11 of the most romantic places in Scotland

2000 web kissing couple

All images: ©Historic Environment Scotland 

As Valentine’s Day approaches, TFN has teamed up with Historic Environment Scotland to bring you some suggestions for romantic days out with your loved one.

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12th February 2017 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Historic Environment Scotland, the new charity formed following Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments being brought together in October 2015, looks after over 300 of Scotland’s iconic historic buildings and monuments.

From the imposing Edinburgh and Stirling Castles to the neolithic village of Skara Brae and the tranquil Iona Abbey, Scotland is not lacking for romantic places. Below is a taste of just a few of them.

Visitors are reminded to check conditions before heading out, and to be aware that sturdy shoes and warm clothing will be required when visiting some of these sites. Unexpected closures are listed online at on the Historic Environment Scotland website. Summer opening hours apply from 1 April – 30 September and winter hours apply from 1 October – 31 March, unless stated otherwise.

1. Duff House

1. Duff House

Banff, AB45 3SX

Opening hours: Summer (1st April – 31st October) 11am to 5pm. Winter (1st November – 31st March) Thurs to Sun, 11am to 4pm.

The gorgeous Georgian country mansion of Duff House is a great spot for a romantic stroll. Important works of art from the National Galleries of Scotland are displayed throughout the building, whilst the grounds around Duff House are laid out in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with carriage drives, walks and ornamental buildings.

For more information, click here.

2. Doune Castle

2. Doune Castle

Doune, Perthshire, FK16 6EA

Opening hours: Summer 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter 10am to 4pm.

Doune Castle is now recognised worldwide as Castle Leoch in the popular romance series Outlander, and also doubles up as Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where Sir Lancelot accidentally interrupts a medieval wedding. It’s a fascinating building full of stories, where highlights include climbing the battlements for fabulous views down the River Teith or out towards Ben Lomond, and wandering through the castle grounds – which are full of bluebells in the spring.

For more information, click here.

3. Huntingtower Castle

3. Huntingtower Castle

Castle Brae, Perth, PH1 3JL

Opening hours: Summer 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun, 10am to 4pm.

Huntingtower Castle appears today as a single building, but before the late 17th century it comprised two tower houses standing less than 3 metres apart. This arrangement was highly unusual, and how it came about is one of Huntingtower’s enduring mysteries. Huntingtower’s most romantic story involved Dorothea, daughter of the 1st Earl. Legend has it that she made a dramatic leap between the battlements of the two towers following a late night visit to her lover’s room. That 2.7 metre (9 ft) gap became known as the ‘Maiden’s Leap’.

For more information, click here.

4. Sweetheart Abbey

4. Sweetheart Abbey

New Abbey, Dumfries, DG2 8BU

Opening hours: Summer 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun, 10am to 4pm.

Tranquil Sweetheart Abbey in Dumfries and Galloway was built for love both human and divine. When Lord John Balliol died in 1268, his wife, Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway, had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket which she carried with her everywhere. She went on to carry out many charitable acts in his name, including the foundation of Sweetheart Abbey in red sandstone in 1273. When she too died in 1289, she was laid to rest in front of the abbey church’s high altar, where you can see her effigy today.

For more information, click here.

5. Stirling Castle’s Royal Apartments

5. Stirling Castle’s Royal Apartments

Castle Esplanade, Stirling, FK8 1EJ

Opening hours: Summer 9.30am to 6pm, Winter 9.30am to 5pm.

In 1538, James V of Scotland was preparing to marry his second French wife, Mary of Guise. To mark the arrival of his bride, the king commissioned a new palace in Stirling Castle, intended to be as fine as any princely residence she would have known in the richer kingdom of France. In 2011, Historic Scotland (now part of Historic Environment Scotland) began a project to recreate the palace apartments as they would have looked to Mary when she moved in. Follow in her footsteps with your valentine, and explore the many other stories from the favoured residence of Scotland’s kings and queens.

For more information, click here.

6. St Andrews Castle and Cathedral

6. St Andrews Castle and Cathedral

East Scores, St Andrews, KY16 9AR and KY16 9QL

Opening hours: 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter 10am to 4pm.

The ancient city of St Andrews is steeped in history, and a great place for a romantic day out. If you start at the majestic castle, once home to Scotland’s leading churchmen, and overlooking the sea, it’s just a short walk along The Scores to the cathedral. There you can climb the 156 steps of St Rules tower (the narrow space giving some opportunities to brush elbows) before emerging to see a beautiful view from above. Famously Prince William and Kate Middleton met in St Andrews, at what is sometimes called one of the top matchmaking universities in Britain - it’s little wonder love is in the air amongst students and visitors alike with romantic sites like these to explore.

For more information, click here for the castle or here for the cathedral

7. Caerlaverock Castle

7. Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock, Dumfries, DG1 4RU

Summer 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter 10am to 4pm.

With its turrets and moat, Caerlaverock Castle is the quintessential picturesque castle, and in 2015 it was the backdrop for 29 weddings. In the late 1950s/early 1960s archaeologists uncovered a birch wood nit comb there which dates back to the 1400s. The comb is decorated with a heart motif and some initials, perhaps indicating it was given as a love token.

For more information, click here.

8. Dirleton Castle

8. Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Road, North Berwick, EH39 5ER

Summer 9.30am to 5.30pm, Winter 10am – 4pm.

For those looking for a romantic day out somewhere a little off the beaten track, Dirleton Castle in East Lothian may be the place for you. The castle is an impressive warren of rooms, with parts dating back to the 1200s. You and your valentine can become explorers as you uncover passage after passage. You may also want to make plans to return in the summer, when the castle gardens (a formal Victorian garden and one dating from the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1920s) explode with colour.

For more information, click here.

9. Edinburgh Castle

9. Edinburgh Castle

Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

Summer 9.30am to 6pm, Winter 9.30am to 5pm.

Dominating Scotland’s capital city from the top of Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is not just a fun family day out. In fact, it is such a hot spot for marriage proposals that in recent years the castle team has begun offering private use of the Minstrel’sGallery above the Great Hall for people to get down on one knee. The castle is home to the Honours of Scotland, Mons Meg, and centuries of Scottish history.

For more information, click here.

10. The Ring of Brodgar

10. The Ring of Brodgar

Orkney, about 5m North East of Stromness on the B9055

The Ring of Brodgar is just one part of the heart of Neolithic Orkney, but there is something very romantic about a scenic walk around this ring of ancient stones with the Loch of Harray in the background. The meaning behind the stone circle, one of the largest in Britain, is still unknown – but the mystery is part of its appeal.

For more information, click here.

11. Greenknowe Tower

11. Greenknowe Tower

Scottish Borders, 0.5m west of Gordon on the A6105 Earlston road

Open all year.

All on its own on a tree-covered mound, a little to the west of the village of Gordon, stands Greenknowe Tower – a pretty structure built of local dark whinstone, with red sandstone dressings. The tower was built in 1581 for James Seton, of the Setons of Touch, and his second wife, Jane Edmonstone. The date and their monograms adorn the lintel above the front door.

For more information, click here.

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