I live in Edinburgh, but I was born and raised in the middle of nowhere, Canada. So I like to get away from the city for the weekend when I can. Sometimes it’s just for a day in the Pentland Hills, other times it’s a weekend away on the Isle of Skye (it’s doable!). This time, it was a weekend in Callander. I picked Callander while on my way back from Skye, actually. Annoyed and jaded by all the tourists I saw on Skye, I wanted somewhere quiet, often skipped over by tourists. Just outside the tourist hub of Fort William* and still incredibly cute and cosy, Callander was the perfect fit.
*By normal standards Callander and Fort William aren’t too far apart. This is not the case by Scottish standards… where Glasgow and Edinburgh are on other sides of the planet
Your Weekend in Callander: How to get there
From Edinburgh – by train and bus
We got the train at Haymarket in Edinburgh and rode for about 40 minutes to Stirling. Once there, we had a wander through the Thistle Centre and up to Stirling Castle while we waited for our bus. Then we had a 45 minute bus ride to Callander. All in all, it probably took around 2-3 hours, but it was an enjoyable journey and took our time on purpose. The buses to Callander are a bit irregular, especially on Sundays, so check the schedule and plan before you go! Ideally, you would visit by car – especially if you do want to see Glencoe, and the tourist hub that is Fort William and Ben Nevis. You can easily stay in Callander and drive over to Loch Lomond one day, and up to Ben Nevis the next! It’s a good middle place between the two.
Where to go?
Bracklinn Falls are these little waterfalls just a bit away from the main road through Callander. They’re quiet and beautiful and once you’re there you truly feel surrounded by nature. If you go on a weekend, you’re likely to see families on a little morning outing. Bracklinn Falls have the wilderness feel that many tourists search for in Fort William, but have a hard time finding because of… well… the other tourists.
You can drive to the falls and then walk in, but it’s not too far from town. Plus, it’s not much of a walk once you actually get there. So if you’re looking for a bit of exercise, definitely walk it! But be warned, it’s all uphill on your way there.
The Trossachs Woollen Mill
We discovered in an info book in our B&B (read those!) that not far from where we were… was a place… where you can pet highland cows. Incredible. We had to go. The place is the woollen mill, definitely worth the short drive if you’ve got the car, or a manageable walk from town if you’re comfortable with the etiquette of walking on country roads. Once there, you’ll find Honey and Hamish Dubh, two highland cows that you can pet by feeding them snacks. The Woollen Mill sells little bags of carrots, potatoes and such and encourages you to feed and interact with the cows (through a fence). The cows know how it works, they’ll come to you.
Where to stay?
We love to stay in B&Bs on our weekends away. They create the cosy home-away-from-home comfort that we’re looking for on a relaxing weekend away. Plus, breakfasts are built in! B&B breakfasts in Scotland are nothing like the sad continental breakfasts of North America. They’re served hot and hearty, setting you up for a perfect Sunday! For our weekend in Callander, we stayed at the Glengarry Guest House, a standard B&B with a delicious hot breakfast.
Where to eat?
Anywhere local. Always. Weekends away require fish and chips, so we headed to the one that was bustling with locals and ordered one each. Mhor Bakery and Mhor Bread were also recommended, so that’s where we headed for lunch on Sunday. We had a hearty soup and a to-die-for mac and cheese, and then picked up some biscuits from the bakery before the bus to Stirling came. We’re also partial to buying snacks from the local shop before going to tuck in for the night because we’re cheap and we love crisps.
Where to shop?
I’ll admit, Callander isn’t the sort of place to go to shop. Quiet cosy Scottish countryside village? Yes. Perfect for long walks along winding roads? Yes. Lovely views of the mountains everywhere you look? Absolutely. But the only shops you’ll find here are woollen mills and outdoorsy shops catering to the tourists stopping in on their way to Ben Nevis. Still, we found some cute things while perusing the charity shops. Namely a particularly adorable “how to keep garden hens” book that now sits on our windowsill.