Living near Perth is a great, central location for travelling the whole of Scotland but we also enjoy exploring what is on our doorstep too. We are close to the coast and five out of the six Scottish cities take little more than an hour to get to (traffic permitting). The Dude loves that he is only a stones throw from a golf course and we have some fabulous local walks. I have to admit though, if we are not exploring Perthshire then Fife is a definite favourite for us. So, last year when we had friends from Australia come to stay with us for five nights we wanted to show them some of the highlights of visiting Falkland.
They didn’t want to waste any time, arriving with us at lunchtime and after a quick leg stretch and a drink we baled them into our car for the short car journey across to the picturesque village. Like me, our pal Denise is a fan of Outlander and the eye candy that is Jamie Fraser. This made a good start to their trip. But it’s not all about the hit TV series, there is something for everyone.
Things to do in Falkland
You can see why Falkland was chosen as a stand in for 1945 Inverness, back in the first season of Outlander. It has a quaint but high class feel to it and as a former royal burgh, rightly so. The Bruce Fountain in the centre of the square is certainly worth paying more than a fleeting glance toward too. Standing tall since it’s unveiling in 1856 the fountain is decorated with lions, each one painted red and holding a crest. The lion faces can also spotted on the water spouts lower down. It really is worth checking out but do be careful, it is in the middle of the road.
I took Denise in to The Covenanter Hotel which played the part of the B&B that Clare and Frank stayed in during those early scenes and one glance at the cake cabinet found us drooling like children in a sweet shop. Like many of the other quirky shops and cafes in Falkland they were given a name change for filming, but they certainly keep their charm for every day visitors who roam the streets looking for Jamie (or Clare).
There is no denying that even though you know there is a palace in Falkland, it’s beauty still takes you by surprise when you visit. It’s a statement piece.
Each season shows it in a different light and the beauty of this National Trust for Scotland managed property is that it doesn’t matter how many times you visit you always discover something new. For me, although I am not religious, I adore the chapel. Circa 1540 and still used for mass each Sunday, the stained glass windows are exquisite, and it’s quite special to follow in the footsteps of Scottish royalty.
Falkland Palace is home to the oldest tennis court in the world too. Real tennis, otherwise known as Royal tennis has been played on this court for around 450 years. It is nothing like the plush green courts of lawn tennis that we know these days, but has four walls and a viewing gallery.
A recent addition to the displays here is an apothecary. A chance to get hands on, to mix your own potions and lotions, learn more about which plants would heal what ailment and how life would have been in the apothecary. Follow this up with a visit to the gardens, glasshouses and orchard where lavender, herbs and fruits are grown.
After taking in all the information during your tour of the palace, wandering the gardens affords you some outside views and allows you to be alone with your thoughts; following in the footsteps of kings and queens taking a turn around the lawns.
Photos can only be taken in the apothecary and gardens and as much as I would love photos of the tapestry, chapel and painted ceilings I sometimes think this can be a good thing as it means you spend more time being present and taking it all in.
Walking the wynds
Take a walk away from the main street and famous fountain and you shall find colourful window boxes, chocolate box cottages, more tea rooms and craft shops. I have found myself wandering with no particular purpose through the wynds (narrow lanes), admiring front doors and stopping to speak to a local cat. It’s easy to see why this wee corner of Fife was chosen as Scotland’s first conservation village. Beautifully preserving some of the 300 year old buildings.
Walks near Falkland
The area is packed full of day hikes, after dinner saunters and dog walks. Here are just a few worth mentioning:
Head for the hills. I’m talking about the Lomond Hills. These bad boys have been on my list of walks for some time now and maybe, this summer, I will get around to doing them. West Lomond is the highest point in the Kingdom of Fife, standing tall at just over 500metres. I always think it looks far more imposing in stature than this but this could be because the land surrounding it is mostly flat. That’s not to say they should be under-estimated, as with any hill climbs, always go prepared for a change in the weather or and accident.
Maspie Den walk can be done straight from the centre of the village. Just a short walk through woodland and alongside a burn (stream) up to the waterfall. I have to hold my hands up to being all excited about this walk and getting to walk behind the falling water. Sadly I was left rather underwhelmed by it. The walk itself is lovely and a great place for walking the dog and letting children explore, just don’t expect too much from the waterfall.
Another walk, just a short drive from Falkland is the Bunnet Stane. As a walk in it’s own right it only takes about twenty to thirty minutes (each way), with a small up hill pull but can also be the start of a longer, more energetic walk up West Lomond.
The actual Bunnet Stane (Bonnet Stone) measures around 20ft by 10ft of calciferous sandstone and is the result of sand, ice and weather erosion. It’s a curious thing and I’m inclined to think that it looks like a dragon’s head from Game of Thrones but I know fellow blogger and friend Sam, over at Scotland with the Wee White Dug, thinks it resembles roadrunner. Either way, you should go and check it out and let me know what you see.
We didn’t get to show our visitors all of these things but they loved visiting Falkand. This post gives you just a small taste of what is available in such a wee village and there really is something for everyone. I love that it’s not too far from home for us and we get to discover new walks all the time. Have you been to Falkland? Let me know what your favourite part was.
*[Ad] The Dude and I were given annual Family Membership by the National Trust for Scotland in return for blog posts*