South of Scotland Tours
East Lothian and the Borders
Fertile arable lands; beautiful coastal scenery; Dirleton Castle; North Berwick’s Scottish Seabird Centre with live cameras monitoring sea birds on the Bass Rock; Tantallon Castle; Dunbar (naturalist John Muir’s birthplace); the Border Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh. Rosslyn Chapel, founded in the 15th century, is popular with visitors following the success of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”.
Linlithgow, Falkirk and Stirling
To historic South Queensferry to view the Forth Bridges; Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots); the Roman Antonine Wall (142AD) and the 21st century Falkirk Wheel; the site where King Robert the Bruce rallied his army for the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314; the commanding Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, both with strong Braveheart connections.
Culross, Loch Leven and Dunfermline
Over the Forth Bridge to Fife to the 17th century village of Culross (the Palace, Culross Abbey, and The Study); Kincardine (birthplace of James Dewar, inventor of the vacuum flask); Loch Leven (boat trip to Castle Island where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a year); Dunfermline (Abbey and Royal Palace), Abbott House, Andrew Carnegie’s Birthplace Museum).
Stirling, The Trossachs and Loch Lomond
View the Forth Bridges at South Queensferry; Blackness Castle overlooking the River Forth; Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument (Braveheart); Doune (once famous for making pistols); Callander; the scenic Trossachs (“the Highlands in miniature”) made famous by author Sir Walter Scott; Loch Lomond (Scotland’s largest and most famous loch).
St Andrews, Falkland and the East Neuk of Fife
Cross the Forth Bridge and follow the coastal route to the East Neuk to see the picturesque harbours and villages of Elie, St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail. St Andrews is the celebrated Home of Golf and the famous Old Course was again the venue for the Open Championship in 2000 and 2005. St Andrews University is Scotland’s oldest, and dates back to 1412; St Salvator’s College is a prominent landmark in the town. Until the Reformation in the mid 16th century, St Andrews was the principal centre of Christian pilgrimage in Scotland, with the 12th century St Andrews Cathedral the focal point. St Andrews Castle, famed for its notorious Bottle Dungeon, has witnessed turbulent times. Falkland Palace, built between 1500-41 as a royal hunting lodge, was a favourite venue for King James V & VI and Mary Queen of Scots. The royal tennis court (1539) is Britain’s oldest real tennis court, and is still in use for this ancient game.
Dundee and Angus
Dundee, situated on the north shore of the River Tay, is Scotland’s 4th largest city. The ship “Discovery” was built here in 1901, and carried Captain Scott’s first expedition to the Antarctic. The award winning Verdant Jute Works Museum recalls the era when Dundee was the world’s principal jute centre. Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) is an internationally renowned centre for contemporary art and education, and is also a popular social and cultural meeting place. Broughty Castle guards the River Tay entrance to the city. Dundee University is a centre of international importance in biomedical research, NCR manufactures ATM machines, and DC Thomson publishes newspapers and periodicals including the famous “Dandy” and “Beano” comics. Angus is the adjacent county, where the scenic Glens Isla, Clova and Esk lie to the north on the edge of the Grampian Mountains. To the south, Carnoustie has the challenging Championship Golf Course, where the Open Championship will take place in July 2007. Glamis Castle, home of the Earl of Strathmore, was the childhood home of the late Queen Mother, and birthplace of the late Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister. It is “a place of legends and fairytales”, and is the setting for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.
Perth and Perthshire
Perthshire. From the rugged mountains to the flat, fertile Carse of Gowrie, this is a beautiful county of variety and contrasts, with some of the most remarkable trees and woodlands anywhere in Europe. The “big tree country” is home to: the world’s highest hedge; Britain’s tallest tree; and the Fortingall Yew which is Europe’s oldest living specimen at an age of 3000-9000 years. Towns include Dunkeld with its medieval Dunkeld Cathedral, and the Parent Larch Trees (planted as seed over 250 years ago); and Pitlochry with its world famous Festival Theatre which started life in a marquee. The county town of Perth serves the surrounding agricultural community. The 900 year old St John’s Church is a prominent landmark. Close by is the impressive Scone Palace where Moot Hill was the ancient crowning place for many Scottish monarchs.