Day tours from Edinburgh or Glasgow – central
Loch Katrine and the Trossachs
Spend the day exploring the Trossach hills, the meeting place of the Lowlands and the Highlands. The area has inspired numerous writers, including Sir Walter Scott and it is the setting for some of his novels. Rob Roy MacGregor was born in Glengyle at the head of Loch Katrine. He dealt in cattle, but through no fault of his own, ended up on the wrong side of the law and became a cattle rustler. He was eventually pardoned and died in Balquhidder. He is the Scottish equivalent of England’s Robin Hood. Enjoy the views from the 3 lochs forest drive in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park or take a boat trip on Loch Katrine. The only lake in Scotland is in the central area – the Lake of Menteith. The nearby towns of Callander and Aberfoyle are worth a stop.
Stirling and Bannockburn
Two of Scotland’s most famous battles were fought just outside Stirling. The earlier was the Battle of Stirling Bridge, won by William Wallace in 1297 against the forces of King Edward I of England. The latter was the Battle of Bannockburn, when King Edward II’s soldiers were defeated by Robert the Bruce in 1314. Stirling Castle is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland and is well worth a visit after a major restoration. The Wallace Monument to the north has good views and is worth the climb.
Dunfermline or Perth and Scone Palace
Dunfermline was once Scotland’s capitalbut this ceased in the 15th century. It is dominated by the ruins of the 12thc abbey and palace. The Abbey Church contains the tombs of 22 Scottish Kings and Queens. The philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace is nearby and is now a museum.
Perth was once a Royal Burgh and sits astride the River Tay. It has connections with Sir Walter Scott. Balhousie Castle is the regimental museum of the Black Watch formed by General Wade in 1700s and originally men from the Highlands.
Just outside Perth is Scone Palace, home of the Earl of Mansfield and ancient coronation site of the Scottish Kings. It is a treasure house containing a superb collection of French furniture, ivories and porcelain. The Stone of Destiny, where Scottish kings were enthroned, was taken to England in 1296 by King Edward I and the Coronation Chair built to house it. In 1996 it was transferred to Scotland and is kept in Edinburgh Castle with the Scottish Crown Jewels. It will be returned to Westminster Abbey for future coronations. Branklyn Garden is a small garden with a wide variety of plants.
Linlithgow and Hopetoun House
Just to the west of Edinburgh is the town of Linlithgow. The ruined Palace was the birthplace of King James V in 1512 and his daughter Mary Queen of Scots in 1542, who became Queen at one week old on the death of her father. Aged 5 she went to France to be betrothed to the Dauphin, returning to Scotland after his death, and resuming her role as Queen of the Scots. Hopetoun House is the private home of the Marquess of Linlithgow. Cramond is a pretty little village on the south side of the Firth of Forth with Roman origins.