Scotland’s best adventures are rooted in two types of history – the natural history of the beautiful country, and the living history of its settlements and peoples. Both have combined to offer a huge array of outdoor experiences.
Below we will delve into some of the highlights of central Scotland, from scenic hikes to marvelling at ancient castles.
None of them are more than a couple of hours from either Edinburgh or Glasgow and they are fairly straightforward to reach. Most importantly, none of them will leave you disappointed.
Things to Know for These Scotland Adventures
In rural locations, including national parks, the most tempting scenes and sites are usually easiest to get to by car.
The road network is extensive and the roads are fairly easy to drive, although they can get narrow at points when visiting more remote locations.
Having said that, Scotland’s towns, even the small ones, are all connected by public transport through buses, with local taxis also available. Train connections are much more limited and don’t really connect with the places described here apart from Corpach village.
Best Time of Year
The tourist season in Scotland is mainly focused on the warmer months, with some attractions like castles closed during the winter. Therefore it’s advisable to visit between April and October.
The summer months of June, July and August will give you the best weather, with higher chances of avoiding the renowned Scottish rain. However, to see woodland at its most resplendent visits during September and October will always provide the glorious colours of autumn, especially in heavily forested areas.
Climb to the Stunning Black Rock Viewpoint in Kenmore
The stunning Black Rock Viewpoint – part of Drummond Hill – is one of the most popular natural attractions within Tay Forest Park in Perthshire.
The Forestry Commission of the UK made the area one of its first-ever purchases a century ago and there’s an excellent reason for that – you can see for miles across to mountains and through a wide variety of enchanting tree species like oak, birch and pine.
Indeed, the area has also been a managed forest for hundreds of years, with a long history of cultivation to draw in tourists and visitors.
Getting to the Black Rock Viewpoint entails a hike through the peaceful forests. There is a designated car park for the walk nearby and the good news is it is completely free of charge.
There are 3 hiking trails you can take at Drummond Hill but my favourite is the hike to the Black Rock Viewpoint. The trail is 2 ¾ miles long and takes roughly 2 hours to complete.
I recommend visiting early in the morning as it offers the potential of encountering the elusive Capercaillie, a rare and large woodland grouse.
Most visitors also take in the ruined remains of Caisteal MacTuathal, an Iron Age hill fort situated very close by. The absolute high point though is the panorama looking down from the Black Rock Viewpoint toward Loch Tay far below.
Marvel at the Eerie Corpach Shipwreck in Fort William
The shipwreck is a modern one: the fishing vessel Golden Harvest was blown far and wide in a massive storm in December 2011 and eventually became moored inland on an empty beach.
You can park either at the station in Corpach or in the village of Caol for free. It’s then roughly a 15-minute walk to the public beach on which the wreck is found.
You can get as close as you want to the Corpach Shipwreck, and it’s all free of charge. Its enigmatic presence proves that not all landmarks have to be that old to be worth visiting.
Visit One of Scotland’s Many Ancient Castles
Scotland is blessed with a large number of ancient castles, many of which lie in Perthshire.
A lived-in castle which can be visited is Castle Menzies in Tay Forest Park and situated close to the village of Weem.
Castle Menzies was built in the Sixteenth Century and has been renovated while protecting the original features by its ancestral owners Clan Menzies.
You can enter the castle for a small fee and explore the many rooms. Or you can admire the castle from afar and include the castle as part of a hike through the village of Weem. This 1-mile-long forest trail takes you right past the stunning castle.
Another castle worth visiting is Taymouth castle. Surrounded by a 450 estate, Taymouth Castle in Kenmore (also within the Tay Forest Park) is a Category A listed building of particular grandeur and impact.
You can walk a circular hike from the village of Kenmore through the extensive grounds of the castle, admiring the grand size of the ancient building as you wander down the well-maintained trail. The hike is a circular loop which passes through the castle’s golf course and some grasslands. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as I spotted a majestic red deer here.
Another site that astounds visitors is Inveraray Castle which is on the west side of central Scotland.
It is the family estate of the Duke and Duchess of Argyle and opens only to tourists between April and October. It is a modern castle built around three centuries ago and the visitor centre tells the story of the building, while the stunning grounds tell of the natural beauty of Scotland.
Hike to the Majestic Falls Bruar
Formed around ten thousand years ago by the retreat of the glaciers, these three major waterfalls are amongst the most impressive sights in Scotland and cascade to a height of around sixty metres.
There is a car park nearby, beside the House of Bruar, a shopping centre which houses the nearest toilets and eateries to the falls.
From there you can then take an adventurous hike up to the impressive Upper Falls and back in about ninety minutes.
It’s classed as a moderately tough hike. If your fitness level isn’t as strong, try the easier walk from the House of Bruar to the Lower Falls in about an hour there and back.
The view is still impressive and worth doing, and the walk is easier, and suitable for any level of fitness.
The parking and access to the falls are free of charge.
Kayak on the Tranquil Waters of Loch Tay
A number of businesses in the villages on either end of the loch (Killin in the west and Kenmore in the east) rent out boats for a variety of experiences including canoeing and fishing.
One of my favourite activities here is kayaking. Sit-in kayaks are a safe way to get close to nature and enjoy the sights from the surface of one of the most blessed places in Scotland.
You can hire a two-person kayak for 2 hours for around £30 from the Killin Outdoor Centre. Life jackets, paddles, a map of the area and a waterproof case for valuables are provided with the hire.
Further upstream you can also jetski courtesy of the local authority on the river Tay.
Have you been on a Scottish outdoor adventure? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.