Nestled at the foot of the Lomond Hills, the name of the village of Falkland is believed to have come from the common leisure activity of hunting falcons in the forests that surround it. The Royal Burgh of Falkland was the favourite hunting destination of the Royal Family leading to the construction of the Falkland Palace in the 1500's. Mary Queen of Scots was a frequent visitor here. Although the use of the Palace declined through the centuries and it fell into disrepair, it is now under the operation of the National Trust of Scotland. It has been refurbished and is open for tours. This Palace is an impressive example of Renaissance architecture and is surrounded by internationally renowned gardens that were added to the site in the 1950's.
There is little wonder that Falkland was the first conservation village in Scotland, receiving this distinction in 1970. When you enter the village it is almost as if you have been transported back through the pages of history to medieval times. There are cobbled streets and old buildings, some of which have towers popular in the medieval age. The tennis court at Falkland Palace is the oldest in the world. At the time that this court was built, tennis was known as caich in Scotland and the court would have been called a caichpule, a word derived from the Flemish and Dutch languages meaning a game of chases.
Alexander Ross designed the fountain that stands in the town square in 1856 and in 1865 the lions were added. Two of these hold the TyndallBruce Arms, while the other two hold the symbol of the village an oak tree with a recumbent deer. Visit Moncrieff House, the only house remaining in the village with a thatched roof.
There are many different walks you can take in Falkland to see the spectacular beauty of nature. Take the Maspie Den, which will take you across Victorian footbridges made of stone and through a tunnel carved in the rock. Walk to the top of an extinct volcano from which you have an aweinspiring view of the countryside below. Along the way, some of the old lime kilns are still visible.
Eight miles from Falkland you can visit the mansion house known as the Hill of Tarvit, This house was built to house the treasures of Sir Robert Lorimer and here you can see treasures from all over the world Flemish tapestries, paintings by famous artists, French and English furniture and more. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and climb the hill for a breathtaking view.
Learn about the history of Falkland and how the early people went about their daily chores when you visit the Fife Folk Museum in nearby Ceres and the John McDouall Stuart Museum in Kirkcaldy. This is the birthplace of the first European explorer to make a return journey across Australia in the latter part of the 1800's.
Some photographs © Richard Fisher