Further Afield

If you have travelled from far away to come to Scotland you might be interested in some longer days out. Here are some special places I love and would heartily recommend.

Dunkeld and Birnham

The Hermitage, Dunkeld – Photo K.Jones

In September to November, the Hermitage at Dunkeld is our go-to place to see leaping Salmon, the vibrant colours of autumn and to walk along rushing riverbanks. The Duke of Athol built the extraordinary Ossian’s hall to magnify the sounds of the waterfall. Look out for the well-hidden hermitage and walk up the hill to Pine Cone Point.

Birnham has a great community arts centre with café and Beatrix Potter centre for small kids then walk along the Tay to see the ancient Birnham Oak (mentioned by Shakespeare) and to Dunkeld’s shops and pubs. The Taybank is famous for its traditional music and traditional food. Also the Cathedral and arboretum walk along the Tay. 1.5 hours drive or train from Croy (via Stirling)

The East Neuk of Fife

Crail Harbour. image from visitscotland.com

Fife has some incredibly picturesque fishing villages. Elie has a lovely beach and the ‘chain walk’ a coastal scramble that should only be attempted at low tide and is assisted by chains attached to the rocks. Anstruther has its famous fish and chip shop and the ferry to the Isle of May which is highly recommended April-July for the seabirds (especially puffins). On the way there you can stop at Falkland Palace – the onetime home of Mary Queen of Scots and drop in for coffee and cake at the Pillars of Hercules Organic Farm. Fife is also home to the Secret Bunker – Scotland’s nuclear command bunker.

Arran, Dunoon, Bute or Great Cumbrae

If you have a good day and want a bit of an adventure involving a ferry, you could venture out west. Check the Waverley timetable as this historic paddle steamer still plies the ports of the Clyde in the summer season, or just take the train and ferry. Highlights are Brodick Castle on Arran, Renting a bike and cycling round Great Cumbrae, the Benmore Botanic Gardens near Dunoon (especially in May when the Rhododendrons are out) and Mount Stuart on Bute, the incredible home of the Marquis of Bute. All can be reached by train and ferry

Kilmartin Glen

Achnabreac Cup and Ring-Marked Rocks – Image from kilmartin.org

This is the richest Neolithic site on the mainland of Britain. I just love this magical and very much un-discovered gem. With dozens of stone circles, forts, and cup and ring marked rocks, you can spend a whole day exploring the various sites. The Kilmartin Museum is undergoing a redevelopment and when it is done will be the place to orientate yourself in this ancient landscape and find excellent coffee and cake (if the old café is anything to go by…). There is a great Self Guided trail

On the way you can stop at the picturesque planned village of Inverary (with a historic jail to visit and Inverary Castle) and on the way home stop at Crinan, the end of the Crinan canal which has a lovely hotel and restaurant.

Burns, Alloway and the Brig o Doon

If Burns is your thing then a visit to some of his haunts in Ayrshire will be essential. The National Trust for Scotland have created a fantastic multi-media visitor centre in Alloway, Burns’ birthplace. The house he was born in is set up as it would have been and you can retrace the steps of Tam O’Shanter to the Old Kirk and over the Brig o Doon. There are also museums or Burns visitor attractions in …….. If you have time while you are in the area a visit to Dumfries House near Auchinleck is completely amazing – some incredible treasures in the house and some great places to explore in the gardens.

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