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How to visit the next National Park in Scotland

How to visit the next National Park in Scotland

Scotland is about to designate at least one new National Park – complimenting our two existing parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms.

Five new parks (Lochaber, Loch Awe, Tay Forest, Scottish Borders, and Galloway) have now put in their bids to be selected, but you don’t have to wait until one or more is chosen – here is how to visit Scotland’s next national park! 

Here is how to get there before everyone else!

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Lochaber National Park (Pàirc Nàiseanta Loch Abair)

Centred around Fort William (Caol & Corpach) Lochaber covers Mallaig and Arisaig, the Small Isles and the stunning West Highland Peninsulas to the mighty Glencoe.

With some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, some of the oldest rocks and landscape in Scotland, the Lochaber National Park would stretch from the ‘headland of the great seas’, the most western part of the British mainland to the top of Scotland’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis.

Here is how to visit the Lochaber National Park.

  • Climb Ben Nevis – fancy climbing Ben Nevis the UK’s highest mountain? A climb up the Mountain Path to the top can be done in a day! Read more – climb Ben Nevis.
  • Hike up to Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge – don’t fancy mountain climbing? The hike up to Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge will take around 2 hours and is one of the best walks in Scotland. Read more – Steall Falls.
  • Hike from Glencoe to Glen Nevis – hike a marathon and take in 5000 ft of hill climbing, through Glencoe, Scotland’s most famous glen and along the most beautiful section of the West Highland Way to Glen Nevis.
  • Climb The Pap of Glencoe –  Giving a truly stunning view over Loch Leven, climb the Pap of Glencoe for a view over the giant peaks of the Mamores, Ben Nevis and down to Loch Linnhe.
  • Visit the Lochaber geopark – Lochaber is made up of a volcanic caldera and Ardnamurchan forms part of the Lochaber Geopark – some of the rocks found in Morvern are 60 million years old! 
  • Drive to Ardnamurchan Point and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse – The most westerly point of mainland Britain, Ardnamurchan Point takes a lot of effort to reach – you need to tackle 30 miles of single track road – but oh it is worth it. The final stretch, with the UK’s most westerly traffic lights, is a dramatic piece of engineering.
  • Visit Sanna Bay – Scotland has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – however, I think Ardnamurchan might have a contender for the very best. At the very end of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is Sanna Bay, an incredible sweep of white sand, turquoise seas and stunning views of the Small Isles Rùm, Eigg, and Muck.

Read more: how to visit Fort William, Glencoe and Ardnamurchan

Lochaber National Park Scotland - Glencoe

Where to stay in Lochaber National Park

In Fort William, stay at The Garrison or the Lime Tree An Ealdhain. Nearby stay at the Cruachan Hotel, The Nevis Bank Inn or Inverlochy Castle Hotel. Try the the Glenuig Inn on Moidart which serves up great food and comfortable rooms. The Kilchoan Hotel is owned by the Ardnamurchan Estate, the hotel is great for grabbing a good lunch and is handy for the ferry to Mull. 

Looking for a self-catering cottage? Want to stay remote? Check out the amazing Rudh Dubh, a crofting cottage perched above Sanna Bay. If you prefer to camp, there are campsites at Kilchoan – Ardnamurchan Campsite, Sunart – Resipole Farm Holiday Park and Sunart Camping

Loch Awe
Loch Awe

Loch Awe National Park

At 25 miles long, Loch Awe is the longest freshwater loch in Scotland. The newly proposed National Park will stretch from the Bridge of Orchy to the iconic Kilchurn Castle, down the loch to the Sound of Jura and Kilmartin Glen and to the top of the volcanic Mountain of Cruachan (Ben Cruachan).

Here is what to do in Loch Awe National Park:

  • Explore Loch Awe – the longest loch in Scotland, Loch Awe is 41km long and home to the instagram famous Kilchurn castle with its herd of Highland Coos. Explore Loch Awe on the Tall Trees Trail at Dalavich and visit St Conan’s Church.
  • Kilmartin and The Kintyre Peninsula – Kilmartin is rich in history and offers numerous historical sites. For archaeology buffs (and Outlander/standing stone fans) Kilmartin Museum and Glen is filled to the brim with cairns, monuments, and standing stones, and a great little museum. With over 300 ancient sites to visit including standing stones, chambered cairns and cup and ring marked rocks, history buffs and Outlander fans will love to explore with this walk around Kilmartin Glen
  • Ben Cruachan – the highest point in the region and is usually climbed with its neighbour Stob Daimh over an 8 hour walk. Underneath the hill hides a huge underground hydro-electric power station. Tours of the power station are available, if you don’t fancy climbing the hill! 

More things to do in Argyle and Bute

Where to stay in Loch Awe

The Winterton Guest House is a foodie delight with roll top baths, The Steading at Barmore offers self catering with lovely gardens. Kirnan House is a lovely B&B in 500 acres of woodland, and Taychreggan Hotel is a lovely classic hotel on Loch Awe.

The Loch Melfort offers Coos and views and The Loch Fyne Hotel – a dog-friendly spa hotel on the lochside with a pool, restaurant and bar. Also in Inveraray The Inverary Inn opened in 1755, this is a traditional scottish inn, in the heart of town. The King’s Reach B&B is in Kilmartin Glen.

Tay Forest National Park
Faskally Wood

The Tay Forest, Perthshire

The Tay Forest National Park will stretch from Blairgowrie in the east to Crieff in the south, the Ben Lawers Range to the west and Glen Lyon to the north taking in some of Highland Perthshire’s most dramatic scenery.

The park will include the beautiful Perthshire towns of Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and Dunkeld and is famous for its autumn colours. Including 200,000 hectares of woodland alongsside moorland, glens, lochs and Munros along the longest river in Scotland – the River Tay. Here is how to visit the future Tay Forest National Park.

Things to do in the future Tay Forest National Park 

  • Go munro bagging – the best views of the national park are from the top of one of the many Munros – Try Schiehallion which means “Fairy Hill of the Caledonians” or Ben Lawers which is the 10th highest mountain in Scotland. Smaller hills include Ben Vrackie, the summit of which gives a fabulous views of the future park.
  • Take a stroll at the Hermitage, Dunkeld – this 18th-century pleasure garden is filled with giant Douglas Fir trees and Ossian’s Hall where a viewing platform reveals the tumbling Black Linn Falls below.
  • Visit one of the Tay Forest Distilleries – there are four distilleries located within the Tay Forest National Park- why not visit the Blair Atholl distillery, the Dewers distillery by Aberfeldy, the Edradour Distillery at Pitlochry or The Glenturret Distillery with its two-star Michelin restaurant near Crieff.
  • Stroll around Faskally Forest and visit the Linn of Tummel, Garry Bridge – this hike through pretty woodlands takes you a dramatic gorge – particularly beautiful in Autumn.
  • Drive Glen Lyon – hidden in the heart of the Tay Forest is Glen Lyon, at 34 miles, Scotland’s longest glen. Following the River Lyon, the drive passes by the beautiful Bridge of Balgie with its lovely tearoom – a welcome break after miles and miles of single track road.
  • Visit the Tay Forest National Park Lochs – the national park will cover some of Scotland’s most famous lochs – Loch Rannoch, Loch Tay, Loch Earn, and Loch Tummel. Visit the famous Queen’s View across Loch Tummel. Queen Victoria once thought the view was named after her – it is not, it was named after Isabella, Robert the Bruce’s first wife, from 500 years before!

More things to do in Perthshire

Where to stay in the Tay Forest National Park

The Meikleour Arms Hotel is a lovely coaching inn, the Old Manse of Blair is a luxury hotel with a rather good restaurant, the Bankfoot Inn is a traditional Perthshire Inn, the Riverside Cottage in Crieff is perfect for exploring dog friendly Perthshire, the Auld Manse guesthouse sits on the banks of the River Tay and Glencroft – a thatched cottage B&B near Aberfeldy.

The Scottish Borders National Park

The bid for a national park in the Scottish Borders is as much about the people and culture as it is about the landscapes – the southern lands of Scotland have seen much turbulence over years along the Anglo-Scottish border – from the Romans to The Reivers.

The future Scottish Borders National Park will stretch from Newcastleton to Kelso and take in the mountains of the Southern Uplands. Here is how to visit the future Scottish Borders National Park.

  • Visit Jedburgh – a quaint market town, with some big attractions! Visit the fascinating Mary Queen of Scots House, a restored 16th-century tower house which tells the story of Mary’s dramatic downfall at the hands of the church and political rivals. Then explore beautiful Jedburgh Abbey, a ruined 12th-century Augustinian abbey managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Finally, explore Jedburgh Castle and Jail, the only example of a town prison in Scotland.
  • Explore the region’s history – the Scottish Borders had it tough – the region was invaded both during the Wars of Independence and the infamous Border reivers. The Reviers were raiders along the border made up of both Scots and English and stole whatever they could, so much the whole area is peppered potted with fortified bastle houses and tower-houses – from Neidpath Castle near Peebles to Smailholm Tower and the huge Hermitage Castle.
  • Abbotsford and Scott’s View – Melrose has a small town charm and is home to one of the Scottish Borders four famous Abbeys and Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Then stroll to Scotts’ View – said to be Sir Walter Scott’s favourite view overlooking the Eildon Hills before lunch and shopping at the Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells.
  • Explore Kelso, the gateway to the Scottish Borders – visit Floors Castle, Scotland’s largest inhabited Castle and the family home of the 11th Duke of Roxburghe before visiting Kelso Abbey. Founded in 1128 by monks, Kelso grew to be one of the wealthiest abbeys in Scotland. 

More Things to do in the Scottish Borders

Where to stay in the Scottish Borders National Park

For true romance or for staying in your own castle for the night, stay at Neidpath Castle near Peebles. For luxury check into the magnificent Schloss Roxburghe near Kelso and Cringletie House near Peebles.

Fancy a country inn in the Scottish Borders? Try The Templehall Hotel, the Horse and Hound Country Inn, and the Auld Cross Keys Inn and the Allanton Inn is a lovely coaching inn with great food, Families will love the Peebles Hydro and Carfraemill.


Galloway National Park

Stretching from Scotland’s most southerly point to the Southern Uplands, Galloway has gorgeous beaches on the Solway Firth, its own famous Beltie coos and a dark sky park. From the Mull of Galloway to the Machar Peninsula, here’s how to visit Galloway.

  • Galloway Forest Park – Scotland’s largest forest park, the Galloway Forest covers 300 sq miles of Southern Scotland. Get a taste for the park by hiking around beautiful Loch Trool to find Bruce’s Stone, a memorial commemorating Robert the Bruce’s first victory in 1307 over an English army. From Bruce’s Stone, you can climb The Merrick, the highest hill in southern Scotland. 
  • Discover Threave Castle – perched out on an island, Threave Castle is a tower house only accessible by boat.
  • Visit Kirkcudbright – Arty and cute, the village of Kirkcudbright is home to Broughton House, the home of one of the famous Glasgow Boys and a hidden Japanese garden. Kirkcudbright (pronounced Kirkcoobree) has a thriving artist community along with beautiful cottages and a waterside location. 
  • Explore the Wigtown book shops – Scotland’s book town, Wigtown hosts Scotland’s National Book Festival. There are over a dozen book shops to explore – we love Beltie Books and cafe (named after the famous Galloway cows) and ReadingLasses for its books “by and about women” room. 
  • Discover Logan Botanic Garden – explore this gorgeous botanic garden complete with palm trees, ferns, koi carp and even its own ruined castle. Logan Botanic Garden is part of RBG Edinburgh and was also the set of the famously creepy movie, the Wicker Man. 
  • Visit Scotland’s most southerly point – climb the 100 stairs to the top of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, and watch the sea birds and dolphins from the RSPB reserve’s cameras.
  • Head to Portpatrick – the pretty town of Portpatrick with its small harbour is a great place for a stroll and a pint of real ale overlooking turquoise waters.
Galloway National Park

Where to stay in Galloway

Near the Gatehouse of Fleet, Gatehouse Luxury Lodges are dog and family friendly. Indulge your inner coastal geek by staying a real live working lighthouse at Corsewall Lighthouse. Near Kirkcudbright, Arden House Hotel is a lovely country house hotel and The Roundhouse is an unique glamping with sea views near Newton Stewart.

More things to do in Galloway

So which area will be Scotland’s next national park? Go and find out which is your favourite!

Love from Scotland x

P.s you can visit our two existing national parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms National Park here.