Dick Institute

The Dick Institute is one of the finest buildings in Kilmarnock, the county capital of East Ayrshire and (according to the road signs) "Scotland's most improved town". The building opened its doors in 1901 and functions as the town's museum as well as a library and events venue. Kilmarnock is a large town with a broad history, and industries ranging from bonnets to railway engines. The grand upper floors are spacious enough to do a good job of telling it, spread across two large galleries. In this case at least, size does matter...

Name: Dick Institute★★★☆☆
Location: Elmbank Avenue, 5-min walk east of Kilmarnock town centre, G.R.: NS 433378 ///swims.bolts.slope
Open (2018): Tuesday to Saturday
Cost: Free

RSPB Lochwinnoch

Under 20 miles from Glasgow, RSPB Lochwinnoch is a friendly nature reserve with year-round appeal. Three lochs nearly join together here in the valley of the Black Cart Water, forming part of an important wildlife corridor between the River Clyde and the Ayrshire coast. The wetland attracts ducks and swans over winter, with entertaining courtship displays in spring, wildflowers and butterflies in summer, and swallows gathering for migration in autumn. Several level trails lead to viewpoints for each loch (pick up a map from the visitor centre), with play areas for children and bird hides if you want to stay for longer. Even if you don't spot any star species, it's a fine spot for a stroll.

Name: RSPB Lochwinnoch★★☆☆☆
Location: A760 half a mile south-east of Lochwinnoch, G.R.: NS 359581 ///hack.valid.salt
Open: Trails: always. Visitor centre: daily
Cost: £3 (adults), £1.50 (children), free for RSPB members

Cleeves Cove

Compared to the underground labyrinths of England and Wales, Scotland isn't generally noted for its caving. Cleeves Cove (also known as the Elfhame - you can guess why) therefore comes as a welcome surprise to unadventurous speleologists: three obvious openings above the Dusk Water in rural Ayrshire lead to hundreds of metres of connected underground passageways through limestone, originally carved by the burn in a different era and climate. The cave was a popular attraction in the 1800's, when a certain John Smith removed tonnes of silt deposits to facilitate access. Past visitors have sadly removed most of the stalactites (baby ones survive), but cave spiders, moths and the reasonably complex network of natural tunnels remain - long enough to cause some serious problems if your torches all failed...

Name: Cleeves Cove ★★★☆☆
Location: Off minor road 3 miles south-east of Dalry, G.R.: NS 318475 ///wiggling.proves.mindset
Anything else: The usual basic caving equipment and precau…

Weaver's Cottage

Like many settlements in the Scottish Lowlands, Kilbarchan grew up thanks to a thriving textile industry. The Weaver's Cottage in the village centre lets you step back in time and discover what life was like for a handloom weaver 200 years ago, in a traditional building housing Kilbarchan's last working handloom. The entry price may seem a little high for such a small property, but we were given a fascinating demonstration of tartan weaving on our visit, and there's also a garden to explore, containing plants once used for dyes. Kilbarchan is only about 10 minutes' drive from Glasgow Airport, so a visit could be perfect for filling in a gap at the very end of your holiday if you're departing Scotland from here.

Name: Weaver's Cottage★★★☆☆
Location: The Cross, Kilbarchan village centre, G.R.: NS 402633 ///every.rivals.brands
Open (2018): Friday to Tuesday, late March to September
Cost (2018): £7.50 (adults), £5.50 (children), free for National Trust for Scotland me…

Walk: The flashy falls of Beinglas

If you've attempted the sodden hill path to Beinn Chabhair, you'll know there's a lot of water up there. Well, it has to go somewhere: specifically, into the Ben Glas Burn. This cascades into Glen Falloch above Invernarnan, and after heavy rain the white curtain of Beinglas Falls can clearly be seen billowing out from the hillside above the A82. Cross the burn at Beinglas Farm (using the footbridge on the West Highland Way) and follow the steep trail up the south bank for the best view of the drop. The burn is quite "flashy" in volume: i.e. it responds quickly to heavy rain, but don't bother visiting after dry weather.

Name: Walk: The flashy falls of Beinglas ★★★☆☆
Length: 2 km / 1 mile
Ascent: 100 metres
Start / finish: Car park on A82 opposite The Drover's Inn, Inverarnan, G.R.: NN 318184 ///bagpipes.whiplash.pheasants

Route: Car park - Beinglas Farm campsite (skirt southern edge) - cross Ben Glas Burn on West Highland Way - Bein Glas Falls by south bank of…

Glen Orchy waterfalls

The River Orchy boasts a trio of fine waterfalls in the secluded middle section of its course between Dalmally and Bridge of Orchy, popular with kayakers yet strangely neglected by most other tourists. But maybe that's about to change: the single-track B8074 follows the glen, and new car parks and paths have made access to two of the falls easier than ever. Each end of the road connects to a major highway, so it makes sense to visit all the falls in turn as part of a circuit from Tyndrum (or as a minor detour on the way to Glen Coe or Oban from down south). These waterfalls aren't notable for their height, but each has an attractive setting, with fine rock architecture carved by centuries of fluvial erosion at Eas Urchaidh in particular. If you have flexibility over when to go, try and visit during moderate flow levels, as full spate conditions would cover the rock outcrops which make each spot interesting.

Name: Eas Urchaidh (lower fall)★★★☆☆
Location: B8074 7 miles south-west…

Walk: On the trail of the Tyndrum sheep

Just off the busy road between Crianlarich and Tyndrum in the West Highlands is Auchtertyre Farm, where the landowners have marked out a handful of circuits exploring the local moors and glens. The Sheep Trail is probably the most interesting of these, taking in an attractive waterfall and the open hillside above, scattered with shielings and with Ben Lui looking majestic to the west in clear weather. If short for time (or lacking waterproof footwear), you could go as far as the railway viaduct and retrace your steps. Now how about those sheep? For most of the walk the closest we got to an actual sheep was the odd strand of wool snagged on branches and bushes by the path, but we eventually spotted a few on the descent. Visit after rain to see the waterfall at its best, or after a dry spell to avoid squelchy ground. Your choice...

Name: Walk: On the trail of the Tyndrum Sheep ★★★☆☆
Length: 5 km / 3 miles
Ascent: 190 metres
Points of interest: Allt Auchtertyre waterfall
Start / finish: Car …