Showing posts from June, 2015

Walk: Around Balerno's reservoirs

City of Edinburgh | Pentland Hills | Short walk | ★★★

Follow Bavelaw Burn up from Balerno and Malleny Garden and you'll reach a staircase of reservoirs. Walking around the shores of Harlaw and Threipmuir to a third reservoir at Black Springs gives good views across the waters to the Pentland Hills, with crepes available by Harlaw House Ranger Centre on our visit. Popular for dog walkers, fishing and student post-exam celebrations, but deserves recognition from a wider demographic than that.

📌 Walk: Around Balerno's reservoirs ★★★
Start / finish at Harlaw Reservoir car park, off minor road 1 mi south of Balerno, G.R.: NT 182655 ///index.hello.healthier

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 40 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: Harlaw Reservoir; Threipmuir Reservoir
Terrain: Wide, flattish paths, narrower with a little ascent after Black Springs. Optional, narrower paths keep you closer to the water's edge.

Route & map

Car park - Harlaw Reservoir dam - Threipmuir Reservoir dam - Black Springs - Har…

Malleny Garden

City of Edinburgh | Balerno | Garden | ★★★

With access down a narrow track and admission via honesty box, you may well be alone when you visit this hidden garden. Small but perfectly formed (though a little untidy according to some recent reports), the gardens feature 150 rose varieties and four 400-year old yew trees amidst a sea of bright colours. Malleny House completes the backdrop but takes away none of the secluded feel, all a few miles and a world away from Edinburgh.

Location & info

📌 Malleny Garden★★★
Off Bavelaw Green, east side of Balerno village, G.R.: NT 166666 ///sprinkler.saucepan.edges
Open daily | £3 / free for National Trust for Scotland members

Ardoch Roman Fort

Perth & Kinross | Braco | Roman earthworks | ★

Braco boasts the remains of one of the best-preserved Roman forts anywhere in Britain. The camp is believed to have been built by the armies of General Gnaeus Julius Agricula in the first century AD during his conquest of northern England, Wales and (less successfully) southern Scotland, before being remodelled and reused in a later campaign during the next century. The ditches and ramparts have survived thanks to a sympathetic landowner in the 18th century who prevented the fields from being ploughed; other nearby forts haven't survived so well.

Location & info

📌 Ardoch Roman Fort ★
By the A822, 10-min walk northeast of Braco village centre, G.R.: NN 840100 ///bulges.sensitive.surviving
Always open | Free

Anything else? From the small car park at the north end of Braco village it's a 5-min walk to the fort. Follow the main road north over the bridge; the fort is on the east (right) side of the road.

Tullibardine Chapel

Perth & Kinross | Auchterarder | Church | ★★

Tullibardine Chapel is a beautiful church dating back to the 15th century, only a mile away from the luxury hotels, golf courses and spa of Gleneagles. It was built by wealthy local Sir David Murray, probably with its conversion to a collegiate chapel in mind (i.e. with a "college" of priests resident to pray for Sir David and his family), but this never happened and instead it just became a private church. The building survived the Reformation with little damage; you can still see masons' marks on the ceiling as well as the family coat of arms.

Location & info

📌 Tullibardine Chapel★★
By minor road, off A823 1 mi north of Gleneagles Hotel, G.R.: NN 909135 ///decorated.wacky.worker
Open daily, April to September | Free

Blackford Old Parish Church

Perth & Kinross | Blackford | Church | ★

A fairly nondescript village on the road and railway between Stirling and Perth, Blackford is today mostly known for being the site of Tullibardine Distillery, well seen from the A9 dual carriageway. While you're in the area, the 16th century church is worth a visit, on a low hill on the opposite of the village. It was superseded by a church on the main street in 1859, leaving behind what is now a peaceful and atmospheric ruin.

Location & info

📌 Blackford Old Parish Church ★
Off the B8081, east side of Blackford village, G.R.: NN 901094 ///teams.hindered.fields
Always open | Free

Anything else? Approaching from the direction of the village, park just beyond (east of) the level crossing and follow the grassy path for a very short distance to the church.

Maggie Wall witch memorial

Perth & Kinross | Dunning | Monument | ★

"Maggie Wall
burnt here
as a witch"

...declare the scrawling letters painted on bare stone. In the 17th century, the village of Dunning was a hotspot, literally, for witch and warlock trials and executions. This lonely stone monument stands by the road out of the village to the west. Little is known about the burning of Maggie Wall - including whether it even happened - but the site has a distinctly macabre atmosphere nevertheless, not helped by the lopsidedness of the monument or the almost childish writing.

Location & info

📌 Maggie Wall witch memorial ★
By the B8062 1 mi west of Dunning, G.R. NO 006142 ///inherits.caramel.crackled
Always open | Free

St Serf's Church & Dupplin Cross

Perth & Kinross | Dunning | Church & carved cross | ★★

At a collision of B-roads on the northern fringe of the Ochil Hills, Dunning boasts a long and varied history. It's a quiet village, today dominated by the beautiful old church of St Serf's which dates back to the year 1200. It reputedly marks the spot where St Serf slew a dragon during the 6th century. Unfortunately church services aren't held here any more, but over the summer months friendly volunteers open the building as a tourist attraction. The real highlight inside is a finely carved, Pictish cross from around 800 AD, featuring an inscription in Latin referring to a Pictish king.

Location & info

📌 St Serf's Church and Dupplin Cross★★
Dunning village centre, G.R.: NO 018145 ///trading.ghosts.lucky
Open daily, April to September | Free

Bike: 7stanes Ae

Dumfries & Galloway | Ae | Mountain bike trails | ★★★★

Ae... what? Yes, it's Scotland's shortest-name village, hidden away on the banks of the Water of Ae and built entirely by the organisation now known as Forestry and Land Scotland. Just to the north, in the Forest of Ae, is 7stanes Ae - one of southern Scotland's several major mountain biking hubs, where you can listen to cyclists yelling "Aeeee...!" as they hurtle down the two Extreme grade downhill trails, or the 24 km red route. Back in the village, look out for an ornate wooden totem pole: a product of the Ae youth prject. In case you were wondering, the name Ae comes from, it's derived from Old Norse Aa, meaning water. This makes the translation of Water of Ae sound a bit silly.

Location & info

📌 7stanes Ae★★★★
The trailhead is half a mile north of Ae village, G.R. NX 985895 ///dazzling.minority.craziest
Always open | Free

Routes:⬤ 9 km ⬤ 14 km ⬤ 24 km ⬤ variants only ⬤ downhill trails. Map here

Twelve Apostles Stone Circle

Dumfries & Galloway | Newbridge | Stone circle | ★★

Venture into a large field sandwiched between a triangle of roads a few miles north of Dumfries, and you can explore mainland Scotland's largest stone circle, at around 250 metres in circumference. The name relates the number of stones in the circle to Jesus Christ's twelve apostles. Only 11 stones remain though, with the removed 12th sometimes associated with Judas Iscariot. A nice story, and this place sure needs it - the sheer size of the circle plus the wide open location means it lacks the atmosphere and certainly the intimacy of smaller stone circles. Unlike in the photos on this page, the best view is probably from the slightly raised, western side of the field, from where it's easier to see the circular layout. Or from an aeroplane!

Location & info

📌 Twelve Apostles Stone Circle ★★
Off minor road between Newbridge and the B729 junction, G.R.: NX 947794 ///reshape.asked.shiver
Always open | Free

Anything else…

Gleniffer Braes

Renfrewshire | Paisley | Park | ★★★

First appearances suggest that council budget cuts haven't been kind to Paisley's local country park. Potholed car parks, weeds poking through tarmac footpaths, but also some of the best views of Glasgow from the Car park in the sky (including at night, if you ignore the site's potential as a dogging location), and a waterfall that seems too impressive to be allowed so near to an urban area. Despite being so close to Paisley's southern suburbs that you can hear the ice cream van making its rounds of Glenburn, you've every chance of having the paths to yourself on a sunny summer evening.

Location & info

📌 Gleniffer Braes ★★★
Glenfield Road (eastern) car park is 3 mi south of Paisley town centre, G.R.: NS 481608 ///washed.wacky.flood. The western "Car park in the sky" (Robertson Park) is on the B775 at G.R.: NS 455607 ///
Always open | Free

📌 Craigielinn Waterfall ★★★
West of the Glenfield Road car pa…