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Central Scotland and Fife

Photo by dun_deagh

Central Scotland and Fife Itineraries

A Trossachs Tour

Perthshire Explorer

Scotland's cradle

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Central Scotland is Scotland’s doorstep region, providing the transition between the Lowlands to the south and the Highlands to the north and west.

This pretty much gives the region a full range of Scottish attractions – from castles and battlefields, to abbeys, beaches, wildlife reserves and venerable golf courses – all of which help make Central Scotland a destination in itself.

As an area of transition it was also long of great strategic importance and so the site of several great battles. This is where Robert the Bruce and William Wallace made stands and where Highlanders later clashed against Lowlanders during the Jacobite risings.

All this prompted the construction of mighty fortifications, particularly the mighty Stirling Castle above Stirling, the region’s key city.

Strike out east, west or north from Stirling to enter three very different regions, though all share a genteel rural flavour:

  • Fife – the peninsula to the east – always seems particularly relaxed and often sunny, and St. Andrews, its largest city, where golf was invented.
  • Go north and Perthshire offers gradually rising terrain and a clutch of plesant little towns to explore such as Dunkeld and Pitlochry; along with some good lower-level hiking at Killikrankie and some proper mountain-climbing at Ben Lawers.
  • Meanwhile in the west, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park rises into view with it’s many wonderfully scenic lochs – particularly Loch Katrine – and its hulking peaks.

Perthshire

Perthshire completes Scotland’s transition between its Lowlands to the south and its Highlands to the north and west.

Though it’s perhaps best known for the lush rolling hills around it’s namesake Perth and the more minor towns of Crieff and Dunkeld in the south, serious hills dominate northern Perthshire – around the major regional hub of Pitlochry.

The hiking here and at Killiecrankie is good, even though the mountains lack the scale of those further north in Cairngorms National Park.

But the smaller scale of the peaks also means that the network of minor roads can be much greater, offering lots of scope for both lovely back-road drives and some of the best road cycling in Scotland.

See the Perthshire Explorer itinerary for a suggestion of how you might explore the region.


Fife

Fife – an old Pictish kingdom on a penninsula squeezed between the Forth and Tay rivers – prides itself on its good weather.This is among best in Scotland in terms of hours of sunshine, temperature and lack of rainfall. And true to form rows of static holiday caravans line many beaches around key destinations, such as golfing captial St. Andrews, or the fishing villages of the East Neuk.

But other parts of this is a region couldn’t be more different. The city’s of Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy dominate the south and are little more than feeder settlements for Edinburgh – and you’d only venture here for a specific attraction like Dunfermline Abbey, Deep Sea World or Culross.


The Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was formed in 2002 to an area where Scottish tourism first took off in Victorian times. The result is a mix of quite commercial attractions in the valleys and wilder spots in the mountains.As the park’s name suggests, it splits into two sections: the busier part is around giant Loch Lomond and just north of Glasgow, which is also where the West Highland Way, Scotland’s most popular long-distance hiking trail, starts. The popular mountain Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Monro (mountain over 3,000 ft) is also in this section of the park. Meanwhile crowds thin in its western reaches, in the Arrochar Alps, where wonderful peaks like The Cobbler beckon.

Then there are the Trossachs themselves – mainly to the west of Loch Lomond. Some of the main access points to these mountains are on their southern side and include Aberfolye and Loch Katrine.

See the Trossachs Tour for an itinerary through the region.


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