Central Scotland, the strip of mainland north of the densely populated Glasgow–Edinburgh axis and south of the main swathe of Highlands, has been the main stage for some of the most important events in Scottish history. Stirling, its imposing castle perched high above the town, was historically the most important bridging point across the River Forth. From the castle battlements you can see the peaks of the forested Trossachs region, with its wild and wonderful archetypal Scottish scenery. Popular for walking and, in particular, cycling, much of the Trossachs, together with the attractive islands and “bonnie, bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond, form the core of Scotland’s first national park.
To the east, between the firths of Forth and Tay, lies the county of Fife, a Pictish kingdom that boasts a fascinating coastline sprinkled with historic fishing villages and sandy beaches, as well as the historic university town of St Andrews, famous worldwide for its venerable golf courses. A little to the north, the ancient town of Perth has as much claim as anywhere to be the gateway to the Highlands. Spectacular Highland Perthshire begins north and west of Perth – an area of glorious wooded mountainsides and inviting walks, particularly around Rannoch Moor.