Day Trips From Edinburgh
1. Glencoe and Oban – one of the best day trips from Edinburgh
The first suggestion for your day trips from Edinburgh is a great tour as you will have the opportunity to see the spectacular inland scenery of Glencoe with its’ magnificent mountains on this famous road through the Glen. You will also get the chance to enjoy taking in the coastline of the west and travel further on to the quaint little fishing village of Oban. Your driver guide will also furnish you with stories of our ancestors and Scotland’s rich history.
The road leading to Glencoe is fascinating, once of the road north and passing over the highland line, you will reach a point where Rannoch Moor is laid bare all around the roadside and can give a real feeling of eeriness and desolation.
This transformation occurs soon after you have spent time marvelling at the views over Loch Tulla. Before you can recognise it’s happening, your surroundings have changed dramatically and unremarkably so. The landscape is endless, cold and hostile.
This vast expanse of boggy moorland extends 50 miles square and conjures images of times gone by when drovers brought their cattle south with bitter winds assaulted then from all directions.
The direct line north from here skirts the Glencoe ski centre where numbers in their thousands travel to for a taste of highland winter sport. This centre boasts the only black run in Scotland. The Fly Paper is synonymous within the community of snow boarders and skiers alike as one to be ticked off lists.
The Buachaille Etive Mor (the Buachaille, as it’s known to climbers and walkers) displays it’s pyramid shape to us further north on this road. This useful translation from Gaelic to English describes the mountain as the herdsman of Etive.
The much-loved Munro has been seen by many Bond fans out there who will notice this from Skyfall where James Bond transports M away from the villain Raoul Silva.
Travelling further north on your Edinburgh day trip, you should prepare to be stunned as you enter Glen Coe. This astonishing road takes us right through the heart of this magnificent range of mountains, cliff edges, pinnacles and dramatic ascents.
The sense of mystery from this area is brought to life for me as I have adored the writing of Susan Fletcher where she shares with us the story of Corrag and her involvement as a witness to the battle in 1692 when William IIIs redcoats brutally murdered 32 of the MacDonald clan, including women and children. The Lost Valley (or hidden glen) is tucked away discretely, and unrecognisable from the roadside.
The hike up to this valley follows a relatively straight forward path and the reward at the top is stunning. The lush glen is a real surprise and feels as if it’s been created for the sole purpose for cattle to settle in and feel at home.
Discovering this part of the county was not only a visually stunning experience, but also a history lesson as we could create images in our mind from the times of the famous Glencoe massacre and a better understanding of how the clan system operated. It was a real overview of the troubled past but also a delightful opportunity to see close hand where some of the Harry Potter blockbusters were filmed.
I was delighted to discover that the road we are to travel takes us alongside the coastal route to Oban, the gateway to the Western Isles. Departing from Glencoe we were soon to reach the Ballahulish Bridge and make our way alongside the gorgeous Loch Linnhe.
This stretch of coast enabled us to stop at Port Appin and enjoy some breath-taking scenery in the Campbell clan stronghold. Looking over to the Loch, Castle Stalker was in our sights and we were able to see right ahead to the isle of Lismore.
On approaching Oban, our attention was drawn to the sea faring ferries crossing over to reach destinations on the islands of Kerrera, Lismore, Mull, Iona, Coll. Definitely something to whet my appetite for some further exploration of the islands. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a few more of these day trips from Edinburgh as I look out to sea while I savour some of the local seafood delights from the pier in Oban.
From here we pass one o the most beautiful lochs I have been lucky enough to see in Scotland. Loch Awe does exactly what it says on the tin. The 25 miles of this impressive freshwater loch are quite mesmerising. This fishing mecca is a popular spot for anglers as brown trout, pike and sea trout pass through this waterway.
The hollow mountain at Ben Cruachan is the highest mountain in this area and overlooks Loch Awe. It gives its name to the Cruachan Dam, a pumped-storage hydroelectric power station located in a cavern inside the mountain, Cruachan! is the battle cry for Highland clans Campbell and MacIntyre.
On completing the first of my day trips from Edinburgh, I look forward to doing of these journeys.
2. Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond
Choosing your day trips from Edinburgh will be governed by how much time you have. A great option for you is a tour to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond. This journey gives you a real snapshot of Scotland in one day. Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most important historical locations with all of the country’s Kings and Queens using it as their main residence at certain times in history.
Being a real fan of all stories relating to James IV, I have been enamoured by the chance to walk in his footsteps and experience how his life may have been experienced in this part of Scotland. The views around the castle provide a great perspective of where this area fits in, geographically, to Scotland as a whole.
The river Forth on one side, providing a defence against attacks from the south, as well as the mountains to the north creating a defence from the wild and unruly highland clans. It’s easy now to see why Stirling is famously known as a being a gateway to the highlands.
From the point of Stirling Castle over to the west, we can almost touch and feel the call of the highlands as we can see the pinnacle of Ben Lomond in the distance. It’s probably just as well that the next stop on this day trip from Edinburgh is to be Loch Lomond.
As we depart Stirling and head west, we are able to see some of the most appealing rural villages and attractive farms which dominate the carse of Stirling. It’s unsurprising that this Stirling is host to a main cattle market in the country. It has been so for centuries a main point of cattle trading a drovers brought livestock south from the Highlands to make a sale.
Approaching the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, I am reminded of the song lyrics and reason why we take the high road or the low road to get there. This heart breaking song tells the story of two Scottish soldiers who were so imprisoned. … The song is from the point of view of the soldier who will be executed: When he sings, “ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road” in effect he is saying that you will return alive, and I will return in spirit.
At the side of this expansive waterway, it’s amazing to see draw of activities that this loch provides. From pleasure boat cruisers, single man kayakers, open water swimmers and fisherman, everything appears to act quite harmoniously alongside each other.
The main city centre activities of Glasgow are simply a stone’s throw away from this peacefully serene, area of natural beauty. It’s no surprise that city dwellers will often run away at weekends to find inspiration and solace like this on their doorstep. It’s only natural that this is a popular choice from the range of day trips from Edinburgh.
3. Loch Ness – a not to be missed day trip from Edinburgh
The most wonderful of day trips from Edinburgh has to be this one! For many years, and most certainly from my childhood days, I’ve been eager to see the Loch Ness Monster up close. My curiosity led me to imagine that Nessie was in fact a lady.
How would I find this out? Only to see here in person was my conclusion. Why did I yearn so much to find out more about this elusive loch creature? Would she have a family of little Nessie friends hidden away in such an vast expanse of water.
During my day trips from Edinburgh, I was able to find out that Loch Ness itself is just the second largest of Lochs in Scotland, is deeper than Loch Lomond and holds more water, by volume, of all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Phew, this seems like a heck of a lot of water where anything could be hidden!
Would I be able to swim in the water and get close to enough to meet her? With a fear of hypothermia and Nessie nibbling my toes, I decided to take a proper excursion by boat on the surface of the water during one of my day trips from Edinburgh.
The boat trip itself meant that I was able to scan the loch while with my safety concerns preserved. The distance travelled gave me a bird’s eye perspective of the loch itself and demonstrated the immensity of the area to consider.
My next stop – speak to a local and find out if they have seen Nessie first hand. Of course, many have claimed to see Nessie – just behind those trees or on the ‘other side’ of the loch. But, the person who has more documented sightings of anyone else is Steve Feltham.
He’s the man who spends all his time observing the loch waiting for her reappearance. He knows the loch and her habitats better than anyone. I’ll drop by his place and see if I can come to any conclusions in this one of my day trips from Edinburgh.
4. St Andrews
Before coming to Scotland, my uncle persuaded me to make sure that I should take one of the day trips from Edinburgh to visit St. Andrews. There I was to have a picture taken at the 18th hole on The Old Course.
That was easy. I found a small group tour bus company offering day trips from Edinburgh. I booked the St. Andrews day trips from Edinburgh. This gave the opportunity to cross over the river Forth on the bus and see the Forth Rail bridge for the first time. What an impressive sight of this world class feat of engineering!
When we reached St. Andrews, we soon were in the area of this attractive town where some of the University buildings are. Some of the local students were on the move between lessons and appeared to be going to their house residences, or homes, in the town. We found a really sweet little café serving fabulous coffee and pastries.
From here we had a short walk to find the Castle in St Andrews. We were able to find out more about the Kingdom of Fife and why this area is named the royal burgh of St. Andrews. The Castle Sands here reminded us that we were very much by the sea.
The path along the coast took us by the side of the water and along to the Old Course, the home of golf. We found our way to the 18th hole and managed to get a picture of me waving to my uncle while standing on the bridge at the 18th hole of the Old Course.
We’ve been able to find many more day trips from Edinburgh during our stay in Scotland.
5. Melrose, Abbotsford and Rosslyn Chapel
As keen readers and fans of Dan Brown’s novel ‘The Davinci code’, we jumped at the opportunity to explore further and experience a visit to Rosslyn Chapel on one of our day trips from Edinburgh. Given the short distance from Edinburgh city centre to Rosslyn Chapel, it was a great opportunity to extend our outing by turning it into one of our best day trips from Edinburgh.
After spending a wonderful time within the chapel itself and taking in the wonderful surrounding countryside, we were on the road again and heading south of Edinburgh to see some of the glorious Scottish Borders region.
We were next able to visit the picturesque town of Melrose and step into the Abbey there where the Abbey ruins offer an indication of a casket discovered containing the heart of Robert the Bruce.
Our next attraction of interest is the baronial mansion of Abotsford House. This extraordinary home was the main residence of the Scottish legend, Sir Walter Scott. You will see in this home some of the objects which influenced Scott’s writing and poetry. The gardens nearby are quite serene and offer you a chance to see the natural beauty of this area which undoubtedly played a significant role in providing Scott many opportunities to appreciate the natural wonders, and to understand on these day trips from Edinburgh.