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Freya Burns February 17 2016

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs is one region of Scotland I’m not all that familiar with, so as part of my induction as a new member of the Absolute Escapes team, I spent a day exploring the hills, lochs and castles of Scotland’s first National Park.

This region is steeped in legend, folklore and history, and as I explored the stunning scenery I got to grips with some Scottish history and acquainted myself with national heroes such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Stirling Castle – ‘The Gateway to Scotland’

First stop of the day was Stirling Castle, an imposing fortress which sits high above the city of Stirling. Due to its strategic location at the crossing point of the River Forth, this was the site of a number of major historic battles, and thus Stirling Castle is a symbol of Scottish independence and a source of enduring national pride (which, being from England, I can’t claim to partake in myself).

The site’s history is encapsulated in the view from the castle esplanade, where Robert the Bruce’s statue points towards the Bannockburn battlefield 3 miles away. Looking out across the valley I recognised the towering Wallace Monument, which marks the spot where William Wallace commanded his troops at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1296.

 

Doune Castle

Outside Stirling sits another castle – the impressive Doune Castle which looked strangely familiar, although I’d never visited it before. As I plugged in my audio guide I was met by the familiar tones of comedian Terry Jones, as it was Doune Castle where the cult comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed.

Due to its lack of renovation, entering Doune Castle is like being transported back to the 14th century. Because of this it has made a number of onscreen appearances, including as Winterfell in Game of Thrones and Castle Leoch in the Outlander series.

 

Kilchurn Castle

We stopped briefly at the evocative ruin of Kilchurn Castle, which sits at the head of Loch Awe against the dramatic backdrop of Ben Cruachan.

The castle is free and has open visiting hours all summer so it’s definitely worth a visit for the spectacular views from the top of the battlements.

 

The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

I then headed south for the ‘bonnie bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest, and most romantic loch. The views from the village of Luss out over the loch are something special. Luss itself – a very pretty conservation village – is a popular destination and provided me with a much-needed hot chocolate.

 

After three castles, several lochs and miles of spectacular scenery, I definitely feel I’ve had a successful foray into The Trossachs, but of course, there is still so much to explore and I’m looking forward to my next visit already!

Freya Burns

P.S. If you’d like to explore Loch Lomond and The Trossachs for yourself, we offer walking holidays on the West Highland WayRob Roy Way and John Muir Way – all of which delve into this beautiful region. Alternatively, why not enjoy the area with the freedom of a self-drive holiday?

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