The more we explore Scotland the more I fall in love with it. There is so much to see especially by car.
Some of you who have followed me know we have had a few road trips with fellow SLK owners. We are lucky that many know great attractions and routes and we can tag along to explore our beautiful country. You can read about our West Coast trip here.
We also went on a Europe road trip, from UK to Lake Como and back, which I highly recommend. Click here for the are the details.
Over time I have also learnt to take note of the stops we are take so I can share them with you and hope you can explore more by car too.
Scotland opened up its self catering apartments and hotels from the week of 26th April. They also allowed dining in for two households which worked perfect for us.
We set off from Leicester around 9am to head to our first destination Falkirk. It is about 5.5 hours direct. Falkirk lies in the Forth Valley and lies in Scotlands central belt. It is a great base to explore the surrounding areas.
To break the drive we stopped at Gretna Green Designer Outlet. We could have stopped at services or another town but we did not have that much time. It was our first experience of dining in after 4 months and it felt like such a luxury. It is a perfect stop for that little it of shopping.
We had pre booked tickets for the original tour on the Falkirk Wheel , the worlds first rotating boat lift. Tickets cost £13.50 each for adults. It links two canals on the Scottish waterways to each other. One which is 27 metres from ground level. The engineering is amazing and the model of the wheel was built with lego. The boat travels at 4 miles an hour and takes an hour to go up, across the tunnel and turn around before taking you back down.
The wheel was made in May 2002 and can carry the weight of up to 100 elephants. It’s design makes it economic use of the canal water and is powered with the same amount of electricity it takes to boil 8 kettles.
Home to the Kelpies
Another great attraction in Falkirk is The Kelpies. It is the largest equine sculpture in the world. The 2 horse heads are 30 metres high. There is a museum there too but it was too late by the time we got there. It is a great location for a walk and at night the Kelpies are lit up and the photos looks spectacular.
There are two car parks, the one closer to the Kelpies is £2 and the other one free. With the canal there is is a beautiful attraction not to be missed.
Today we were meeting the Scottish SLK Club members. This was their first meet and we were lucky to be there to meet other car owners.
We set off early to visit The Newton Viewpoint. The perfect spot to see the three bridges over the Firth of Forth. The Firth of Forth is the estuary of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. The bridges link Edinburgh & The Lothians to the Kingdom of Fife.
We then drove down to Queensferry a pretty town on the southern shores of the Firth of Forth. You can get the perfect view of The Forth Bridge here. As well as being a working rail bridge, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a great bakery opposite the harbour and I enjoyed a buttery Empire Biscuit.
You can find the some independent shops and cafes along the cobbled streets of Queensferry. It is a village I want to return to with more time.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
After taking in the views of the harbour, we drove to the Scottish Secret Bunker. This was arranged by the Scottish SLK group and it was nice to meet other fellow owners. I have been on a few trips now and what I like about the groups is everyone is so down to earth. No boy/girl racers (well within limits) and it not always car talk.
The bunker is an 100ft underground and is now a Cold War museum . It was disguised as a farm house for many years. This is a great day out especially for those who love history. They have a café there too.
Fairmont St Andrews Afternoon Tea
The next stop on the route was St Andrews. I pre booked afternoon tea at the Fairmont St Andrews as soon as I knew we were going to stop in the area. It has been too long since the last afternoon tea and it was indoors so too hard to resist.
Fairmont is “Home of Golf’. You can get stunning views of St Andrews and the North Sea.
The setting of the hotel was beautiful and the Atrium Lounge where afternoon tea is served is elegant with a 60 metre lighting sculpture.
Priced at £27 pp, for the location it is not bad. Quality wise it was a bit disappointing especially the sandwiches. I was expecting them filled more and been a bit more substantial. I asked if we could have more savoury options/swap for the sweet but was told it was set, which normally is ok but for the Fairmont I would expect more flexibility.
The scones were gorgeous and warm, the pastry’s were delicate and tasty especially the banoffee pie. Our waitress was helpful and the selection of teas available was great.
From St Andrews we drove to Stirling Castle whilst the skies were clear. Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its position on Castle Hill . Due to its location, the views are beautiful. It was closed when we got there so we didn’t go inside however we got to appreciate the exterior and surrounding area.
After a hearty Scottish breakfast in Falkirk we set off to Dunnottar Castle. It was a drive up to Aberdeenshore before driving down the Dundee Coastal Route to Edinburgh.
This ruined rocky fortress sits on the cliff top is a photographer paradise. Every angle is stunning and as the weather changed it looked different. With the beach around this castle has breath taking views. If you are lucky you can spot puffins too ( we weren’t or didn’t look hard enough).
It’s a brilliant place to go for a nice walk too. Patches of common gorse made it look even more beautiful. Several roadsides around the East were covered in the gorse. The yellow flowers made beautiful landscapes on our drives. Gorse usually blossoms spring and summer however the milder climates have meant they have been seen for longer.
After the castle, we drove into Stonehaven, two miles away for a hot drink and loo break. It is a pretty harbour town that has a lot of history and is famous for the Hogmanay fireballs ceremony. A great way to see in the New Year.
Lunan Bay Beach
Along the coast, our next stop was a popular camping and caravan site, Lunan Bay Beach. With fine sand, this beach is supposed to be the best in Angus. Seals and dolphins can be spotted here and it is great for dog walkers too. The ruins of the red castle overlook the beach. We did try to get to the castle but were not very successful.
The plan was to get to the harbour but the weather was not looking to promising. We did however have a peak at the beautiful Abbey, known for the origin of the famous document in Scottish History, the Declaration of Arbroath.
This picturesque seaside town has a beautiful harbour with gorgeous soft sand beaches. I noticed some amazing houses along the harbour and the cutest beach huts. It was a great spot to get some fish and chips. After all we were by the seaside.
It was nice to get a snippet of the seaside towns and will definitely return to get some local caught lobster or crab. This is just a fraction of what Scotland has to offer.
From here we drove down to Edinburgh.
We got to Edinburgh around 7pm. The 2 bed, self catering apartment we stayed at was located in a fantastic location (Old Tolbooth Wynd in Old Town) and included parking which is hard to find in the city centre.
I think you can spend a week in Edinburgh because there is so much to see and do. We were only there for about 12 hours. I have been before and every time the city just keeps getting more vibrant. I couldn’t stop taking photos.
Attractions in Edinburgh
- Royal Mile: runs through old town and connects the Edinburgh Castle with Palace of Holyroodhouse
- Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens : beautiful cast iron structure
- Stockbridge (Circus Lane): 20 minutes walk from the city centre, Circus lane has cute houses and is a great photography spot.
- The Vennel Steps: for the most amazing views of Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle. The Vennel comes up on google maps and is located just past Grassmarket
- Princes Street Garden: Two adjacent parks in the centre of Edinburgh that separate old town from new town. The Gardens are beautiful all year around. There is also a bandstand , Ross Bandstand which normally hosts concerts. It is a brilliant spot to see all the blossoms too in Spring.
- Ramsay Garden: Great for viewing the skylines
- Candlemaker Row & Victoria Street for scenes from Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. Great for independent shops
- Grassmarket: Independent merchants and great restaurants and bars
- Holy Rood aka Holy Cross and location to the Scottish Parliament
- Palace of Holyroodhouse: Queens official residence in Edinburgh. She who would normally stay there on the Royal Week. If you have time you can tour the palace.
Brunch in Edinburgh
Edinburgh also has some floral cafes that serve great brunch and fancy drinks. Two places we visited were :
- The Pantry: Based in Stockbridge, this just had the most amazing brunch menu. A lot of their food was locally sourced, the staff were so friendly and the food was scrumptious.
- Laila : The Middle Eastern brunch spot is located just off the Royal Mile. The menu is distinct and the brunch items all sound so delicious. I didn’t get a chance to eat here but definitely had a fancy lucky charms coffee that hit the spot.
Our Scottish road trip was coming to an end. We managed to squeeze in one last stop before it started to rain heavily on our way back down south.
Bass Rock aka Scottish Alcatraz
Located on the Island in Firth of Forth, East of Scotland, Bass Rock contains the largest colony of gannets. in the summer you can take boat trips across there. A lovely place for walks too. There is a cafe on site for that warming cuppa and delicious cake.
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