Showing posts from April, 2016

Sma' Shot Cottages

Renfrewshire | Paisley | Historic buildings | ★★

Over the years, redevelopment has threatened to wipe out the evidence for Paisley's former fame as a great weaving centre. But an unassuming row of former weavers' cottages remain, tucked away to the south of the centre. The Sma' Shot Cottages (named after an important but unseen thread used in manufacturing shawls) recreate life as a weaver over both the late 18th and mid 19th centuries. It's only open in summer for a couple of afternoons each week, run by friendly volunteers who were more than happy to give us a detailed tour.

📌 Sma' Shot Cottages★★
Sma' Shot Lane, 5-min walk south of Paisley town centre, G.R.: NS 482638 ///upon.hero.views
Open Wednesday, Friday & Saturday afternoons, April to September (2019) | Free

Innerpeffray Chapel

Perth & Kinross | Crieff | Chapel | ★★

Innerpeffray Chapel is an unassuming, smallish building next to Innerpeffray Library on the banks of the River Earn a few miles downstream from Crieff. The chapel was built in the 14th century as a private chapel for the local Drummond family, also becoming Scotland's first public lending library around a century later. The chapel's interior is beautiful (note: there's a light switch by the entrance door), apparently set out for a wedding on our visit. Fragments of paintings are still visible on the walls, and a small loft overlooking the rest of the chapel is accessed by a narrow set of stairs.

Location & info

📌 Innerpeffray Chapel★★
By minor road end 4 mi southeast of Crieff, G.R.: NN 902183 ///palms.toward.piled
Open daily, April to September; Wednesday to Sunday, March & October | Free

Walk: St Fillan gives up the goats

Perth & Kinross | Loch Earn | Half day walk | ★★★

Downstream of St Fillans lies an attractively rocky knoll isolated amongst fields and flood plain. This is St Fillan's Hill, its base reached by a track across the village golf course. The last leg isn't quite so straightforward: after wet weather the final field can get muddy and the burn crossing may become non-trivial. Wild goats roam the shady northern slopes, which also provide the gentlest way up out of a steep selection. Whatever final route you choose, just watch out for the odd cliff edge. Views from the top aren't far reaching - you're hemmed in by higher hills on two sides and Loch Earn is concealed by trees - but the craggy ground you're standing on has plenty of character in itself, also a Pictish hill fort.

📌 Walk: St Fillan gives up the goats ★★★
Start / finish at layby (space for a couple of cars only, but several other laybys nearby) on minor road by the southeast corner of Loch Earn, immediatel…

Walk: The Merrick, Murder Hole & Range of the Awful Hand!

Dumfries & Galloway | Galloway Forest Park | Full day walk | ★★★

Nowhere does place names like Galloway! The Range of the Awful Hand is a chain of 5 hills stretching across a large swathe of Galloway Forest Park, of which the two southernmost "fingers" comprise the lofty peak of The Merrick and lower Benyellary. This circuit is a walk of contrasting halves, with a straightforward path providing the direct way up from the popular beauty spot of Glen Trool. You could return the same way for an easier day out, but it all seems a bit easy for what is the fourth highest hill in the Southern Uplands. Returning via 4 lochs amongst craggy moorland allows the perfect circular route... apart from boot-swallowing bogs which often characterise the middle section. We can confirm the going's largely fine after a dry spell, but beware the Murder Hole: the stagnant western fringe of Loch Neldricken, rumoured to be a past dumping ground for human corpses. Best not go for a swim. Back…

Walk: Duncryne - Lomond Highland snapshot

West Dunbartonshire | Gartocharn | Short walk | ★★★★★

It's hardly more than a pimple on the face of gently rolling countryside south of Loch Lomond, but the short wander to the summit of Duncryne reveals exquisite views equal to almost any in the Highlands (though geologically speaking, it's actually just in the Lowlands). A diminutive 142 metres high and locally nicknamed the Dumpling, this former volcano overlooks the horseshoe of hills surrounding the upper reaches of Loch Lomond. Ben Lomond, the Luss Hills and the Arrochar Alps are all clearly in view as well as the Campsie Fells to the east. A perfect, straightforward walk for families or quick escape from the crowds of nearby Glasgow.

📌 Walk: Duncryne - Lomond Highland snapshot ★★★★★
Start / finish at layby on minor road just southeast of Gartocharn, G.R.: NS 433856 ///builds.fond.humans

▶ 1 km / <1 mi | ▲ 90 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: △ Duncryne (142 m)
Terrain: Good path to base of hill with a short, potentially m…

Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

West Dunbartonshire | Balloch | Wildlife attraction | ★★★

This recent newcomer to the side of Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre is a great place to spend an hour or so around birds of prey. 35 birds are spread over a intimate but pretty site among woodland, including a majestic golden eagle as the star attraction. Each of the birds has a dedicated indoor space, but many of the diurnal species have secondary outdoor perches. Apparently there are plans to build an arena for flying displays - this should help transform this relative hatchling into a fully-fledged attraction.

Location & info

📌 Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre★★★
Loch Lomond Shores, Ben Lomond Way, half a mile northwest of Balloch town centre, G.R.: NS 383821 ///storeroom.nibbled.burst
Open daily, May to September; generally weekdays, October to April - see website | £8 adult / £4 child


Renfrewshire | Town | ★★

Paisley's a curious old place. With its history as a religious centre stretching back to the founding of Paisley Abbey in 1163, the industrial revolution of the late 18th century propelled the town to new heights as a prosperous weaving settlement and purveyor of the famous Paisley Pattern. Good times weren't to last: today it's still (probably) Scotland's largest town but the local economy appears to have seen better days. A lot of grand buildings provide clues to its former status, and in 2017 the town just missed out on being crowned UK City of Culture 2021. There are still several worthwhile attractions dotted around, and it's just a matter of knowing where to go. The museum at the west end of the High Street is the best place to start; after that, your options may be dictated by the day of the week you happen to be visiting on.

Location & info

📌 Paisley ★★
Renfrewshire, G.R.: NS 484640 ///brings.impact.jolly

🚶 All the central attra…

Go Ape (Aberfoyle)

Stirling | Aberfoyle | Ropes course | ★★★★

If you feel like "hanging around" Aberfoyle for a few hours and getting an adrenalin rush at the same time, perhaps it's time to Go Ape! Go Ape has three ropes courses in Scotland, and this one stands out for its zip wires: including a final one that's nearly half a kilometre long, high above a wooded glen complete with dramatic waterfall. We initially thought the price was a bit steep before discovering that the course was much, much longer than anticipated: 6 separate "zones" full of vertigo-inducing crossings (35 in total, according to the website), tarzan swings and vertical ladders. Great fun, and you can check it out beforehand with a wander underneath as part of a walk to Lime Craig.

Location & info

📌 Go Ape (Aberfoyle)★★★★
Car park (with charge) at David Marshall Lodge, by the A821 just north of Aberfoyle, G.R.: NN 520015 ///wires.advising.equivocal
Open February to December but days vary (2019) - see of…

Scottish Wool Centre

Stirling | Aberfoyle | Wildlife attraction | ★★

The Scottish Wool Centre in Aberfoyle is largely just a rather large shop - and so a type of tourist attraction which we don't regularly write about on Scotland Off the Beaten Track. But for 6 months each year the centre runs low key but nevertheless entertaining livestock demonstrations, 3 times daily. If you happen to be visiting the village at the right time, they're well worth hoofing it across the road to; the demonstrations are also free, as presumably the staff are looking to fleece you in the shop instead. The Gathering - as the show is called - features Indian runner ducks being herded around various obstacles by sheepdogs. As might be expected for a wool centre, there are also a variety of different breeds of sheep to lock horns with, as well as goats, horses, hens and doves.

Location & info

📌 Scottish Wool Centre★★
Off the A821, Aberfoyle village centre, G.R.: NN 522009 ///stitching.trail.bleak
Open daily (animal sh…

Walk: Above Inversnaid with goats for company

Stirling | Inversnaid | Short walk | ★★★

North of Rowardennan, progress along the remaining 15 miles or so of Loch Lomond's eastern shore is on foot via a rough section of the West Highland Way... except at Inversnaid, where an unlikely thread of tarmac snakes its way down to the bonnie banks from high ground to the east. It's a windy half hour's drive on single track road from Aberfoyle to get here (or take the ferry), but this short and steep circuit above Inversnaid is a worthwhile way to explore this delightfully quiet area: wild goats outnumbered people on our visit. There are good views of the lower Arklet Falls from the loch side at the very start. Higher up, the route passes further cascades before breaking clear of the trees to reveal views across Loch Lomond to the Arrochar Alps. A less interesting and slightly boggy stretch is next (well, no walk's perfect) before passing an abandoned 18th century village on the return leg, perhaps with lunch following at th…

Walk: Away with the faeries up Doon Hill

Stirling | Trossachs | Short walk | ★★★

The body of Reverend Robert Kirk lies buried close to the ruined church on the southern outskirts of Aberfoyle. But where is his soul? In the 1600s the Reverend wrote an essay about the fairies on nearby Doon Hill. Legend tells that the fairies, dismayed at their secrets having being revealed, captured the Reverend and imprisoned his spirit in the pine tree at the summit. This walk more than makes up in atmosphere what it may lack in views: the associated dark story transforms a beautiful location into one that can send shivers down your spine. The presence of constantly rustling wind chimes on a breezy day doesn't really help either...

📌 Walk: Away with the faeries up Doon Hill ★★★
Start / finish at Aberfoyle Old Parish Church & cemetery (street parking), Manse Road, immediately south of Aberfoyle, G.R.: NN 518005 ///micro.offerings.grace

▶ 2 km / 1 mi | ▲ 60 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: △ Doon Hill (77 m); Doon Hill fairies
Terrain: Mi…

Holmwood House & Linn Park

Glasgow | Southside | Stately home & park | ★★

Tucked away in the glen carved by the White Cart Water is a fairly undeveloped area of attractive woodland in the middle of Glasgow's Southside. Mills grew up alongside the river and James Couper, joint owner of one of these, asked the local architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson to design a new house for him nearby. This was 1857: today Thomson is considered one of the city's most famous architects, and Holmwood House one of his finest masterpieces. Its grounds are attractive too, but a more extensive green space is around the corner at Linn Park. This is the city's second largest park, named after the attractive waterfall on the White Cart Water which runs through it, and good for a short stroll.

Location & info

📌 Holmwood House★★
Netherlee Road, Cathcart, 4 mi south of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 585597 ///bend.close.ideas
Open Friday to Monday afternoons, March to late October | £7.50 adult / £5.50 child…

Stanely Castle

Renfrewshire | Paisley | Castle | ★

Once great, having since fallen on hard times, but still somehow standing proud... that's no way to talk about Paisley! But it's an apt description of this 15th century, L-plan tower house in the town's southern suburbs. Originally built on dry ground within an area of marshland, since the 1800s it's been completely surrounded by the waters of Stanely Reservoir which lap directly at the walls. Not much to see here, and getting to a decent viewpoint requires negotiating a rather muddy footpath, but it's an interesting insight into what this area used to be like before being overtaken by urban sprawl.

Location & info

📌 Stanely Castle ★
Stanely Reservoir, 2 mi southwest of Paisley town centre, G.R.: NS 464616 ///scar.drums.sits
Always open (view from reservoir bank only) | Free

💬 Park on the B775 immediately south of the petrol station and junction with Braeview Drive. Walk south and access the reservoir through white gates on t…