Central Scotland Trip Report: Many Miles of Day Trips

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Scotland farm stay

Central Scotland is a favorite summer destination. Here is the review of a recent guest of ours, who joined friends on our Central Scotland Untour; he lays out some of the places they were able to visit on their stay.

All arrangements made beforehand were exactly as described and connections were on time. Val and Mo (Untours staff in Scotland) were outstandingly responsive and kept us informed via email throughout. We changed our departure details at the last minute and there were no screw ups at all.

The taxi driver met us on time on our arrival and was very pleasant and chatty in a good way, and got us to the airport in plenty of time.

Farm stay in Scotland

Riverbend Cottage exceeded our expectations, as the photos did not do it full justice. Our host could not have been nicer or more welcoming. She and her husband gave us a tour of their farm and we saw the new born calves, which was very exciting for us. By the end of our stay, it really did feel like “home.”

The Thursday Untours program was fun, entertaining, and interesting. Mo did a great job hosting us in Val’s absence. We visited Doune Castle in the afternoon.

The apartment location could not have been better for us; it proved very convenient for both food and petrol. Our plan was to take a series of day trips from Stirling, and the proximity to main roads saved time and provided easy and safe access at the roundabout.

Steering wheel on the right and driving on the left in a larger car with a 6-speed manual transmission proved challenging for the first couple of days, but we managed with only a couple of stupid mistakes. Good news is we hit nothing, and no one hit us during our stay, although the road to Inveruglas on the west side of Loch Lomond was scary narrow, even after a week of becoming acclimated to the roads and the car.

We put some 1570 miles on the car in 14 days of driving. We visited the Stirling sights by car but took the train from Bridge of Allan to Edinburgh and back.

We used our credit card for virtually everything as the cash exchange at the airport and the ATM machines hit you with very high fees. When the smoke cleared, the exchange rate from these sources was 1.47 – 1.57 Dollars per Pound, compared to the exchange rate using our MasterCard which worked out to be 1.27 Dollars per Pound. We found only one place that did not accept our card and that was in a restaurant in Edinburgh which claimed their card machine was broken.

Speaking of Edinburgh, it was crowded with tourists and quite expensive. We enjoyed Holyroodhouse Palace and to us was the best of the places visited in Edinburgh. The step on-step off bus tour was OK, but very slow (due to traffic) as the full circuit proved to take over 2 hours.

Scotland day trips

Our further afield travels took us to:

Rosslyn Chapel, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, St. Michael’s Church, Falkirk Wheel, and Antonine Wall. We recommend lunch at Mannerston’s Farm Shop and Cafe near Linlithgow.

Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall. We visited VIndolanda Museum and saw wall at Gisland and Steel Rigg. We recommend lunch at Greenhead Hotel.

Glasgow Riverside Museum and Glasgow Cathedral. (We attended 4pm evensong service. Spectacular music!) We recommend Celino’s Italian restaurant in Glasgow.

Scone Palace. We attended Highland Games at Blackford and visited the Tartan Shop at Crieff. We recommend MONA’s at Muckhart and Kinnear’s Inn in the town of Scone for lunches.

Aberfoyle and the Scottish Wool Center for the shepherding demonstration. We visited Lake Katrine and saw the Sir Walter Scott. Lunch at “Lade Inn” at Kilmahog was quite good. We toured the Deanston distillery.

Colross (could become the “Williamsburg” of the region) and lunch at Bessie’s Cafe there, St.Andrews. We had our best meal for dinner at “The Saint” in St. Andrews. OUTSTANDING fish and chips, best I have ever had!

Glen Coe. We drove the length of it from east to west on A 82. It was BEAUTIFUL and MAGICAL. The Glen Coe visitors center is a must stop. Lunch at The Crofter in Ft. William was a very good meal and good service. Thence to Loch Ness and a visit to Urqhart Castle and on to Inverness and the A9 back to Perth. We had late dinner at Maltings in Perth, but it was nothing special.

Scotland day trips

Aberdeen and the drive along A 93, Royal Deeside to Balmoral was beautiful. We had a very good lunch at The Ploughman in Peterculter along the way and saw a small herd of Highland cows. We felt privileged to walk the grounds of Balmoral, and the displays in the ballroom were interesting.

We continued west on A 93 and crossed through the ski area near the Devil’s Elbow and then on to Perth and back to Partridge. ‘Twas a beautiful drive and quite diverse countryside. Ate dinner at Birds and Bees, but compared to the smaller places we ate in our travels, it was not as charming and the food was good but no better than what we had in the smallest of the places we stopped.

Loch Lomond via the Trossachs Woollen Mill in Kilmahog to see the Wooly Coos up close. It was very touristy with many tour buses stopping there. It was less interesting with not as good selections of products as we found at the Scottish Wool Center at Aberfoyle. We ate lunch at Tullie Inn (good food and service) at Balloch at the southern tip of Loch Lomond. We took a 1-hour boat trip in the Loch which proved to be just about perfect. Then we drove on A 82 to Inveruglas and retraced our steps back to Riverbend Cottage.

Overall, we had a wonderful trip and although we had some rainy days, it did not interfere with our travels. On days for which panoramas were in store, the weather cooperated quite well.

We will definitely book again with UNTOURS and are thinking about Ireland, perhaps next May.

Learn more about our offerings in Scotland here. And remember, both of our Scottish Untours are available without a car, if you prefer to take the train!

4 comments

  1. Would love to do that but have a tour guide do the driving. Want to see out if the way places and eat in little locally owned non-touristy places but can not drive. Are there any tours like that?

    1. Hi, Cheryl! This blog post highlights all the things you can see and do with a car rental. But both our Central Scotland and Scottish Highlands Untours can be done without a car! The rail system is excellent and can get you to smaller towns that are beyond the tourist crowds. My colleague Cathrin here can tell you all about it, as she helped set up the programs as a non driver there.

  2. We will be taking this trip this October after doing last years Ireland Kenmare! UNTOURS is the best! We do enjoy living like a local. I have booked two private tours one of Central Scotland and another of The Highlands! We found them pricey but so worth the money in Ireland and to have a local local tell you interesting stories priceless! We will be staying in Dumblane for the week and absolutely do their Ireland

    1. That’s great to hear! If you love Ireland, I am sure you will love Scotland as well. Our hosts there are top notch, the countryside lovely, and the people are so very friendly, warm, and full of stories. I bet your trip will be fantastic. Please let us know how your private tours work out so we can recommend them to others!

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