Showing posts from August, 2017

Loch Lomond Shores

West Dunbartonshire | Balloch | Shopping centre | ★★

Loch Lomond Shores is probably the busiest part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, barely 10 miles from the outskirts of Glasgow. A row of tourist-orientated shops curve gracefully around the southern tip of Loch Lomond, dominated by Drumkinnon Tower which houses a shiny aquarium. For obvious reasons this is a good rainy day option, although in clear weather there are also spectacular views north across the water towards mountainous country. Newish ropes courses and a bird of prey centre complete the offering.

📌Loch Lomond Shores★★
Ben Lomond Way, half a mile northwest of Balloch town centre, G.R.: NS 385822 ///
Open daily | Free

>> Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre★★★
>> SEA LIFE Loch Lomond★★★★
>> Treezone (Loch Lomond)★★★★

Cumbernauld Museum

North Lanarkshire | Cumbernauld | Museum | ★

The government probably wasn't intending to build Scotland's ugliest settlement when they built Cumbernauld as a New Town in 1955, but that does seem to be what's happened. On one level it seems to have thrived: despite being only decades old, the town is already North Lanarkshire's largest. But from a visitor's perspective it's hideous: seemingly endless acres of dual carriageways, car parks and claustrophobic shopping centres. And there's a conundrum: what to display in the town museum? There are a few information boards setting out the groundbreaking "vision" of Cumbernauld, lots of aerial photographs and a little about the area's history before concrete covered it. But the suspiciously empty feel of the museum gives the game away: there's not much history to Cumbernauld New Town yet, even if a few people would quite like Cumbernauld New Town to be history...

📌Cumbernauld Museum
Cumbernauld L…

Shotts Heritage Centre

North Lanarkshire | Shotts | Museum | ★

This small museum is housed in Shotts town library. It's probably fair to say that the slightly scruffy displays (someone in the past used duct tape where they shouldn't have) about the region's industrial heritage don't feature on the shortlists of many visitors to Scotland, but it might be worth a (small) detour if you're in the area. Or if you're writing a blog about exploring Scotland. Iron, steel and coal once underpinned the area's economy, though all three industries are long since gone apart from the scars they've left on the landscape. Oh, and if you notice an almost unbearable stench in the air around the building? That's the animal feed factory just up the road.

📌Shotts Heritage Centre
Benhar Road, 10-min walk east of Shotts village centre, G.R.: NS 879599 ///neatly.rushed.deluded
Open Monday to Saturday | Free

Carfin Grotto

North Lanarkshire | Carfin | Religious site | ★★★

Carfin Grotto is Scotland's national Catholic shrine to the Virgin Mary, and is the brainchild of Father Thomas Taylor, local priest in the 1920s. The site is constructed in the image of Lourdes, a major Catholic pilgrimage site in southern France, and over the last 80 years has become a significant destination in its own right. The dozens of shrines and chapels spread over an extensive site make for a thought-provoking experience, whatever your religion or none.

📌Carfin Grotto★★★
Newarthill Road (B7066), Carfin town centre, G.R.: NS 775587 ///devotion.violin.consoled
Always open | Free

Motherwell Cathedral

North Lanarkshire | Motherwell | Cathedral | ★★★

Motherwell isn't the most architecturally handsome place in Scotland, and you mightn't associate the town with beautiful buildings. But there's at least one. Motherwell Cathedral, or Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral, opened in 1900 as a large parish church but was elevated to cathedral status in 1948, reflecting the town's growing importance as an industrial centre (which has since declined). If you can locate the correct entry door, the interior feels far larger and brighter than you might guess from the red brick outside; look out for the stained-glass windows, large organ and ornate side chapels.

📌Motherwell Cathedral★★★
Coursington Road, 5-min walk east of Motherwell town centre, G.R.: NS 755571 ///seats.hoping.tree
Open daily (entrance through northeast side door outside services) | Free

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre

North Lanarkshire | Motherwell | Museum | ★★

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre is located just across the railway from the town centre of Motherwell, the county capital. If the museum's name isn't particularly eye-catching then the building certainly is. A circular tower thrusts into the sky and provides the permanent core of the museum exhibits; "Climb Thru Time" displays on each floor take you slowly through the region's history from 10,000 years ago up to the present day, at which point you arrive at the top of the tower with good views across the county. Neat, huh? Back at ground level, the foyer hosts temporary exhibitions (of wildly varying quality, based on our two visits) while the rest of the building is used for archives, office and conference space.

📌North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre★★
High Road, Motherwell town centre, G.R.: NS 750571 ///send.scale.newly
Open Monday to Saturday | Free

Walk: Strathaven stravaig to Spectacle E'e Falls

South Lanarkshire | Strathaven | Half day walk | ★★★

The ruins of an old mill stand close to a waterfall on the Kype Water just northwest of Sandford village (no relation to the setting for Hot Fuzz, but just as peaceful). Once upon a time, a local lad fell for the miller's daughter here. The miller disapproved of the romance and forbade the relationship. As revenge, the young male lover threw his eyeglass into the mill's thatch, which soon caught fire. The sorry tale destroyed the mill and christened the waterfalls - Spectacle E'e (Eye) falls - which are impressive in spate. Starting in the historic market town of Strathaven has the disadvantage of a longish road walk to end the route but also the chance to visit the town's castle ruin - and the possibility of finding refreshment at the start or finish.

📌 Walk: Strathaven & Spectacle E'e ★★★
Start / finish at Common Green car park, Strathaven town centre, G.R.: NS 702445 ///wasps.unite.plotting

▶ 5 km / 3 mi |…