By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents
- Tourist information
- Tourist map of Scotland
- Things to do nearby
- Frequently asked questions
Inchmahome Priory is a ruined monastic sanctuary located in an idyllic setting on an island in the lake at Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire.
The historic attraction is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public for self-guided tours.
Port of Menteith,
|Opening Hours:||Open 1 April - 30 Sept, Daily 10 am to last outward sailing at 4.15 pm|
|Admission Price:||Adult £9
|Parking:||Free on-site car park|
|Facilities:||Gift shop, toilets, picnic area, drinks machine|
1: Due to its location, Inchmahome Priory is one of the more unusual historic sites in Scotland. In addition, the boat ride to the island is enjoyable in its own right.
2: The priory is set in an incredibly scenic setting that has been left just as it was when it was in use 300 years ago. The priory is an interesting ruin to be sure, but the island is the real star of the show.
3: There are lots of wildfowl on the Lake of Menteith so it’s a great place for twitchers and photographers.
1: Be aware the island is not open in winter so it’s best to check the Historic Environment Scotland website before setting off for the latest times.
2: If it’s a warm day take a picnic – but remember to take your rubbish back home with you. There are a few spots that are ideal for a picnic outside the priory walls.
3: Looking for an outdoors attraction after a visit to Inchmahome Priory? The Bracklinn Falls are just six miles away.
Inchmahome Priory is located on the largest of three islands on the Lake of Menteith, one of the few bodies of water in Scotland that’s referred to as a lake instead of a loch.
Although the priory is now in ruins it was once home to a community of Augustinian monks, and over the course of 300 years it has served as a sanctuary for many Scots including two of the nation’s most famous historical figures – Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots.
A visit to the island is accomplished via the ferry boats that regularly sail out of the Port of Menteith (a small village located on the banks of the lake), and once on Inchmahome you can explore this very pretty and quiet location to your heart’s content.
While the old buildings of the priory are partially collapsed it’s still an impressive place to wander around and I can only imagine what a peaceful life those yester-year monks must have had, although it probably wouldn’t have been quite so enjoyable in winter due to its isolation.
At least the monks could have enjoyed a wintry game on the shallow lake if they’d wanted – it’s been known to freeze up to 20cm thick and even in these days of global warming it can still freeze over enough to walk on.
Although Inchmahome Priory is located on a fairly small island it’s big enough that you can spend several hours exploring it and there’s a fair amount of wildlife to keep an eye open for as well.
Visits to the island are only possible with the small ferry boats that transport tourists to and from it at regular intervals, and on a sunny day the short journey across the water is really quite enjoyable with lots of waterfowl to watch as the boat motors its way across the lake.
When you get to the island you’ll be in for a treat if the weather’s nice as it really is an oasis of tranquillity, and not only is there the ruined priory to explore but there’s also a thick woodland that surrounds it.
While there aren’t any paths as such there are several open clearings that have been trodden down by fellow visitors so you can venture quite deep into the woods, although HES do ask that you minimize noise so you don’t disturb the wildlife.
There’s an abundance of wildflowers in spring and summer and even in the autumn it’s a lovely place, with the woodland changing from a deep and rich green into varied hues of brown and red.
Spring is possibly the nicest time to visit as you’ll see lots of birds making their nests on the island, though visitors are asked to keep their distance from nesting birds sitting on clutches of eggs.
The old priory is really just a collection of ruined walls, although some of the intricate carvings in the stonework can still be seen.
As this is a Historic Environment Scotland site there are plenty of information panels dotted around so that you can learn about the priory’s history and the role it served as a religious sanctuary for over 300 years.
If you just want to enjoy the setting you’re in luck as there are a few benches thoughtfully installed in the grassy areas that are perfect for sitting in the sun with a good book.
I honestly can’t think of a more peaceful reading location in all of Scotland.
The priory was founded in 1238 by the Earl of Menteith, Walter Comyn, for an order of Black Canons who lived their lives on Inchmahome until the monastic orders began to decline in Scotland during the 16th century.
While the island that the priory is situated on is the largest on the lake there are two others of a similar size that were owned by the Comyn family, one of which – Inch Talla, was home to the Comyn family estate.
Like many priories and monasteries in the 16th century, Inchmahome gradually fell into decline after the Scottish Reformation as there were no new priests being ordained, and without having a purpose to serve it was no longer deemed worthy of maintenance and repairs.
As the walls of the priory began to give way the land was sold several times, first to the Erskine family and then to the Duke of Montrose. Finally, in 1926 it was handed over to the nation as a site of historical importance and it’s now managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
If you’d like to visit another historic attraction in Scotland that’s off the usual tourist routes I highly recommend Crichton Castle in Midlothian, or if you’d prefer somewhere in the area you might like Ben Ledi, Bracklinn Falls, or Doune Castle.
Tourist map of Scotland
Port of Menteith,
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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
The Trossachs – Callander, Aberfoyle & Lochearnhead – OL46 Explorer.
Stirling & The Trossachs – 57 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do nearby
Blair Drummond Safari Park. Blair Drummond, Stirling FK9 4UR. 18-minute drive. Wildlife safari park that includes animal enclosures, a boating lake, a children’s play park and bird of prey displays. Briarlands Farm petting zoo is located behind the safari park.
Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe. Aberfoyle FK8 3XF. 14-minute drive. A popular circular walking route in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park that is reputed to be home to fairies. The route passes woodland, open countryside and the River Forth.
Bracklinn Falls. 17-minute drive. The forest surrounding Callander offer superb walks on rough paths that extend throughout the wooded area.
The Bracklinn Falls are a series of natural waterfalls that can be seen both from the banks of the Allt a Choire Bhric river and there is a purpose-built wooden bridge in the heart of the forest.
Lodge Forest Visitor Centre. Aberfoyle, Stirling FK8 3SX. 10-minute drive. A large visitor centre that is the starting point for a variety of walks into Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. The centre features a café, visitor information point, toilets and a car park.
Loch Ard. Aberfoyle, Kinlochard FK8 3TL. 15-minute drive. Freshwater loch in the middle of the forest that is easily accessed via the B829. Loch Ard is frequently used by small sailboats and there is a footpath that allows walkers to explore the perimeter of the loch in around 2 hours.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get to Inchmahome Priory?
Address: Port of Menteith, By Kippen, Stirling, FK8 3RA
Directions map: Google Maps
Can you walk around Lake Menteith?
There is no dedicated footpath around the Lake of Menteith. The lake does, however, have a number of loch-side picnic areas.
Who owns Inchmahome Priory?
Inchmahome Priory was originally founded by the Earl of Menteith, Walter Comyn, in 1238. Today, it is owned and managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
Why is Lake Menteith not a loch?
The Lake of Menteith was called the Loch of Menteith until the 19th century when Victorians changed the name to reflect its flat surrounding landscape which is unlike other lochs in Scotland.