For many people, a vacation in the Scottish countryside means exploring the splendid untamed landscapes walking or riding a bike. The pictures taken on such a tour can easily become priceless souvenirs of a wonderful adventure.
For those who are fond of golf, the same Scottish countryside gets a completely different meaning, as some of the world's famous golf courses for both professional and amateur players are located in this part of the world.
Reasons to Visit Scotland's Golf Courses
International fame - Some of the most prestigious national and international golf competitions are organized on the courses in the Scottish countryside, The Claret Jug and the Ryder Cup Championship being only two examples. This gives you the opportunity to see some of the world's greatest players at work and observe their fine movements and firm swing.
Other activities - Usually, famous golf courses are located at a short distance from castles and other historical monuments you can visit while on vacation. The Turnberry course, situated close to the castle of Robert Bruce, the Scottish king who ruled the country from 1306 to 1329, is the perfect illustration for this.
Famous Golf Courses in the Scottish Countryside
Royal Troon Golf Club - Its reputation comes partly from the fact that it hosts The Claret Jug. Legendary players, like Mark Calcavechia, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson or Bobby Locke, participated in the competition over the years, some of them winning the prestigious trophy. The eighth hole of the course is known as "Postage Stamp" and it is famous for measuring 126 yards.
Muirfield - This course is famous for belonging to the oldest golf club in Scotland, called "The Honourable Company of Edimburgh Golfers", established in 1744. Muirfield also has the reputation of being the finest golf course in the entire Scotland, reserved only to professional players. The Open held here was won by great names of this sport, including Faldo, Trevino, Niklaus or Vardon.
Carnoustie - It is among the oldest golf courses in the country, the first documents attesting its existence dating from the beginning of the 16th century. One of the holes, the par 5 sixth one, is known as "Hogan's Alley", being named in the honor of the great champion Ben Hogan, who participated in all the major competitions organized here.
When it comes to prestigious golf courses, the countryside of Scotland offers you numerous other surprises, so it is up to you to come here and discover them.
The image some people have on the Scottish countryside, that of an uninteresting vacation destination, with nothing more to offer than the farms and gardens of the locals, is far from reality.
This is where the greatest number of parks in the country are located, offering visitors breathtaking landscapes and entertainment opportunities that few other regions in the country can match.
More than that, many of these parks are located close to interesting sightseeing objectives, allowing tourists to combine their thirst for knowledge, history and culture with relaxing walks and outdoor adventures.
Here are the two most representative parks located in the heart of the Scottish countryside:
Almondell and Calderwood Country Park
Location and facilities - It is situated in the region of Scotland known as West Lothian and it has a surface of 220 acres. The park is divided in two sections, the Almondell Park that includes the eponymous estate, and the Calderwood Park. Playgrounds for the children, spaces for barbecue, a shop, an aquarium and four large parking areas are just some of the facilities visitors of this park can benefit from.
Activities - The Calderwood area is a real paradise for those who love trekking and mountain biking, because most of the paths are unpaved. If you are more interested in local history and culture than in physical activities, you can satisfy your curiosity by attending one of the classes hosted by the Visitors Center.
Galloway Forest Park
Location and facilities - With a surface of almost 300 square miles, it is one of the greatest parks in the country. The Craigengillan Estate, home of the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, the Galloway and Dumfries woods and a great part of the Galloway Hills are all located within Galloway Forest Park's borders. The visitors have access to a wide range of facilities, from picnic and camping spaces to shops and cafes, not to mention the many existing parking places.
Activities - A visit to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory is a must for anyone who is passionate about astronomy. The diversity of the fauna and flora species is one of the main reasons why those interested in studying nature under its many forms come here. Galloway Forest Park is also the right place if you love hiking or ice climbing.
Besides the mentioned destinations, Pollok Country Park, with its Pollokshaws Bowling Club and Polloc Cricket Club, and Roslin Glen Country Park, situated close to Roslin Castle and the famous Rosslyn Chapel, are also worth visiting.
The Scottish countryside is famous for the splendor of its landscapes, for the sensation of well-being and comfort you experience at the sight of the elegant beautiful mansions and houses surrounded by large, green gardens and parks, for the feeling of awe the wild, impressive peaks covered with forests and snow awake in you.
A cycling tour, alone or with your entire family, offers you the opportunity to spend quality time admiring the beautiful views and staying in shape at the same time. If you are fond of mountain biking, it is more than sure that you will love the routes crossing the Scottish countryside and revealing all its beauties.
Cycling Routes for Beginners and Families
Glenlivet Estate - The domain is included in the Estate of the Crown and it is well known by leisure cycling amateurs for the six routes crossing it, all of them waymarked. These routes have a length from 8 to 18 miles and they present portions of farmland roads, forest tracks and moorland tracks. On the way, you can admire some breathtaking landscapes, the Carn Daimh point, with a height of 570 meters, being just one of them.
Rothiemurchus Estate - The waymarked routes of the circuit cross the old pine forest, offering you the possibility to take a look at the impressive ancient ruins situated closely. The most famous of the cycling routes on the Rothiemurchus Estate has Inverdruie Village as a starting point and it is 10 miles long.
Mountain Biking Routes
Cairngorms National Park - This is the favorite destination of mountain bikers who have not accumulated enough experience to go on unmarked routes. The natural park comes with numerous facilities for those who practice mountain biking, including a center from where they can get information and maps, as well as rent equipment.
Unmarked routes - If you like to feel the thrills of adventure, you can choose one of the numerous unmarked tracks. The 20 miles long dirt track crossing the Ryvoan Pass, going through Abernethy and Sluggan Pass, with Loch Morlich as destination point, is very popular among experienced bikers, locals and tourists alike. This route gives you the opportunity to admire the unique view the back of the Kincardine Hills offer. The road that unites Inverdruie with Braemar, crossing through Glen Feshie is also well known to those who are fond of biking.
Of course, the Scottish countryside is marked by numerous other trails, tracks and hidden paths, waiting to be discovered.