Scotland’s best travel guides reveal their secret hidden spots across the country

From Edinburgh Castle to the Wallace Monument, the Glenfinnan Viaduct to glorious Loch Ness, Scottish holidaymakers are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to visit.

But as we come out of lockdown and plan outings and family stays, where are the unknown and secret places we’ve never visited?

We asked the people who know best Scotland’s amazing tour guides.

Alasdair Northrop is Chairman of the Marketing Committee of the Scottish Tourist Guide Association.


He says each of their over 500 members is an expert at guiding visitors off the beaten track.

He said: “Scotland has so many wonderful places to visit, some of which are very well known and others are truly hidden gems.

“By nature, tour guides tend to be curious people – while knowing the history of the places they visit, they like to find interesting and beautiful places that most people don’t know.

“It could be a place with a great view, a church with a historic plaque, or a beach that few people visit.”

Alasdair is the author of a new ebook Guiding Lights: A History of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association 1959-2019 which is available through Amazon.

Here he and other STGA members share some of the “secret” places they love.

Alasdair added: “It is very important that visitors check in advance any restrictions that might be in place when planning trips due to the coronavirus – as well as checking for reopening of attractions. “

Edinburgh and Lothians

Dr Neil’s Garden, Duddingston

Tour Guide: Debbie Davidson

Secret spot: Dr Neil’s Garden, Church Lane, Duddingston, Edinburgh, EH15 3PX

Nestled in the shade of Arthur’s Seat, this peaceful loch-edge garden was created from wilderness by general practitioners Andrew and Nancy Neil who encouraged their patients to help them out as an outdoor activity. healthy and therapeutic air.

Tour guide: Jane Roy.

Secret location: Torphichen Commandery, Torphichen, West Lothian, EH48 4NB

Torphicen Commandery

Walk in the footsteps of Sir William Wallace who, as Guardian of Scotland, held a last parliament here before the Battle of Falkirk in 1298.


Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret spot: Eyemouth Harbor, TD14 5SD

Mouth of eyes

Enjoy an ice cream as you stroll along the scenic harbor watching colorful fishing boats and keeping an eye out for seals in this hidden coastal gem, then visit the new memorial to the 129 men of Eyemouth who drowned in Scotland’s worst fishing disaster in 1881.

Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret spot: Lang Sandy Armstrong statue, Rowanburn, Eskdale, DG14 0RG

Lang Sandy Armstrong

Visit the low-profile Reiver Trail to learn more about notorious cattle thieves. The trail includes museums, cemeteries and monuments, including a statue of Lang Sandy Armstrong who was hanged with his 11 sons during the so-called “pacification” of the borders.

Dumfries and Galloway

Tour guide: Susan Napier.

Secret place: Sorbie Tower, nr Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 8AG

Sorbie Tower

The old keep of the Sorbie, owned by the Société du clan Hannay, was built in the 16th century. Visitors can see the remains of a 12th-century motte and a wooden fort built nearby.

Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret place: Logan Botanical Garden, DG9 9ND

Logan Botanical Garden

With origins dating back to 1869, these magnificent gardens benefit from a climate warmed by the Gulf Stream and therefore feature subtropical plants from Australia, New Zealand, South America and southern Africa.

Ayrshire and Inverclyde

Tour guide: Margaret McCann

Secret location: Loudon Hill, near Dykehead Farm, KA17 0LU

Loudon Hill

We know so much about the battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn, but few people have visited this equally important site. Loudon Hill, near Darvel, saw William Wallace (1297) and Robert the Bruce (1307) win victories against the English ten years apart.

Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret location: Wemyss Bay Station, Wemyss Bay, PA18 6AR

Wemyss Bay Station

This spectacular railway station with its magnificent glass roof and curved platform was designed by James Miller in 1903 to accommodate the thousands of vacationers who once flocked to the area to cross the Clyde by steamboat.


Tour guide: Susan Brown

Secret place: Camusdarach beach, near Arisaig, off the B8008 between Back of Keppoch and Morar.

The Highlander and Local hero films were both shot on this beautiful beach which offers views of the islands of Rum and Eigg. There is a large beach or walk across the grassy promontory and discover some small hidden beaches.

Tour Guide: John Harbor

Secret location: Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron, IV54 8YX

Attadale Gardens

Most tourists heading to Skye visit Eilean Donan Castle and walk straight across the bridge to Misty Island, but if they made a quick detour to Loch Carron they would find this oasis of tranquility. The gardens are managed by Lady Laird Joanna Macpherson and her husband Alec.

Stirling and Trossachs

Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret place: Cambuskenneth Abbey, Ladysneuk Road, Cambuskenneth, FK9 5NG

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Visit the tomb that Queen Victoria ordered to be built to mark the final resting place of James III of Scotland, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1488.

Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret location: Dumyat Hill, start at the Pendreich Forest parking lot, accessible by going up the Sherrifmuir road from the Allan Bridge.

Dumyat Hill

Enjoy picturesque views of the Trossachs and the Firth of Forth from the top of Dumyat Hill, which rises to 418 m (1,371 ft) and can be climbed in a matter of hours.

Perth, Kinross and Fife

Tour guide: John MacEachen

Secret place: the Ericht river, Blairgowrie. Start at Riverside car park, Blairgowrie.

Ericht river

A beautiful 13 km walk along the Ericht River may allow you to see leaping salmon, breathtaking scenery and wildlife aplenty. Stop at Cargill’s Leap, where Covenanter Donald Cargill leaped across the river to escape 17th-century dragons.

Tour Guide: Kilted Guide (Jim Leslie)

Secret location: Crannog Scottish Center, Kenmore, Perthshire, PH15 2HY.

Crannog Scottish Center

This fabulous living history museum tells the story of an Iron Age loch.


Tour guide: Alasdair Northrop

Secret Place: The Necropolis, Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0UZ

The tomb of William Miller in The Necropolis

Scotland’s historic cemeteries can be fascinating places to visit, especially if you have someone by your side who can tell you stories about the people buried there. Look for the memorial to William Miller – who wrote the popular children’s poem, Wee Willie Winkie.

Tour Guide: John Duthie

Secret location: Crookston Castle, Brockburn Road, Glasgow, G53 5RY

Crookston Castle

Built around 1400 by the Stewarts of Darnely, this unusual castle is the only medieval castle in the city of Glasgow. Its layout is almost unique in Scotland – with a tall central tower and four square corner towers, although only the northeast tower remains fully intact.

Argyll and Bute

Tour guide: Kirsten Griew

Secret Spot: Tobermory Lighthouse Walk, Tobermory, Mull

Tobermory Lighthouse

An easy 30 minute hike along the coast north of town brings you to the beautiful Tobermory Lighthouse with its stunning views.

Tour guide: Iris Marhencke

Secret place: Templewood Stone Circle, Kilmartin Glen, nr Kintyre, Argyll.

Temple wood stone

While the Orkney standing stones may have taken on all the fame, these 13 standing stones located in the Kilmartin Glen are just as atmospheric.

Dundee and Angus

Tour guide: John MacEachen

Secret spot: Lunan Bay, north of Inverkeilor on the A92 between Arbroath and Montrose.

Red castle at Lunan Bay

The ruins of Redcastle dominate the stunning beaches of Lunan Bay. In 1579, James Gray married the owner of Redcastle, then fell in love with his daughter. He was kicked out by his despised wife – Lady Elizabeth Beaton – and set the building on fire.

Tour guide: Elma McMenemy

Secret location: Aberlemno Stones, Aberlemno, DD8 3PE.

Celtic Picte Cross, Aberlemno

A trip to Aberlemno will reveal three Pictish stones by the roadside on the outskirts of the village and one hidden in Aberlemno’s courtyard nearby.


Tour guide: Colin Murdoch

Secret spot: Balnagask Golf Course, Torry, Aberdeen, AB11 8TN

View from Balnagask Golf Club

Stand by the edge of Balnagask Golf Course for a coastal view that reveals much of Aberdeen’s spirit, from its beach, cliffs and dunes to colorful oil supply boats and even wind turbines.

Tour guide: Alasdair Brodie

Secret location: Cullykhan Bay, between Fraserburgh and Macduff off the B 9031.

Cullykhan Bay

The sheltered sandy beach of Cullykhan Bay, with its caves and rock pools, is just a mile from the village of Pennan, made famous in the movie Local Hero.

Orkney and Shetland

Tour guide: Patricia Long.

Secret place: Kirbuster Farm Museum, Birsay, Orkney, KW17 2LR

Kirbuster Farm Museum

This is the last unrestored ‘firehoose’ in Northern Europe. Here the peat fire is still burning on the central hearth and the neuk bed is in the wall. The museum gives a fascinating insight into life in Orkney.

Tour guide: Jolene Garriock

Secret spot: Westerwick Beach, Shetland

The coastline around Westerwick has some of the best clifftop scenery in Shetland.

Comments are closed.