Showing posts from 2012

Walk: Through Tyrebagger's trees to Tappie Tower

Aberdeen City | Blackburn | Short walk | ★★★

Sandwiched between Aberdeen Airport, the A96 dual carrriageway, and now the new Aberdeen ring road too, Tyrebagger Hill doesn't sound like a promising destination. But this forested hill turns out to have plenty of character, with excellent views towards Bennachie and over the city of Aberdeen. There's a miniature fairytale tower on the summit with a spiral staircase accessing the top.

📌 Walk: Through Tyrebagger's trees to Tappie Tower ★★★
▶ 6 km / 4 miles | ▲ 140 metres
Summits: Tyrebagger Hill (250 metres)
Start / finish: Car park just off A96 2 miles east of Blackburn, G.R.: NJ 853116 ///claw.hands.imprints

Route: Car park - track junction at G.R.: NJ 848115 - track junction at G.R.: NJ 855122 - track junction near Pitdouries Well - Gueval Wood - Tyrebagger Hill - return to Gueval Wood - track junction at G.R.: NJ 843119 - start. Map of route here (no. 3); route waymarked in white.
Terrain: Mostly tracks with a little mud; clear …

Ski: Cairngorm Mountain

Highland | Aviemore | Ski centre | ★★★

Cairngorm Mountain (historically referred to as Aviemore) is Scotland's best known winter sports destination, attracting more visitors than any of the country's other ski areas. On paper, it's easy to see why: its Top Bowls have the most reliable snow cover of any runs in the UK, theoretically accessed by a funicular railway which also directly serves the dozen or more runs on the Cas side of the mountain. Nearby Aviemore village is also the closest thing Britain has to an all winter (and summer) sports "resort", making it a popular year-round holiday base. But Cairngorm's drawbacks are non-trivial. Huge lift queues are common at weekends and during school holidays, and the upper slopes are barren and inhospitable in bad weather: days when the hill is stormbound or uplift limited are fairly common. And that's even before ongoing problems with the funicular - which will disrupt operations over the coming season. We ar…

St Andrews

Fife | Town | ★★★★

University town, the home of golf, magnificent ruined cathedral and castle, an attractive coastal setting... St Andrews seems to have got the rub of the green when it comes to tourist attractions, even if you don't want to play the world-famous courses. Two magnificent beaches are particularly underrated - the more extensive West Sands was the filming location for the start of Chariots of Fire. Many visitors find the centre surprisingly small, and it's probably only thanks to the large termtime student population that St Andrews has a bustle about it that's rare in similar-sized Scottish settlements. It's certainly a bit of a bubble, with an almost English feel and in complete contrast to the rest of Fife.

📌St Andrews ★★★★
Fife, G.R.: NO 509167 ///butlers.butter.roaming

Within walking distance

>> British Golf Museum (not yet featured)
>> St Andrews Aquarium★★★★
>> St Andrews Castle & Cathedral page: St Andrews Castle ★★★★; St Andr…

St Andrews Castle & Cathedral

Fife | St Andrews | Castle & cathedral | ★★★★

One of St Andrews' manifold attractions is its wealth of religious history. On the coast and close to the town centre stand the ruined remains of St Andrews Castle and Cathedral. The two sites' histories are closely linked and you can buy a joint ticket covering both sites. There's a lot more to offer beyond the buildings you first see on the ground. A siege carried out by the Earl of Arran in 1546 involved the construction of underground passageways (by both sides) which you can still explore by crawling in places: great fun if you're in an adventurous mood. Meanwhile, the depths of the vaults around the cathedral's south cloister are home to a museum showcasing stone carvings, Pictish stones and gravestones from the site itself and the wider area. Finally, you can climb to the top of the 33-metre St Rule's Church tower: pre-dating even the cathedral buildings.

📌 St Andrews Castle★★★★
Description: Ruined home of…

St Monans

Fife | Village | ★★★

So far we've only had the chance to visit the fishing village of St Monans at dusk, which is sadly not long after 4 pm at this time of year. Even in the gloaming we could see enough of the beautiful harbour to make us want to come back during proper daylight hours, to further explore the sea front and the old alleyways leading back from it. Just along the coast path to the east is Fife's last surviving windmill, built in the late 18th century in order to pump sea water into nearby salt pans - once a major industry all along the Forth estuary. There are information panels and good views from the top of the spiral staircase inside, but see the info below about access.

📌 St Monans ★★★
Fife, G.R.: NO 526016 ///strut.accompany.melon

Within walking distance

📌St Monans Windmill★★
On the coast, 15-min walk east of the village centre, G.R.: NO 533018 ///aboard.include.paths
Open daily (limited hours - see website) | Free

Anything else? Slightly closer parking for the w…

Walk: Ben Vrackie & a leap of faith

Perth & Kinross | Pitlochry | Full day walk | ★★★★

A full-day's circuit taking in Ben Vrackie and Killiecrankie Gorge is surely one of Scotland's most varied hill walks. Starting in the centre of bustling Pitlochry, the return route winds along the beautiful River Garry (with wonderful colours in autumn), taking in the dramatic Pass of Killiecrankie. In 1689 this was the scene for a major battle during the first Jacobite rebellion: one soldier escaped by jumping across the gorge - the spot is now named The Soldier's Leap. Oh yes, and there's also the small matter of the hill itself, its majestic bulk speckled with scree, heather slopes and a small loch, with the summit visible even from the town beneath. This is a route that has it all...

📌 Walk: Ben Vrackie & a leap of faith ★★★★
▶ 17 km / 11 miles | ▲ 860 metres
Summits: Ben Vrackie (841 metres, Corbett) | Features: Pitlochry; Killiecrankie gorge & visitor centre; Loch Faskally
Start / finish: Street parkin…

Walk: Underground, overground, Acharn amble

Perth & Kinross | Acharn | Short walk | ★★★

The unique feature of these potentially spectacular cascades on the south side of Loch Tay is the dark passage through a Victorian hermit's cave required to reach the amphitheatre-like viewpoint. "Potentially" here means "weather-dependent": the waterfalls are tall (80 feet in total) but it's not a huge river, so wait for a spell of wet weather to see them at their best.

📌 Walk: Underground, overground, Acharn amble ★★★
▶ 2 km / 1 mile | ▲ 140 metres
Features: Falls of Acharn
Start / finish: Acharn village centre, G.R.: NN 755438 ///

Route: Start - Falls of Acharn via west bank & Hermit's Cave - cross Acharn Burn above falls - return by east bank
Terrain: Steep track for ascent with detour on a path through the cave to the falls. Rougher path for descent.
Wildlife today: Solitary red squirrel in the forest; small birds.
Weather today: Showery and cool with fresh snow on hills.

Route map


Scottish Crannog Centre

Perth & Kinross | Kenmore | Reconstructed crannog | ★★★

Hovering above the mysterious waters of Loch Tay and in the shadow of Kenmore Hill lies the Scottish Crannog Centre, re-telling the story of how some people lived thousands of years ago, in wooden dwellings perched on stilts above Scotland's hundreds of lochs. The highlight is the reconstructed crannog itself: a dark, sometimes smoky affair in order to make the experience as authentic experience as possible, but a fascinating step back in time. Atmosphere is backed up by education back above dry land, with opportunities to use replica bronze age tools and a small museum area.

📌Scottish Crannog Centre★★★
By minor road a mile south-west of Kenmore, G.R.: NN 770449 ///energy.nervy.developed
Open daily, late March to October; also on a more limited bases from November to late March | £10 adult / £7 child

Walk: Kenmore Hill - Loch Tay vista

Perth & Kinross | Kenmore | Short walk | ★★★

Kenmore Hill isn't really a proper hill at all - it's really just a minor bulge on the northern slopes of higher Meall a' Choire Chreagaich. However it offers wonderful views across Loch Tay with the mighty Ben Lawers ridge beyond, and the Bolfracks Estate have created a network of waymarked paths which make a circular walk possible through a mixture of woodland and open ground. Access to the car park is quickest from the north for most visitors, but the long drive through lonely Glen Quaich to the south is quite exciting.

📌 Walk: Kenmore Hill - Loch Tay vista ★★★
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 220 metres
Summits: Kenmore Hill / Creag an Fhùdair (515 metres)
Start / finish: Car park just off minor road 2 miles south of Kenmore, G.R.: NN 786446 ///engage.certainly.engaging
Anything else? Access road to car park is a rough track which could be tricky for low clearance vehicles.

Route: Car park - Kenmore Hill - path curves south, then west, …

Sloc of Dess

Aberdeenshire | Kincardine O'Neil | Waterfall | ★★★

It's the setting rather than height that makes this small Deeside waterfall such an attractive spot. Rocky walls and woodland surrounding the Dess Burn hide the Sloc of Dess away from passing cars, and the fall isn't signposted. But for those in the know, it's only a short descent to the burn from a nearby layby - well worth a stop if you're passing.

📌Sloc of Dess ★★★
Off minor road 2 miles west of Kincardine O'Neil, G.R.: NJ 566004 ///intruded.smoothly.tall
Always open | Free

Anything else? Park at the layby (space for a couple of cars) at G.R.: NJ 566004 ///fairy.badge.campsites and wander down to the bank nearby. There's a rough burnside path with lots of steps taking you down to the bottom of the waterfall.

Kincardine O'Neil Old Church

Aberdeenshire | Kincardine O'Neil | Church | ★★★

It's easy to drive through the roadside village of Kincardine O'Neil with barely a thought on your way to the more popular upper reaches of Royal Deeside. Indeed, there isn't much more to the place than what you can see from the A93, but the ruined kirk on the south side of the road is worth a stop. Once twice as long and two storeys high, this used to be the local parish church and dates to the 12th century.

📌Kincardine O'Neil Old Church ★
By the A93, Kincardine O'Neil village centre, G.R.: NO 592996 ///
Always open | Free

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

City of Edinburgh | Stockbridge | Garden | ★★★★

If you live close to the Royal Botanic Garden you'll already know that you're fortunate to call one of Edinburgh's most beautiful and green suburbs home. Amongst the several generous areas of open space are more than 70 landscaped acres within easy walking distance of Edinburgh New Town: beautiful woodland, rock garden, Chinese hillside, ponds and the magnificent Victorian Palm Houses are just a few of the highlights. Obviously the gardens show their best colours during the warmer months, but they're worth a visit at any time of year. If it happens to be a Sunday, pay a visit to nearby Stockbridge Market for tasty treats.

📌Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh★★★★
Arboretum Place, a mile north of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 244753 ///origin.head.hunter
Open daily | Garden: free; Glasshouse: £7 adult / free for children

Walk: Blackford Hill - batting above average

City of Edinburgh | Blackford | Short walk | ★★★

Blackford Hill is one of the Seven Hills that Edinburgh is said to be built upon. Despite its lowly height the ancient hill fort summit commands excellent views over a large swathe of the city, its castle and beyond into Fife. The area extending west into the Hermitage of Braid along the Braid Burn is a local nature reserve rich in birdlife. Visit at sunset when the views are at their best - you might also catch a glimpse of bats hunting for insects in the evening air. For a longer circuit, consider adding on a jaunt over the neighbouring Braid Hills.

📌 Walk: Blackford Hill - batting above average ★★★
▶ 4 km / 2 miles | ▲ 160 metres
Summits: Blackford Hill (164 metres) | Features: Hermitage of Braid (doocot, ice house & visitor centre); Blackford Pond
Start / finish: Street parking on Braid Road, 2 miles south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 245703 ///

Route: Start - Hermitage House visitor centre via south side…