Showing posts from September, 2014

Hopetoun Monument

East Lothian | Haddington | Monument | ★★★

Hopetoun Monument is one of the easiest landmarks to see from the A1 near Haddington, erected in memory of the 4th Earl of Hopetoun in 1824. Reaching the base of the tower is straightforward, but once inside it's a very different story. 29 vertical metres and 132 steps are not to be taken lightly and a torch is essential: nearly pitch black, crumbling in places and covered with bird droppings and nesting material. A handrail? You've got to be kidding. It's somewhat surprising it's still open at all. Visit while you can - for such a small hill, the views over East Lothian to Berwick Law, Bass Rock and Fife's Lomond Hills are excellent, thanks to the otherwise pancake-flat surroundings.

Location & info

📌 Hopetoun Monument ★★★
Off the B1343 2 mi north of Haddington, G.R.: NT 501764 ///those.ridiculed.dial
Always open | Free

💬 From the parking area at G.R.: NT 499764 ///aced.elevated.filled it's a 10-min uphill walk to…

Chesters Hill Fort

East Lothian | Drem | Hill fort | ★

Chesters Hill Fort's grassy, 2,000 year-old earthworks command outstanding views over East Lothian and were possibly once a base for the iron age Votadini tribe. The roughly circular ramparts probably used to encircle several houses, some still faintly visible in between all the grazing cows. You can't help thinking that the fort's position at the bottom of a higher hill was a pretty poor defensive choice; Historic Scotland suggest that this was a site "designed more for prestige than protection".

Location & info

📌 Chesters Hill Fort
Off minor road 1 mi south of Drem, G.R.: NT 508783 ///widen.crust.chip
Always open | Free

💬 From the car park at NT 505782 ///mentioned.indeed.escape it's a 5-min walk to the fort: first on a track, then by informal paths uphill through grassland.

Myreton Motor Museum

East Lothian | Drem | Museum | ★★★

Despite its unlikely rural location and slightly ramshackle appearance, Myreton Motor Museum is a real Aladdin's Cave of a museum. The private collection of cars and transport-related exhibits was founded as a museum in 1966 by local enthusiast Willie Dale and is a real labour of love; it's now run by his family and comprises a few dozen vehicles plus motorcycles, pedal bikes and various related accessories.

Location & info

📌 Myreton Motor Museum★★★
By minor road 2 mi west of Drem, G.R.: NT 487794 ///coats.valuables.sparkles
Open daily | £7 adult / £3 child

Dirleton Castle

East Lothian | Dirleton | Castle | ★★★★

Halfway between Gullane and North Berwick, Dirleton Castle is one of the best all-round castles you can visit in Scotland. With the beauty of extensive grounds and gardens, dramatic drawbridge and gatehouse, the romance of a large ruin, but enough still standing to help you imagine the building's layout, it's a fitting centrepiece to Dirleton village. Some of the castle dates back to the 13th century, and its subsequent ownership by three different families allowed for its constant rebuilding and expansion. The resulting masterpiece sits perfectly on a small, rocky outcrop.

Location & info

📌 Dirleton Castle★★★★
Main Road (B1345), Dirleton village centre, G.R.: NT 516839 ///tastings.formed.collapsed
Open daily | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment members

Flanders Moss NNR

Stirling | Thornhill | Nature reserve | ★★★

A trip to the country's largest peat bog might seem like something out of a Scot's worst nightmare. But add in well-surfaced paths and interesting wildlife and Flanders Moss becomes a much more appealing destination. Adders and lizards use the warm boardwalks to bask in the sunshine on bright days, the reserve is an osprey breeding site, and raised bog extending in all directions supports a number of threatened insect species.

Location & info

📌 Flanders Moss NNR★★★
Off the B822 2 mi south of Thornhill, G.R.: NS 648978 ///returns.palm.hides
Always open | Free

Inchmahome Priory

Stirling | Port of Menteith | Priory | ★★★★

What's the only natural lake in Scotland? It's the Lake of Menteith, with a pleasant surprise waiting for discovery on its main island: a substantial 13th century ruined priory, founded by the Earl of Menteith and once home to a community of Augustinian canons. The lake is part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, yet seems far removed from busy Aberfoyle, only a few miles distant. The necessary boat trip across the quiet (but blue-green algae infested) waters to reach the island adds to the romance and secluded feel. Before returning to the mainland, don't forget to explore the rest of the island - cloaked in bluebells or brimming with ripe blackberries in season.

Location & info

📌 Inchmahome Priory★★★★
On the island of Inchmahome, Lake of Menteith, G.R.: NN 574005 ///mystery.surreal.quietest
Open daily, April to October | £9 adult / £5.40 child including ferry, free for Historic Environment Scotland members


Blair Drummond Safari Park

Stirling | Doune | Zoo | ★★★★

Stirling might get wild on a Saturday night, but a few miles to the west you can get up close to the animals in broad daylight. Overlooked by Blair Drummond House, the area is a zoo-safari hybrid. The west side of the park has an extensive collection of animals including tigers, elephants and giraffes, and you can hop on a boat across a lake to an island where chimpanzees roam free(ish). On the east side, winding tarmac leads through various large enclosures home to lions, monkeys (which may damage your car), zebra, camels and numerous other animals. With fairground rides dotted about, birds shows and other scheduled displays, there's easily enough to keep you occupied for the large part of a day here.

Location & info

📌 Blair Drummond Safari Park★★★★
By the A84 3 mi south of Doune, G.R.: NS 734985 ///bossy.troll.cheetahs
Open daily, late March to approx. late October (2019) | £17.75 adult / £14.65 child / discount for booking online

Ardencraig Gardens

Bute | Rothesay | Garden | ★★★

Set apart from the rest of Rothesay's numerous attractions, Ardencraig Gardens is a (very) small but beautiful walled garden owned by the local council. The pair of flowerbeds are a riot of colour in summer, with views over the Firth of Clyde from the upper end, and there's also a little aviary. If the weather's good and you've time to spare, we recommend walking here from Rothesay town centre; pleasant paths wind through Bogany Wood from the top of the Serpentine Road: about a mile each way with 100 metres of ascent from the sea front.

Location & info

📌 Ardencraig Gardens ★★★
Ardencraig Lane, Montford, 1 mi east of Rothesay town centre, Bute, G.R.: NS 106647 ///symphony.explains.indulges
Open daily, May to September | Free

Mount Stuart

Bute | Kerrycroy | Stately home | ★★★★★

Mount Stuart is Bute's most amazing tourist attraction, and unarguably one of Scotland's most incredible buildings. This Gothic, red sandstone palace towers amongst equally beautiful grounds stretching down to the Firth of Clyde. The estate is so extensive that buses shuttle between the car park and the house - but it's much more rewarding to walk, taking in the (mostly edible) Kitchen Garden, the Rock Garden with its several water features, and acres of quiet woodland. All this is eclipsed by the house interior though: the attention to detail overseen by the 3rd Marquess of Bute is staggering, with construction spanning 21 years until his death in 1900. Some of the remaining minutiae have been left unfinished, a quirk that makes Mount Stuart even more special. No expense spared though - according to the website, Mount Stuart was the world's first house to include a heated indoor swimming pool, and Scotland's first house to b…

Ascog Hall Gardens & Fernery

Bute | Ascog | Garden | ★★★

Ferns aren't typically considered the prettiest of plants. But this secret, sunken fernery feels a bit like another world, originally built in 1870 but redeveloped from ruins in 1997. The centrepiece is a 1,000+ year old fern, somehow a survivor from the Victorian collection and probably the oldest in the UK. The small fernery is just one part of three acres of beautiful gardens surrounding Ascog Hall, set in a peaceful spot on Bute's eastern shore between Rothesay and Mount Stuart.

Location & info

📌 Ascog Hall Gardens and Fernery★★★
By the A844 at Ascog, 3 mi south of Rothesay, Bute, G.R.: NS 107631 ///siesta.grapevine.whips
Open daily, but best during summer | £4 adult / free for children

Walk: Bute-iful bays on the trail to St Blane's

Bute | Kilchattan Bay | Half day walk | ★★★

Kilchattan Bay is the southernmost settlement on Bute and feels like a little slice of Devon or Cornwall. Beyond here you can only proceed on foot, on the southern (circular) leg of the West Island Way long distance route. The excellent coast path to Glencallum Bay is flanked by blackberry bushes that provide a delicious meal in season, while the return inland passes St Blane's Chapel, a 12th century ruin which once served as the parish church for the entire island. A low hill near the end gives great views over the rest of Bute and surrounding Firth of Clyde islands.

📌 Walk: Bute-iful bays on the trail to St Blane's ★★★
Start / finish on the B881 (street parking) near the jetty, Kilchattan Bay village centre, Bute, G.R.: NS 103550 ///chap.instead.followers

▶ 9 km / 6 mi | ▲ 220 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: Kilchattan Bay; Glencallum Bay; St Blane's Church; △ Suidhe Chatain (157 m)
Terrain: Mostly clear but rough footpat…