Balmoral is a 50,000 acre estate and the private Scottish home of the British Royal Family. It was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852, close to the Highlands they both loved. The current castle is new - Victoria and Albert had it constructed between 1853 and 1856; the old castle was then demolished. There is limited public access to the grounds, gardens and exhibitions (including access to the castle ballroom only) between spring and early summer, when the Royal Family is not in residence. Apart from the ballroom, the castle is not open to the public. Cottages in the grounds can also be hired.
Drum Castle was seat of the Clan Irvine and in the Irvine family for 650 years, from 1325, when it was granted to William de Irvine by Robert the Bruce, until 1975. It has a rich history, 17th and 19th century additions and alterations, and is surrounded by gardens and an arboretum.
The evocative ruins of Dunnottar Castle occupy a large, rocky, headland jutting into the North Sea, accessed by a narrow strip from the mainland. Though the current ruins date largely from the 15th and 16th centuries, its history goes back to the early medieval period, at least. Dunnottar was attacked by the Vikings, captured from the English by William Wallace, was famously where the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) were hidden from Oliver Cromwell's forces, and played its part in the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th century.
NOTE: The castle can be closed to visitors in bad weather - essential that you check their website before visiting. There is also limited car parking - the castle is not in Stonehaven itself - it's about a 20 minute walk along the coast.
Ruined renaissance castle built by the 7th Laird of Tolquhon between 1584 and 1589. It has a particularly interesting gatehouse.
Clachan Bridge, popularly known as Atlantic Bridge, or the Bridge over the Atlantic, was built in 1792 and joins the Island of Seil with the mainland on the B844, about 10 miles south of Oban. Nearby is the Tigh an Truish Inn - the house of trousers. Seil is the most northerly of the slate isles.
Glencoe is renowned for its beauty, walking, wildlife and as the scene of the infamous Glencoe Massacre. On 13 February 1692, 38 men, women and children of the MacDonald clan were murdered by a regiment of soldiers whom they had welcomed into their homes. More died on the freezing mountainside.
Glencoe is an evocative place, made more so by various legends. It is also a well-known film location. The NTS Visitor Centre is a good place to start, provides a good general view, includes an exhibition and there are various walking trails nearby. The Visitor Centre is just off the A82, south of Glencoe village.
Located in traditional 18th century thatched cottages, Glencoe Folk Museum holds an eclectic collection of objects and memorabilia, ranging from Jacobite artefacts to toys and domestic utensils. There is a particular exhibit that tells the story of the Glencoe Massacre. The museum is small, highly personal - and fascinating.
Local museum telling the story of the Slate Islands - Isle of Seil, Easdale Island, the Isle of Luing, and Belnahua. It houses a collection of photographs, artefacts and genealogical records related to the social and industrial life of the Slate Islands, especially the people engaged in the former slate industry, from the 18th - 20th century. There is also a Folk Museum on the nearby island of Easdale.
The ruined old church at Alloway dates from the 16th century, though the site could be much older. It is most famous now due to it being featured in Robert Burns' poem 'Tam o' Shanter' (1791), as the place where witches and warlocks gather. The churchyard is fascinating and includes the graves of Burns' father, William Burnes, and sister, Isabella Burns Begg. Combine with a visit to the Robert Burns' Museum, his birthplace, Burns Monument and Brig o' Doon.