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Best places to stay in Scotland’s National Parks

Written by Fiona

May 03 2019

Scotland’s two national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park, encompass landscapes of fabulous beauty. Both also provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and the chance to discover some of the most untouched and pristine wildlife habitats in the country.

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park in winter.

A true mountain wilderness, the Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK, more than twice the size of the Lake District.

Covering some 4500 square kilometres, it stretches from Aviemore in the north to the Angus Glens in the south, and from Dalwhinnie in the west to Ballater and Royal Deeside in the east.

Some of Scotland’s rarest wildlife can be glimpsed here, including pine marten, golden eagles and the elusive Scottish wildcat. It is also home to one of the last remaining British strongholds of the red squirrel. You will even find the UK’s only “free-ranging” reindeer herd roaming wild.

The park is home to several of Scotland’s tallest mountains including four of the five highest summits in Britain. Trails and paths weave their way amid the peaks and plateaus, offering myriad breathtaking views.

During the winter, this mountainous land, with its ancient pine forests and heather-clad moorlands, is blanketed in snow, heralding exciting possibilities for ice climbing, snowboarding and skiing challenges.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

Further south in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, rugged mountains meet glistening lochs to create some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes.

As well as Loch Lomond itself, the largest area of inland water in the UK and stretching 39km long, you will find dozens more lochs to explore. Many lochs offer the chance for a range of watersports, such as kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing and fishing.

For some of the best views in the area, you can drive the scenic Three Lochs Forest Route or follow many fantastic mountain biking routes.

There are also hundreds of walking routes for all abilities throughout the national park, along the tranquil waters of Loch Lomond and in the forest-filled realms of the Trossachs.

Keep your eyes peeled for the local red squirrel, capercaillie black grouse, and even golden eagles or ospreys soaring overhead.

Holiday cottages in Scotland’s National Parks

Imagine if you could have this incredible scenery on your doorstep… have handpicked some of the best Scottish cottages with a spectacular National Park setting.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten track, a cosy retreat for a romantic getaway, or a cottage near a pub, you’re sure to find the perfect place to holiday in Scotland’s National Parks.

Off the beaten track


Tarabuckle – Clachnabrain, Angus

Sleeps 6, dogs 2

Tucked away within the folds of Glen Cova, one of the five spectacular Angus glens, Tarabuckle is a world-away retreat for those seeking to escape to the Scottish wilderness.

Set within a landscape dominated by the southern edge of the Cairngorms, the scenery transforms from verdant pine forests in the summer to snow-capped hills in winter, with majestic eagles flying overhead and deer wandering the hillsides.

This is the perfect destination for hillwalking, cycling and wildlife watching, as well as trout and salmon fishing on the River Esk.

On chillier days, a glowing wood burner at this idyllic retreat welcomes weary explorers to put their feet up and unwind after a day of adventure. On balmy summer evenings, there is nothing more calming than lighting the fire pit outside in the enclosed garden and watching the sun dip below the horizon.

A romantic retreat

Loch Earn Milestone Lodge.

Loch Earn Milestone Lodge – St Fillans, Perth and Kinross

Sleeps 2, no dogs

Boasting uninterrupted vistas over Loch Earn, this luxurious lodge enjoys a sought-after location on the edge of the picturesque village of St Fillians, within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

By day, you and your loved one can explore this outdoor adventurer’s paradise – water sports, walking, cycling, fishing and Munro bagging on the surrounding mountain ranges are all available.

Then, as night falls, you can cosy up within stylish interiors, watching the moon’s cool glow reflecting off the surface of the glistening loch through the floor-to-ceiling windows. For added indulgence, you could snuggle together in warm blankets in the garden or sink into the soothing bubbles of the housed hot tub and spot shooting stars together.

Fun for all the family

Ardle Lodge.

Ardle Lodge – Bridge of Cally, Perth and Kinross

Sleeps 10, dogs 4

Idyllically located in the village of the Bridge of Cally on the renowned Snow Road – one of the most scenic tarmac routes in the UK – this Scottish holiday cottage is made for lovers of the outdoors. 

The famous long-distance Cateran Trail is on the doorstep and the three glens of Glenshee, Strathardle and Glenericht are all within touring distance.

Glenshee Ski Centre is only 11.5 miles away where skiing can be enjoyed in the winter – you can hire equipment from the ski hire cabin in the village.

See 10 tips for successful family skiing in Scotland.

With five bedrooms sleeping 10 guests, this is the perfect holiday home for a multi-generational family getaway in the Cairngorms.

After an active day in the national park, you can return home to a roaring wood burner, a private hot tub and serene woodland, glen and river views while the kids enjoy a game of pool.

Bring your bike

Glenisla Escape.

Glenisla Escape – Bridge of Craigisla, Angus

Sleeps 8, dogs 2

For those who prefer to explore on two wheels, this gorgeous stone barn at the foot of Glen Isla is an ideal escape.

The surrounding area offers incredible cycling for all levels with a mixture of farmland, woodland and hills to navigate.

The dazzling Reekie Linn Waterfall is just under two miles away and there are plenty of opportunities for golf, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and seasonal skiing in the Cairngorm National Park, too.

Set within picturesque farmland, guests can look forward to waking up to the harmonious sights and sounds of nature. An on-site farm shop and café offer a wide range of local produce and children can burn off some energy in the play area or feed the ducks in the pond. Then when it’s time to sit back and relax, nothing beats a long soak in the private hot tub which overlooks the open countryside.

Then when it’s time to sit back and relax, nothing beats a long soak in the private hot tub which overlooks the open countryside.

On the water


Rockvale – Cove, Argyll and Bute

Sleeps 6, dogs 4

This stylish Victorian holiday home is nestled in the heart of the coastal village of Cove on the Rosneath peninsula, overlooking the tranquil waters of Loch Long.

A heavenly retreat for those who love to be on the water, there is a sailing club within the village and from the doorstep, you can join the Clyde Sea Loch Trail, which stretches for 65 miles along the shores of the beautiful sea lochs of the Firth of Clyde.

After exploring the delights of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you can return to this homely abode and watch the sun set over the mountains and sea. Light the open fire and cosy up in front of the glowing embers before retiring to your four-poster bed.

A cosy pub nearby

Brandy Burn House.

Brandy Burn House – Glen Clova, Angus

Sleeps 10, dogs 2

When you’re on holiday relaxation should be your top priority and after a day exploring the magnificent sights of the Cairngorms, there’s no better feeling than tucking yourself away in a welcoming Scottish pub with a wee dram.

Nestled at the foot of Glen Doll amid the captivating scenery of the Glen Cova Valley, this five-star Scottish retreat isn’t short of magnificent views and best of all, a highly regarded pub and restaurant are just over a mile’s walk away.

Back at the house, there is plenty to keep all ages entertained including a games room with a pool table and a private hot tub with unforgettable views.

From the doorstep, there are a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy and for the keen golfers, there are several fantastic local and links courses, including the championship course at Carnoustie. 

So, whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply looking for a peaceful, relaxing break in the fresh mountain air, staying in a cottage in the Cairngorms or a cottage in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs means that you have the freedom to explore in your own time.

Choose one of the self-catering holiday cottages at in the Scottish national parks and a cosy home-from-home will be waiting for you when you return.

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