One hour from Glasgow

Fabulous scenery, but don't forget the Mackintosh
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The Independent Travel

Head for the banks and braes of the Highlands and Lowlands after great Glasgow nights (or even a Burns Night) in the trendy Merchant City.

Head for the banks and braes of the Highlands and Lowlands after great Glasgow nights (or even a Burns Night) in the trendy Merchant City.

The Hill House and Helensburgh

The greatest domestic creation of the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh sits high above the Clyde in the elegant Georgian town of Helensburgh. Built in 1904, the daring Art Nouveau design with its simple sleek lines is as modern today as it must have been then. Stay for tea in the original kitchen or make for the waterfront and tuck into some great fish and chips. The Hill House is open daily from 1.30pm-5pm from 25 March to 27 October.

By car: take the A814 to Helensburgh. By train: half-hourly service from Glasgow Queen St to Helensburgh-Central.

New Lanark

Surrounded by woodlands and close to the Falls of Clyde, this cotton mill village, founded in 1785, became famous as the site of Robert Owen's social and economic reforms. Now cunningly restored as a living community, the history of the village is told in a fascinating visitor centre. Highlights include an audio-visual show painting a picture of life in the village through the eyes of a 10-year-old mill girl. Open daily from 11am-5pm.

By car: take the M74 to junction 7 and follow signs to New Lanark. By train: hourly service from Glasgow Central to Lanark then walk.

Largs and Great Cumbrae

This traditional Scottish seaside resort has a terrific multi-media exhibition, Vikingar!, charting the Viking era, which ended with the Battle of Largs in 1263. No visit is complete without a trip to the legendary Nardini's (family business of actress Daniella), a 1950s Italian café and ice-cream parlour, which is always packed at the height of summer. Great Cumbrae Island (four miles by two) is only 10 minutes away by Calmac ferry and great to explore on foot or by bike.

By car: take the M8, then A8, followed by the A78 to Largs. By train: hourly service from Glasgow Central.

Loch Lomond

In high summer, the "bonnie bonnie" banks are some of the busiest parts of Scotland, but can't be beaten for what they have to offer from watersports to outward bound. Island hop from sleepy Balmaha or take a cruise boat from Balloch. Walk a stretch of the West Highland Way from Balmaha to Rowardennan or climb the mighty Ben Lomond itself. Luss, the location of Scottish soap High Road, is straight off the wrapper of a shortbread pack.

By car: take the A82 to Alexandria, then the A811 to Drymen, followed by the B837.

Stirling

Although best known for its imposing castle, perched high on a rocky crag, Stirling is jam-packed with important historical sites. The Scots, under William Wallace, defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, so do not miss the Wallace Monument, which is two miles north-east of town. After exploring the castle, wander through the cobbled lanes. Here you will see the Old Town with its Jail, Tolbooth and Argyll's Ludging (lodging), which is the finest surviving example of a 17th-century town house in Scotland.

By car: take the M80 to Stirling. By train: frequent service from Glasgow Queen Street.

The Trossachs

This stunning scenic triangle, bordered by Loch Katrine, Aberfoyle and Callander, is exceptional walking country. Sir Walter Scott helped to put the place on the map, praising its great beauty in his epic poem The Lady of the Lake and in Rob Roy. Expect transluscent lochs, deeply forested glens and craggy mountains. Sleepy Aberfoyle comes to life in the summer and has a good selection of afternoon teashops serving delicious home-made fare.

By car: take the A879 followed by the A81 and turnoff at Aberfoyle on the A821.

Go (0870 6076543; www.go-fly.com) offers return flights from London Stansted to Glasgow from £35 each way, including taxes. The Arthouse Hotel at 129 Bath Street, Glasgow (0141-221 6789; www.arthousehotel.com) offers b&b from £80 per room per night. Hertz (0870-848 4848; www.hertz.co.uk) offers car hire for a weekend in Glasgow from £68 fully inclusive.

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