14/03/2013
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Top 10 Attractions of Central Scotland

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Central Scotland is an area where history comes alive and beautiful, wild countryside offers picturesque scenery for walkers. Take the motorhome, caravan or tent for a trip to where north meets south and you'll find plenty to explore ...


1 Loch Lomond
So many people pass Loch Lomond on the way along the A82 to Tarbert and the Highlands, and it’s very tempting to stop and take a closer look - what better way than to stay in the area? This Loch, now the centre of the Trossachs National Park, has very good campsites on its banks, and a superb water taxi connecting its villages and towns. Take the boat or hire a kayak and explore the water with its beautiful islands. One of them, Inchconnachan, has its own colony of wallabies.

Our tip: head for Firkin Point which is a lovely place to swim from the small, stony beach.

2 Culross Abbey
Leave Edinburgh and head north and, after crossing that masterpiece the Forth Road Bridge, you'll find yourselves in the Kingdom of Fife. Once an important royal centre, it boasts many interesting buildings including Dunfermline Abbey, Ravenscraig Castle, Balgonie Castle, Falkland Palace and Kellie Castle. One of the most picturesque is Culross Abbey which stands on the hillside above the village of the same name. The roads are narrow and it's a steep climb so park in Culross and walk up the hill.

3 Stirling Castle
Centrally located, it was once said that whoever controlled Stirlingshire controlled Scotland. Indeed the county boasts several important battles and every holiday-maker should visit Stirling Castle which sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Stirling is a vibrant mix of the old and the new, but the most important attractions relate to the Scottish Wars of Independence. The monument to Scotland's National hero William Wallace, which stands on the summit of Abbey Craig is always popular. Animal-lovers should also visit Blairdrummond Safari Park.

4 Inchmahome Priory
Set on the largest of three islands in the Lake of Menteith, Inchmahome is an idyllically-situated Augustinian monastery that dates from the 13th century. Its secluded location ensured the brethren were completely isolated from the secular world and it's easy to imagine them worshipping God in such a tranquil environment. King Robert Bruce visited three times, and Mary Queen of Scots once, in 1547, when she was five. Although its life as a priory ended with the Reformation, it makes a wonderful day out, with a passenger ferry taking you across the water from a pier outside the boatshed.

5 Loch Leven
Scotland’s largest lowland loch, Leven has a 12.5km heritage trail around its north side between Kinross Pier and Vane Farm – making it truly accessible to cyclists and walkers as well as wheelchair users and young families. The Loch dominates the Kinross area and has been a nature reserve since 1964 and it’s internationally important, attracting 15,000 geese each autumn.

Our tip – walk up Bishop Hill for views of the Loch from the summit. It’s 460m high, and steep at first, but easy walking along the top. From there you can see across to the Ochil Hills, and over Castle Island on the loch itself.

Loch Leven

6 The Trossachs
The Trossachs sit between the Highlands and Lowlands and are steeped in history, myth and legend. The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park makes a wonderful holiday destination and boasts an amazing variety of wildlife. Highlights are Loch Latrine, the setting of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake, which boasts a steamer bearing his name and Luss, a picture-postcard village on the east shore of Loch Lomond. The West Highland Way, which follows the western shore in the shadow of Ben Lomond, gives plenty of walking opportunities. Callender, where you can learn more about the region at the visitor Centre, makes a good starting point and there's plenty of suitable parking.

7 Arbroath
One of the most important aspects of any holiday is sampling the produce and, while you're exploring the county of Angus, you must try the local delicacy, an Arbroath Smokie. Still produced in several back street smokeries around the harbour, you can buy them from one of the many fishmongers. Abroath Abbey is just as well-known having played an important role in Scotland's history. It was here that Abbot Bernard asked the Pope to put pressure on Edward II to recognise Robert the Bruce as the legitimate king. The Bell Rock lighthouse is another interesting landmark. Created by Robert Stevenson and built on rocks that are submerged at high tide, it was the first of its kind. The lighthouse keepers' families lived in the signal tower which is now a museum.

8 Bute
The Isle of Bute is widely regarded as one of Scotland's most accessible islands and, being within easy reach of Glasgow via Weymyss Bay, makes a popular holiday destination. Populated since the Bronze Age it boasts several interesting ruins including the chapel at St Ninian's Point and Rothesay Castle, which was the site of many struggles between the islanders and their Viking invaders. The north of the island is hillier but the sandy beaches are spectacular and, if you enjoy visiting gardens, the temperate nature of the Gulf Stream ensures a varied mix of plants can be grown. One of the island's main attractions is Mount Stuart House which was built in 1877 by the Marquis of Bute and is wonderfully gothic in style.

9 Inveraray
Nowhere on mainland Scotland boasts such a concentration of superb prehistoric sites as the area around Inveraray. Here you’ll discover chambered cairns, standing stones, and great slabs of rock carved with fascinating designs. Inveraray is the traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll. It's surrounded by national parks, mountains, glorious gardens and beautiful islands. There is a massive choice of historic sites including castles and monuments where stories of Scotland's turbulent past will entertain you. Alonghside the imposing castle, there's a charming high street of whitewashed properties, the Duke's Tower (the views from here are outstanding), a maritime museum, a Georgian prison and the late 15th century Inveraray Cross which once stood in the middle of the village. It's now beside the harbour where you'll also see the triple-masted schooner The Arctic Penguin. And while you're there, try a wee dram of Loch Fyne Whisky.

10 St Andrews
Central Scotland presents a contrast of cultures. It's where the wilds of the north meet the more industrialised landscape of the south and is where the language changed from English to Gaelic. It's also the site of the Highland Boundary Fault, a geological feature that acted as a meeting place of different cultures. St Andrews, which nestles on the gently sloping hills of the east coast, was once an ecclesiastic capital and is the site of Scotland's oldest university. It's also the birthplace of golf. A walk around its charming cobbled streets is a joy, especially around the ruins of the cathedral. Golfers should visit the British Golf Museum and try one of the golf courses that lie west of the city.


Want to know more?
Read about our top 10 highlights of South-West Scotland, here.
See our pick of the attractions in Northern Scotland, here.

Campsite FinderPremier Parks campsites


Discover more about Scotland and its attractions on the Celebrate Scotland website, the online home of Scottish Memories and History Scotland magazines
 

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