and most beautiful part of the road trip is from Inverness to Torridon. The road to Torridon is utterly quiet and you can drive and enjoy the scenery of the vast valley without anyone disturbing the view or ruining the bird songs.

The Torridon is a world class hotel and the best way to end the trip whether it’s with a night’s stay, a delicious organic, locally sourced meal or just a tipple from their impressive collection of world class whiskies at the bar.

Where to stay

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Best road trips in Scotland

More UK travel guides

We have loads of UK travel guides. And oodles of tips for London and Bristol – where we lived/live now. Here are some of the highlights…

UK road trips: Best UK road trips | Best Scotland road trips

UK destination guides: Bristol | Isle of Mull Frome | Liverpool | London | York

UK family travel guides: Birmingham with kids |Bristol with kidsCornwall with kids | London with toddlers Edinburgh with kids | Manchester with kids | Best UK family Christmas breaks | Travelling with a baby

And if you’re looking for somewhere special to stay in the UK, we have loads of UK Airbnb and hotel guides for destinations from the Lake District to Devon. See all our UK guides.

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