WHEN it comes to features of interest, few Scots villages can match Falkland’s main attraction: a Renaissance palace.

Mary Queen of Scots was a frequent visitor to the beautiful royal hunting lodge built by her father and grandfather, site of the world’s oldest tennis court.

The village itself, which nestles at the foot of the Lomond Hills, is one of the prettiest and most charming in Fife, hence its starring role in global TV sensation Outlander. Rest assured its quaint cobbled streets contain shops, cafes and restaurants likely to impress any visitor, royal or common, from the past, present or future.

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Historical highlights

The Lands of Kilgour existed before the village itself, which grew up around Falkland Castle, built after 1160 when King Malcolm gifted the estate to Duncan, Earl of Fife. Falkland received royal burgh status in 1458.

Between 1501 and 1541, James IV and V transformed the castle into a palace in the French renaissance style. James VI and Charles I and II also visited, though it fell into ruin after a fire during occupation by Cromwell’s troops.

At the end of the 19th century, a 20-year restoration was undertaken by the Marquis of Bute. The palace and gardens remain one of Fife’s most precious historic sites, containing a world-class collection of tapestries.

The village is also known for its connection to the 16th century Covenanter movement. In the 17th century, meanwhile, much of the population worked in the weaving trade. Brewing was also popular.

In the late 20th century, visitors to Falkland included royalty of a different kind; Arkansas-born king of country music Johnny Cash traced his roots to the area and spent time there on a number of occasions. His daughter Roseanne has kept up the tradition since his death.

What to do

Falkland may be small, but there is plenty to do and see in Scotland’s first ever conservation village. Start your tour at the historic Bruce Fountain, a landmark instantly recognisable to Outlander fans.The village doubled as Inverness in the opening episode.

There are no less than 28 listed buildings, including many along the High Street and East Port.

The Palace and its beautiful formal gardens, now run by the National Trust, will keep you occupied for a whole day. Highlights include the tapestry corridor, Queen's room, Keeper's room, the bakehouse and Royal tennis court where Mary Queen of Scots is said to have indulged her passion for sport. Indeed, Mary’s footprint is everywhere in the building and grounds, said to be one of her favourite residences. There’s a packed schedule of cultural and family-friendly events at the palace all year round, too, including an Easter egg hunt this weekend. Look out for the historical re-enactments, sketching and sewing events and nature walks.

Along the High Street, keep your eyes peeled for the house of Covenanter Richard Cameron, who was also the village schoolmaster. Fellow Covenanter Robert Gillespie was arrested for preaching there and imprisoned on the Bass Rock.

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Nearby is Falkland Parish Church, built in 1850 on a site where a church has stood since the 1590s. In the grounds is a statue of Onesiphorus Tyndall Bruce, the one-time laird who is also commemorated with a monument in nearby Lomond Hills Regional Park.

Sharp’s Close, with its quaint terrace of old cottages, gives an insight into the lives of the weavers. And if you’re looking for somewhere to sit quietly and take in the history all around, beautiful Brunton Green – home to the Johnny Cash bench - provides the perfect resting spot.

Walkers will love Falkland. The accessible three-mile Maspie Den route follows estate paths laid out in the 19th century. Features include great views down to the village, the Maspie Burn waterfall and the ornate bridge near the grand House of Falkland, now a school.

Those looking for a more a more rigorous ramble will enjoy scaling East Lomond known locally as Falkland Hill, which overlooks the village. This walk takes in much of the Maspie Den route with the added pleasure of a windswept 380m summit and stunning vistas across the Howe of Fife. The surrounding Lomond Hills Regional Park has 25 square miles of moorland, lochs and wildlife to explore, including West Lomond, Fife’s highest point.

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Where to eat

The Covenanter Hotel has both a coffee shop and a restaurant, covering all bases including lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Nicola Brown visited recently and recommends “a delicious plate of sausages, mash and Yorkshire pudding, followed by the sticky toffee pudding – sheer bliss!”

The Hay Loft Tearoom on Loft Wynd is an institution in the village, as its delicious cakes and scones. A homemade bowl of soup with a sandwich, followed by a slice of carrot cake, is hard to beat.

Campbells on the High Street is great for breakfast rolls and light bites (the Duck fat potato wedges are moreish), while the nearby Palace Pantry has an excellent reputation for Scottish dishes such as stovies and steak pie. The macaroni pies are also a triumph, while the cakes and traybakes bring in fans from surrounding villages. You may even bump into Outlander hero Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan – at least a life-size cut-out of him.

Pillars of Hercules Organic Farm Shop and Café, on the outskirts of the village, is a revelation, selling delicious vegetarian food and homegrown organic produce by the box.

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Where to shop

A visit to Falkland's most well-known store, the Violin Shop, is a must. Former policeman Bob Beveridge is a fountain of knowledge on all things stringed – not to mention all things Falkland.

Fans of vintage clothing will want to make an immediate beeline for Vintage Quine on the High Street. Packed with gorgeous dresses, shoes and accessories, it is ranks as one of the quirkiest second-hand shops in Scotland.

Fayre Earth at the Mercat Cross has a great range of gifts, jewellery and homeware, while the Cottage Craft Centre, on Sharps Close, is something of a Tardis, its tiny exterior hiding the extensive stock of crafts, antiques, gifts and treats inside.

The Rusty Fox on Horse Market has beautiful leather handbags, while the Maspie House Gallery exhibits and sells art and design from across Fife.

Where to stay

Central: The Covenanter Hotel provides a warm welcome at the heart of the village, offering traditional charm with modern convenience. From £95.

Historic: The Studio at Maspie House is housed in a 17th century cottage just 100m from the Palace. Following a full restoration, it provides elegant but cosy self-catering accommodation. From £95.

Home from home: Airbnb.co.uk has a detached barn conversion in the village, complete with wood burning stove and beautiful garden with patio. Sleeps five. From £55 per night.

What to do nearby

Balbirnie Park, in Markinch, Glenrothes, offers stunning woodland walks, cycle trails and a quirky craft centre, all just a 10-minute drive away. The park is also home to the award-winning Balbirnie House Hotel and an excellent golf course.

The Scottish Deer Centre is a 15-minute drive from Falkland. Educational fun for all the family, the centre is home to 13 types of deer as well as species such as lynx, wolf and brown bear, which once ran wild in the area.

Outlander fans may want to visit some of the other historic filming locations in Fife, including nearby Dysart and Culross, both of which are within 45 minutes of Falkland.

In the coming weeks I'll be heading to Tarbert on Harris and Comrie. Send your suggestions about things to do and where to eat, sleep and shop to marianne.taylor@heraldandtimes.co.uk