Posts

Showing posts from February, 2015

Walk: Creag Bheag & a red squirrel hunt

Image
Highland | Monadhliath | Half day walk | ★★★ [One of Creag Bheag's summits, looking towards the Cairngorm Plateau] Creag Bheag is a shapely little hill with a plethora of cairns, separated from the snowy Monadhliath mountains by Loch Gynack. Head downhill from the summit and you'll have a great chance of spotting a few red squirrels. [Peering down on Loch Gynack from the descent] 📌 Walk: Creag Bheag & a red squirrel hunt ★★★ Start / finish at car park off Gynack Road, Kingussie village centre, G.R.: NH 756007 ///donation.flames.cello ▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 270 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate Features: △ Creag Bheag (487 m, sub-2000') Terrain: Slightly wet path on ascent, excellent but steep path for descent. Clear forestry paths and tracks lower down. On our visit Wildlife: Red squirrel upon departing Kingussie. Treecreepers busy... treecreeping in Tom Baraidh forest. Sheep. Weather: Cloudy with the odd glimpse of brightness. Rain threatening, bu

Treezone (Aviemore)

Image
Highland | Rothiemurchus | Ropes course | ★★★★ [One of the easier obstacles on the Buzzard course] There are numerous ways to pass the time in the Glenmore area even in the winter - just as well really, given the number of days high winds cause CairnGorm Mountain ski centre to close. But while its blowing a gale at the Ptarmigan Restaurant it's usually calm amongst the Caledonian pine forest... which is where Treezone is conveniently and scenically located. A bit cheaper than many of the "big name" ropes courses dotted around the UK (you know which ones we're talking about), but just as good - and there's another one on Loch Lomond . You start out on the lower Treecreeper course, then progress to the higher Buzzard course if you enjoyed the first one. The latter is certainly difficult enough if you're vertically challenged, such as this reviewer. Put it near the top of your list, whatever the time of year. [Grasp that pole] Location & info

Falls of Truim

Image
Highland | Glen Truim | Waterfall | ★★★ [Road bridge over the Falls of Truim] The Falls of Truim are an easily accessible, worthwhile stop off if you're heading along the A9 between Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore. An old road bridge and pine woods make for a characterful setting, with narrow paths on both banks giving access to several viewpoints. The falls are a set of rapids rather than a single drop, with countless potholes and pools carved out by centuries of river erosion. Just up the road is Crubenbeg House - one of the friendliest and most luxurious B&B's we've ever had the pleasure of staying at. [Waterfall at the Falls of Truim] Location & info 📌 Falls of Truim ★★★ By minor road, just off the A9 4 mi south of Newtonmore, G.R.: NN 680923 ///daytime.vows.riverboat Always open | Free 💬 From the car park at G.R.: NN 681922 ///sometimes.prancing.lions , head north on a short gravel path before crossing the road and turning left onto a narrower

Walk: Loch an Eilein & a sneaky side-hill

Image
Fife | Glenmore Forest Park | Half day walk | ★★★ [Most of the snow had melted on Ord Ban (foreground), but very much still winter on the Monadhliath] Loch an Eilein is probably one of the busier spots by Highlands standards... but Highland Scotland happily has a different definition of "busy" to most other places. Even on a weekend, we didn't see anyone else for the entire walk except at the car park. A picturesque loch or two preceded by a short, steep ascent to Ord Ban, a little hill with sweeping views over Strathspey, the Cairngorms and the Monadhliath. Apparently a short detour to Kennapole Hill to the south is worthwhile too, but we didn't try it. Did I mention there's a ruined castle on an island in the middle of the loch? Not even a grey, dull day can take away from that... much. [Looking south across the loch. The island in the middle boasts a ruined castle, once home to an osprey eyrie] 📌 Walk: Loch an Eilein & a sneaky side-hill ★★★

Walk: King & Castle atop the Ochils

Image
Clackmannanshire | Ochil Hills | Full day walk | ★★★★ [Castle Campbell (formerly Castle Gloom) is perched spectacularly on a rocky bluff between two gorges] The Ochil Hills barely reach 700 metres above sea level, but provide some of Scotland's most varied walks. This one includes dramatic gorges and waterfalls, rolling moorland summits, lush farmland, a disused railway line, a couple of towns and a picturesque castle as the icing on the cake. If that's not enough, the route passes right by Sterling Mills Outlet Shopping Village (leave your more retail-minded partner here?). [Windfarms provide the most recent addition to the landscape here, seen from near the summit of King's Seat Hill] 📌 Walk: King & Castle atop the Ochils ★★★★ Start / finish at layby on A91 by the Devon Way, midway between Tillicoultry and Dollar, G.R.: NS 939974 ///cycles.harvest.surprises ▶ 15 km / 9 mi | ▲ 720 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough Features: Tillicoultry; △ King's Seat

Five Sisters Zoo

Image
West Lothian | West Calder | Zoo | ★★★★ [Walk-through aviaries allow you to get extremely close to the birds] It's not flashy, it doesn't have pandas, and the potholes in the car park are bigger than some of the animals. But Five Sisters Zoo is a viable alternative to the more popular and expensive Edinburgh Zoo . Highlights include a walk-through aviary, a great new reptile house and some "big name" animals including brown bears, arctic wolves, newly-arrived lions and numerous monkeys. The Scottish wildcat puts in an appearance too. The middle of the site contains a playground and small fairground rides, but you don't need to be, or have, a child to enjoy the rest of the place. [Reindeer] Location & info 📌 Five Sisters Zoo ★★★★ Gavieside, 1 mi north of West Calder, G.R.: NT 023643 ///puppy.thickens.storming Open daily | £12.95 adult / £10.45 child [What are those funny humans doing?]

Bangour Village Hospital

Image
West Lothian | Dechmont | Abandoned hospital | ★★ [Bangour Village Hospital spreads over a huge 960 acre site] Ever woken up one day and felt like visiting an vast, abandoned psychiatric hospital? Head to Bangour Village Hospital, which has lain derelict since 2004. Up to over 3,000 patients lived here at any one time, and the site is correspondingly massive; 960 acres takes a long time to explore fully. Especially striking are everyday items in amidst dystopic surroundings: rusting bus stops, a huge church, and dozens of derelict villas which used to house patients. Smaller details are equally chilling: faded signposts in NHS hospital fonts, or the scrawling red graffiti on one of the villas: "My mum put me here!" [Genuine graffiti or not, it's chilling enough...] Location & info 📌 Bangour Village Hospital ★★ Off the A89 1 mi west of Dechmont, G.R.: NT 031708 ///steer.fussy.films Always open | Free 💬 Park at the old entrance to the campus on th

Cramond

Image
City of Edinburgh | Cramond | Village | ★★ [Restored Cramond Tower, opposite the kirk and fort] Cramond is almost part of Edinburgh yet at the same time a world apart. 5 miles from the city centre, it's a sleepy suburb with a central cluster of sights for the casual visitor, backing onto the Forth. Just uphill from the tiny harbour lies historic Cramond Kirk, while beside it are the remains of a large Roman Fort. Probably the biggest attraction once you've checked the tide times is a wander across the mile-long causeway to Cramond Island, from which there are excellent 360° views towards Edinburgh, along the Forth and out to all its other islands... notwithstanding the plentiful litter :( [Cramond Island] Location & info 📌 Cramond, Kirk, Roman Fort ★★ City of Edinburgh. Main village car park is at G.R.: NT 190771 ///open.notice.ducks Always open | Free 🚶 The interesting part of the village is tiny. Cramond Island and Laurison Castle are each about 1

Walk: Callander - crag & cascade

Image
Stirling | Callander | Half day walk | ★★★★ [Looking down on Callander from the crags, inversion fog creeping up from the Central Belt beyond] Just above the bustling tourist town of Callander lie Callander Crags, with spectacular views of the Trossachs hills, lochs and forests from the top. Combine them with a visit to Bracklinn Falls (best in spate) with its striking modern footbridge for a great half-day circuit, and consider yourself unlucky if you don't spot a red squirrel or two. [Callander Crags (left) and Ben Ledi (right) from above Keltie Water] 📌 Walk: Callander - crag & cascade ★★★★ Callander Crags car park, Bracklinn Road, 10-min walk northeast of Callander town centre, G.R.: NN 633082 ///scorch.ripen.ocean ▶ 8 km / 5 mi | ▲ 470 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate Features: Bracklinn Falls; △ Callander Crags (343 m) Terrain: Straightforward path to the falls. Forestry track to road near Coire Eas na Caillich. 1 km of minor road, then rough and st

Ski: Nevis Range

Image
Highland | Fort William | Ski centre | ★★★★ [Looking over the lower slopes, with Loch Lochy in the distance] Scotland's swankiest lift system, its highest slopes, views of Ben Nevis and the sea (well, a sea loch), and a notable absence of queues. What's not to like? Okay, it's a shame about that wind-affected access gondola and the long drive from the Central Belt, but Nevis Range definitely deserves more recognition from the numerous skiers who choose to go elsewhere. Scroll down for a more in-depth guide. [Skies clearing over Ben Nevis, seen from Spectre at the summit] Location & info 📌 Nevis Range ★★★★ Off the A82 5 mi east of Fort William, G.R.: NN 172774 ///agreeable.requires.height Average winter season: Late December to April, conditions permitting Day lift pass: £35.50 adult / £23.50 child for 2019/20 season Equipment hire: £24.50 adult / £18.50 child for 2019/20 season Don't miss... The Back Corries - a huge expanse of st

Pass of Glencoe (A82)

Image
Highland | Glencoe | Scenic road | ★★★★★ [Looking east at sunrise from near Glencoe ski centre towards Rannoch Moor] Every time we pass through it our jaws unhinge. Glencoe hardly needs introducing as one of Scotland's most dramatic and famous glens, its fame done no harm by awe-inspiring views even from the car. Approaching from Bridge of Orchy to the south, the A82 climbs via wide hairpins onto a fast road across the barren expanse of Rannoch Moor, dotted with lochans which are often frozen in winter. Gradually, majestic peaks begin to rise out of the flat landscape ahead: Glencoe ski centre on Meall a' Bhuiridh to the left first. The crowning jewel is next in line: Buachaille Etive Mòr , possibly Scotland's most iconic mountain and amazing even from the tarmac. The glen narrows beyond with further Munros towering on either side. After a series of sharp bends and a steep descent past a waterfall, the rocky walls relent a little before you arrive at Glencoe villag