Showing posts from March, 2013


Aberdeenshire | Village sights | ★★★

A rural village set back from the middle reaches of the River Don, Alford seems a rather unlikely location for a day out at first glance - but there's plenty to do here. An surprisingly extensive and excellent transport museum is the highlight, set up in the 1980s by local enthusiasts and still flourishing. From the other end of the museum car park, a separate miniature railway takes you along the edge of the village golf course into Haughton Country Park. Explore the various lawns, paths and ponds before catching a train back. If you're still looking for things to do, there's even a dry ski slope on the other side of the village.

Location & info

📌 Alford Valley Railway★★
Description: Narrow gauge railway running about 1 mi to Haughton Country Park.
Trains depart from Alford station, Stewart Road, village centre, G.R.: NJ 579159 ///yards.ferried.seabirds
March to September (exact days unknown), plus dates around Christmas | £4.50 adul…

Walk: Dunnottar Castle & coast - Stonehaven's crown jewels

Aberdeenshire | Stonehaven | Half day walk | ★★★★

The unlikely headland ruin of Dunnottar Castle is located about a mile south of the pretty fishing town of Stonehaven. The erosion-prone, rocky coastline in between must be one of the most photographed parts of Scotland's east coast, such is the popularity of the clifftop jaunt to the castle, where the Scottish crown jewels were once concealed from Oliver Cromwell's army in the 17th century. Quiet roads to the west link the castle to the lesser known local's haunt of Dunnottar Woods. Demolished Dunnottar House is the story linking the two parts of the walk: this country house was constructed in the 1700s to replace apartments at the castle; the forest follies you pass on return were built by its owners.

📌 Walk: Dunnottar Castle & coast - Stonehaven's crown jewels ★★★★
Start / finish at Stonehaven harbour car park off High Street, 5-min walk southeast of Stonehaven town centre, G.R.: NO 878855 ///…


Aberdeenshire | Town | ★★

Stonehaven has for a long time been a traditional day-trip destination for Aberdonians. It's easy to see why, with a picturesque harbour, beautiful coastal scenery and one of Scotland's most dramatically-set ruins nearby. Whether or not you plan on tackling the popular jaunt along the cliffs to Dunnottar Castle, consider trying a deep-fried Mars Bar at Carron Fish Bar, or perhaps just an ice cream from Aunty Betty's - Stonehaven is well known for both.


📌 Stonehaven ★★
Aberdeenshire, G.R.: NO 874859 ///bats.cookie.first

🚶 The town centre and harbour are a short walk apart, with Dunnottar Castle about an hour's hike along the coast.
🚌 Stonehaven has a railway station (half a mile away from the town centre) on the main line to Aberdeen, with direct trains from Aberdeen, Dundee and many cities further south. There are buses on routes from Aberdeen, Montrose, Dundee and Perth.
🚗 There is a charge for some parking in the town centre, but …

Walk: Arbroath to Auchmithie - Smokie coast

Angus | Arbroath | Half day walk | ★★★

Despite the name, the Arbroath Smokie (smoked haddock) probably actually originated in the small fishing village of Auchmithie, a few miles up the coast from Arbroath. The informal But 'n' Ben restaurant still serves the local delicacy along with other locally caught seafood: lunch here seems a fitting culmination to this one-way clifftop walk. The scenery is excellent throughout, with dramatic rock architecture including sea stacks, arches and Gaylet Pot: a massive blowhole in the middle of a field connected to the ocean by a subterranean passageway. The whole stretch is a wild place on a windy day, as we can testify. As for the Smokie - you'll either love it or hate it...

📌 Walk: Arbroath to Auchmithie - Smokie coast ★★★
Park at the finish and take the bus to the start (several times daily, but check times in advance). Start / finish at junction of Springfield Terrace & Cliffburn Road or similar (street parking), 10-min walk eas…


Angus | Town | ★★★

Forfar may be the capital of Angus but Arbroath is its largest town: in the far southeast of the region overlooking the North Sea. The biggest draw is the grand, ruined Abbey which in 1320 saw the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath: a document claiming and defending Scotland's independence. Less popular but worth visiting is the council-run Signal Tower Museum, telling the story of Arbroath's links with the coast. These two attractions are on either side of an attractive town centre and High Street: look out for Arbroath Smokies (smoked haddock) on sale, although they were actually first made in nearby Auchmithie.


📌 Arbroath ★★★
Angus, G.R.: NO 643410 ///

🚶 The abbey and Signal Tower Museum are at opposite ends of the town centre, about a 15-min walk apart.
🚌 Arbroath is on the Dundee to Aberdeen railway line, with direct trains also calling from towns and cities further south. There are many local and regional buses.

See & do…

Dundee Law

Dundee City | Viewpoint | ★★★

A good proportion of Scotland's cities have extinct volcanoes in the middle of them, and Dundee is no exception. Dundee Law (or just The Law) rises 174 metres above the Tay in the middle of the city's residential quarters, making it a superb and easily accessible viewpoint. A war memorial crowns the summit, from which you can see into Fife, Angus and Perthshire as well as across the city itself. Both bridges across the Tay are visible, and even the distant profile of the Munro Schiehallion makes an unlikely appearance in the vista to the north-west.

Location & info

📌 Dundee Law ★★★
Law Road, 1 mi northwest of City Square, Dundee, G.R.: NO 391313 ///placed.angle.dizzy
Always open | Free

Anything else? You can park at the end of the spiralling road to the summit; alternatively, paths converging at the top from surrounding suburbs can be used to earn your views.

Walk: Not far to Farleitter Crag

Highland | Kincraig | Short walk | ★★★★

The wooded expanse stretching from Glenmore to Glen Feshie is one of the largest areas of ancient Scots pine forest left in the UK. A short and steep climb to Farleitter Crag gives awesome views across miles of forest canopy, with the barren Cairngorms and Monadhliath plateaus rising beyond. A cluster of marshy lochans (the Uath Lochans, with uath pronounced as wah) at the foot of the hill adds birdwatching opportunities to a walk that somehow feels more like a slice of Canada than Scotland.

📌 Walk: Not far to Farleitter Crag ★★★★
Start / finish at car park off minor road in Inshriach Forest 2 mi south of Kincraig, G.R.: NH 835023 ///

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 130 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Farleitter Crag (340 m) | Features:Uath Lochans(Hawthorn lochans)
Terrain: Good level paths around the lochans with boardwalk sections; steep climb to summit on track then path; tracks and paths for return.

Route & map

Car park - path aroun…

Highland Wildlife Park

Highland | Kincraig | Zoo | ★★★★

On rolling countryside at the foot of the Monadhliath Mountains near Kincraig, passing car drivers glimpse the surreal sight of a polar bear roaming Scottish soil below the cliffs of Creag Mhòr. Welcome to the Highland Wildlife Park: one of the best attractions in Speyside that doesn't involve working up a sweat. Much of the reserve is set out as a safari experience, where you can drive through herds of bison, deer and elk in your own car. Seeing the park under snow helps the polar bears seem more at home, while the several camels look distinctly out of place. The other side is explored on foot, with areas home to number of native Scottish species (including wildcats), wolves and even Amur tigers. Set aside half a day to get your money's worth.

Location & info

📌 Highland Wildlife Park★★★★
Off minor road, parallel to A9 1 mi southwest of Kincraig, G.R.: NH 823036 ///rhino.crossings.mixer
Open daily | £17.95 adult / £9.95 child including volun…

Walk: Magical Loch Morlich

Highland | Glenmore Forest Park | Short walk | ★★★

Scotland has countless locations with outstanding scenic splendour, but many of those with high mountain scenery require a long walk to reach. What marks out Loch Morlich as special is (on a quiet day) its wilderness feel and mountain views, even though you're never more than a mile or so from the good road through Glenmore Forest Park. The loch comes alive with water sports in summer, while autumn brings solace at water level as the first dustings of snow cover the high ground beyond the southern shore. A thick cover of snow often blankets the area during winter as thick ice forms on the loch, and late spring brings the curious dichotomy of sunbathers on the sandy beaches while skiing continues on the slopes of Cairngorm Mountain above. Whatever the season, Loch Morlich is an enchanting destination and a circuit of its pine-clad shores is the best way to explore properly. Look out for red squirrels: they're used to humans in …