Showing posts from June, 2017

Abercorn Museum

West Lothian | Abercorn | Sculptured stones | ★

This tiny collection of ancient stones - including Pictish cross shafts and a Viking hogback similar to those in Govan - is far from a major attraction, but makes an interesting diversion within easy reach of much of the Central Belt. The museum building (perhaps "shed" is a more accurate term) is just within the grounds of Abercorn Church. This has a particularly lovely arch with finely carved gargoyles above the main door, but the interior was locked on our visit.

Location & info

📌 Abercorn Museum ★
Off minor road by Abercorn Church, G.R.: NT 081790 ///
Always open (just slide back the bolt) | Free

House of the Binns

West Lothian | Blackness | Stately home | ★★★

The House of the Binns is a grand country home set on the side of a hill (or ben - which became corrupted to give the name "Binns") above the tidal Forth close to Blackness Castle. Unique among National Trust for Scotland attractions, the property is still home to the family who originally built it: the Dalyells, who have lived here for over 400 years. All tours (which now have to be booked in advance) are fully guided, fully accompanied by the screeching of the estate's resident peacocks, and designed so you visit the most impressive rooms towards the end. Among the highlights are some particularly fine ceilings, commissioned for an expected visit of Charles I in 1633 (which never came to fruition!). Sadly, photography wasn't permitted inside on our last visit. Afterwards it's worth taking the short hike up to the estate's highest point at Binns Tower. This folly was allegedly the result of a wager over who could…


Glasgow | City | ★★★★★

People make Glasgow has become the recent popular slogan for Scotland's largest city, again voted to be the world's friendliest in a 2016 survey by the travel publisher Rough Guides. That pesky capital and rival, Edinburgh, may be the more popular destination for tourists: "gritty" Glasgow can never compete for dramatic cityscapes, history or scenic beauty. But it really is the people that "make" Glasgow... along with Scotland's best shopping, best night scene, outstanding (and free) museums, and the only place in the country with a big city feel. The sights in the grid-like central district are detailed below, an area connected by the three main shopping thoroughfares of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. Places of interest further from the centre have their own pages but are linked to from here, categorised by compass points.


📌 Glasgow ★★★★★
George Square in the city centre is at G.R.: NS 593654 ///dri…

Glasgow Science Centre

Glasgow | Clyde Waterfront | Museum | ★★★★

Glasgow has no shortage of excellent indoor attractions. But how many are big enough to hold your attention for an entire day? As long as you're interested in science, Glasgow Science Centre is large enough to spend several hours in - we were there from open til close. This huge, titanium and glass-clad cavern is at the heart of Glasgow's Digital Media Quarter on the up-and-coming Clyde Waterfront; the attraction is multi-faceted, including three interactive floors of themed zones, large planetarium, IMAX cinema and 417-foot Glasgow Tower. You definitely don't have to be a child to have fun here, though with some of the zones it helps a little if you're young at heart! We imagine it must get quite busy in the holidays, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves on a June weekday after a couple of early school groups had left. As for the tower: it's the world's only structure capable of rotating into the prevailing wi…

Walk: Thornton Glen's secret castle

East Lothian | Innerwick | Short walk | ★★★

Thornton Glen is the steep-sided gorge through which the Thornton Burn flows, a couple of miles before meeting the sea at Thorntonloch Beach. The valley is a designated nature reserve due to its rich flora and fauna, with broadleaved woodland, dense carpets of wild garlic and plentiful bird life. But the most exciting part of this short circuit is actually of human construction. Innerwick Castle lies towards the south end of the reserve, built in the 15th or 16th century on a sandstone bluff overlooking the ravine. Signs warn visitors to keep out, but if you do venture (carefully) beyond the warnings you'll discover a fascinatingly complex ruin where nature and brickwork have long since intertwined, creating a magical maze of hidden corners, passageways and viewpoints. While the steep terrain creates some unprotected sheer drops, it also enables the visitor to view the castle from all angles: in front, behind, above, below, and within.


Dunglass Collegiate Church

East Lothian | Cockburnspath | Church | ★★

Dunglass Collegiate Church was established by the Home family in the 1440s, employing priests to pray for the family and ensure their safe passage to heaven. Unlike many similar old buildings, Dunglass has kept its roof, helping to save a number of ornate carvings inside which survived the Reformation. The church stopped being used for religious purposes in the 18th century when it was crudely converted into a barn - this done by unceremoniously bashing a hole in the east end to act as a larger doorway! In a recent upturn in fortunes though, the current estate owners now appear to be using the chapel as an occasional wedding venue, with pews ready for use in a large marquee next door.

Location & info

📌 Dunglass Collegiate Church★★
Off minor road 1 mi north of Cockburnspath, G.R.: NT 767719 ///slowly.pythons.melons
Open daily | Free

Cove Harbour

Scottish Borders | Cove | Harbour | ★★★

Cars, crowds, modern technology... these are all things you're unlikely to find at Cove Harbour, one of the most charming, secret spots on Scotland's southeast coast. Cove has been a haven for fisherman since the 17th century, first as a natural harbour and then with stone-built improvements, and is still in use today by a couple of small vessels. There's not much to do here and that's half the charm of the place; instead, it's the perfect location from which to just sit and admire the coastal scenery, listen to the waves lap at the breakwaters, or watch the boats bob on the tide. Access to the south side of the harbour (with a sandy beach at low water) is through a long tunnel through the headland. Side chambers in the depths of the passage used to store the day's fresh catch as well as smuggled contraband, though they're now blocked off.

Location & info

📌 Cove Harbour ★★★
Off minor road a 10-min walk east of Cove…

Walk: Fast Castle quickens the pulse

Scottish Borders | Dowlaw | Short walk | ★★★

Towering over a vertiginous, rocky headland with just a narrow drawbridge connecting it to the mainland, Fast Castle must have been the ultimate defensive location at the time of its construction during or around the 1300s. Today's visitor gains access via a (slightly) newer, concrete causeway with a short scramble at the far end aided by metal chains. Although more extensive than at first appears, the castle itself isn't that exciting. But its clifftop setting is: if more of the ruin was still standing, this could be just as famous an attraction as Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire. Dramatic coastal scenery surrounds the site, with rock stacks stained white from seabird guano, and long views north towards East Lothian. While the walk from the car park is short in distance, it involves a steep descent of nearly 200 vertical metres to reach the castle. Just remember that you have to do it all in reverse for the return journey...

📌 W…