Showing posts from October, 2015

Bo'ness Motor Museum

Falkirk | Bo'ness | Museum | ★★★

Bo'ness Motor Museum is something of a treasure trove of cars and motoring memorabilia, crammed into a building much more interesting than it looks from the outside. Open since 2004, the museum is a private collection specialising (though not exclusively) in vehicles from films: James Bond in particular, with the car from the second Harry Potter instalment one of the other popular exhibits. There's something here catering for most ages and tastes, although you probably already know whether this is the sort of place you'd like or not.

Location & info

📌 Bo'ness Motor Museum★★★
Bridgeness Road (A904), 1 mi east of Bo'ness town centre, G.R.: NT 013816 ///stereos.pairings.under
Open daily | £6.95 adult / £5 child

Kinneil House

Falkirk | Bo'ness | Historic building | ★★★

Kinneil House is the centrepiece to a large estate close to the south side of the Forth estuary at Bo'ness. A small museum gives the history of the estate and town, and is accessible most days, all year round along with the exterior of the main house. But it's the interior of the house, open on a few days each year, where it really gets interesting, with the wonderful painted walls and ceilings the main highlight. The grounds are worth investigation too, with a Roman fortlet, ruined church and woodland walks to explore.

Location & info

📌 Kinneil House★★★
Off Provost Road, 1 mi west of Bo'ness town centre, G.R.: NS 982806 ///overgrown.sway.existence
Interior open on selected weekend dates from late March to late November - see website. Museum: Wednesday to Monday afternoons | Free

Bike: 7stanes Dalbeattie

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

A lack of big hills at this MTB centre near Dalbeattie might lead a newcomer into a false sense of security. But it's rock rather than contours that characterises the trails here. The exposed granite is fearsomely slippery when wet, the difficulty magnified by huge, steep expanses of the stuff at black-graded features such as The Slab. Beginners looking for singletrack may be disappointed though - the red trail is by far the standout route. If short on time, the straightforward (blue or red) Taster Loop is a worthwhile 4 km portion of the longer routes, with long sections on raised timber.

Location & info

📌 7stanes Dalbeattie★★★★
Trailhead is off the A710 1 mi south of Dalbeattie, G.R.: NX 836592 ///daffodils.driveway.everyone
Always open | Free (parking charge)

Routes:⬤ 12 km ⬤ 14 km ⬤ 25 km ⬤ variants only ⬤ skills area; taster loop. Map here.
Bike hire:Gorsebank Camping Village about half a mile south of the tr…

Caerlaverock Castle

Dumfries & Galloway | Bankend | Castle | ★★★★

Caerlaverock is one of southern Scotland's finest ruins, if not the finest. Built in the 13th century by the Maxwell family, the castle is uniquely triangular in shape, defended by two moats and a formidable gatehouse. Despite numerous sieges - inevitable at such close proximity to the English border - large parts survive reasonably intact, including tall sandstone battlements and mighty corner towers. An ornate, Renaissance east range is a surprising discovery inside: this is Nithsdale Lodging, added in the 17th century by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. Back on the outside of the moat, a nature trail leads to the site of the castle's predecessor on the fringes of Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve.

Location & info

📌 Caerlaverock Castle★★★★
By the B725 2 mi south of Bankend, G.R.: NY 026656 ///wizards.converged.quote
Open daily | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

Walk: Screel Hill - rocky ridge, wide views

Dumfries & Galloway | Palnackie | Half day walk | ★★★

Screel Hill is a smallish dollop of a hill served with an extra large helping of character. Rocky knolls dot the prominent summit ridge, with excellent views of Castle Douglas from the top and of Rough Firth from the ascent. Much of the lower slopes are wooded, but this is no monotonous swathe of forest: instead, varied vegetation (with colourful arrays of fungi in season) and an rough but interesting path winding up through it add up to an enjoyable climb.

📌 Walk: Screel Hill - rocky ridge, wide views ★★★
Start / finish at car park by minor road, just off A711 2 mi south of Palnackie, G.R.: NX 800547 ///permit.fevered.snow

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 330 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Screel Hill (344 m)
Terrain: Track for first 400 m and most of return; rough paths for remainder, wet on summit ridge and briefly very steep on descent. Ascent path wrongly marked as a track on OS 1:25000 maps.

Route & map

Car park - east end of su…

Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds

Dumfries & Galloway | Auchencairn | Half day walk | ★★★

This rocky section of coastline south of Dalbeattie has a history of unusual dealings. At the start of the walk, Balcary Bay Hotel's huge underground cellars were reputedly used to store illegal goods from smugglers. Meanwhile, isolated Hestan Island is visible from the first section of the walk and used to be home to a couple who manufactured church organs and rowed them ashore for delivery - just about the most impractical set up you could imagine. Today the focus is on agriculture, with the rugged clifftops left alone again for the enjoyment of walkers and wildlife.

📌 Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds ★★★
Start / finish at Balcary Bay car park, minor road 2 mi southeast of Auchencairn, G.R.: NX 821495 ///fishnet.divisible.crawling

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 220 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: Balcary coastline; Loch Mackie
Terrain: Clear but rough clifftop coastal paths for the outward leg and rural tracks…

Walk: Calderglen - rotten rapids & hidden waterfalls

South Lanarkshire | East Kilbride | Half day walk | ★★★

Cuddling up against suburban East Kilbride, Calderglen is a surprisingly peaceful glen through which the unsavoury-sounding Rotten Calder flows - the name actually referring to the ironstone bedrock, or perhaps the rusty colour of the water running over it. This walk is all about the journey (past several attractive waterfalls, although views of the most dramatic ones are obstructed by vegetation) rather than the destination; the former site of Calderwood Castle at the end appears just to be a forlorn mass of weeds. Mostly wooded, this is a useful bad weather alternative to a more ambitious walk - and thanks to numerous steps, probably nearly as tiring! Don't miss the small, friendly zoo at the start.

📌 Walk: Calderglen - rotten rapids & hidden waterfalls ★★★
Start / finish at Calderglen Country Park main car park, off A726 1 mi southeast of East Kilbride town centre, G.R.: NS 654526 ///prominent.sounding.spout

▶ 8 km / 5…

Loup of Fintry

Stirling | Fintry | Waterfall | ★★★★

Winding through gently scenic nowhere land between the Campsie Fells and Fintry Hills, the Endrick Water unexpectedly takes an almighty 94-foot plunge into a side-on gorge. This is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Scottish Lowlands (although Corra Linn and Grey Mare's Tail both come close), so why it's not better known is something of a mystery. Perhaps it's because the Carron Valley Reservoir upstream blocks much of the burn's catchment area, so waiting until after a period of local heavy rain is even more important than with other waterfalls. Nevertheless, this awesome cataract should be right at the top of your list.

Location & info

📌 Loup of Fintry ★★★★
By the B818 1 mi east of Carron Valley Reservoir dam, G.R.: NS 662862 ///breezy.operation.survived
Always open | Free

Anything else? There are informal laybys with space for about 5 cars in total on both sides of the road near Gallows Knowe, G.R.: NS 661864 ///than…

Campsie Glen waterfalls

East Dunbartonshire | Clachan of Campsie | Waterfalls | ★★★★

In bygone years a path used to snake up the narrow gorge north of Clachan of Campsie. Rockfalls and warning signs now block the middle section, but short linear walks into the gorge from each end are still well worth it. A quick stroll from the bottom car park leads to the lower section of rapids. The upper car park on Crow Road is reached by a steep, 300 metre walk or a winding, 3 mile drive. Heading downhill from here (instead of uphill towards Cort-ma Law) accesses the middle of 3 more waterfalls. All are worth a visit following wet weather if you don't mind a bit of scrambling, but the bottom one of this trio deserves special praise - as you can walk behind it.

Location & info

📌 Campsie Glen Lower Falls ★★
On the Kirk Burn immediately north of Clachan of Campsie, G.R.: NS 610798 ///exploring.pirates.clipped
Always open | Free

Anything else? From the large car park at G.R.: NS 611796 ///quaking.spider.dislikes it…

Walk: Ballagan Glen - 192 layers of history

Stirling | Campsie Fells | Short walk | ★★
❕ Route reported as impassable - see red text below

Ballagan Glen is home to a series of tremendous waterfalls, including where the Spout of Ballagan plunges 21 metres off the Campsie Fells escarpment. The gorge below displays 192 alternating shale and limestone rock strata known as the Ballagan Beds. Unfortunately this nature reserve seems reluctant to give up its secrets, so this is a walk for keen geologists or determined waterfall lovers only. Reaching a viewpoint for the Beds is straightforward enough, but paths seem to fade to nothing (although some internet sources suggest otherwise) if you attempt to reach the base of the waterfall - best seen after heavy rain. Tall ferns and leafy woodland obstruct the view, but to a lesser extent during winter or spring. The Blane Valley Inn in nearby Blanefield served superb recovery fodder for weary souls but shut its doors in 2020 - we hope it'll reopen.

📌 Walk: Ballagan Glen - 192 layers of …

Walk: Knock of Crieff - country feast

Perth & Kinross | Crieff | Half day walk | ★★★

Really just a rural meander posing as a hill walk, this gentle wander takes in sweeping views towards Ben Chonzie and the Highlands to the north and west, and pretty farmland elsewhere. Like many other spots on the Highland Boundary Fault, red squirrels are common here so keep your eyes peeled around The Knock - this might also help you avoid getting knocked down by speeding Segways from the nearby Crieff Hydro resort. The tracks and minor road back from Ferntower are flanked by elderberries (potentially toxic if eaten raw), blackberries and raspberries. During season (probably September in a normal year) this is a perfect dessert to accompany lunch in Crieff.

📌 Walk: Knock of Crieff - country feast ★★★
Start / finish at Knock of Crieff middle car park, minor road behind Crieff Hydro, half a mile north of Crieff town centre, G.R.: NN 864226 ///bossy.approve.rural

▶ 6 km / 4 mi | ▲ 230 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Knock of Cri…

Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stone

Perth & Kinross | Fowlis Wester | Pictish stone | ★★

The 3 metre-high stone in Fowlis Wester is one of Scotland's tallest symbol stones, with a cross on one side and with several Pictish symbols on the other. A Z-rod, double disc and several people and animals are included in the symbols; the carvings probably date to the 8th or 9th centuries. Actually, the stone in the village square is a replica placed in the stone's original location, while the original can be found in the local parish church. Apparently the church is open during daylight hours - not so on our visit...

Location & info

📌 Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stone★★
The replica stone is in Fowlis Wester village square, G.R.: NN 928241 ///commented.passions.sprouted. Original stone is inside the nearby church.
Replica is always viewable. Original: daylight hours, theoretically... | Free

Walk: Cornalees boardwalk bonanza

Inverclyde | Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park | Short walk | ★★★

Signposted as a nature trail, the most interesting elements of this short walk in Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park are ironically manmade. An ingenious series of boardwalks and bridges makes up the wooded middle part of the route along Kip Water, with elevated wooden sections stretching for nearly a kilometre - great for children. Meanwhile, the first and last parts of the circuit follow portions of the lengthy Greenock Cut and Kelly Cut aqueducts. These carry water to and from nearby Compensation Reservoir, and give fleeting views towards the Firth of Clyde and more distant hills of Argyll.

📌 Walk: Cornalees boardwalk bonanza ★★★
Start / finish at Greenock Cut Visitor Centre car park, Cornalees Bridge, minor road 2 mi east of Inverkip, G.R.: NS 247722 ///reflected.blissful.forgiven

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 70 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features:Greenock Cut visitor centre; Greenock Cut; Kelly Cut
Terrain: Wooden boardwalk with steps for mid…