10 Must See Places in Central Scotland

  • Preston Mill
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • Midhope Castle
  • Blackness Castle
  • William Wallace Monument
  • Sterling Castle
  • Doune Castle
  • Falkland
  • Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh Castle

I have dreamed about going to Scotland for quite a while now! I fall in love with its culture and landscapes, history and traditions ever since I read Outlander books back in 2014 while we still lived in California. 

We traveled to many places but usually it were places not extremely far from the area we lived. And since we lived in many different areas we had chance to explore a good part of California and Midwest. But far away trips were too expensive for the family of 4. So really back in 2014 I could only hope that one day we can visit Scotland. 

Fast forward to 2018 and we find ourselves living in U.K. And Scotland is only few hours away! I couldn’t wait! So in December 2018 the first trip to Scotland was a really short one day visit to Jedburgh, charming little boarder town. It was amazing to spend my birthday in Scotland!

But I wanted to see more. And in August 2019, just before kids went back to school we had a chance to explore a bit more of Scotland on our 4 days trip. 

Main destinations were Edinburgh and Stirling. 

I did a bit of research of different locations and put them on the map. Then we picked the hotels and from there we created flexible itinerary of a kind.

There are so many beautiful locations and for the most part they are not that far from each other. So it’s quite easy to get from one to another! 

Since I am a fan of Outlander I was thrilled to find out that a lot of filming locations are in close proximity.

Then I created a list of places we will visit in order according to our route.


Preston Mill

First stop was at Preston Mill. Preston Mill is tucked away in a small village of East Linton. This picturesque mill attracts tourists even more so now because it was used in several scenes of Outlander. 

The Mill is one of the oldest working, water-driven mills in Scotland 

The present buildings date from the 18th century, although there has been a mill on this site since the 16th century. The mill was used commercially until 1959. 

Preston Mill, Preston Road, East Linton, East Lothian, EH40 3DS

https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/preston-mill


Rosslyn Chapell

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel was the next location on our way.
Before our trip to Scotland, we watched documentary “Secret Scotland with Susan Calman”. One of the episodes covered the interesting insights into Rosslyn Chapel which became world famous after the release of “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown and Da Vinci Code movie with Tom Hanks. 

The Chapel was founded by Sir William St Clair in 1446, and it took 40 years to build it. Beautiful gothic architecture and mysterious symbolism of its stonework still capture imagination of visitors and artists today.

For example one of the interesting plant carvings is corn, which grows in North America (and shouldn’t have been known at that time in history as America  was not yet discovered!) Many believe that chapel hides secrets in its carvings! 

Chapel Loan, Roslin, EH25 9PU

https://www.rosslynchapel.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/256_Rosslyn_Chapel_Website_September_2018.pdf


Midhope Castle

Midhope Castle

40 minutes drive from Roslin Chapel is Midhope Castle aka Lallybroch (Outlander fans will recognise it right away). It is 16th century  tower house in Scotland. It’s not as striking as others castles in Europe, to be honest it doesn’t look much like a castle, more of an estate but for Outlander fans it’s a beautiful building that represents home and every meaning of it for the beloved characters! 

Midhope Castle aka Lallybroch

Midhope Castle, Abercorn, South Queensferry, EH30 9SL


Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle

14 minutes drive from Midhope Castle and you are at the next location: Blackness Castle! Blackness Castle is 15th-century castle and it is known as a ‘ship that never sailed’. The castle sits along the shore of Firth of Forth and realy resembles the shape of a ghostly ship from the water side. 

It has something sinister about it, in my opinion. Maybe the name itself makes you feel that the walls hold dark secrets, maybe because it was used for the more horrible parts to film Outlander (Blackness Castle stood in for Fort William in series) or maybe because it was mostly used as garrison and state prison and not as a residence for guests’ entertainment ….

Blackness Castle

It was a unique in many ways as the floor of the inner court, for example, was not like anything we have ever seen in other castles: the rocky ground was very rough…big rocks sticking out of the ground!  It looked like the castle grew out of the shore to guard it! But the views from the Castle walls were absolutely beautiful! 

Blackness Castle, Blackness, Linlithgow, West Lothian, EH49 7NH

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/blackness-castle/


William Wallace Monument

William Wallace Monument

Next destination was the city of Stirling, William Wallace Monument and Stirling castle!

Sir William Wallace (I can’t but think of “Brave Heart” and Mel Gibson dressed in kilt with Scottish flag painted on his face running through the Battlefield slaying redcoats…) was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. Scotland was under the rule of Edward I Of England who ruled the country with cruelty and oppression. People were desperate for peace and freedom and a leader who would stand up to the cruel king.

William Wallace led Scotland to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. 

Unfortunately Scotland’s attempt to gain freedom wasn’t successful and William Wallace met gruesome death… After his betrayal and capture, Wallace was taken to London, where he was tried.  He was found guilty, hanged, disembowelled, beheaded, and quartered on 23rd August 1305. 

He became a symbol of Scotland and its guardian. 

The monument was built between 1861 and 1869 to honour the national hero. 

Views of Stirling from The Monument

There are three exhibition galleries within the Monument, and the Crown at the top of the building with stunning views of Stirling and surrounding area. All exhibits are accessed via a spiral staircase, with a total of 246 steps. So get ready for a nice workout! 

Sward of William Wallace

The William Wallace sword is on display in The Hall of Arms. The sword is 168 cm long it weights 3 kg. William Wallace’s sword is unusually long that suggests that he was 6 foot tall (182 cm)

Hillfoots Road, Stirling, FK9 5LF, Scotland

https://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/


Stirling Castle

To be able to explore Stirling Castle and it’s grounds was unbelievable experience! I have seen documentaries and read about this Castle before but to see it with your own eyes or walk through the great hall trying to imagine the life back in the days… nothing can compare with this experience! 

Stirling Castle was one of the most important castles in Scottish history.

Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots,(she was only 6 days old when she was crowned, she spent most of her life here) as well as others who were born or died there.

There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to take Castle but was unsuccessful. 

Sterling Castle, Castle Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1EJ

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/stirling-castle/


Doune Castle

Doune Castle

About 20 minutes away from Stirling Castle is Doune Castle.

Doune Castle (Gaelic: An Dùn, ‘the fort’) a medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, in the Stirling district of central Scotland. 

The castle originally built in the 13 century, (as the recent research showed), then probably damaged in the Scottish Wars of Independence, later Ca. 14th century being rebuilt in form it looks today by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany.

It was a location for quite a few well known shows and movies including Game of Thrones as Winterfell, Outlander as Castle Leoch and Outlaw King (one of the castles Robert de Bruce burned)

Doune is Castle, Castle Hill, Doune, Perthshire, FK16 6EA

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/doune-castle/


Falkland

Falkland

After a long day of exploring Stirling we headed to the region of Scotland known as Kingdom of Fife, yes there is even a sign welcoming guest to Kingdom of Fife! 

The location we had in mind was small village of Falkland.

Small picturesque village in the heart of Scotland, Falkland has a traditional charm and beauty from medieval times. Many houses are over 300 years old and the layout of the streets has not changed in several hundred years.

Falkland was the first conservation village in Scotland thanks to its royal connection. Mary Queen of Scots would visit the Royal Court at Falkland Palace, built by King James II. It is one of the finest examples of French renaissance architecture in the UK and has been restored by The National Trust for Scotland.

Falkland, The Square, Falkland, Fife KY15 7BU

https://www.welcometofife.com/destination/falkland

https://www.welcometofife.com/outlander


Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Last 1,5 days of our trip we left to spend in Edinburgh which to be honest was not enough to truly enjoy this beautiful city! We spent the half of the day just walking the streets of Edinburgh and browsing little shops along Royal Mile. 

“Print Shop”from Outlander

We found a little street where the printshop in Outlander series was filmed and I couldn’t suppress my excitement while thinking that my favourite character/actors were here… I know I am easily excited when it comes to Outlander. 


Edinburgh Castle

Next day and the final day of our amazing trip we spent in Edinburgh Castle.

Every time we visit site like this I am simply overwhelmed by amazing architecture, unbelievable engineering and the scope of work, that went into building something as Grand as Edinburgh Castle. 

Walking on the cobblestone and climbing old staircases, learning history of the place and people who walked on the same paths and stairs makes me feel so lucky to have a chance to experience it in person. 

That’s why travel is so amazing, it gives you an experience (and for everyone it maybe different). I watched documentaries, read about the castle and I have seen photos but nothing can compare with personal experience standing on top of the castle walls overlooking the whole city, or hear the loud shot of the one o’clock cannon fire! 

I truly could spend weeks in Scotland and would ideally prefer to slow down a bit but when you only have 4-5 days and want to see as much as you can then a little research and willingness can make it possible! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.