Showing posts from July, 2014

Scotland's Secret Bunker

Fife | Crail | Historic building | ★★★

100 feet underneath innocuous-looking Fife farmscape lies one of Scotland's most unexpected and unusual tourist attractions. Originally constructed as a radar centre during World War Two, the bunker was transformed into a huge emergency shelter during the Cold War. This was designed to become Scotland's government HQ in the case of nuclear war, including 300 dormitory beds, nuclear command centre, broadcasting studio and even a chapel: all below ground and encased in two feet of concrete. Fortunately circumstances have changed and the bunker ceased to be maintained in 1992, but a visit today is nevertheless a sobering one. Although not a cheap one.

📌Scotland's Secret Bunker (Troywood) ★★★
Location: Off B940 3 miles west of Crail, G.R.: NO 568089 ///intensely.structure.attic
Open (2019): Daily, March to early November
Cost (2019): £12.95 (adults), £8.95 (children)

Cambo Estate gardens

Fife | Kingsbarns | Garden | ★★★

Only a few places in Scotland feature such a fantastic array of slightly haphazard colour as Cambo Estate's walled gardens; on a warm, summer's day it's a fine place to while away a couple of hours. Beyond the walled garden the estate spills down the wooded Cambo Burn towards the North Sea, with attractive footpaths which are also accessible at the lower end from the Kingsbarns to St Andrews stretch of the Fife Coastal Path. In fact the gardens and grounds are only some of a growing number of attractions making Cambo Estate an excellent choice for a day out in east Fife: a golf course, the relatively new Kingsbarns whisky & gin distillery and the elegant house itself are amongst the others.

📌Cambo Estate gardens★★★
Location (walled garden): Off A917 a mile south of Kingsbarns, G.R.: NO 603113 ///walled.feelers.carbonate
Open (2019): Daily - best in summer or snowdrop season (late winter or early spring)
Cost (2019): £5.50 (adults), free fo…

Scotland Street School Museum

Glasgow | Kingston | Museum | ★★★

The area around Shields Road tube station in Glasgow is an urban wilderness of expressways, railway lines and old warehouses, virtually unrecognisable from before the motorways were built in the 1960s. Scotland Street School somehow still stands however, converted into a museum of education after it closed to pupils in 1979 following the relocation of most local residents. Visiting an old school might sound a bit dull, but there are several exhibition rooms, a place for children to dress up and lots of fascinating information about the transformation of the local area over recent decades.

📌Scotland Street School Museum★★★
Location: Scotland Street, Kingston, a mile southwest of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 578641 ///honey.rubble.organs
Open (2019): Tuesday to Sunday
Cost: Free

National Museum of Rural Life

South Lanarkshire | East Kilbride | Museum | ★★★

Perhaps it's in an unlikely location, but the National Museum of Rural Life provides much-needed contrast to East Kilbride's concrete jungle. The attraction comprises a excellent, modern exhibition hall and a 1950s style working farm, with rural paths (or tractor rides if you prefer) linking the two. There are usually plenty of farm animals to see around the restored farmhouse, including newborn lambs and calves at the right time of year.

📌National Museum of Rural Life★★★
Location: Philipshill Road, 2 miles northwest of East Kilbride town centre, G.R.: NS 608558 ///salad.pest.riches
Open (2019): Daily
Cost (2019): £7 (adults), £4 (children), free for National Trust for Scotland members


Falkirk | Town | ★★

The town of Falkirk (Speckled Church) sits almost exactly in the centre of the triangle connecting Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Good road and rail links mean it's one of the best non-city bases for exploring the Central Belt. As a settlement in its own right though, it's often overlooked by tourists. Spend a little time locally and you'll discover an attractive shopping district surrounded by a variety of tourist attractions, ranging from a beautiful stately home within acres of landscaped grounds, to easygoing canal walks, a key Roman Fort on the Antonine Wall, a slick new urban park and the Falkirk Wheel: one of the most striking pieces of modern architecture in Scotland. The various attraction are listed below.

📌Falkirk ★★
Location: G.R.: NS 888799 ///fame.piper.invest

Within walking distance

📌Callendar House & Park★★★
Description: Chateau-like mansion with sections dating to the 14th century, partially converted into a council-owned museum, set…


Fife | Village | ★★★

In the middle of the industrial region around the upper tidal River Forth lies a small town almost unchanged from the 17th and 18th centuries. Welcome to Culross (pronounced Coo-ross): a picturesque jumble of narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings, many preserved by the National Trust and unique in Scotland. The easily accessible location in the centre of Scotland attracts tourists in large numbers, and crowds and guided tours can make the place seem more like an outdoor museum than a living community at times. But most visitors don't explore far beyond the centre. Head up the steep hill towards the abbey for some peace, quiet and more views over the estuary.

📌Culross ★★★
Location (free car park, 5-min walk from the centre): G.R.: NS 983858 ///

Within walking distance

📌Culross Abbey★★
Description: Ruined 13th century monastery, partially built over and incorporated into the later (still used) Abbey Church, which is itself worth a look i…

The Pineapple

Falkirk | Airth | Historic building | ★★

No prizes for guessing how this building got its name. Beyond the classic photo shot there's not much to see here - the grounds (including walled garden) are simple rather than spectacular, and the inside of the building is in use as holiday cottages. The lack of an entry fee reflects this. But this is one of the UK's quirkiest buildings, so it must be seen. Built in 1761, the site now seems to be undergoing renovation and repairs; a more substantial visitor experience might be in the offing sometime in the future.

📌The Pineapple★★
Location: Off A905 a mile north of Airth, G.R.: NS 889885 ///summer.repeating.hinted
Open (2019): Daily
Cost: Free

Tor Wood

Falkirk | Torwood | Broch & castle | ★★

Torwood is boxed in by 3 motorways near Larbert and in easy reach of most of Scotland's largest towns and cities, but few people have probably heard of it. Nor do many visit the 2,000 year-old broch or nearby ruined castle, both easily accessed on foot through the wood that the village was named after. Many historic ruins in the Central Belt have either been built over or you have to pay for them. Happily neither of these points apply here, although they are most definitely quite ruined.

📌Tappoch Broch ★
Description: Overgrown but fairly well-preserved broch (unusual for this part of Scotland) in a clearing in the middle of Tor Wood.
Location: Off minor road half a mile west of Torwood village, G.R.: NS 833850 ///state.captures.heartache
Open: Always, but best in winter or spring when vegetation is low to maximise views of the broch.
Cost: Free
Anything else? Park near the end of the rough track leading south from the west end of Torwood at G…

Walk: The Sloy way up Vorlich

Argyll & Bute | Arrochar Alps | Full day walk | ★★★★

Thousands of cars wind around the western Ben Vorlich (not to be confused with its slightly higher namesake above Loch Earn) every day on the A82, sandwiched between Loch Lomond and the hill's steep eastern slopes. This side is, however, complex, rough and mostly pathless: sneaking around the back using the road to Loch Sloy reservoir is an easier solution, with an efficient (i.e. painful) but interesting path to the top from here. Steep slopes falling away to low ground on all sides... a recipe for excellent summit views.

📌 Walk: The Sloy way up Vorlich ★★★★
▶ 14 km / 9 miles | ▲ 950 metres
Summits: Ben Vorlich (941 metres, Munro) | Features: Loch Lomond
Start / finish: Car park (with charge) on A82 at Inveruglas Pier, G.R.: NN 323099 ///streaking.sharper.paradise

Route: Car park & Loch Lomond - start of road to Loch Sloy - path on right below Lag Dubh - Ben Vorlich via Lag Dubh and south ridge (N.B. true summit is a 2-min…

Glasgow Cathedral Precinct

Glasgow | East End | Area sights | ★★★★

The district dominated by Glasgow Cathedral's brooding hulk is often neglected by tourists visiting the city, but it's only a 15-minute walk from the city centre, so don't be lazy. Several interesting attractions are scattered around the cathedral precinct, including an newish museum and nearly Glasgow's oldest house (probably pre-dated by Provan Hall further to the east). Hundreds of grand stone memorials pepper the skyline to the east - a cemetery seems an unappealing place to explore unless you have personal connections, but it's visually one of the most impressive in Europe.

📌Glasgow Cathedral★★★★
Description: The city's Church of Scotland cathedral, maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.
Location: Castle Street, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 603656 ///sing.closes.dined
Open (2019): Daily
Cost: Free
Public transport: Train (High Street), 600 metres; bus, <200 metres

📌Glasgow Necropolis★★★
Description: Vast (37 acre) Victorian …

Provan Hall

Glasgow | Easterhouse | Historic building | ★★

Provan Hall is a rarity in a city which today generally lacks medieval buildings. This fortified country residence may be the oldest house in Glasgow (despite competing claims, notably from Provand's Lordship), dating from sometime during the 15th century, when it was built as a hunting lodge for the city bishops. The building now sits awkwardly close to the massive, ugly Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre, only separated by a thin wall of trees and a little lake. Considering that it's also adjacent to the M8 motorway the house is surprisingly little-known even amongst Glaswegians, with no dedicated website at the time of writing - though short tours can usually be organised upon arrival. On the plus side, it's perfectly located to combine with a shopping trip or lunch out, and unlikely to be crammed full of people even when the shopping centre next door is.

📌Provan Hall★★
Location: Next to Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre, junction 10 o…

Walk: Narnain & Ime - utterly buttery

Argyll & Bute | Arrochar Alps | Full day walk | ★★★★

The popular Munro of Beinn Narnain translates as the Hill of notches. Indeed, a few narrow notches help with the final steps to the craggy summit after a relentless ascent direct from Succoth at sea level. Beinn Ime is the bigger sibling and the highest point in the Arrochar Alps, translating as the Hill of butter. This perfectly describes the smooth ascent of this hill from the south, although the name actually relates to the dairy product churned here in the past. Fascinating rock architecture and excellent views of the iconic Cobbler and the rest of the Alps are ample reward for long ascents nearly adding up to the height of Ben Nevis.

📌 Walk: Narnain & Ime - utterly buttery ★★★★
▶ 14 km / 9 miles | ▲ 1330 metres
Summits: Beinn Narnain (926 metres, Munro); Beinn Ime (1011 metres, Munro) | Features: Loch Long; Narnain Boulders
Start / finish: Car park (with charge) on A83 near Succoth, G.R.: NN 295049 ///mixing.empires.thund…