Showing posts from 2014

Glenrothes early history

Fife | Glenrothes | Stone circle & henge | ★

Glenrothes is Fife's third largest settlement, a new town built after the Second World War to help with housing demand around Edinburgh. Almost all its shops are housed in the Kingdom Shopping Centre, a useful but labyrinthal complex reminiscent of an airport terminal. It doesn't sound promising, but in Scotland history is never far away. The residential suburb of Balbarg has a 65 metres across, 6,000 year old henge and parts of a stone circle at its centre. There's a further stone circle just across the A92 which is a mere 4,000 years old.

📌 Balbirnie Stone Circle ★
Next to the northern access road (Tofthill) for Balbirnie House Hotel, 400 metres east of Balfarg suburb but on the other side of the A92, G.R.: NO 286030 ///beginning.miles.lonely
Always open | Free

Anything else: Nearest parking for Balbirnie Stone Circle is just to the south by houses - walk back to the circle along the minor road.

📌Balfarg Henge ★
The Henge, Ba…

Walk: Benarty Hill - surprise view from the Sleeping Giant

Fife | Ballingry | Short walk | ★★★★

This is surely one of lowland Scotland's best small hills. The trig point on lowly Benarty Hill - locally known as the Sleeping Giant - sits at the northern edge of a broad area of high ground. A short, steep ascent through trees soon leads to a straightforward amble across the plateau with great views south. But nothing compares to the surprise view of Loch Leven, only revealed upon arrival at the summit...

📌 Walk: Benarty Hill - surprise view from the Sleeping Giant ★★★★
▶ 4 km / 2 miles | ▲ 190 metres
Summits: Benarty Hill (356 metres, sub-2000') Start / finish: Layby on minor road half a mile west of Ballingry, G.R.: NT 159970 ///inversion.formed.fragments
Route: Layby - Benarty Hill - return by outward route Terrain: Decent dirt paths, steep at first but rarely muddy, with short section of forestry track Wildlife today: Birds in the forest - robins everywhere Weather today: Unbroken sunshine, a few degrees above freezing. Ground frozen with …


Perth & Kinross | Village | ★

Comrie sits at a triple confluence of the River Earn, Glen Artney and Glen Lednock, with sandbags by house doors standing guard against potential flooding. Nestling amongst lush, green hills, you can walk to the Deil's Caldron from here. But Comrie has another, perhaps unexpected claim to fame - it's the UK's earthquake capital! The clue lies in the geology (probably), with the Highland Boundary Fault passing close by. The "Earthquake House" stands testament to the fact that earth tremors have long been a feature of this area - hence the settlement's nickname: "The Shaky Toun".

📌 Comrie ★
Perth & Kinross, G.R.: NN 773220 ///month.advantage.bravery
Within walking distance
📌Earthquake House ★ Description: Tiny 1870s stone building housing one of the UK's earliest seismometers, visible through the window alongside more modern equipment.
10-min walk southwest of the village centre, G.R.: NN 765218 ///juggles.belt.en…

Walk: Comrie's devilish cauldron

Perth & Kinross | Comrie | Half day walk | ★★★

The foaming depths of the River Lednock upstream from Comrie soon show the passer-by why these rapids are called the "Deil's Caldron". The whole section of riverside here is usually a bubbling mass of white water, although good views from the path are at a premium. Lord Melville's Monument atop Dun More overlooks the rapids, giving a panorama of the surrounding hills on a clear day. Unfortunately we chose to visit during a snowstorm, which hampered visibility somewhat. We've heard reports that the autumn leaf colours are spectacular here.

📌 Walk: Comrie's devilish cauldron ★★★
▶ 8 km / 5 miles | ▲ 260 metres
Summits: Dun More (256 metres) | Features: Comrie; Deil's Caldron; Lord Melville's Monument
Start / finish: Car park on School Road, Comrie, G.R.: NN 772221 ///unlimited.dirt.mascots

Route: Car park & Comrie - Little Caldron - Deil's Caldron - Dun More - footbridge over River Lednock near Kin…

Dumbarton Castle

West Dunbartonshire | Dumbarton | Castle | ★★★★

The views from the top of Dumbarton Rock are worth the visit alone - this is one of the most dramatically-sited castles in the country. The ancient volcano here has been a point of defence for centuries, with the buildings you see today dating from the 14th century or later. For outdoor-types, the wonderful summit panorama (accessed by hundreds of steps) over the Clyde estuary, and north into the West Highlands, is the key attraction. But the castle itself, composed of several buildings mainly clustered around the base of the rock, is interesting in its own right, with particularly impressive artillery fortifications. Scaffolding prevented views of the building exteriors on our visit, hence the lack of photos.

📌Dumbarton Castle★★★★
Location: Dumbarton Rock, a mile south of Dumbarton town centre, G.R.: NS 400744 ///codes.usual.exile
Open (2019): Daily, April to September; Saturday to Wednesday, October to March
Cost (2019): £5 (adults), £3 (…

Walk: The Rhinns of Kells

Dumfries & Galloway | Galloway Forest Park | Full day walk | ★★★

Sounding like something straight out of a J. R. R. Tolkien novel, the Rhinns of Kells ridge soars high above endless swathes of the Galloway Forest Park. Traversing between Corserine and Meikle Millyea makes for a great easy-going ridge walk, on hills that feel unlike anything further north. Local place names rival the views for entertainment - from the ridge, look out for Loch Dungeon, Rig of the Jarkness and even the Range of the Awful Hand. Nearby "Meikle Lump" must have been christened on an off-day. The Forrest Estate, where you start and finish, is full of oddly-named tracks too. A strange and mysterious place, that's for sure...

📌 Walk: The Rhinns of Kells ★★★
▶ 17 km / 11 miles | ▲ 900 metres
Summits: Corserine (814 metres, Corbett / Donald); Milldown (738 metres, Donald); Meikle Millyea (746 metres, Donald) Start / finish: Forrest Estate car park, minor road end 5 miles northwest of St John's…

Walk: Cnoc nan Gabhar - Carradale Circular

Argyll & Bute | Carradale | Half day walk | ★★★★

As is the case along much of Kintyre's eastern coastline, all eyes will be firmly set on Arran during this walk - Ailsa crag also peeking out further south. Full marks to Forestry and Land Scotland here - they've created a circular route to the top of Carradale's local hill, on decent (albeit exhaustingly steep) paths which only deteriorate briefly at the very top.

📌 Walk: Cnoc nan Gabhar - Carradale Circular ★★★★
▶ 6 km / 4 miles | ▲ 230 metres
Summits: Cnoc nan Gabhar (230 metres)
Start / finish: Port na Storm car park, half a mile west of Carradale harbour, G.R.: NR 811383 ///outbursts.hawks.local

Route: Car park - Gortan Wood - Cnoc nan Gabhar - junction with Kintyre Way - Century Wood - start. Route waymarked in red (see no. 10 here).
Terrain: Clear grassy paths, steep in places, and good tracks later on. Rougher section to detour to true summit.
Wildlife today: Cnoc nan Gabhar means Deer Hill - it lived up to its name.

Kintyre's east coast

Argyll & Bute | Carradale | Region sights | ★★★

Most visitors probably don't visit this part of Kintyre, instead speeding down the A83 10 miles to the west. They're making a mistake - this side of the peninsula is scenically much more interesting than the west coast, with Arran dominating the view to the east. Ideally you need a full day to explore the area properly - the B842 paves the way, but only as a single-track road with constant steep hills and sharp bends, making for slow going. Carradale is the only sizeable village in this remote area, south of which the road improves towards Campbeltown. Climbing Cnoc nan Gabhar from here is recommended, but spots such as Kildonan Dun and brilliantly-named Grogport offer more easily accessible views.

List of attractions (from north to south)

>> Skipness Castle★★
>> Walk: Skipness River - infused with garlic★★★

📌Allt a' Bhuic viewpoint ★★
Description: Overgrown but worthwhile viewpoint for Arran and Kilbrannan Soun…

Walk: Lochs of views from Dun Skeig

Argyll & Bute | Clachan | Half day walk | ★★★★

This is one of Kintyre's best walks, cramming a picture-postcard village, a small hill with stunning views, and a tranquil coastal and riverside section into under 4 miles. Dun Skeig's summit comes complete with two hilltop forts, while the modern house encountered on the descent has a setting guaranteed to make anybody jealous. Varied underfoot conditions mean this walk may well take longer than its length suggests - good footwear required - but don't let that put you off.

📌 Walk: Lochs of views from Dun Skeig ★★★★
▶ 6 km / 4 miles | ▲ 180 metres
Summits: Dun Skeig (143 metres) | Features: Dun Skeig hill forts
Start / finish: Street parking in Clachan village centre, G.R.: NR 765561 ///highly.published.shelf

Route: Start - Quinhill - climb gate due east of Dun Skeig - Dun Skeig summit - return to gate - Portachoillan - Dunskeig Bay - start, keeping close to burn
Terrain: Very varied. Minor road to Quinhill; track then occasi…

Southend (Kintyre)

Argyll & Bute | Southend | Village sights | ★★

Aptly-named Southend sits at the, well, south end of the Kintyre peninsula, about 10 miles from Campbeltown. The Kintyre Way passes through the quiet village - where southbound walkers are only a day's walk from the finish at Machrihanish, ironically northwest of this point. Hopefully trail vision won't stop them from exploring the interesting nooks and crannies of this section of coastline, which includes a sweeping, sandy beach and some interesting caves, and a smattering of sights relating to St Columba, who later established the famous monastery on Iona.

📌St Columba's footprints; St Columba's well ★★
Description: Footprints carved into rock, possibly dating back to the year of St Columba's arrival on Kintyre in 563AD; the well has similar possible historic links.
By minor road a mile west of Southend, G.R.: NR 673078 ///hours.congested.hero
Always open | Free

Anything else? Space for one car only; head right (east…

Mull of Kintyre

Argyll & Bute | Southend | Headland / viewpoint | ★★★

Campbeltown is as far south as many people are prepared to go when they visit Kintyre. But since you've made all the effort to get here, it's worth continuing beyond the end of the A83, south on the B842 and then ever-narrowing roads towards the far southwestern tip of the peninsula. The windy road climbs steeply into increasingly remote country, before levelling off as it passes between two low hills at "The Gap". Abruptly a small parking area signals the end of the public road - beyond is the Mull of Kintyre coast and lighthouse. Immortalised in song by Paul McCartney, this Scottish Lands End is one of the country's best places from which to watch the sun set. Northern Ireland is only 12 miles away at its closest point, and seems even closer on a clear day. To get the best views you'll need to proceed on foot beyond the car park on disintegrating tarmac. Be warned: if you go the full distance to the l…

Walk: Island Davaaarrrr!

Argyll & Bute | Campbeltown | Half day walk | ★★★

Island Davaar! Adopt a pirate accent and it sounds even more exciting. Linked by a tidal causeway to mainland Kintyre near Campbeltown, its whole coastline is worth exploring. Sun-blushed sheep graze the lush grass between the causeway and picturesque lighthouse, whilst the south and east coasts boast tall cliffs and numerous caves. One of these contains a stunning cave painting - a life-size depiction of The Crucifixion drawn by Archibald MacKinnon in 1887 reputedly after a vision. Whatever you do, keep an eye on the time, ensuring you're safely back on the mainland before the causeway gets covered by seawater again.

📌 Walk: Island Davaaarrrr! ★★★
▶ 7 km / 4 miles | ▲ 40 metres
Features: The Dorlinn causeway; Crucifixion Cave; Island Davaar lighthouse
Start / finish: Layby on minor road 2 miles east of Campbeltown, G.R.: NR 745195 ///unpainted.hats.outdoor

Route: Layby - Dorlinn causeway - southern shore to Crucifixion Cave and …


Argyll & Bute | Town | ★★★

Fewer than 50 miles away from the Ayrshire coast, but 170 miles and nearly 4 hours by road, you have to make a real effort to visit Campbeltown - probably Scotland's remotest mainland town. Curving round a bay guarded by Island Davaar, the town used to be the whisky capital of the world. Sadly, the unwanted tagline of "quantity not quality" became attached to the whisky region, with only three distilleries producing the water of life today. Springbank and Glengyle offer an excellent value joint tour (or you can visit them separately). Independent shops abound on a scale only matched in Scotland by island towns. The town's, err, spiritual heritage seems to have infiltrated local food menus, with haggis nachos smothered in whisky sauce featuring prominently. Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it.

📌Campbeltown ★★★
Location: G.R.: NR 719204 ///date.pints.trophy

Within walking distance

📌Springbank Distillery★★★★★
Description: Spring…

Walk: Gigha's Creag Bhan

Gigha | Short walk | ★★★

You may well never have heard of Gigha (pronounced GEE-uh), even if you live in Scotland. It's a small island owned wholly by its own community, separated from the west coast of Kintyre by the Sound of Gigha. After a few difficult decades, it now has a growing population despite being one of southern Scotland's most isolated places. The island is traversed by a single, quiet road; if you only have a few hours here, a wander along it to the island's highest point at Creag Bhan is recommended, with a rougher track and hill path for the final mile. On a clear day, the views of Islay, Jura, Kintyre, Arran and Ireland from the summit take some beating. Refreshments available (except in low season) at The Boathouse near the start.

📌 Walk: Gigha's Creag Bhan ★★★
▶ 6 km / 4 miles | ▲ 130 metres
Summits: Creag Bhan (101 metres)
Start / finish: Ardminish jetty, Isle of Gigha, G.R.: NR 654491 ///pram.foot.trousers

Route: Jetty - Ardminish - Druimyeon More - …