Posts

Look after yourself... and Scotland

Image
Scottish Covid-19 restrictions are gradually easing. Travel within Scotland is now permitted again (hooray!), as well as travel from other parts of the UK. Travel to Scotland from outside the UK is not yet allowed, with dates still to be announced. Some accommodation and some tourist attractions have also reopened. Full guidance and the possible timetable for easing restrictions further can be found on the Scottish Government official website . There is a lot of pent-up demand, so some areas are exceptionally busy. Here are 3 things worth bearing in mind when out and about: [Travel within Scotland is now permitted again] 1) Be safe If planning a walk, choose a route well within your capabilities. Our fitness levels may take a while to adjust after lockdown! For hill or rural walks, make sure you are properly equipped with a detailed map, compass and suitable clothing. Many higher hills are still snow-covered and may require specialist winter equipment. Follow rules about maxi

Dynamic Earth

Image
City of Edinburgh | Old Town | Museum | ★★★★ [Dynamic Earth] Underneath the great volcanic prow of Salisbury Crags in central Edinburgh , the striking white tent forming the shell of Dynamic Earth is in a fitting location for an all-age attraction explaining the processes which shaped our planet Earth. It's certainly not a stuffy old museum: this was a venue developed for the new millennium as an interactive, multi-sensory experience. You start by travelling back to the Big Bang in a Deep Time Machine, after which a series of partly guided, high-tech zones take the visitor forward through time and space, up to the different world biomes of the present day. A 360° cinema show completes the offering. The ticket price isn't cheap and it's not somewhere you can spend a whole day - the different zones have to be explored in order, so you can't easily re-visit sections once you've moved on to the next room - but it certainly merits a visit if you have children or a p

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Image
City of Edinburgh | Old Town | Palace | ★★★★ [Palace of Holyroodhouse] Edinburgh 's Royal Mile abruptly comes to its lower end at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence. Hefty ticket prices include grand State Apartments, a ruined 1128 Augustinian abbey (in the palace grounds), and admission to The Queen's Gallery if you buy the joint ticket. Make sure to take the excellent, free audio guide which provides information on all these areas plus the attractive gardens. Altogether there's enough to fill a few hours - and the Scottish Parliament is across the road. [Palace of Holyroodhouse (28/3/15)] Location & info 📌 Palace of Holyroodhouse ★★★★ Canongate, 15-min walk east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 269739 ///desire.crown.poem 🚌 Canongate | 🚆 Edinburgh Waverley (0.5 mi) | 🚋 St Andrew Square (0.5 mi) | 🚗 Car parks / street parking nearby (both charge) Generally open Thursday to Monday; check website for exce

The Queen's Gallery

Image
City of Edinburgh | Old Town | Gallery | ★★ [The Queen's Gallery] The Queen's Gallery is easy to find at the foot of the Royal Mile, located in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse . Open since 2002, the building showcases art and furniture from the Royal Collection, including many portraits of the Royal Family; works on show vary according to a rolling programme of exhibitions and events. We're admittendly not art experts, but we found the gallery relatively expensive for its small size - it offers better value for money if bought as part of a joint ticket with the palace itself. Location & info 📌 The Queen's Gallery ★★ Canongate, 15-min walk east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 268739 ///belt.cross.mutual 🚌 Canongate | 🚆 Edinburgh Waverley (0.5 mi) | 🚋 St Andrew Square (0.5 mi) | 🚗 Car parks / street parking nearby (both charge) Open Thursday to Monday | £7.80 adult / £3.90 child / joint ticket with Palace of Holyroodhouse available

The Pencil

Image
North Ayrshire | Largs | Monument | ★ [The Pencil, Largs] In the middle of the 13th century, most of the islands off the west coast of modern-day Scotland were under Norse control, while the Scottish kings ruled the mainland. The Pencil Monument (very roughly) marks the spot where Viking longships ran aground at Largs in 1263 during a severe storm, attracting the attention of Scottish forces. Neither side was a clear winner in the resulting skirmish, but poor weather in the following days led the Norwegian party to flee for home - and so the Battle of Largs effectively marked the beginning of the end for the Viking West. Today, the area around the monument is a popular viewpoint, and the straightforward path from the town centre is an equally popular stroll. There's no need for directions - just follow the coastline; there's also a car park at the nearby marina. Want to learn more about Largs' Viking connections? Head to nearby Vikingar! . [The Pencil] Location &a

Largs Museum

Image
North Ayrshire | Largs | Museum | ★ [Largs Museum] In a town with such a wide variety of things to do as Largs , the old fashioned local museum is an easy one to miss, right in the town centre but tucked away on a side street. The many photographs and small artefacts relating to the town may only be of limited interest unless you have a personal connection, but you should also able to pick up the key for the magnificent Skelmorlie Aisle from here. Location & info 📌 Largs Museum ★ Manse Court, Largs town centre, G.R.: NS 202594 ///sleepy.fruits.increased 🚢🚆🚌 Ferry / train / bus to Largs | 🚗 Street parking nearby Open every afternoon, late May to early September | Free

Walk: Haylie Brae the healthy way

Image
North Ayrshire | Largs | Short walk | ★★★★ [Haylie Brae main viewpoint] Haylie Brae is the possibly the most dramatic of the several hilltop viewpoints around the seaside town of Largs , boasting outstanding views over the town and to the many islands and peninsulas dotting the Firth of Clyde. The islands of Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae, Arran, Bute and Ailsa Craig all make it into the panorama, not to mention parts of Kintyre and Cowal on the Argyll mainland. It's possible to drive to within a few hundred metres of the view indicator (see separate feature page ), but why not earn your views by taking the local's route to the top on foot? This starts amongst the carefully-tended surroundings of Douglas Park, and a short diversion is possible to Haylie Chambered Tomb en route. This ancient burial cairn dates to 3,000 BC, and still contained the remains of five corpses when the tomb was discovered by accident in 1772. [Views soon open up on the ascent] Location & in

Walk: Cauld Rocks steps up!

Image
North Ayrshire | Largs | Short walk | ★★★ [View from Cauld Rocks] Ayrshire's Gogo Glen has long been a popular destination for its woodland and waterfalls, but it's on the slopes above where activity is really stepping up. A seriously ambitious afforestation project was underway on our 2021 visit, and new paths have been constructed up to a small hilltop mast above Auchenmaid Craigs. The heavily engineered surfaces and wide steps seem a bit incongruous amidst the barren moorland, but make for a swift ascent to the top. The very best views are reserved, however, for a little further on at Cauld Rocks. Here, the foreground drops steeply away to reveal the town of Largs backed by the Firth of Clyde and its myriad islands. [Path towards Auchenmaid Craigs] Location & info 📌 Walk: Cauld Rocks steps up! ★★★ Start / finish on Bellesdale Avenue, 0.5 mi east of Largs town centre, G.R.: NS 212593 ///shortage.lunge.footpath 🚌 Eastern Avenue | 🚢🚆 Town centre (0.5 mi) h

Walk: A Nodd to The Knock

Image
North Ayrshire | Largs | Short walk | ★★★ [The Knock] A track winds all the way from fertile Noddsdale to the the summit of The Knock - passing free range chickens and other assorted farm animals on the way. The summit panorama is superb, taking in the Isle of Arran, The Cumbraes, Bute and the Cowal peninsula; the earthworks belonging to an iron age fort are also clearly visible. Save this one for a clear day. [Looking back across Noddsdale from the ascent] Location & info 📌 Walk: A Nodd to The Knock ★★★ Start / finish at track junction on Brisbane Glen Road, 1.5 mi north of Largs town centre, G.R.: NS 212617 ///horses.tree.amending 🚌 Glen Avenue (0.5 mi). Town centre (1.5 mi) has further train / bus connections | 🚗 Verge parking for a couple of cars only (don't block access). More space a short distance south in Raillies suburb ▶ 6 km / 4 mi | ▲ 190 m | ⌚ Short Features: △ The Knock (217 m) ⬤ Moderate | Good track, sustained ascent - becomes grassy with b