A New 200-Mile Tourist Route Connects Two Stunning National Parks in Scotland
As tourism boards around the world turn to branding to drive interest, Scotland just added another in a growing line of named routes meant to lure travelers from overcrowded areas to new regions, attractions and destinations.
Called Heart 200, this touring route of approximately 200 miles circles around Perth, Stirling; The Trossachs; and Highland Perthshire, and officially launched on July 1. It's designed to showcase two of the country's most beautiful national parks (Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, and the Cairngorms) as well as castles, distilleries, wildlife parks, theaters and gardens along the way.
Scotland is treating Heart 200 like a theme park — at least from a branding perspective. There are dedicated social channels and a website with its own "See and Do" section. Rather than point tourists to the general vicinity, namecheck a couple of parks and let them do the rest, Scotland lays out activities, attractions and even rainy day plans for those making the trek.
There's a lot to love about the itineraries. A few years back — long before it was known as Heart 200 — I did a variation of this route by starting in Glasgow and driving through both national parks en route to Loch Ness. (My Nessie spotting experience is strictly confidential.) I'd personally recommend veering over to explore the Glencoe region after exiting Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. That's the region made famous in the closing scenes of "Skyfall" and it's breathtaking in person.
From there, I drove to Glenfinnan Viaduct (home to a legendary hike leading to the real Hogwarts Express train) before trekking north to Loch Ness. Closing the loop back to Glasgow or Edinburgh, you're able to drive through Cairngorms National Park and pick back up on the Heart 200.
While 200 miles can be covered in a weekend, the portal breaks the trip into six distinct sections for those looking to spend more time on the ground. While there's plenty of cycling, hiking and canoeing to be had, the entire route can also be done from the comfort of a vehicle, which is ideal for those with limited mobility.
Heart 200 recently opened its blog to guests, creating an opportunity to share your escapades with others should you find yourself in the area this summer.