If you're looking for new and exciting things to fill up your weekends, look no further! Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley is an iconic part of Scotland featuring long distance trails to explore, mountains to climb, history and culture to uncover and incredible engineering creations that will leave you speechless!
These suggestions are not just for visitors - if you're lucky enough to call this region home, then these ideas are for you too!
Antonine Wall World Heritage Site
Walk in the footsteps of your Roman ancestors along the Antonine Wall, which was once the most northern frontier of the Roman Empire. The wall is still incredibly well-preserved, with the most intact part stretching 8 km at the Watling Lodge in Falkirk's wooded countryside. There are six locations at which you can discover the Antonine Wall, including:
- Rough Castle - this site offers the most spectacular and memorable views of the surviving Roman remains.
- Kinneil Estate - in a field to the west of Kinneil House, you can see the only example of Antonine Wall fortlet remains still visible today
- Polmonthill - see the first clearly visible section of Antonine Wall ditch and outer mound when travelling from the east.
- Callendar Park - visit one of the free permanent displays which tells the story of the Antonine Wall, before exploring a section of the wall in Callendar Park.
- Seabegs Wood - an attractive woodland offering impressive views of the Antonine Wall ditch and rampart, and is also important as the site of a Roman fortlet.
- Watling Lodge - the best-preserved section of Antonine Wall ditch which can be seen to both the east and west of Watling Lodge along Tamfourhill Road.
All the routes are easy going and suitable for families with young children, elderly or less able walkers.
Discover the Antonine Wall.
Plean Country Park
If you're looking for a new place to explore on your morning or afternoon walks, look no further. Plean Country Park boasts an incredible 70 hectares of lush woodland, wilderness and parkland to explore, as well as offering a network of paths for walking, cycling or horse riding.
Did you know:
- You can listen out for the hysterical laughing call of the green woodpecker, or the grating shriek of a jay.
- If you look up and keep your eyes peeled, you can often see grey squirrels chasing each other through the treetops.
- Enjoy the changing colours of autumn, and look out for over 80 species of bird which can all be spotted here.
Visit Plean Country Park.
John Muir Way
Venture along this coast to coast route through central Scotland, from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar, Muir's birthplace, in the east. The route takes in 134 miles of raw Scottish history and culture, passing through iconic landmarks and beautiful Scottish scenery along the way. Broken up into 10 sections, you can walk or cycle along your local sections with detailed maps on hand to help. Along the route you will pass many magnificent landmarks, structures and pieces of history. Here's what you can see:
- Antonine Wall - once the most northern frontier of the Roman Empire, the Antonine Wall stretched for 60 km across the central belt and has been incredibly well preserved throughout the centuries, which you can see up close for yourself, as well as explore local walks and trails too.
- Forth Bridge - possibly one of most iconic and easily recognised structures in Scotland. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered a symbol of Scotland, the bridge stretches across the Firth of Forth connecting Edinburgh and Fife and offers amazing views along the way. Have a go at drawing it yourself in our new Sketching Scotland video tutorial series.
- Union Canal - originally built to transport coal, the Union Canal opened in 1822 and played an important part in the commercial link across central Scotland before the railway was established in 1842.
Learn more about the John Muir Way.
Helix Park is the home of The Kelpies, two magnificent 30 m high horse head sculptures which tower above the surrounding lush green paths and trails you can explore. The parkland provides a great place to enjoy walking and cycling, all with the stunning view of the biggest equine structures in the world!
Did you know:
- Although the visitor centre and main café remain closed, you can still visit the Kelpies free of charge, any time of the day. They are especially spectacular lit up at night.
- The park features plenty to explore, including 500 km of cycle paths and routes.
- The Kelpies' name reflects the mythological transforming beast that possess the strength and endurance of 100 horses! It's a strong element of Scottish folklore and definitely one that will keep you intrigued to find out more.
Explore Helix Park.
Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle
This Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle in Dollar is a truly magical and serene place to visit. Built in 1908, the garden consists of several acres of Japanese influenced landscape with a perimeter path around the small loch. There is also 20 acres of woodland walks to enjoy that will really give you a back to nature feel. Did you know:
- Aside from being beautiful and peaceful, the garden is the only one of its type in the world to have been designed by a Japanese woman, Taki Handa.
- The garden was described in 1925 by Professor Jijo Suzuki as 'the most important Japanese garden in the Western World'.
*Please make sure you book your tickets in advance.
Explore the Japanese Garden.
The Falkirk Wheel
Have you even been in a rotating boat lift? Well now's your chance! The Kelpies' sister attraction, this jaw-dropping engineering marvel will have you lost for words. Not only a 5-star attraction, you can learn more about the incredible detail and precision that went into building the wheel, as well as browsing the visitor centre and shop, hopping on a Segway tour and wandering around the grounds to take in the surrounding beauty. Did you know:
- The Falkirk Wheel is the world's first and only rotating boat lift! An ingenious creation designed and built to connect the Firth & Clyde and Union Canals which flow through the central belt of Scotland.
- You can take a boat trip on the wheel which sends you up, soaring 35 m in the air! Get your cameras ready, the views from the top are out of this world!
- The wheel stands 115 ft tall and requires only the power of eight domestic kettles to sail boats through the air and transfer them between the two canals - mind-blowing!
Discover the Falkirk Wheel.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
Do you know your Elands from your Kudu, or Maras from your Hogs? It's an attraction that needs no introduction! Blair Drummond Safari Park is a popular spot for families and wildlife lovers alike, with it being home to hundreds of different species of animals, primates, birds and more. Did you know:
- Aside from fantastic animals to visit, the park boasts a range of great attractions too, including an adventure area, pedal boats, an Astraglide, safari walk, pet farm and more.
- The park also hosts family-friendly events. Keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming ones that take your fancy.
- The park also offers Kids Clubs and Adult Education Programmes? Learn more about your favourite animals, enrol in courses and keep your brains full of animal fun facts.
Visit Blair Drummond Safari Park.
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Pink cotton clouds shed a beautiful warm light on the castle. ——————————————————————————— For a wee castle tour this Sunday, head over to our blog on stirlingcastle.scot and enjoy some fantastic views at Stirling Castle! ——————————————————————————— @victoriahallphoto made us look pretty impressive in this stunning shot! ——————————————————————————— #HistoricScotland #StayAtHome #StirlingCastle #ScottishCastles #Castlegram #Insta_Scotland #HiddenScotland #LoveGreatBritain #Loves_Scotland #LonelyPlanet #StayAtHomeSaveLives #VisitScotland #BrilliantMoments #Scotland_GreatShots
One of Scotland's most historically important sites, Stirling Castle is must to add to your to-do list. Wander through the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Castle Exhibition, Regimental Museum, Great Kitchens, Tapestry Studio and the nearby Argyll's Lodging, a 17th century town house, to admire the scale of the castle along with learning an immense amount of facts and information about the castle and its extensive history. Did you know:
- The castle was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.
- You can join in the historical fun and meet costumed characters in the roles of bodyguards, court officials, maids of honour and servants who will welcome you into 16th century life.
- It's a great place to take the kids! Not only will they learn a thing or two, they can get involved in activities such as dressing in period costume and playing medieval instruments.
- Don't miss a guided tour with knowledgeable staff who will bring the castle's infamous characters and history to life in great detail.
Visit Stirling Castle.
With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new?