Scottish Snapshots: Dunblane

Scottish Snapshots is a series of posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time. This is the last – and it has turned into rather more than a snapshot. I had forgotten how many pictures we took!

To those who haven’t been there, Dunblane possibly means one of two things: the site of a horrific school shooting in 1996 or the home town of Scottish tennis star, Andy Murray. You can’t escape either with touching memorials to the children and teacher who died and Andy’s golden post-box. (The Royal Mail painted a post-box in the home town of every gold medal winner at the London 2012 Olympics.) Dunblane is only a 45 minute drive from Glasgow, but we hadn’t visited for about 20 years, avoiding being grief-tourists, but when I read about a new hotel opening there I thought it would be a lovely place to stay for three nights between Christmas and New Year.

Old Churches House
Old Churches House

Old Churches House is a row of 18th century cottages opposite the Cathedral which have been converted into a hotel and restaurant. It was very comfortable and the food was good – we had breakfast every day and dinner once. The other nights we ate at India Gate and Café Continental, both enjoyable.

The Cathedral is beautiful.

We used Dunblane’s Community Paths leaflet to explore the town thoroughly – the river (Allan Water) was impressively high. The museum and Leighton Library (oldest private library in Scotland) aren’t open in winter, so we’ll need to go back.

We also explored Dunblane by night – the Christmas lights were very pretty.

On the one day with reasonable weather, we walked out to Sheriffmuir, site of a battle between the Jacobites and the Government Army in 1715. The monument is to the members of Clan MacRae who died there. There’s nothing like a walk with a strategically placed pub for lunch and the Sheriffmuir Inn didn’t disappoint, providing the best meal of the holiday. It’s beautiful inside too.

This was a lovely “Twixmas” break – and there’s a lot to be said for a holiday where the journey home is only 45 minutes!

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Scottish Snapshots: Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

Wandering round Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens is something of a Boxing Day tradition for us – see also 2011’s entry. You can spend ages without getting wet in the Kibble Palace and the hothouses. The former has great statuary as well as greenery and splashes of colour:

The hothouses are more colourful overall:

We live very near these gardens and I’m able to walk through them most days.

Scottish Snapshots: Lime Craig Trail

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

Lime Craig Trail is in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Start or finish with lunch in the recently refurbished Visitor centre above Aberfoyle and have a great walk. It was eerily misty on the November day we went, but we’ve also been to Lime Craig by a different route in summer weather – brighter pictures here.

Scottish Snapshots: Scone

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

In October our friends from Yorkshire, Valerie and Kenn, rented a cottage in Scone for a short break and we went up to visit them overnight. The next day we did the lovely Scone Circular walk before driving back to Glasgow. It was a bright, sunny autumn day, which we don’t get very often – though mind you, shortly after the picture at the Obelisk we had to hang on to each other to avoid being blown away. An added bonus was a short detour to Bonhard Nursery for lunch in their café. (If following the walk instructions, turn left instead of right at the beginning of Stage 6. You’ll need to retrace your steps, but it’s worth it.)

Scottish Snapshots: A quartet of castles

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

Scotland is not short of an iconic ruined castle or two. Last autumn, we visited four, all run by Historic Scotland. Since these posts are called Snapshots, I’m going to restrict myself to a photo and a fact about each.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Doune Castle
Fact

If you take an audio-tour of the castle, you’ll find it’s narrated by Terry Jones. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed at Doune.

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle
Bothwell Castle
Fact

In 1301, Edward I of England, “Hammer of the Scots”, brought 6,800 soldiers to the castle. A huge siege engine was hauled from Glasgow and the garrison surrendered within the month. Boo!

Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton Castle
Dumbarton Castle
Fact

This castle is built high above the Clyde on the twin peaks of a volcanic rock. There are a lot of stairs!

Castle Campbell

Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell
Fact

Castle Campbell used to be known as Castle Gloom or Glume. As you can see, it’s not at all gloomy on a bright autumn day – and it’s a lovely walk up the glen from the village of Dollar.

Scottish Snapshots: Branklyn Garden

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

Branklyn Garden is a National Trust for Scotland site in Perth. It’s a small (2 acres) but magnificent garden with an impressive collection of unusual plants, including the rare Himalayan blue poppy. My Mum and Dad love gardens so I took them there one afternoon last summer. We had a lovely time as you can see below.

Scottish Snapshots: North Berwick

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

We visited North Berwick, a seaside town on the east coast, on a day trip in May. Despite the month it was cold and windy, so we spent some of our time in the Scottish Seabird Centre which has a range of webcams to observe birds on the surrounding islands. It also has a nice display of quilting in its wee cinema and one of the mysterious Edinburgh Book Sculptures, based on Treasure Island, though this has since been moved to the National Library of Scotland. It’s an area formed by volcanoes – part of the beach is in the remains of a crater, and volcanic plugs are prominent inland (North Berwick Law) and at sea (Bass Rock). We didn’t climb the Law this time, though we have done in the past and no doubt will again in the future.

Scottish Snapshots: Moffat

Scottish Snapshots is a series of short posts about places I visited in 2013 but didn’t write about at the time

Moffat is a lovely little town in Dumfries and Galloway. John and I visited for a weekend a couple of years ago; this time (May 2013) we were meeting up with our friends, Val and Kenn from Yorkshire. We made an excellent choice of accommodation: I can’t praise McAdam House Holiday Apartments more highly – I wanted to move in! Our only complaint was that we couldn’t make use of the roof terrace because of the weather, but I guess the owners can’t be held responsible for that.

There are some easy walks around Moffat itself, but it’s also handy for the Grey Mare’s Tail and St Mary’s Loch where there is a good pub, Tibbie Shiel’s, for a hearty lunch to fortify you. Have a giggle at their weather report!

On our previous visit, we also walked at the Devil’s Beef Tub and there are many other walks to try. Add to that a selection of good restaurants and we have every reason to go back.