Showing posts from June, 2018

Geilston Garden

Argyll & Bute | Cardross | Garden | ★★★

Geilston Garden dates back over 200 years, lying at the end of an avenue of limes on the Clyde coast a few miles west of Dumbarton. The garden splits into several varied parts: an interesting kitchen garden, orchard, slightly nondescript paddock, wooded burn (bluebells in May) and - the highlight - a very colourful walled garden. These all fan out from the (private) Geilston House: owned by a succession of wealthy merchant families until 1998, when it was taken into the care of the National Trust for Scotland. A pleasant diversion for an hour or two on a summer's day.

Location & info

📌 Geilston Garden★★★
By A814 half a mile northwest of Cardross, G.R.: NS 339784 ///bloom.pinches.elaborate
Open daily, April to October | £7.50 adult / £5.50 child / free for National Trust for Scotland members

Linn Botanic Gardens

Argyll & Bute | Cove | Garden | ★★

Fans of perfectly tended, formal gardens look away now... Linn Botanic Gardens on the peaceful Rosneath Peninsula may have been immaculate once upon a time, but more recently nature seems to have had the upper hand. But there's still beauty in these bushes if you're patient enough to overlook overgrown paths and untidy borders. A map leaflet (usually available upon arrival) and 50 numbered waymarkers guide you around the varied landscape, taking in a glen and waterfall, bamboo garden, ponds, Alpine lawn and rhododendron plantings surrounding a dilapidated old villa, though following the correct route isn't always straightforward. It's a refreshing from the heavily manicured gardens elsewhere in Scotland - but you can't help thinking another set of green fingers might transform the place.

Location & info

📌 Linn Botanic Gardens★★
Off B833, Cove village centre, G.R.: NS 223826 ///cornering.packages.hikes
Open daily, but probab…

Treezone (Loch Lomond)

West Dunbartonshire | Balloch | Ropes course | ★★★★

Adventurers with a head for heights can swing through the trees on the bonnie banks at Loch Lomond Shores, on the fringes of Scotland's original national park. Admission allows access to both of two ropes courses - Treecreeper and Buzzard - which are modelled on the company's original base at Treezone, Aviemore; it might be our imagination, but the newer one seems a tiny bit easier. As at their sister site, there are a variety of obstacles tethered to sturdy tree trunks, with a couple of zip lines for added adrenaline; taken together, the courses give a satisfyingly long expedition - with all the other facilities of nearby Loch Lomond Shores to wind down with afterwards.

Location & info

📌 Treezone (Loch Lomond)★★★★
Loch Lomond Shores, half a mile north of Balloch town centre, G.R.: NS 384822 ///juicy.alarm.croak
Generally open daily from Easter to October plus school holidays, then weekends from November to Easter, but che…

Bowling Harbour

West Dunbartonshire | Bowling | Harbour | ★★

Just off the busy A82 dual carriageway, Bowling village is normally bypassed by tourists on the rat-run towards Loch Lomond and the West Highlands. Sandwiched between a steep hillside and the Firth of Clyde, the settlement shares a narrow strip of land barely 300 metres across with two A-roads, two railway lines (one dismantled) and a canal. In this confined space it seems foolish to expect room for peace and beauty, but head down the initially unpromising lane to Bowling Basin and you'll stumble across a quiet haven of moorings, yachts, canal locks, and paths down to the shore. The basin marks the western end of the Forth & Clyde canal connecting both sides of Scotland, and it's never looked better thanks to the restoration and reopening of the whole route in 2001 after decades of dereliction. Bike hire is also available, with cycle tracks snaking west to Dumbarton and east along the canal towpath.

Location & info

📌 Bowling…

The Clydeside Distillery

Glasgow | Finnieston | Distillery | ★★★★

For decades, the River Clyde in Glasgow saw barrel after barrel of Scotch whisky exported from its dockyards. Industry and shipping have since declined on this part of the river, but spirit's flowing again: this time at the brand new Clydeside Distillery, occupying a gorgeously restored, former pump house at the Queen's Dock. The tour price is a little expensive, and the maximum tour size of 20 too big for our liking, but this is still an excellent visitor setup: tours include a film introduction, extensive exhibition area about the docks, blenders and whisky barons, wonderful views from the iconic still house (is it too early to say iconic?), and a strong feeling of "whisky coming home". One minor problem: tasting is currently of 3 single malts from elsewhere in Scotland (specific distilleries are confidential, but they're exclusive bottlings) as no whisky has matured yet (production only began in late 2017). You'll h…

Stevenson Beach

North Ayrshire | Stevenson | Beach | ★★

Large parts of Ayrshire's coast consist of sand dunes stretching for miles - in places it's hard to see where one beach begins and the last one ends. One of the nicer stretches is at Stevenson, where the sands have been designated a nature reserve (thanks to the dunes, which partly overlie old spoil heaps) since 1998. There aren't any facilities to speak of, and the beach certainly doesn't measure up well against many Highland coastlines, but the solitude is satisfying enough.

Location & info

📌 Stevenson Beach ★★
Off Shore Road, south side of Stevenson, G.R.: NS 266408 ///vague.diary.direction

Hunterston B Visitor Centre

North Ayrshire | West Kilbride | Nuclear power station | ★

Nuclear power station? Tourist attraction? Yes - Hunterston B has a visitor centre, and while only small, this building on the fringes of the power station complex has a reasonable array of info (devised from the perspective of EDF Energy) about nuclear power, uranium storage and sustainable energy, with interactive games which will also appeal to children. There's a similar visitor centre at Torness Nuclear Power Station on Scotland's east coast; at both, you can arrange a tour of the power station itself if you book several weeks in advance and jump through various security hoops. We haven't been organised enough to plan that far ahead yet, but perhaps one day. As for Hunterston B itself: it's currently offline while investigations are carried out on cracks in one of the reactors.

Location & info

📌 Hunterston B Visitor Centre
Off A78 3 mi northwest of West Kilbride, G.R.: NS 183515 ///choirs.waltz.glue

Robertson Museum & Aquarium

Great Cumbrae | Millport | Museum & aquarium | ★★

The Robertson Museum and Aquarium is a museum and aquarium (just in case you hadn't guessed) perched on the coast road east out of Millport, Great Cumbrae. It isn't the sort of plaice, err, place, you should travel miles to see - the admission fee gives a clue - but the single-room museum gives an interesting account of the sea and bird life around the Firth of Clyde, with a few child-friendly activities dotted around the walls. If you're coming for the sole purpose of seeing the fish, give the centre a call before you travel, as stocking the aquarium relies on local fishing boat trips. There hadn't been any at all in the months before our visit, and we reckon a couple of crabs and starfish might be parr for the course.

Location & info

📌 Robertson Museum and Aquarium★★
By B896 1 mi east of Millport, Great Cumbrae, G.R.: NS 176545 ///embarks.scribble.asked
Open daily | £2.50 adult / £1 child