Be it stunningly beautiful landscapes or historically significant sites, the National Trust for Scotland boasts a host of locations that just beg to be explored. The charity, has been working tirelessly to protect noted locations across Scotland for future generations. And, whether it’s the spectacular St. Kilda archipelago or the moving surrounds of the battlefields of Culloden or Bannockburn, there is a superb selection of destinations from which to choose.
1. Culloden Battlefield
This is the site of the last battle fought on British soil in 1746. The Battle of Culloden culminated in the final defeat of the Jacobite forces under Charles Edward Stuart – or Bonnie Prince Charlie. The ‘Young Pretender’ had strong support in the north of England and Scotland in his bid for the British monarchy after his grandfather had been usurped from the Crown in the 'Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. But decades of abortive attempts to reclaim the throne – by first his father, the 'Old Pretender’, and then later himself – were finally crushed by government forces at this battlefield on the outskirts of Inverness.
Today, a major visitor centre lets tourists explore the cause and course of the rebellions, while a number of paths wind their way around the site, past a large memorial cairn and the markers of mass graves in which members of various clans were buried following the bloody fighting.
Address: Culloden Battlefield, Culloden Moor, Inverness, IV2 5EU
Price: Battlefield access is free. Visitor Centre and exhibition: Adult 11 GBP (14.52 USD); Concession: 8.50 GBP (11.22 USD); Family 26 GBP (34.33 USD)
Contact: +44 1463 796090 or [email protected]
Website: Culloden Battlefield
Another of Scotland’s most famous battle sites, Bannockburn near Stirling is the location where the forces of Robert the Bruce famously won Scotland’s independence from England in 1314. That moment is marked by this National Trust for Scotland (NTS) site, which includes a large statue of Scotland’s famous king as well as an award-winning visitor centre.
The building includes dramatic 3D recreations of the battle scenes, as well as exploring the long build up to this pivotal moment in the history of the British Isles – and the years which followed. The site’s key role in Scotland’s history makes it extremely popular and the NTS recommends that people book in advance if they are looking to drop by during the busy summer season.
Address: Bannockburn, Glasgow Road, Whins of Milton, Stirling, FK7 0LJ
Price: Adult: 11.50 GBP (15.18 USD); Child 8.50 (11.22 USD); Concession 8.50 (11.22 USD); Family 30.50 (40.27 USD)
Contact: +44 1786 812664 or [email protected]
3. Falkland Palace
Falkland Palace and its gardens were created by the Scottish kings of James the IV and V in the early half of the 16th century so that they could indulge in their love of hunting and falconry. This strong royal connection made it a favoured spot of several Scottish monarchs including Mary Queen of Scots. Although part of this fine Renaissance site is now a shell, a large portion of the building is still completely intact and is fully decked out in plush Renaissance era furniture and tapestries, giving visitors a glimpse into this famous period in history.
Fans of tennis will enjoy looking at the sport’s early origins in the form of the palace’s ‘real’ or 'royal’ tennis court – the oldest of its type anywhere in the UK.
Address: Falkland Palace, Falkland, Fife, KY15 7BY
Price: Palace and garden: Adult 12.50 GBP (16.50 USD); Concessions 9 GBP (11.88 USD); Family 29.50 GBP (38.95 USD). Gardens only: Adult 6.50 GBP (8.58 USD), Concession 5 GBP (6.60 USD)
Contact: +44 1337 857397 or falklandpalace&[email protected]
Website: Falkland Palace
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4. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Scotland’s bard Robert – or Rabbie – Burns, is world-famous today for his poetry and other writings, which continue to win fans across the globe. Even those unfamiliar with the works of this 18th century Ayrshire man will likely have encountered at least one of his most famous pieces – for Auld Lang Syne, which is beloved of New Year’s Eve parties around the world, is one of his.
The NTS owns and maintains the humble thatched cottage in Alloway in which Burns was born. It also maintains a museum exhibition that contains a huge collection of pieces relevant to the man’s life and legacy including an original handwritten manuscript of his famous work Tam o’ Shanter.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Address: Murdoch’s Lone, Alloway, Ayr, KA7 4PQ
Price: Adult 9 GBP (11.88 USD); Concession 7 GBP (9.24 USD); Family 22 GBP (29.05 USD)
Opening Hours: Daily 10 am to 5 pm (closed between 25th December and 3rd January, inclusive)
Contact: +44 1292 443700
Website: Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
5. Culzean Castle
The spectacular Georgian edifice of Culzean Castle attracts countless visitors every year. Built in the later decades of the 18th century the building’s luxurious stylings, stunning interiors and extensive grounds have made it one of the country’s most iconic castles. So much so, in fact, that its image appeared on the back of Royal Bank of Scotland bank notes until as recently as late last year.
The huge castle, which stands perched atop cliffs on the Ayrshire coastline, is set among more than 260 hectares (642.5 acres) of garden grounds which are home to a wide array of wildlife, including a large deer park, meaning visitors will find much to enjoy and explore during their stay.
Address: Culzean Castle and Country Park, Maybole, South Ayrshire, KA19 8LE
Price: Castle and Country Park: Adults 15.50 GBP (20.46 USD); Concession 11.50 GBP (15.18 USD); Family 38 GBP (50.17 USD). Country Park only: Adult 10.50 GBP (13.86 USD); Concession 7.50 GBP (9.90 USD); Family 24.50 GBP (32.35).
Opening Hours: Castle: Daily 10.30 am to 5 pm (1st April to 31st October) Last admission is at 4 pm. Country Park: All year.
Contact: +44 1655 884455 or [email protected]
Website: Culvean Castle
6. Pollok House
This is where the National Trust for Scotland all began. Pollok House was the venue where talks about forming the charity were first held in 1931. From that seed sprung the entire organisation, which today looks after more than 80,000 hectares (197,684.31 acres) of Scottish countryside, some 10,000 archaeological sites, and around 10,000 miles (16,093.44 km) of coastline. But there is much more to Pollok House than simply being at the genesis of all this work. The picturesque 18th century Georgian mansion is also one of the trust’s grandest properties and houses an extensive art collection.
Address: Pollok House, Pollok Country Park, 2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, G43 1AT
Price: Adult 6.50 GBP (8.58 USD); Concession 5 GBP (6.60 USD); Family 16.50 GBP (21.78 USD)
Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am to 5 pm.
Contact: +44 141 616 6410 or [email protected]
Website: Pollok House
7. Aberdeenshire's castles and manor houses
If it’s castles you’re after, then Aberdeenshire is the place to be. Although you’ll find stunning manors and historic castles dotted all across Scotland, this north-eastern county is especially blessed – boasting numerous fine examples. These include the classic pink tower of Craigevar Castle near Alford, the large tower house of Castle Fraser near Inverurie and the impressive white flanks of Drum Castle at Banchory, parts of which date back some 700 years. The area around Banchory is also home to another castle with glorious gardens in the form of Crathes Castle. And the county’s list of stunning historic buildings continues in the form of the 18th century Haddo House near Ellon and the spectacular edifice of Fyvie Castle (pictured) near Turriff. The latter’s mix of history, impressive artwork, and ghostly tales captivates visitors year after year.
Address: Fyvie Castle, Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, AB53 8JS
Price: Adult 12.50 GBP (16.50 USD); Concession 9 GBP (11.88 USD); Family 29.50 GBP (38.95 USD).
Opening Hours: Castle: Varies - check website for details. Gardens: Daily, 9 am to sunset (all year)
Contact: +44 1651 891266 or [email protected]
Website: Fyvie Castle
8. Glenfinnan Monument
Like Culloden, Glenfinnan is another site indelibly linked to the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Located on the shores of Loch Shiel, this is the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to signal the start of the campaign. That moment is commemorated in the form of an impressive 59 foot (18 m) tall column which features a single Highland warrior on top and was designed by James Gillespie Graham.
A number of walks also wind their way onto the slopes around about, offering spectacular views of the monument and across the loch. During your visit, you’ll also not fail to spot the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct. This world-famous railway bridge has featured in numerous films – including the Harry Potter franchise.
Address: Glenfinnan Monument Visitor Centre, Glenfinnan, PH37 4LT
Opening Hours: Site: All year. Visitor Centre: 10 am to 5 pm (from 1st April to 31st October. Opens at 9.30 am in July and August).
Contact: +44 1397 722250 or [email protected]
Website: Glenfinnan Monument
Although it is perhaps best known for the historic buildings and sites in its care, the trust also owns land in some of Scotland’s most beautiful natural landscapes, safeguarding them for future generations. Included in this impressive list is Glencoe, which is among Scotland’s most famous locations thanks to the stunning mountains which dominate its landscape and are a jaw-dropping delight to behold in the ever-changing light.
As well as its beauty, Glencoe also harbours a melancholic past as the site of the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692. This is where 38 members of the MacDonald clan were murdered while they slept by group of soldiers, many of whom were members of the rival Campbell clan.
Glencoe Visitor Centre
Address: Glencoe Visitor Centre, Glencoe, Argyll , PH49 4HX
Price: Adult 6.50 GBP (8.58 USD); Concession 5 GBP (6.60 USD); Family 16.50 GBP (21.78 USD)
Opening Hours: Daily, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (30th March to 31st October); Thursday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm at other times (closed 18th December to 4th January inclusive)
Contact: +44 1855 811307 or [email protected]
Website: Glencoe Visitor Centre
10. Scottish islands
And it isn’t just natural landscapes that the trust owns and safeguards – it also has entire islands in its care. These include the double world heritage site of St. Kilda in the extreme north-west, the famous monastic site of Iona off Mull’s west coast, the majestic basalt columns of Staffa, and a trio of islands at the tip of the Outer Hebrides – Mingulay, Berneray, and Pabbay – which are famed for their beautiful coastlines. Others include Fair Isle, a remote and isolated island halfway between Orkney and Shetland, and the isle of Canna in the Small Isles. Some of these are easier to reach than others but all are worthy of consideration during a visit to Scotland.
Address: Isle of Canna, The Inner Hebrides, PH44 4RS
Two million visitors can't be wrong
More than two million people visit the trust’s many properties each and every year, and with such a rich variety of sites to choose from it’s not hard to see why these spectacular locations bring people flocking time and time again. Will you be among them?
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