Showing posts from March, 2016

Walk: That sinking feeling on Cairn Table

East Ayrshire | Muirkirk | Half day walk | ★★

Mainland Ayrshire has a reputation for being quite a flat county, but 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, Cairn Table's slopes are pockmarked by seemingly bottomless bogs. Until recently, the odd duckboard placed along the path were laughably inadequate, but we hear that recent improvements have eliminated the wettest sections. The westerly return is drier and has an interesting quirk; 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…

Earthquake House (Comrie)

Perth & Kinross | Comrie | Historic building | ★

The village of Comrie sits at a triple confluence of the River Earn, Glen Artney and Glen Lednock, with sandbags by house doors standing guard against potential flooding. A tiny 1870s stone building - dramatically labelled on Ordnance Survey maps as Earthquake House - contains one of the UK's earliest seismometers. But why here? The clue lies in the geology (probably), with the Highland Boundary Fault passing close by. Earth tremors (of significant magnitudes for the UK, but small by global standards) have long been a feature of this area, resulting in the settlement's nickname: The Shaky Toun. Visitors can peer through a window to see the old seismometer, alongside more modern equipment which still records any movement.

Location & info

📌 Earthquake House (Comrie) ★
Off minor road 10-min walk southwest of Comrie village centre, G.R.: NN 765218 ///juggles.belt.ended
Always viewable (exterior only) | Free

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.

Location & info

📌 Crocodile Rock ★
Off the A85 1 mi east of St Fillans village centre, G.R.: NN 710238 ///testy.coughed.salmon
Always viewable | Free

Anything else? No …

Falls of Edinample

Stirling | Lochearnhead | Waterfall | ⛔
❔ We believe this waterfall is no longer accessible - reports welcome

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.

Location & info

📌 Falls of Edinample ⛔
By minor road over the Burn of Ample, 1 mi southeast of Lochearnhead, G.R.: NN 602225 ///flips.curls.those

Loch Earn

Perth & Kinross / 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.

Location & info

📌 Loch Earn ★★★
Perth & Kinross / Stirling, 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 ★★★
Start / finish at layby on the A84 3 mi south of Strathyre, G.R.: NN 583137 ///scary.dolls.digs

▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 690 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Beinn Each (813 m, Corbett)
Terrain: Clear paths and tracks throughout, often steep. Briefly boggy at Eas an Eoin.

Route & map

Layby - signposted path to Glen Ample - signpost a…

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 along with his wife and two of their sons. 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 ★★★
Start / finish at car park on minor road at Balquhidder Church, G.R.: NN 536209 ///beyond.steam.absorb

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 130 m | ⌚ Short walk | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Creag an Tuirc (260 m) | Features: Rob Roy's Grave
Terrain: Clear paths, steep on descent, and g…

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.

Location & i…

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 ★★★★
Start / finish at any of several small laybys off minor road 4 mi southwest of Stirling, around G.R.: NS 756880 ///shippers.rare.amazed

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 100 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Lewis Hill (266 m) | Features: North Third Reservoir
Terrain: Clear paths are muddy …

Almond Castle

Falkirk | Whitecross | Castle | ★★

Almond Castle is frankly one of the most frightening sights we've seen 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 15th 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.

Location & info

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

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.

Location & info

📌 Beecraigs Country Park★★
Off minor road 1 mi south of Linlithgow. Visitor centre is at G.R.: NT 006746 ///eating.soaps.emerald
Open daily | 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 1,114 Scottish trees (and 110 Korean firs), providing a tangible link to each of the Scots who died during the three years of combat.

Location & info

📌 Scottish Korean War Memorial ★
By minor road 2 mi south of Linlithgow, G.R.: NS 988728 ///again.landscape.dives
Always open | Free


West Lothian | Town | ★

Linlithgow is one of the most attractive towns in the middle of the Central Belt, with plenty of history and a popular commuter town for both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Linlithgow Palace is its most famous tourist attraction: birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and enjoying a beautiful setting above Linlithgow Loch, itself worth a wander around at any time of year. St Michael's Church stands on the other side of the palace: proximity to the palace dictates that its history is closely intertwined, and Mary, Queen of Scots was baptised here. Don't leave before visiting some of Linlithgow's other highlights: the bustling high street, the canal running through the southern side of the town, or nearby Beecraigs Country Park.


📌 Linlithgow ★
West Lothian, G.R.: NT 003771 ///icon.reconnect.hiking

🚶 The palace and loch are very close to the town centre.
🚌 Linlithgow is served by trains on lines from towns and cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falk…

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" - which we didn't spot) at the top here, although truth be told he could have picked a more sheltered neuk. 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 ★★★
Start / finish at car park on minor road 2 mi south of Linlithgow, G.R.: NS 994742 ///notes.opened.jogged

▶ 1 km / <1 mi | ▲ 60 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Summits: Cockleroy (278 m…