Our Holiday in The Central Lowlands, Scotland (& ideas for places to visit)

 This post is based on our visit in July 2021. We stayed in Rumbling Bridge which is very small village near Kinross in the Central Lowlands. We certainly didn't see all that is on offer in the area as it is so vast but I hope this post will give you an idea of what you can expect. Rumbling Bridge is around a 3 hour drive from Newcastle. We had the best time and found there was a real mix of things to do as well as opportunities to relax. 

We absolutely love taking holidays in Scotland. It is easy to get to from the North East and offers stunning scenery, lots of ways to relax and there is so much in terms of things to do too.

Oh and the food and people are both lush! I thought I would begin this post by sharing a few of our other trips to Scotland in case you needed a little more inspiration: 

Our Holiday in the Central Lowlands | Where we Stayed 

We stayed at Rumbling Bridge Retreat which is a four bed / two bath dog-friendly chalet in a rural location. I booked via AirBnB and paid £150 per night in the school summer holidays which I thought was an absolute steal. There is a 3 night minimum stay and prices start at £135 per night. 

It was my first time booking with AirBnB but we picked a SuperHost with excellent reviews and I knew in my heart we'd picked a good one. Find out more and book Rumbling Bridge Retreat here. 

Rumbling Bridge is around 30/40 miles from both Edinburgh and Glasgow and a pretty central location. We were very well connected by road for days out (I wouldn't really recommend this place if you don't have a car) yet felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by beautiful countryside. 

The accommodation includes one chalet, another building with a games room and extensive gardens (with your own football pitch). The owner does not live on site and you are surrounded by farmers fields. It was such a peaceful place to stay. 

We only have a small ish garden at home so having so much land at our disposal was pure bliss (especially as we were blessed with sunshine). There are several grassed areas, pretty flowers to enjoy, shaded corners with trees, your own football pitch plus a patio area with a large table and chairs, chiminea and fire pit to enjoy. 

The kids (and us) spent so much time exploring the gardens and surrounding countryside and it was brilliant to give them this freedom and seeing them choose to do this of their own free will. We would stay up past midnight most nights just sitting around the fire pit chatting. 

The little annex building is separate to the main accommodation and has its own key. In here you will find a table tennis table, sofa, a few books and a CD player. The kids loved chilling in here and it was like their own private den away from us. I joined them on a few occasions for a bit of a table tennis tournament which was fun (although I sadly lost!). 

As you would expect with such extensive grounds, there is an abundance of wildlife and every morning / at various intervals throughout the day we were visited by a couple of red squirrels who were such a joy to watch as they enjoyed the nuts from the bird feeder. 

Expect a wide range of birds visiting the garden too. We spotted Pheasants, Grouse and Woodpeckers during our stay. Other guests have noted in the guest book that hedgehogs, foxes and even deer are regularly spotted. 

Oh and one evening there was much excitement when the kids found a frog. 

I know people will always ask about midges when it comes to Scotland - we stayed at the end of July and there was nothing to report. They weren't an issue for us at all. 

You are surrounded by farmer's fields and will regularly hear sheep. You can walk along the long drive to see them too (obviously do not trespass on the farmland though). 

The below three photos are of the annex building where you have access to the games room. 

Onto the main chalet which was a real home from home. Considering the cost when compared with other similar properties, I really think we received exceptional value and our first AirBnB experience was just perfect. 

Rumbling Bridge Retreat is a real home from home and lots of extras which I would usually expect to pay for were included.

For example the kitchen was well stocked with a huge bag of dishwasher tablets (previously we have had to buy our own / only had two included), fluffy towels and toiletries are provided, the beds are made on arrival, there was a delicious homemade cake waiting for us, we had access to unlimited firewood from the wood store (again, usually this is something you are charged a premium for), WiFi is included, there are wellies to borrow, toys and games to use, an abundance of books and DVDs, firelighters, candles.......I could go on. I was seriously impressed with how much was included. 

Downstairs you have one double room (which Steve and I claimed above) and a lovely family bathroom with bath and a decent shower. 

Another real plus was this boot room at the entrance. So handy for storing our bags / shoes etc...... 

There is also a small utility room with a washing machine and microwave which was a Godsend. No dryer but there are drying rails in the bathrooms and a line outside. If you are planning on dining in a lot, you will find all sorts in here such as a blender and a slow cooker. 

Upstairs there are three additional bedrooms - there is a King room, two singles plus a shower room. The property sleeps 6 people across 4 bedrooms (one double downstairs and a king + two single rooms upstairs) and I think would lend itself well to a multigenerational family with the grandparents staying downstairs and the kids / adults upstairs. 

The property is dog friendly but dogs need to stay downstairs and off the furniture. Most of the places we visited during this break were dog-friendly and I will definitely consider staying here again when a dog joins our family next year. We rarely stay at the same place twice which shows how much we loved it here. 

Downstairs you have an open plan kitchen / diner / living area with TV and DVD player, wood burning stove and large patio doors overlooking the garden (which is perfect for watching the red squirrels as you enjoy breakfast). 

We had more than enough space for the 5 of us, in fact more space than we have at home. The kitchen has a dishwasher and was extremely well equipped with everything you could need and more. 

We had good phone signal here but there is also free WiFi which the kids used. There is only on TV in the chalet in the main living are but actually, we hardly watched it and certainly didn't miss not having a TV in the bedrooms. 

Everything was nice and clean, welcoming and comfortable and I would not hesitate to recommend here again. Our host Jo sent us a message on the day after arrival to check everything was ok and communication was great throughout. 

I am truly nit-picking here but the only negatives I can think of are that we had to take our rubbish to the end of a very long drive (it's just less than a mile) to a communal bin each day as the bin truck doesn't come all the way to the house. I would also say that you are in the countryside so don't expect to not see the odd moth and spider if you leave your windows open. Both of these niggles are absolutely nothing to do with the host and everything to do with the rural setting which is just one of those things. 

Find out more and book Rumbling Bridge Retreat here. 

It is easy to visit Glasgow for the day from Rumbling Bridge Retreat but we decided to tag a city centre stay in a Premier Inn onto the end of our stay instead. We met up with my mam / bro / nephew who stayed for two nights in the city. 

I booked (ad - affiliate) Premier Inn George Square  for £29 per room on a Friday night in July. I am often asked how to find cheap rooms like this and my top tip is to just not be fussy about where you are staying, just search all of the hotels in the general area for the date you want and there is nearly always a £29 / £35 option.  We have a car and are happy to use public transport so location isn't too important to me when booking city centre breaks and I will stay anywhere. 

Anyway, we had a brilliant stay at Premier Inn George Square and it is somewhere I would definitely recommend if you can find a cheap deal. The beds were SO comfortable, the family rooms were large, spacious and sparkling clean, the rooms have air conditioning and the location was fantastic - we were opposite an Asian supermarket where we picked up some quirky sweets / drinks but Tesco Express and a small Sainsburys were all within easy reach as were Greggs, Costa, Pizza Hut and loads of fab restaurants and coffee shops. 

We parked in the NCP car park opposite which is £26 per 24 hours but if you ask for a pass from the Premier Inn reception, this is reduced to £10. 

The location was brilliant - George Square (and the sightseeing bus tour stop) is at the end of your street and you are just around the corner from Merchant City where you will find lots of bars and restaurants. The hotel is easy to get to from the train station too - I would certainly stay here again. 

Premier Inns sleep 4 in their family rooms and Harry shared a room with my brother. One thing that did niggle me is that we were interrogated on arrival and staff asked why there were 5 of us in our family and we had to explain that Harry was in a different room and it delayed our check in having to go through all of the paperwork. I'm not sure if it was due to the pandemic but it all seemed a bit excessive and it did lead to an error on their part too - they gave us our room key, it didn't work so I had to come back down to reception (we had a 20 minute turnaround as had spent longer at Blair Drummond than expected and had a dinner reservation). I double checked the room number, it was confirmed and they gave us a new key card. 

Back up the lift I went and hooray, the key card worked. However as we entered the room, it was filled with another guests belongings! Yikes, this could have been so much worse. 

So back down to reception I went and they took a while to sort out the mix up and we were given another room. I know mistakes like this can easily happen and it wouldn't put me off staying again but it was inconvenient (and could have been so much worse!). I have stayed in loads of Premier Inns over the years and the check in process is usually so quick and painless. It wasn't here.

Our Holiday in the Central Lowlands | Where to Visit & Eat 

Rumbling Bridge Gorge Waterfall Walk & Milk Bar 

This walk was literally at the end of our (long driveway) but worth visiting even if you aren't so close. It is stunning! The walk will take you through woodland and alongside a very narrow and deep gorge. You walk past several waterfalls and there are viewing platforms at various points. 

The main walking route is a 1.5 mile circular route. It is not challenging but due to uneven surfaces is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. Keep an eye on children and dogs as there is a sheer drop in parts. Most of the route features a fence along the side though which is reassuring and makes the walk less scary! 

The water is super powerful and not really accessible - this isn't a place to enjoy a paddle. It is great for pooh sticks though and taking in the beautiful waterfalls. Find out more about walking along the gorge here. 

The Powmill Milk Bar is just 0.9 miles up the road from the Rumble Bridge Gorge walk and a lovely spot for a bite to eat. It is dog-friendly with indoor and outdoor seating. On selected days they operate a pizza shack too! Find out more here. 

The Powmill Milk Bar offers delicious homemade sandwiches, cakes and pastries, kids meals, breakfasts and a small selection of produce (such as eggs) to take away. It was lovely and it is somewhere I would recommend to other families too. Find out more here. 

Loch Leven Larder, Farm Shop, Park & Walking Trails 

Loch Leven Larder is a lovely spot near Kinross and somewhere you can easily spend a few hours. There is a lovely tea room with indoor and outdoor seating (with beautiful views of loch leven), a cute ice cream kiosk, picnic tables and a play park for kids. 

You can follow the paths, walking trails (including the flat, 13 mile Loch Leven Heritage Trail which is suitable for pushchairs) and cycle routes around the loch from here and enjoy free use of a mobility scooter too (see here for info).  

Dogs are welcome in some areas of the Loch Leven Larder. 

We stopped for an ice cream, a little play in the park and to pick up some essentials from the shop and couldn't help but feel like we were in such an idyllic location. It's beautiful. 

The farm shop / deli / gift shop is fantastic and you can expect lots of hearty home cooked meals for your freezer, handmade chocolates, fresh bread, local produce, a butchers counter, local cheese, wines and spirits and more. 


Not really somewhere I would say is worth driving to if you aren't close by, but the lovely village of Dollar was just a 10 minute drive from Rumbling Bridge Retreat and somewhere we probably popped into everyday. It is a nice little place with everything you could need including a small Co-op, a deli, an off license, a couple of pubs, takeaways, a beauty salon etc...... It is in a very picturesque setting too and parking is readily available and free. 

On our first evening, we booked a meal at The Inn at Dollar which has recently been refurbished. It is a lovely pub with typical gastropub style food and friendly service. A lovely place to start our holiday and reasonably priced too (find out more here). 

I also recommend takeaways from Madras - we picked one up on our last evening after ordering online (I believe they deliver to Rumbling Bridge too) and the service was prompt and friendly and the food delicious. My curry had real depth to it (find out more here). 

Japanese Gardens, Cowden 

The Japanese Gardens at Cowden (10 minutes from Rumbling Bridge) are a stunning place to really escape from it all and enjoy some peace and quiet. The main garden includes several stepping stones and bridges as well as several seating areas where you can sit and take it all in. 

There is a tearoom on site and on selected dates throughout summer, the gardens host BBQ evenings which we booked ourselves onto. I would definitely recommend - it was so nice having someone else deal with the BBQ and associated dishes for us. The BBQ evenings include admission into the gardens until 9pm. 

In the woodland area on the opposite side of the car park to the Japanese Gardens you will find a woodland area where you can enjoy walks, trails, natural play and you will find a children's play area. I believe there is a snack kiosk open in this area during the day too. Find out more and book here. 

Blair Drummond Safari Park 

Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling is around a 30-40 minute drive from Rumbling Bridge Retreat. Entry prices for a family of 5 like us are comparable to Edinburgh Zoo but I have to say, I much preferred Blair Drummond. 

If your sole intention is to see lots of animals, Blair Drummond isn't the best zoo to visit and somewhere like Chester Zoo or Twycross Zoo may be better. However if you are looking for somewhere with animals and lots of activities to keep the whole family entertained, Blair Drummond ticks all of the boxes. We spent almost 7 hours there and actually could have spent longer. 

Blair Drummond is split into two sections - 'drive through' and 'on foot'. You can visit both an unlimited amount of times across the day. I will go into more depth and write a full review soon but here are our highlights....... 

The kids loved the huge fort style play area, swings, pirate ship play area and fairy forest. This area is towards the entrance and next to several food vendors with lots of seating and you can really let the kids let off steam. 

There is a birds of prey area with three displays across the day. 

The drive through section was fab - especially the macaques and lions. 

You can walk through Lemur Land and get really close to the animals. There are also little boats to hire here (additional charge). 

There are large viewing platforms where you can see the elephants, giraffes and lions. 

We dined in the food court overlooking the play forts for ease. You find a seat, order and pay via a QR code and food is brought to you. It was so efficient and the food was nice enough. Us grown ups ordered a coffee once we'd finished as the kids played. 

Additionally there is a taco bar, marshmallow toasting station, pizza shack and lots of picnic areas. It is very easy to access your car - you don't need to leave an entrance, it's all just part of the same area. 

A nice little touch was this BBQ area. You can book a BBQ area on arrival and staff will light it for you - you get your own picnic table and BBQ. I think this is a brill idea and I was jealous of everyone who had brought cool boxes full of meat.

A real highlight for the kids was the dinosaur walk through where you can see dinosaurs roaring and moving. We walked through a few times. 

There is also a farm area, penguins and several rides (£5 for 3 rides) to enjoy. We were disappointed with some parts - for example there was only one elephant and he looked really sad. Also, on the day of our visit,  boat trips to chimp island weren't running. There is a walkway but it was a bit of a trek and didn't really offer the best views. Despite this, we still had a good day and I would recommend if you are looking for a full day out. In non-pandemic times, there is even more to enjoy too. Find out more and book here. 

Stirling Castle (& City) plus the Wallace Monument

Stirling Castle is around a 30 minute drive from Rumbling Bridge and is honestly one of the best castles I have ever visited. If you are an English Heritage Member, entry is FREE (for renewal members) or half price (for those who have had their membership for less than a year). A standard family ticket is usually £48 so this is a huge saving. 

First of all, the views from the Castle are incredible. You can view the Wallace Monument from the car park (you might just see it in the distance below) and we passed it on our way back to the chalet. At an additional £35 to climb the monument, we decided it wasn't worth visiting both attractions in one day, especially as the views from the castle are so good. But if we were in the area for longer, I would definitely consider it. 

There is lots to see and do at Stirling Castle including a Unicorn Trail for kids, actors inside of the Castle which has been furnished in the original style and storytelling where you will learn some of the tales from the castle's past (loved hearing about Mary Queen of Scots). 

You can walk the castle walls, take in the views and check out the cannons. There are a couple of indoor exhibitions too where you can learn about the castle's past. 

We loved walking around the mocked up kitchen. 

The gardens are something else. So beautiful and I could spend a few hours just sitting and enjoying them. 

On the day of our visit, there were birds of prey on display too. You can bring a picnic or there is a tearoom. There are plenty of very friendly staff about to help with directions / let you know what's on / help you get the most from your stay. We spent almost 3 hours here and it is somewhere we will probably revisit at some point. Find out more and book here. 

We booked a late afternoon slot to visit the castle and in the evening, wandered down the hill into the city centre. Stirling is beautiful with lots of flowers and outdoor seating. It had such a good vibe and I want to go back for a city break at some point.

I booked Brea which is an award-winning modern Scottish restaurant in the heart of Stirling. This was supposed to be our blow-out meal but actually, it was really reasonable. Steve ordered the Venison and I went with the Scottish Crowdie and King Prawn Risotto. Both stunning dishes, packed with flavour and beautifully presented. All to the backdrop of Scottish music. This was the stand out meal from our whole trip. I want to go back asap! 

If you aren't sure if your kids will eat this kind of thing, fear not, there is a kids menu serving cheeseburgers / pasta alongside a few Scottish favourites too. Find out more and book here. 

Glasgow City Centre 

Glasgow is around a 40 minute drive from Rumbling Bridge. I have visited three times now and can't get enough! Between our family in our short 24 hour visit, we enjoyed a spot of shopping, an open top bus tour, the Science museum (it's brill) and a delicious family meal at Santa Lucia Merchant City. 

It is a nice place to have a wander and there is loads of street art / squares where you can sit and enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by. 

We loved the city sightseeing tour and it is a good way to get a feel for the city if you are short on time. Other recommendations include the Kelvingrove Museum/Gallery, Riverside Museum and Botanic Gardens. 

I booked Santa Lucia Merchant City for our evening meal. There are loads of Italian restaurants in the area but this one caught my eye. I am so pleased we booked. We were looked after so well, service was prompt without being intrusive, the kids were made to feel welcome on a Friday night and the food was all fantastic too (especially my Burrata starter). 

Our total bill for 8 people was £150 including a bottle of wine / a few drinks and we all had two courses which I thought was excellent value. If you are looking for a Glasgow restaurant recommendation, add this place to your list. Find out more and book here. 

Other Activities 

Other activities in the area which we did consider, but couldn't squeeze into our break and will save for next time include: 

I know lots of you are keen to visit Falkirk and Falkirk is only 16 miles from Rumbling Bridge (click here to read 50+ Things to Do in Falkirk if you need some inspiration). 

Thanks for making it to the end of the post. I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Central Lowlands and it really felt like a proper break in a beautiful, tranquil location yet with access to lots of things to do. 

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Remember face coverings are required for indoor attractions / shops for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

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