The National Trust for Scotland was established in 1931 as a conservation charity to protect and manage Scotland's natural and cultural heritage. From castles to coastlines, the National Trust for Scotland looks after historic houses, battlefields and gardens, as well as 76,000 hectares of countryside, 16 islands, 7 national nature reserves and much more.
There's a place for everyone at the National Trust for Scotland and our latest blog explores some of the highlights from around the country. We were pleased to partner with them for our Spring Competition (now closed) where the top prize was to win a 3-night stay at one of Scotland's Best B&Bs plus 12 months membership of the National Trust for Scotland for 2 adults.
As a charity, the trust depends on donations, legacies, grants and membership subscriptions so that they can act as guardian of Scotland's magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures - so please take a look at their membership options and help support them if you can.
Our Top 8 places to visit in the north east of Scotland:
Crathes Castle - magnificent furnished 16th-century castle once owned by the Burnett family. Historic walled garden and estate with nature trails.
Craigievar Castle - beautiful pink castle (said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle) with gardens and woodland trails.
Drum Castle - one of Scotland's oldest tower houses with an ancient oak forest and Garden of Historic Roses.
Castle Fraser - one of Scotland's largest tower houses with an impressive portrait collection, walled garden and nature trails.
Fyvie Castle - an impressive 800-year-old furnished fortress with an extensive portrait collection and even its own racquets court and bowling alley. Garden, lake and wildlife walks.
Haddo House - magnificent stately home in the Palladian style, once home to the Gordon family who lived here for more than 400 years. Terrace garden and wildlife walks.
Leith Hall - dating from 1650, the Hall has been home to 10 generations of the Leith-Hay family. Guided tours and grounds with spectacular views of Aberdeenshire and the surrounding hills.
Pitmedden Garden - re-created Scottish Renaissance walled garden which dates back to 1675.
The House of Dun near Montrose is an elegant Georgian country house built for the 13th Laird of Dun which you can explore with costumed guides, formal gardens, woodland walks and views overlooking Montrose Basin. Also home to the Angus Folk Collection. J M Barrie's Birthplace in Kirriemuir showcases the traditional weaver's house where the creator of Peter Pan spent his childhood.
Malleny Garden is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Edinburgh which has an impressive 150 varieties of rose, 400-year-old yew trees and Victorian greenhouses. The perfect place for peaceful contemplation.
In the city, you can discover the historic attractions of Gladstone's Land (one of the oldest buildings on the Royal Mile) and the grandeur of The Georgian House in Edinburgh's New Town.
Five miles west of Edinburgh and 3 miles east of Linlithgow, you will find the House of the Binns. Set in beautifully landscaped parkland overlooking the River Forth, the house was built in 1612 for the Dalyell family. Woodland trails with panoramic views.
It also looks after the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve which is home the tenth highest Munro in Scotland (3,984ft), as well as the picturesque town of Dunkeld.
In Perth, don't miss Branklyn Garden which is a unique 2-acre hillside garden created in the 1920s using seeds collected by plant hunters.
Our top 3 NTS sites to visit in the historic Kingdom of Fife:
Falkland Palace - this fine Renaissance palace was the playground of the Scottish royals including Mary, Queen of Scots. Restored in the 19th century by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Today you can discover its Renaissance architecture, explore the large formal garden and marvel at one of Britain's oldest tennis courts.
Kellie Castle - originally built in the 14th century, it was later redesigned by the Lorimers in the late 19th century which allows visitors to enjoy the Victorian style in a medieval atmosphere. Arts & Crafts garden and woodland walks.
Culross - with its cobbled streets, white-harled houses and red-tiled roofs, it's not hard to imagine what life would have been like here in the 17th century. This historic Royal Burgh is often used for films and TV shows such as the famous Outlander series. Culross palace was a wealthy merchants house with its own reconstructed period garden.
In Dumfries & Galloway, the Trust cares for several sites including:
Threave Garden and Estate - home of the School of Heritage Gardening, this is the only Scottish garden dedicated to the training of horticulturists, and also Scotland's only Bat Reserve. You can enjoy stunning views over the Galloway Hills and the Ken/Dee valley.
Rockcliffe - a beautiful stretch of coastline along the Solway Firth which is part of a National Scenic Area with different wildlife habitats and villages.
Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve - including the famous 60-metre waterfall which heads down into the Moffat Water Valley. Ranger-led guided walks are available through this glacially eroded landscape.
Argyll has many colourful gardens including Arduaine Garden which benefits from the North Atlantic Drift and has breathtaking views over the Sound of Jura. Crarae Garden near Inveraray is a Himalayan-style glen with trees and waterfalls. Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife and arctic-alpine flora around the Loch Tay area. Covering almost 4,500 hectares, there are 7 Munros as well as family-friendly walking trails and the Kiltyrie Hidden History Trail.
Set within the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Ben Lomond is home Scotland's most southerly Munro at 3,193 feet / 974 metres. Low level walks include the Ardess Hidden History Trail which includes the Ardess Cruck House - a reconstruction of the type of thatched buildings that would have been in use here up to the early 1800s.
In Clackmannanshire (smallest council area in mainland Scotland), the Trust manages Dollar Glen where you can explore woodland walks and waterfalls in the shadow of the Ochil Hills. The glen is also home to the ruins of 15th century Castle Campbell (managed by Historic Environment Scotland).
For more history, pay a visit to the Bannockburn to learn about Robert the Bruce and the famous battle of 1314 which changed the path of Scotland's history. The visitor centre, cafe and the Battle of Bannockburn experience are just 2 miles south of Stirling.
Also not far from Stirling is Alloa Tower - the largest surviving keep in Scotland. Dating from the 14th century, it has opulent 18th-century interior created by John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar and leader of the 1715 Jacobite Rising. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy panoramic views.
Ayrshire is known as Burns Country and you can learn more about Scotland's national poet in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum which houses more than 5,000 Burns artefacts including his handwritten manuscripts. Also in Alloway you can explore the famous Brig o' Doon, Alloway Auld Kirk and Burns' Monument. A short drive will take you to Kirkoswald and Souter Johnnie's Cottage - home of the shoemaker immortalised by Burns in Tam o' Shanter.
Perched on the cliffs, Culzean Castle was designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century. In addition to the grand interior and ornate oval staircase, families can enjoy the country park with secret follies, play parks, Swan Pond, deer park, glasshouses, woods and beaches.
Brodie Castle and Estate was home to the Brodie clan for over 400 years. In addition to guided tours of the impressive interior, many visitors come to explore the grounds and marvel at the 100 varieties of daffodil. The Playful Garden for children features Scotland's biggest bunny sculpture! (B&Bs in the area: Castleview and The Dulaig)
Culloden - atmospheric battlefield just outside Inverness where the 1745 Jacobite Rising came to an end. Visitor centre and cafe. Battlefield tours in the summer months. (Near Inverness House B&B)
Glenfinnan Monument - set against the dramatic backdrop of Loch Shiel, this historic monument commemorates the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Climb the 62 steps to the top for spectacular views. Visitor centre and cafe. You can also walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct and glimpse the Harry Potter steam train. (Near Spean Lodge Country House B&B)
Inverewe Garden - this colourful sub-tropical garden was designed by Osgood Mackenzie. Situated between Ullapool and Gairloch on the west coast. Visits to the garden include Inverewe House (museum) and Sawyer Gallery (exhibitions). Guided walks and boat trips sometimes available. Open April - October.
Torridon - majestic mountain range with 5 Munros on the west coast. Deer museum and enclosure.