Central Scotland is where a modern country on the cutting-edge of culture meets an ancient, wild landscape. The English-speaking Lowlands border the Gaelic Highlands, and there is a deep awareness of subtle transitions as you travel north.
The Highland Boundary is a geological feature that divides the Highlands from the Lowlands. This creates a physical and visual difference. There are rising mountains on one side and lush farms on the other. For almost a thousand years, two distinct cultures have met here. The north and west were Gaelic-speaking people and loyal to their clan chiefs. The south was all about England. The Highlander’s way of life became more difficult in the late 18th century as the Lowlands fought to establish, and then keep, their dominance.
Scotland’s business interests developed in the Lowlands. During this time, the Highlands lost their people. Too much of what was wild was set aside for sporting estates for the wealthy, and just enough was used for sheep farming.
Central Scotland is compact. This means the different personalities of the Highlands and the Lowlands often live in the other’s shadow. Wonderful Stirling Castle, dating from the 16th century, is not far from signs of industry. The peace and tranquility of the Trossachs and the hills of Arran are easy to reach from Glasgow. Both Perth and Dundee are fairly close to the wilderness of the Southern Highlands.
For the traveler, this makes the possibility of discovering Scotland’s hidden gems real. The Goat Fell Ridge on the Isle of Arran has one of the most inspiring, island hill-walks in the country, while to the north on the Isle of Bute is a calm tourist center. The Trossachs, near Callander, has unparalleled mountain beauty—it’s quite different than the Lowlands of the Firth Valley. Stirling Castle stands at the head of the Forth under the shadow of the Ochil Hills. Perth’s position is similar, but on the River Tay. And the Firth of Tay, with its panoramic views, is home to Dundee, the fourth largest city in Scotland.
Central Scotland is a region of intense contrasts, both modern and ancient. Notice them, savor them, and take them to heart. The differences in this region, so close to each other, make exploration a memorable and exuberant experience.