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Showing posts from October, 2015

Bo'ness Motor Museum

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Bo'ness Motor Museum is something of a treasure trove of cars and motoring memorabilia, crammed into a building much more interesting than it looks from the outside. Open since 2004, the museum is a private collection specialising (though not exclusively) in vehicles from films: James Bond in particular, with the car from the second Harry Potter instalment one of the other popular exhibits. There's something here catering for most ages and tastes, although you probably already know whether this is the sort of place you'd like or not.


📌Bo'ness Motor Museum★★★☆☆
Location: Bridgeness Road (A904), 1 mile east of Bo'ness town centre, G.R.: NT 013816 ///stereos.pairings.under
Open (2019): Daily
Cost (2019): £6.95 (adults), £5 (children)

Kinneil House

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Kinneil House is the centrepiece to a large estate close to the south side of the Forth estuary at Bo'ness. A small museum gives the history of the estate and town, and is accessible most days, all year round along with the exterior of the main house. But it's the interior of the house, open on a few days each year, where it really gets interesting, with the wonderful painted walls and ceilings the main highlight. The grounds are worth investigation too, with a Roman fortlet, ruined church and woodland walks to explore.


📌Kinneil House★★★☆☆
Location: Off Provost Road, west side of Bo'ness, G.R.: NS 982806 ///overgrown.sway.existence
Open (2018): Exterior: daily; Interior: irregular dates from March to October - see website; Museum: Wednesday to Monday
Cost: Free

Bike: 7stanes Dalbeattie

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A lack of big hills at this MTB centre near Dalbeattie might lead a newcomer into a false sense of security. But it's rock rather than contours that characterises the trails here. The exposed granite is fearsomely slippery when wet, the difficulty magnified by huge, steep expanses of the stuff at black-graded features such as The Slab. Beginners looking for singletrack may be disappointed though - the red trail is by far the standout route. If short on time, the straightforward (blue or red) Taster Loop is a worthwhile 4 km portion of the longer routes, with long sections on raised timber.


📌7stanes Dalbeattie★★★★☆
Location: A710 a mile south of Dalbeattie, G.R.: NX 836592 ///daffodils.driveway.everyone
Open: Always
Cost: Free (but charge for parking)

Routes: ⬤ 12 km ⬤ 14 km ⬤ 25 km ⬤ variants only ⬤ skills area; taster loop. Map here.
Terrain: see website
Bike hire: Gorsebank Camping Village about a km south of the trailhead; MPG Cycles about 2 km north of the trailhead
Weather today: M…

Caerlaverock Castle

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Caerlaverock is one of southern Scotland's finest ruins, if not the finest. Built in the 13th century by the Maxwell family, the castle is uniquely triangular in shape, defended by two moats and a formidable gatehouse. Despite numerous sieges - inevitable at such close proximity to the English border - large parts survive reasonably intact, including tall sandstone battlements and mighty corner towers. An ornate, Renaissance east range is a surprising discovery inside: this is Nithsdale Lodging, added in the 17th century by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. Back on the outside of the moat, a nature trail leads to the site of the castle's predecessor on the fringes of Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve.


📌Caerlaverock Castle★★★★☆
Location: B725 2 miles south of Bankend, G.R.: NY 026656 ///wizards.converged.quote
Open (2019): Daily
Cost (2019): £6 (adults), £3.60 (children), free for Historic Environment Scotland members

Walk: Screel Hill - rocky ridge, wide views

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Screel Hill is a smallish dollop of a hill served with an extra large helping of character. Rocky knolls dot the prominent summit ridge, with excellent views of Castle Douglas from the top and of Rough Firth from the ascent. Much of the lower slopes are wooded, but this is no monotonous swathe of forest: instead, varied vegetation (with colourful arrays of fungi in season) and an rough but interesting path winding up through it add up to an enjoyable climb.


📌 Walk: Screel Hill - rocky ridge, wide views ★★★☆☆
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 330 metres | ⌚ Half day walk
Main summits: Screel Hill (344 metres)
Start / finish: Car park by minor road just off A711 between Palnackie and Auchencairn, G.R.: NX 800547 ///permit.fevered.snow

Route: Car park - east end of summit ridge - Screel Hill summit cairn - Glen of Screel Burn - track junction on outward route - return to start by outward route
Terrain: Track for first 400 metres and most of return; rough paths for remainder, wet on summit ridge and brie…

Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds

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This rocky section of coastline south of Dalbeattie has a history of unusual dealings. At the start of the walk, Balcary Bay Hotel's huge underground cellars were reputedly used to store illegal goods from smugglers. Meanwhile, isolated Hestan Island is visible from the first section of the walk and used to be home to a couple who manufactured church organs and rowed them ashore for delivery - just about the most impractical set up you could imagine. Today the focus is on agriculture, with the rugged clifftops left alone again for the enjoyment of walkers and wildlife.


📌 Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds ★★★☆☆
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 220 metres | ⌚ Half day walk
Points of interest: Balcary coastline; Loch Mackie
Start / finish: Car park at Balcary Bay, 2 miles southeast of Auchencairn, G.R.: NX 821495 ///fishnet.divisible.crawling

Route: Car park - Balcary Point - Airds Point - Lochenling - Rascarrel Bay - Loch Mackie - start
Terrain: Clear but rough clifftop coastal pat…

Walk: Calderglen - rotten rapids & hidden waterfalls

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Cuddling up against suburban East Kilbride, Calderglen is a surprisingly peaceful glen through which the unsavoury-sounding Rotten Calder flows - the name actually referring to the rusty colour of the water after passing over the ironstone bedrock. This walk is all about the journey (past several attractive waterfalls, although views of the most dramatic ones are obstructed by vegetation) than the destination: the former site of Calderwood Castle at the end is just a forlorn mass of weeds. Mostly wooded, this is a useful bad weather alternative to a more ambitious walk - and thanks to numerous steps, probably nearly as tiring! And don't miss the small, friendly zoo at the start.


📌 Walk: Calderglen - rotten rapids & hidden waterfalls ★★★☆☆
▶ 8 km / 5 miles | ▲ 90 metres | ⌚ Half day walk
Points of interest: Calderglen Zoo & Conservatory; various waterfalls on the Rotten Calder
Start / finish: Main car park at Calderglen Country Park, East Kilbride, G.R.: NS 654526 ///promine…

Loup of Fintry

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Winding through gently scenic nowhere land between the Campsie Fells and Fintry Hills, the Endrick Water unexpectedly takes an almighty 94-foot plunge into a side-on gorge. This is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Scottish Lowlands (although Corra Linn and Grey Mare's Tail both come close), so why it's not better known is something of a mystery. Perhaps it's because the Carron Valley Reservoir upstream blocks much of the burn's catchment area, so waiting until after a period of local heavy rain is even more important than with other waterfalls. Nevertheless, this awesome cataract should be right at the top of your list.


📌Loup of Fintry ★★★★☆
Location: B818 a mile east of Carron Valley Reservoir dam, G.R.: NS 662862 ///breezy.operation.survived
Anything else? There are informal laybys on both sides of the road near Gallows Knowe with space for about 5 cars in total. Follow the signposted, muddy footpath about 300 metres to the top of the waterfall, with good…

Campsie Glen

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In bygone years a path used to snake up the narrow gorge north of Clachan of Campsie. Rockfalls and warning signs now block the middle section, but short linear walks into the gorge from each end are still well worth it. A quick stroll from the bottom car park leads to the lower section of rapids. The upper car park on Crow Road is reached by a steep, 300 metre walk or a winding, three mile drive. Heading downhill from here (instead of uphill towards Cort-ma Law) accesses the middle one of three more waterfalls. All are worth a visit following wet weather if you don't mind a bit of scrambling, but the lower of the three deserves special praise - as you can walk behind it!


📌Campsie Glen (lower waterfalls) ★★★☆☆
Description: Secluded bowl surrounded by cascades from the Kirk Burn and its tributaries, best seen in spate.
Location: Kirk Burn, immediately north of Clachan of Campsie, G.R.: NS 610798 ///exploring.pirates.clipped
Anything else? From the large car park at G.R.: NS 611796 //…

Walk: Ballagan Glen - 192 layers of history

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Ballagan Glen is home to a series of tremendous waterfalls, including where the Spout of Ballagan plunges 21 metres off the Campsie Fells escarpment. The gorge below displays 192 alternating shale and limestone rock strata known as the Ballagan Beds. Unfortunately this nature reserve seems reluctant to give up its secrets, so this is a walk for keen geologists or determined waterfall lovers only. Reaching a viewpoint for the Beds is straightforward enough, but paths seem to fade to nothing (although some internet sources suggest otherwise) if you attempt to reach the base of the waterfall - best seen after heavy rain. Tall ferns and leafy woodland obstruct the view, but to a lesser extent during winter or spring. The Blane Valley Inn in nearby Blanefield serves superb recovery fodder for weary souls - under new ownership for 2018 by the owners of another of our favourite gastropubs.


📌 Walk: Ballagan Glen - 192 layers of history ★★☆☆☆
▶ 2 km / 1 miles | ▲ 140 metres | ⌚ Short walk
Poin…

Walk: Knock of Crieff - country feast

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Really just a rural meander posing as a hill walk, this gentle wander takes in sweeping views towards Ben Chonzie and the Highlands to the north and west, and pretty farmland elsewhere. Like many other spots on the Highland Boundary Fault, red squirrels are common here so keep your eyes peeled around The Knock - this might also help you avoid getting knocked down by speeding Segways from the nearby Crieff Hydro resort. The tracks and minor road back from Ferntower are flanked by elderberries (potentially toxic if eaten raw), blackberries and raspberries. During season (probably September in a normal year) this is a perfect dessert to accompany lunch in Crieff.


📌 Walk: Knock of Crieff - country feast ★★★☆☆
▶ 6 km / 4 miles | ▲ 230 metres | ⌚ Half day walk
Main summits: Knock of Crieff southwest top (244 metres)
Start / finish: Knock of Crieff middle car park behind Crieff Hydro, G.R.: NN 864226 ///bossy.approve.rural

Route: Car park - Knock of Crieff southwest top - Knock of Crieff north…

Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stone

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The 3 metre-high stone in Fowlis Wester is one of Scotland's tallest symbol stones, with a cross on one side and with several Pictish symbols on the other. A Z-rod, double disc and several people and animals are included in the symbols; the carvings probably date to the 8th or 9th centuries. Actually, the stone in the village square is a replica placed in the stone's original location, while the original can be found in the local parish church. Apparently the church is open during daylight hours - not so on our visit...


📌Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stone★★☆☆☆
Location (replica)Fowlis Wester village square (original inside nearby church), G.R.: NN 928241 ///commented.passions.sprouted
Open (2019): Replica: always; Original: daylight hours, theoretically...
Cost: Free

Walk: Cornalees boardwalk bonanza

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Signposted as a nature trail, the most interesting elements of this short walk in Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park are ironically manmade. An ingenious series of boardwalks and bridges makes up the wooded middle part of the route along Kip Water, with elevated wooden sections stretching for nearly a kilometre - great for children. Meanwhile, the first and last parts of the circuit follow portions of the lengthy Greenock Cut and Kelly Cut aqueducts. These carry water to and from nearby Compensation Reservoir, and give fleeting views towards the Firth of Clyde and more distant hills of Argyll.


📌 Walk: Cornalees boardwalk bonanza ★★★☆☆
▶ 3 km / 2 miles | ▲ 70 metres | ⌚ Short walk
Points of interest: Greenock Cut visitor centre; Greenock Cut; Kelly Cut
Start / finish: Car park at Greenock Cut Visitor Centre, Cornalees Bridge, G.R.: NS 247722 ///reflected.blissful.forgiven

Route: Car park & visitor centre - Greenock Cut - turn left at path junction before Shielhill Farm - Kip Water - Kelly…