Our favourite lochs and lakes – Loch Leven by Stagecoach
Jumping out in our photo album!
We’ve literally thousands of images here in our library at Great Scenic Journeys HQ and we’ll be honest, we particularly love our snaps of lochs and lakes! So much so, we’re going to do a mini-feature showcasing some of our favourites. We’ll start though with one that’s really caught the eye and we know is absolutely devoured by scenic thrill seekers on their sojourns across Scotland – Loch Leven, near Kinross!
A bus route to paradise!
5.6 miles squared, this remarkable paradisical retreat, the largest lowland loch in Scotland, is situated on one of the most top notch scenic journeys in our collection – the X56 from Edinburgh to Perth, which traverses the Forth Road Bridge with its amazing views and weaves its way northwards. The bus stops within a short walk of Loch Leven, in Kinross.
Every minute day and night tells a different tale in Loch Leven – rolling morning mist, the sun setting, an eery darkness, the chorus of chirping wildlife, you’re no closer to nature at this incredible haven.
The birds and the bees
Loch Leven is the scene of a lovely nature trail which unlocks captivating sights and sounds of wildlife and nature at its finest. Those famous dew-ridden, foggy mornings become bright with crisp sunshine as swallows dart across the Loch, bees buzz across the meadows, and the woodland’s hush is in contrast to the frenetic wildlife activity.
There are plenty of trails to explore including the Wetland Trail with bird hides, a steep woodland hill trail and an accessible, gentle Leafy Loop walk. Scenic thrill seekers can relax and catch their breath in the picnic area overlooking the Loch and surrounding hills. Families can hire pond dipping kits, explorer backpacks and binoculars, and there is also a programme of self-led trails and events to suit the whole family. Loch Leven is rich in biodiversity, with a variety of fish species, including brown trout and perch. No surprise, therefore, that is is a popular destination for anglers.
Looking through the lens of the binoculars or maybe even close up, you might be able to spot some of the amazing birds here. The Loch is home to ospreys, large birds of prey that are known for their fishing skills. These impressive raptors can often be spotted hunting for fish over the open waters of the loch. Then there is the Whopper Swan – those elegant and vocal swans that migrate from their breeding grounds in Iceland to Scotland during the colder months. Meanwhile, mallards strut their stuff here – these dabbling ducks are often seen near the shores, especially in quieter and shallower areas of the loch. Watch out also for the Great Crested Grebe, characterised by their distinctive black crests and red eyes. These diving birds can be observed swimming and fishing in the deeper parts of the loch. The Common Tern, Goldeneye (diving duck!), Oystercatcher (look out for the black and white plumage and long, orange bills!) and Little Grebe (they like the quiet life by the way!) also hang out at the Loch!
Loch Leven is a designated National Nature Reserve with opportunities too for canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding, or something simpler and more sedentary, but equally blissful such as walking or cycling. There’s also fab cafes, such as the Larder and Greenhouse, with a play area for kids and gift shop.
Castle, Queen of Scots and St. Serf’s
Loch Leven Castle, located on Castle Island in the Loch, is perhaps the most famous historical site here. Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle in 1567. She spent almost a year there before escaping.
The Loch is also home to several islands, with St. Serf’s Island being the most prominent. The island is home to the ruins of St. Serf’s Priory, a religious site that dates back to the 12th Century. The Priory was dedicated to St. Serf, an early Christian bishop who is said to have lived in the area during the 6th century. While it is sadly in ruins, some structures and features can still be identified. Visitors can explore the remains of the church and other buildings, as well as the medieval burial ground, giving them a sense of the architectural style and mood of the time.
Close by to Loch Leven is Kinross and the chance to sample locally brewed craft beer at the Loch Leven Brewery or a round of golf in Kinross and Milnathort. Kinross, which, as mentioned, is situated right in the heart of the X56, has a rich historical past, and at one point, it held the status of a royal burgh. In Scottish history, a royal burgh was a town or borough that had been granted a royal charter, often giving it certain rights and privileges. Kinross received its royal burgh status in the 17th century.
A trip to Milnathort is well worth undertaking, in particular a stroll through Memorial Park and views of the perfectly manicured landscape and flowers. There’s also some great golf courses in Kinross and Milnathort with scenic views and fantastically tendered greens and fairways!
Magical memories made possible with the X56
This really is a memorable bus journey to a magical place. It’s easy to get to from further afield, with the X56 starting in the heart of Edinburgh and Perth, at the opposite end, serving many places en route including Dunfermline. The trip is really great value too and we suggest a Stagecoach East Scotland Day Rider which costs only £11 but allows unlimited travel on the route and others’ in the region, so you can hop on and hop off to your heart’s content. To find out more and plan your adventure, check out….