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Showing posts from July, 2014

Pollok Country Park

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Glasgow | Pollokshaws | Art gallery & stately home | ★★★★
For an urban setting, Glasgow has a surprising amount of green space. Pollok Country Park used to be the largest city park in Europe, and is home to the famous Burrell Collection and the mansion of Pollok House. And the park itself? Well, we're not quite as enthusiastic - the ponds on the north side are probably the most interesting part.


Location & info

📌 The Burrell Collection★★★★
Description: One of the largest private art and history collections in the world, with over 8,000 exhibits housed in a modern building (but leaky - hence refurbishment!).
Middle of Pollok Country Park, 3 mi southwest of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 555622 ///others.punks.arts
Closed for refurbishment - expected reopening Spring 2021 | Free (small parking charge)

📌 Pollok House★★★
Description: Edwardian country house with walled garden.
West side of Pollok Country Park, 4 mi southwest of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 549618 ///toned.br…

Scotland's Secret Bunker

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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 an inexpensive one.


Location & info

📌 Scotland's Secret Bunker (Troywood) ★★★
Off the B940 3 mi west of Crail, G.R.: NO 568089 ///intensely.structure.attic
Open daily, February to November | £12.95 adult / £8.95 child



Cambo Gardens

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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.


Location & info

📌 Cambo Gardens★★★
Off the A917 1 mi south of Kingsbarns. Walled garden is at G.R.: NO 603113 ///walled.feelers.carbonate
Open daily - best in summer or snowdrop season (late winter or early spring) | £6.50 adult / free for childre…

Dunfermline Abbey & Palace

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Fife | Dunfermline | Abbey & palace | ★★★

Taken together, Dunfermline Abbey, Palace and Church have a significant place in Scottish history. But how does it all fit together? The abbey came first in 1128, elevated by David I from a smaller priory founded by Queen Margaret in 1070. But only the nave properly survives (making up the left half of the building in the picture above), as after the Reformation, the choir collapsed and the outbuildings converted into a royal palace. Dunfermline soon fell out of royal favour however, and the palace soon fell into disrepair. In 1820 the ruined choir became the foundations for a new Abbey Church; this is still in active use today, while the (old) nave and palace are a tourist attraction cared for by Historic Environment Scotland. The building's biggest claim to fame, however, is that it is the resting place for several Scottish kings and queens, including Robert the Bruce - whose grave can be viewed inside the Abbey Church.


Location &…

Scotland Street School Museum

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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.


Location & info

📌 Scotland Street School Museum★★★
Scotland Street, Kingston, 1 mi southwest of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 578641 ///honey.rubble.organs
Open Tuesday to Sunday | Free

National Museum of Rural Life

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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.


Location & info

📌 National Museum of Rural Life★★★
Philipshill Road, 2 mi northwest of East Kilbride town centre, G.R.: NS 608558 ///salad.pest.riches
Open daily | £8 adult / £5.50 child / free for National Trust for Scotland members

The Pineapple

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Falkirk | Airth | Historic building | ★★

There are no prizes for guessing how this building got its name. Beyond a quick photo snap there's not much to see here - the grounds (including walled garden) are simple rather than spectacular, and the inside of the 1761 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.


Location & info

📌 The Pineapple★★
Off the A905 1 mi north of Airth, G.R.: NS 889885 ///summer.repeating.hinted
Open daily | Free

Tor Wood

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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 easily accessed on foot through the wood that the village was named after. 16th century Torwood Castle is equally easily accessible, built by the Baillies of Castlecary. 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.


Location & info

📌 Tappoch Broch ★
Off minor road half a mile west of Torwood village, G.R.: NS 833850 ///state.captures.heartache
Always open - best in winter / spring when vegetation is low to maximise views of the broch | Free

Anything else? Park near the end of the rough track leading south from the west end of Torwood at G.R.: NS 838851 ///sneezing.stages.liberated (there's also s…

Walk: The Sloy way up Vorlich

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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 ★★★★
Car park (with charge) on A82 at Inveruglas Pier, G.R.: NN 323099 ///streaking.sharper.paradise

▶ 14 km / 9 mi | ▲ 950 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Ben Vorlich (941 m, Munro) | Features: Loch Lomond
Terrain: Roadside path for first half mile, then tarmac private road (with path to shortcut a long bend near start). Steep hill path for ascent proper - recently improved…

Glasgow Cathedral Precinct

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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.


Location & info

📌 Glasgow Cathedral★★★★
Description: The city's Church of Scotland cathedral, maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.
Castle Street, 20-min walk east of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 603656 ///sing.closes.dined
Open daily | Free

📌 Glasgow Necropolis★★★
Description: Vast (37 acre) Victorian cemetery on a hill overlooking t…

Provan Hall

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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.


Location & info

📌 Provan Hall★★
Next to Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre, by…

Walk: Narnain & Ime - utterly buttery

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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 ★★★★
Start / finish at car park (with charge) on A83 immediately south of Succoth, G.R.: NN 295049 ///mixing.empires.thunder

▶ 14 km / 9 mi | ▲ 1330 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Beinn Narnain (926 m, Munro); Beinn Ime (1011 m, Munro) | Features: L…