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

Innerpeffray Chapel★★
Location: Minor road end 4 miles southeast of Crieff, G.R.: NN 902183 ///palms.toward.piled
Open (2019): Daily, April to September; Wednesday to Sunday, March & October
Cost: 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 ★★★
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 140 metres
Summits: St Fillan's Hill / Dundurn (175 metres) | Features: Loch Earn; St Fillan's Chapel
Start / finish: Layby fo…

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 five hills stretching across a large swathe of Galloway Forest Park. The two southernmost "fingers" comprise the lofty peak of The Merrick and lower Benyellary. "A walk of two halves" perfectly describes this circuit of these two hills, with a straightforward path providing the direct way up from the popular beauty spot of Glen Trool. This route alone seems underwhelming for an ascent of what's Scotland's highest hill south of the Central Belt though. Who likes linear routes anyway? Returning via four lochs amongst craggy moorland could be the perfect tonic... perfect apart from boot-swallowing bogs which often characterise the middle section. We can confirm the going's largely fine after a dry spell, but still beware of the Murder Hole: the stagnant western fringe of Loch Neldricken, rumoured to be a pas…

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 ★★★★★
▶ 1 km / <1 mile | ▲ 90 metres
Summits: Duncryne (142 metres)
Start / finish: Layby on minor road just southeast of Gartocharn, G.R.: NS 433856 ///builds.fond.humans

Route: Layby - Duncryne Hill - return by outward route (or similar)

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.

📌Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre★★★
Location: Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch, G.R.: NS 383821 ///storeroom.nibbled.burst
Open (2019): Generally daily; some weekday closures between November and January
Cost (2019): £8 (adults), £4 (children)


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: G.R.: NS 484640 ///brings.impact.jolly
Anything else? On weekdays you'll need to head …

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 valley complete with dramatic waterfall. We initially thought the price was a bit steep before discovering that the course was much, much longer than anticipated: six 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.

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


Stirling | Village | ★

Aberfoyle is right at the southern edge to the Trossachs, on the Highland Boundary Fault at the foot of beautiful Duke's Pass. We don't rate it as highly as the alternative gateway town of Callander to the east (it's a tiny place and can be overwhelmed by high season tourists), but there's plenty to do in the immediate area surrounding the village. Except in winter, the Scottish Wool Centre runs fun and free livestock demonstrations three times daily: worth watching if your visit happens to coincide with one. There's also a spacious tourist information centre and several places to eat including a great chippy. The local walking is also excellent, no matter your ability or ambition.

📌Aberfoyle ★
Location: G.R.: NN 521010 ///look.shrubbery.rooms

Within walking distance

>> Duke's Pass (A821)★★★
>> Go Ape (Aberfoyle)★★★★

📌Scottish Wool Centre★★
Description: Small, touristy shopping centre with sheep and duck shows during summer.

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 ★★★
▶ 2 km / 1 mile | ▲ 60 metres
Summits: Doon Hill (77 metres) | Features: Doon Hill fairies
Start / finish: Old church at Aberfoyle Cemetery, G.R.: NN 518005 ///micro.offerings.grace

Route: Old church - track to foot of Doon Hill - Doon Hill (choice of two paths to s…

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 South Side. 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 (named after the attractive waterfall on the burn here) - good for a short stroll.

📌Holmwood House★★
Description: 19th century villa built by Alexander "Greek" Thomson: considered one of his finest buildings.
Location: Netherlee Road, Cathcart, G.R.: NS 585597 ///bend.close.ideas
Open (2019): Friday to Monday afternoons, March to late October
Cost (2019): £7.50 (adults)…

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.

📌Stanely Castle ★
Location: Stanely Reservoir, 2 miles southwest of Paisley town centre, G.R.: NS 464616 ///scar.drums.sits
Open: Always (view from reservoir bank only)
Cost: Free
Anything else? Park on the B775 immediately south of the petrol station and junction with Braeview Drive. Walk south and access the reservoir through white gate…

Ettrick Hills lochs

Scottish Borders | Cappercleuch | Lochs | ★★★

In between Moffat and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders are a whole host of beautiful lochs and reservoirs surrounded by the seldom visited Ettrick Hills. Miles from the nearest town, the only interruption is likely to be the odd motorbike touring the wonderfully quiet and scenic roads around here. St Mary's Loch is the largest loch anywhere in the Borders and reputedly the coldest in Scotland, although we didn't test the theory! A tiny stretch of river separates it from Loch of the Lowes (not to be confused with its namesake near Dunkeld) to the south. Another burn feeding St Mary's Loch is the Megget Water. Follow the narrow road up this valley from Cappercleuch and you'll reach two more water bodies: Megget and Talla Reservoirs, important water sources for the city of Edinburgh. Although both man-made, this is still lovely countryside with an isolated feel.

📌Megget Reservoir ★★
Description: Large reservoir filling the valle…