Sightseeing in Scotland
Credit: Visit Scotland
Blair Drummond Safari Park
This safari park is a world-famous visitor attraction, offering an entertaining and educational
day out for school parties. It is within easy reach by coach from Queen Victoria School. The
park contains over 350 animals, including lions, giraffes, rhinos, camels, lemurs, seals and
birds of prey. The park recently took delivery of a young male tiger. Many of these animals
are allowed to roam freely within large enclosures. You can drive past uncaged lions in your
vehicle. This is safe enough, so long as you keep the windows shut and do not do anything
really stupid, such as get out and go for a walk. You can also book a boat trip round Chimp
The staff regularly hold educational tutorials on such subjects as Zoo Careers, Animals and
Tourism and Man’s Impact on the Ecology of the Planet.
Old Town Jail
The jail was built in 1847 to relieve the dreadful conditions of the old Tolbooth Jail, which
was rated at the time as the worst prison in Britain. Nevertheless, the 1847 jail still had a
harsh regime of solitary confinement and hard labour.
On arrival, visitors encounter an actor playing the part of Jock Rankin, the Chief Executioner.
“Jock” does his best to terrify schoolchildren and, by and large, makes a pretty good job of it.
Throughout your visit, you will meet other actors playing various unnerving characters from
the history of the jail. The dialogue is all in English.
A visit to the jail is highly entertaining, educational and not easily forgotten.
Smith Art Gallery and Museum
Founded in 1874, “The Smith” offers school parties a very worthwhile and interesting day
out. Arrangements can be made for guides to educate groups of children in various aspects of
the history of Stirling. This is done by means of tours and interactive workshops, where
pupils can get a feel for life as it was lived hundreds of years ago.
They are also three galleries, which run exhibitions of local and more general interest. Recent
exhibitions included Bronze Age Burials, Japan as Portrayed in Photographs and The Stirling
The Maid of the Loch
Slightly further afield from Queen Victoria School but easily reachable on a day trip is The
Maid of the Loch. The Maid was the last paddle steamer built on the River Clyde, in
Scotland. Launched in 1953, she transported passengers around Loch Lomond for 29 years.
At present, she is moored at Balloch Pier, where she is being restored. The aim is to have her
sail once again through the majestic scenery of the loch.
Visitors can be shown round the ship by local guides before visiting the restaurant to partake
of coffee and scones, or perhaps a cream tea.
Argaty Red Kites (Bird-Watching Centre)
The aim of the Red Kite Centre at Argaty is to build up the local population of red kites
living in the wild. There is a path leading to a hide, where the birds can be observed and
photographed as they fly, feed, land and perch. The centre won the RSPB Nature Tourism
Award for 2018. There is a visitor centre and hot drinks are available.
For pupils who are keen on bird-watching, an alternative day out could be the Scottish Owl
Centre at Polkemmet Park, perhaps 30 miles from the school. The Centre has the largest
collection of owls in the world (over 40 species) and children can view feeding and flying
Well within a day’s journey from the school, Callander is a beautiful town. Bustling with tourists in the summer, it has a lot to offer for a relaxing day out: there is the Hamilton Toy Museum; you can take in beautiful surrounding scenery, including many famous waterfalls, such as the Bracklinn Falls; there is a traditional Scottish sweet-shop and even a shop where you can buy items for Christmas all year round!
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Moving on from Callander by coach or minibus, you can visit Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, which has well-signposted nature walks, such as the Oak Coppice Trail and the Waterfall Trail. There is also a hide, where you can observe Scottish wildlife, such as red squirrels and finches, in their natural habitat. The Park has a Visitor Centre, where you can have a picnic and read about the various activities on offer.
This famous region contains breath-taking landscapes of Scottish hills, glens, woods, lochs and moorlands. If the weather is good, it is the ideal spot for a picnic. It also provides a superb backdrop if you want to take souvenir photos of yourself and the new friends you will make at Queen Victoria Summer School.
Still within the compass of a coach day out, Loch Lomond offers a wealth of activities for you to enjoy. You can go on a cruise across the loch, you can go hill-walking or mountain-biking, or you can simply walk by the shores, taking in the stunning natural beauty of the “Bonnie Bonnie Banks”.
This is a well-maintained stronghold, dating from the 14th Century. As you walk through the many rooms inside, it is not difficult to imagine what life there must have been like, hundreds of years ago. The castle has a dark, imposing presence, which has attracted many film-makers to use it as a dramatic location. In the 1970s, it featured in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, but modern teenagers will recognize it as Winterfell Castle from “Game of Thrones”. It also appeared in “Outlander”, as Castle Leoch, home of the Mackenzie Clan.
In the early 16th Century, Kings James IV and James V of Scotland employed master architects to construct a “Pleasure Palace” and Grounds, where they could amuse themselves by hunting and practising the art of falconry. Today, it has been partly restored and is looked after by the National Trust. The beautiful surrounding gardens are the perfect setting for a pleasant afternoon walk, perhaps through the Willow Labyrinth or to the Physic Garden, filled with herbs used to cure ailments in Medieval Times. There is also a giant chessboard, where you may be able play a game.