Showing posts from March, 2016

Walk: That sinking feeling on Cairn Table

East Ayrshire | Muirkirk | Half day walk | ★★

It's true: mainland Ayrshire really does have some decent hills. Cairn Table reaches nearly 600 metres above sea level, giving excellent views over southwest Scotland and as far as Galloway, Arran and even Ben Lomond in clear conditions. Broad, heathery slopes, isolation from other high hills and massive summit cairns make the summit comparable to Tinto (visible to the east), but here the similarities end. Unlike Tinto, the direct hill path here is marred by seemingly bottomless bogs. The odd duckboard is laughably inadequate, as the photo above shows. The westerly alternative is drier, but if planning a circular route you may as well get the worst bit out of the way first. An interesting quirk is that the last leg passes the ruined residence of Springhill: once belonging to local entrepreneur John Loudon MacAdam, a pioneer of tarmac (short for Tarmacadam). The track here comprises some of his early road surfacing experiments in the 17…

Crocodile & Frog (St Fillans)

Perth & Kinross | St Fillans | Rock art | ★

"The Crocodile and The Frog" sounds like something out of Aesop's Fables, but they're actually two comically painted rocks close to the A85 just east of St Fillans. The crocodile is by far the larger of the two and actually has a little history: painted over a century ago (possibly by local youths) to the delight of rail passengers passing on the now dismantled railway, and evidently still given regular new coatings. It's also visible from passing cars if you know exactly when and where to look, as is the roadside frog nestling amongst vegetation by the entrance to the village. Access on foot (particularly for the crocodile) is a little more difficult - see notes below - but they make a quirky addition to a visit to Loch Earn or St Fillans village.

📌Crocodile Rock ★
Location: A85 a mile east of St Fillans, G.R.: NN 710238 ///testy.coughed.salmon
Anything else? No parking nearby. One option is to park on Station Road, …

Falls of Edinample

Stirling | Lochearnhead | Waterfall | ⛔

A site visitor in September 2019 reported this waterfall is no longer accessible. Info below may be out of date.

This idyllic and impressive waterfall is less than 100 metres from the road along the south side of Loch Earn, but being completely unsigned and hidden from view, it's missed by most passing cars. The parking arrangements are slightly unfriendly but the road widens immediately to the east of the bridge over the Burn of Ample, so there should be ample plenty of space to leave a single car without blocking the passing place. After picking your way down to the base of the falls, the only thing sharing your view of the 60 foot cascade is Edinample Castle: a fairytale (private) tower house built in the 16th century and restored in recent decades.

📌Falls of Edinample ⛔
By minor road over the Burn of Ample, a mile southeast of Lochearnhead, G.R.: NN 602225 ///flips.curls.those

Loch Earn

Stirling | Lochearnhead | Loch | ★★★

The peaceful and fish-rich waters of Loch Earn stretch nearly 7 miles, from St Fillans at the east end to Lochearnhead in the west through lush central highlands scenery. Neither village really deserves more than a quick visit; this is more just a part of the country just to drive through, pausing briefly at the various lochside laybys to take in the views. The sinuous A85 along the north bank can carry unnervingly fast traffic, making it difficult to pull over at the last minute - especially if you're travelling eastbound, when you have to cross oncoming vehicles. An alternative is to take the narrow road along the south bank, with equally good scenery (including the Falls of Edinample and the start of the hill path to Ben Vorlich) and a slower pace of life.

📌Loch Earn ★★★
Location: Between Lochearnhead & St Fillans, G.R.: NN 644238 ///league.landscape.stuns

Walk: Each on its own

Stirling | Trossachs | Half day walk | ★★★

Good paths, a general lack of bog and the short distance make Beinn Each one of the more straightforward Corbetts in good conditions; it's also only an easy 15 mile drive or so from the motorway. The walk begins by the banks of Loch Lubnaig and the climb starts immediately. The loch doesn't actually feature in the views, but Ben Ledi is soon well seen, followed by a superb western panorama dominated by Ben More and Stob Binnein as height is gained. Beinn Each is a decent objective on its own, but Stuc a' Chroin beckons to the north if you're looking for a tougher extension.

📌 Walk: Each on its own ★★★
▶ 7 km / 4 miles | ▲ 690 metres
Summits: Beinn Each (813 metres, Corbett)
Start / finish: Layby on the A84 3 miles south of Strathyre, G.R.: NN 583137 ///scary.dolls.digs

Route: Layby - signposted path to Glen Ample - signpost at Eas an Eoin - Beinn Each - return by outward route
Terrain: Clear paths and tracks throughout, often stee…

Walk: Above Rob Roy's Grave

Stirling | Trossachs | Short walk | ★★★

If you stretch your imagination a little you can almost still hear the rallying cry of Clan MacLaren from the top of Creag an Tuirc (Boar's Crag). This characterful, rocky knoll was the clan's gathering point during troubled times and is a wonderful viewpoint overlooking Loch Voil and the local hills. Meanwhile, the walk starts at the grave of Scottish folk hero and outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor, buried next to the ruins of Balquhidder Old Church. Based on our experience, red squirrels seem to be even more widespread here than elsewhere in the Trossachs - consider yourself unlucky if you don't see one.

📌 Walk: Above Rob Roy's Grave ★★★
▶ 3 km / 2 miles | ▲ 130 metres
Summits: Creag an Tuirc (260 metres) | Features: Rob Roy's Grave
Start / finish: Car park at Balquhidder Church, G.R.: NN 536209 ///beyond.steam.absorb

Route: Car park - Rob Roy's Grave - path at back of churchyard to track into Kirkton Glen - track junction at G.R.:…

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Glasgow | City centre | Show | ★★★

The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is one of Glasgow's quirkiest attractions, yet even many Glaswegians don't seem to have heard of it. During the 1970s, self-taught artist Eduard Bersudsky began crafting a set of curious, moving sculptures ("kinemats") out of scrap metal and rubbish. Initially only seen by his closest friends in his small room in a St Petersburg communal flat, the first kinetic theatre was founded in St Petersburg after Bersudsky showed his work to a theatre critic a decade or so later. Russian economic decline led to Bersudsky's emigration, but Glasgow soon picked up on his kinemats and they now reside in a first-floor gallery in the city centre, brought to life during shows several times weekly. The darkly humorous machinery somehow stirs up a surprising variety of emotions over the course of the 45- (or 70-) minute show, with each model sequentially coming to life to a carefully chosen soundtrack.

📌Sharmanka Kine…

Walk: First class views above North Third Reservoir

Stirling | Touch Hills | Short walk | ★★★★

Only a 5-minute drive from the suburbs of Stirling, the fact that it's a reservoir can't take anything away from the fact that North Third Reservoir is a truly stunning location for a short walk. Backed by the pinnacled crags of Lewis Hill, the trout-rich waters are frequented by overwintering geese whose noisy calls are a constant accompaniment to the otherwise tranquil scene. Some parts of the shore path are a bit squelchy, but the views are sensational pretty much as soon as you say goodbye to the potholed layby, and even better from the top of the crags visited on the return leg. Oh - and the sunsets...

📌 Walk: First class views above North Third Reservoir ★★★★
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 100 metres
Summits: Lewis Hill (266 metres) | Features: North Third Reservoir
Start / finish: One of several small laybys off minor road 4 miles southwest of Stirling, G.R.: NS 756880 ///shippers.rare.amazed

Route: Layby - path on west bank of Bannock Burn…

Almond Castle

Falkirk | Whitecross | Castle | ★★

Almond Castle is frankly one of the most frightening sights in Scotland. If a production company needed a place to film life in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, they could literally rock up here and start shooting immediately. An abandoned industrial complex lies between your approach path and the L-plan tower house, burnt-out goods and discarded clothing littering the crumbling concrete beneath your feet. You couldn't make it up. The castle's huge bricks, obvious cracks and gaping holes seem to lend a slightly comedic edge to its appearance, as if it actually is part of a film set. They also suggest that this fifteenth century castle's days might be numbered, so visit soon and don't get too close. Even the view from a distance should be enough to send shivers down your spine.

📌Almond Castle ★★
Location: Close to car park at minor road end, Muiravonside Parish Church, under a mile west of Whitecross, G.R.: NS 957773 ///energy.sofa.mess

Beecraigs Country Park

West Lothian | Linlithgow | Park | ★★

Nestling amongst the northern slopes of the Bathgate Hills close to Linlithgow, Beecraigs is probably the most worthwhile of the several country parks between Glasgow and Edinburgh. There's lots to do over the 370 hectares: a wander around Beecraigs Loch, a visit to the red deer herd alongside other animals in the "Animal Attraction" corner of the park... or lose yourself in the extensive woodland in the south and west of the park. The bronze age fort and excellent viewpoint of Cockleroy, although just outside the park boundary, is also easily walkable from here.

📌Beecraigs Country Park★★
Location (visitor centre): Minor road a mile south of Linlithgow, G.R.: NT 006746 ///eating.soaps.emerald
Open (2019): Daily
Cost: Free
Anything else? Download a park map here.

Scottish Korean War Memorial

West Lothian | Linlithgow | Monument | ★

The Scottish Korean War Memorial was built in the year 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, close to the southern edge of Beecraigs Country Park. The monument, built to resemble a Korean shrine, is set amongst a tranquil arboretum of 1114 Scottish trees (and 110 Korean firs), providing a tangible link to each of the Scots who died during the three years of combat.

📌Scottish Korean War Memorial ★
Location: Minor road 2 miles south of Linlithgow, G.R.: NS 988728 ///again.landscape.dives
Open: Always
Cost: Free

Walk: Cockleroy - off to Bed on the King's hat

West Lothian | Bathgate Hills | Short walk | ★★★

Cockleroy (the King's hat) is a piddling hill by most standards, but by Central Belt standards it happens to be one of the highest points. As well as excellent views over the Ochil Hills and Highlands beyond, Linlithgow (and its palace), Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat and the Pentland Hills, the summit incorporates a bronze-age fort. It's said that Scottish knight William Wallace took rest in a a rock cavity ("Wallace's Bed") at the top here (which we didn't spot), although truth be told he could have picked a more sheltered spot. The path from the nearby road is short and straightforward - alternatively, you could wander across from adjacent Beecraigs Country Park for a longer walk.

📌 Walk: Cockleroy - off to Bed on the King's hat ★★★
▶ 1 km / <1 mile | ▲ 60 metres
Summits: Cockleroy (278 metres) | Features: Wallace's Bed
Start / finish: Car park on minor road just over a mile south of Linlithgow, G.R.:…