More Armchair Travelling – Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs/Islands

I’m not finding it too difficult to be stuck at home, I’m a home bird anyway and as we’re retired it hasn’t made an awful lot of difference to us, but speaking – at a distance – to my neighbours, the men in particular are finding it very wearing. On the plus side, one of the men said that he and his wife hadn’t murdered each other yet! But as he said that he was dragging his lawnmower out of his shed, and I had just been thinking that his grass was looking scalped. It’s looking even more so now as he’s mowing it every second day.

Anyway, if you’re also feeling a bit antsy you might enjoy settling down to watch the You Tube videos below

Series 1 episode 1 of Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotlands Lochs. Legends of the West – Argyll and Loch Etive. This one is a cracker, history, geology and beautiful scenery – what more can you want?

Don’t miss Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands – Northern Skye.

If you fancy  something different from gorgeous scenery you might like to take a wee look at some of Scotland’s Treasures in  – The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh . This is a BBC documentary, eye candy of a different sort.


I hope you enjoy these ones.

 

 

A Sense of Belonging to Scotland by Andy Hall

A Sense of Belonging to Scotland cover

We were recently given a copy of this beautiful book – A Sense of Belonging to Scotland by Andy Hall. It contains a collection of sumptuous photographs of Scottish scenery – the favourite places of Scottish personalities. The book was first published in 2002 and features a real mixture of people who have written about their favourite place and the photograph that Andy Hall has taken of it is on the facing page.

Most of the personalities chose beautiful scenery as their favourite place but I had to laugh when I saw the photo of author Ian Rankin’s favourite place – it is the pub sign of The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh.

It features fifty people’s favourite places – Kirsty Wark, Iain Banks, Jimmy Logan, Barbara Dickson, Sally Magnusson, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, Gregor Fisher, Rikki Fulton, Evelyn Glennie, Hannah Gordon, Richard Wilson, Cameron Mackintosh, Ewan McGregor – to mention just a few and some of the places featured are: Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen in Stirlingshire, Ettrick Valley, Langholm in Dumfriesshire, Plockton in Wester Ross, Mull, Loch Morar.

This book is a real feast for the eyes, a lot of the places I’ve visited but there are an awful lot that I haven’t. So I’m adding to my long list of places that I still want to visit in Scotland. I somehow think it will be a good few months before there is any possibility of getting on the road again, but until then I’m happy to read this book and admire the photos.

The photo on the front cover is Loch Morar and it was the choice of Cameron Mackintosh.

Armchair Travelling in Scotland

I’m always saying that the future has been such a disappointment to me as we still can’t teleport around the world with Scotty beaming us up. On Star Trek – The New Generation when people were in need of a change of scene they had an afternoon off on the Holodeck. Sadly we can’t do that, wouldn’t it be great if we could, but as we’re stuck at home for the duration, however long that might be we can only have a trawl through You Tube and do some armchair travelling.

I love Paul Murton’s TV series ‘Grand Tours’ of the Highlands, Islands and Lochs. If you fancy a change of scene away from your living room you can admire the change of scenery.

Below there’s an episode of Paul Murton’s BBC series Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands.

Now here’s one of Paul Merton’s Grand Tours of Scottish Lochs.

And I found this interesting film featuring the Western Isles.

No tickets, traffic jams, delays or bad weather problems!

Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Just as it was getting towards the time when all the National Trust and Historic Scotland properties were going to be opening for the new season – they didn’t, due to Coronavirus. But when we visited Drum Castle – I’m amazed to see that it was way back in October 2018 – I only wrote blogposts about the outside of the castle and it’s surroundings here and here.

I meant to get around to blogging about the inside, but you know what it’s like, it somehow eluded me, anyway below is a photo of the dining room. I must say that Drum Castle is very comfortable looking, considering it’s a castle.

Dining Room, Drum Castle

The library is very well stocked, but untouchable of course.
Drum Castle, library, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

There’s a very handy sitting area at the window where you could settle down with your choice of book, if you had happened to live there. The alcove it’s in highlights the thickness of the castle’s walls.

Drum Castle Library, Window Recess

The door leading to the sitting room loks like a castle door should I think.
Sitting Room, Drum Castle

But the room is fairly homely I think, not too grand.

Sitting Room, Drum Castle

I could quite happily settle down at this fireplace.
Sitting Room Fireplace, Drum Castle

The sitting room ceiling goes well with the door.
Drum Castle Sitting Room Ceiling

I woinder if there ever really was a cradle at the bottom of this four poster bed when this castle was a family home. I suspect that a nanny was in charge of the nursery and children. But the cradle is beautiful.
Bedroom, Drum Castle

As is the half-tester bed below, and the bureau which I believe is in a Japanese/Chinese style but it’s so long ago now I can’t remember!

Bedroom, Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

If you happen to be in the vicinty of Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire or what is now called Grampian I believe, it’s well worth a visit.

Queensferry Harbour – a Jigsaw Puzzle

Winter is jigsaw puzzle season for us but we hadn’t done any for over a year, it seemed that we might have a jigsaw free winter because I just didn’t see any in the shops that I wanted to do, but when I saw this Queensferry Harbour one I had to buy it. At first – as often happens – I despaired of being able ever to complete it, but in the end we managed it within five or so days.

Queensferry Harbour, jigsaw puzzle

On Sunday the day dawned bright with a blue sky – and no rain. We had been looking forward to going to an annual book sale for ages, south of Edinburgh but it was cancelled at the last minute. Presumably the organisers thought that not many people would turn up due to the coronavirus being around. It meant we felt at a bit of a loose end so we decided to drive to South Queensferry – the scene of the puzzle – and had lunch there. I took just a few photos.

Forth Bridge, South Queensferry, River Forth, Scotland

Yes, by then it had started to cloud over a wee bit, but it was still a nice wee change.
Forth Bridge, railway bridge, River Forth, Scotland

On the way back home we dropped in at Tesco supermarket intending to do our normal weekly shop and were greeted by empty shelves. Such a sense of panic with many people and I couldn’t help thinking that they probably didn’t have enough room in their freezers to accommodate everything they were buying – there was no meat left, or even eggs. I suspect a lot of the food would end up being wasted. Crazy.

Lah di dah, lah di dah. Can you tell that I’ve been watching Annie Hall?!

Dumbarton Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Last week when we were in Dumbarton, where I grew up and Jack was born, we had a wee walk through the town centre, which like most has seen far better days. Inevitably there were empty shops, but they have tried to jolly things up by covering the shop fronts with these gorgeous photographs of ‘The Rock’. In fact I took the photo on my blog header from the top of this very historic rock which is a volcanic plug. Because of its strategic position at the confluence of two rivers – the Clyde and the Leven – it has been used as a fort and stronghold, and was even used by the army in WW1 and WW2. There’s a tradition (accordng to the author Rosemary Sutcliff) that the Romans had a naval station here and they called it Theodosia, which I believe means given by the gods.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Whenever I see this place in the distance I always feel that I’m home. I don’t know who took these photos but they are very good I think, probably the first one was taken by a drone.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Luss Village and Church, by Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, West Scotland

Walking around the village of Luss by Loch Lomond last week, it was difficult to get photos of the houses but I managed to take the photo below of what I think is just about the cutest cottage in the village, peeking out from behind its hedge. It’s a shy one. Or maybe the owners fear that tourists might keek in the windows, it has been known elsewhere! Those elevated parts of the roofline above the windows are known in architectural circles as ‘cat slides’ for some reason and Jack and I live in hope of seeing an actual cat slide down one. These ones are very small and not like the usual cat slide dormers.

Cat Slide Cottage, Luss, Scotland

Walking a bit further along we reached the church which was shut, a bit of a shame but maybe it’s open at the height of the tourist season. There are a few images of the inside here.

Luss Church, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

This Church of Scotland building dates from Victorian times but there has been a place of Christian worship at the site for over 1500 years, it was formerly dedicated to Saint Kessog and has some really ancient graves in it including this Viking hogback grave below dating from around 1200.

Viking hogback stone, Luss church, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire
You can still see the decoration on it, I think it’s just designs rather than any letters or runes.
Viking hogback stone, grave, Luss, Loch Lomond

We had planned to walk over this wooden footbridge but as we got closer we realised it was all blocked off, apparently it’s dangerous at the moment. Anyway we walked past and onto a path which bypassed it and I managed to get a photo of the church steeple in reflection, if you look closely.
Loch Lomond, Bridge,Church

Loch Lomond Bridge, Luss

near Loch Lomond, Luss, Scotland, trees

Then on back around to the village again.

Luss, from Loch Lomond,

One of the cottages is being re-roofed, not before time as it looked fairly derelict otherwise.

Luss, Loch Lomond, cottages,

I imagine that although these houses must be really quite small inside they won’t be at all cheap to buy, at least there’s no danger of anyone building in front of you and spoiling your view.
From Loch Lomond, cottages, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond panorama, Scotland

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, West Scotland

Below is a stitch of a couple of photos that I took of Loch Lomond from the wooden pier at the wee village of Luss last Wednesday morning. You can see more images of Luss here. I didn’t take any photos of the houses as there were so many parked cars in the streets. The village was built by a Colquhoun to house the workers at his nearby slate quarry.

Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond panorama

The snow covered mountain that can just be seen to the left centre of the photo below is Ben Lomond, which is a ‘Munro’ meaning it’s over 3,000 feet high. It must be the most climbed mountain in Scotland, it’s an easy one to get up although as ever, if you aren’t wearing decent footwear and you aren’t properly clothed it can still be dangerous as the weather can change very quickly. I believe that some years ago a 12 year old German boy died of hypothermia on Ben Lomond, in July!

Loch Lomond, Luss, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond is an idyllic place but in the summer months it can be very busy with tourists as it’s such a short distance from Glasgow, this area is often called Glasgow’s playground. When I was growing up I was lucky enough to live within a few miles of the loch so it was an easy walk in good weather anyway. But this part of Scotland is still incredibly well served with local transport links – buses and trains are very frequent. I took this completely for granted as a youngster and only realised how unusual it was when I moved away and discovered that some towns only have one bus a week – and to nowhere that you would want to go – what a shock that was!
Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

There are a lot of small islands dotted around the loch. In the summer visitors are sometimes tempted to swim out to them, probably not realising that they are further away than they thought – not all of them make it there!

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

One of the islands – Inchconnachan – is home to a population of wallabies, you can read about them here. They were introduced there in the 1940s and are controversial now as they are a non-native species and apparently are a threat to the native capercaillies.

Loch Lomond panorama, Scotland

Balbirnie Estate, Fife

The weather has been so bad recently that we hadn’t been able to get out for our usual walks, so when a bit of dry weather came along we grabbed it although we knew it would be muddy underfoot. The weather never seems to bother the deer that live around here although they have been ranging further than normal and I know that because twice recently they’ve walked across roads as we’ve been driving along, thankfully not going very fast.

Deer, Balbirnie, Fife

The wee burn below is new, there’s normally a trickle in this area which just disappears into the ground but it’s actually flowing now but was easy just to step over.
new burn

Balbirnie path, Fife

It’s squelchy underfoot though and walking down the very steep muddy path below is nasty at the best of times. I wished I had armed myself with a stout stick, but with some nifty footwork I managed not to skite on my bahoukie!

Balbirnie path, Fife

Balbirnie snowdrops,Fife

Once at exactly this spot a fox rushed past us, coming from behind and just about brushing past me, I thought it was a dog at first, then a horribly aggressive pit bull terrier with no collar on and no owner in sight ran past me too. Those dogs must have quite a poor sense of smell because it didn’t realise that the fox had gone off the path and into bushes nearby, where I’m sure they have a den.

Balbirnie, snowdrops , Fife

Balbirnie,snowdrops, Fife

The ‘back’ burn as it is called locally is much fuller and faster than normal, as you would expect with all the rain and sleet we’ve had. Not that I’m complaining having seen on the news what other people are having to put up with.
back burn, Balbirnie, Fife

We’ve been living in this area for almost six years now and we’ve never seen it flooded like this, walking into town for the Guardian in the morning has been interesting, dodging the mini lochs and rivers that at times have reached across the road.
Balbirnie Floods, Fife

No scooting across the golf course as a bit of a short cut, as you can see it has been fairly cold too with ice on top of the floodwater.
Balbirnie floods, Fife

The flagpoles outside the Balbirnie House Hotel, which was originally the ‘big hoose’ in this area, have recently had new flags run up them. I don’t think they last too long in our windy weather. I’m just so glad to see that they are continuing to fly the Europan flag.

Balbirnie House Hotel , Fife

You’ve had quite a few virtual walks around here recently and looking at my bathroom scales it seems like I’ve been having virtual walks too. I hope you’re having more success than I am!

A Winter Walk in Fife

Last Saturday we decided to go for a good long walk before Storm Ciara really hit us hard as was forecast, and we had been meaning to visit the Barrel Brig ever since we saw a photo of it on our 2019 calendar. So we drove to the wee village of Coaltown of Balgonie to park the car there and stroll along the country road in the right direction. I took the photo below of Balgonie Castle from a very rural lane. If you look carefully to the left of the middle you’ll see a castle which is a mixture of ruins and a family home. The castle has been used as a location in Outlander, as have so many places nearby.

Balgonie Castle, Fife, Scotland

It wasn’t long before we realised that it was a mistake to tackle this walk at the weekend as we could hear the roar of motorbikes and quadbikes. But some of the bikers pointed us in the right direction for the bridge and presumably the farmer was happy for them to vroom about in this otherwise empty field.

Bikes , Fife

The road went from being fairly good tarmac –
farm path, Fife

To truly awful mud due to the motorbike traffic. My boots felt twice as heavy as they had been – so mired in muck were they.

Fife farm track

But we struggled on, just hoping that we were going in the right direction.
farm track, Fife

Eventually we could see a river through the trees, the River Ore.
River  Leven, Fife

The bridge is described by Historic Scotland as an – early 18th century double arch bridge with cutwater buttresses to centre pier. Rubble spandrels with squared and coursed rubble soffits. It is a pack horse bridge, erected before 1725 and was presumably used by farm labourers who were carting crops around and maybe even people, if they were lucky enough to be given a lift.
Barrel Brig, Fife

The River Leven here isn’t much bigger than a burn really but people still fish in it, or they did when there were any fish in it to catch.
River Leven, Fife

On the way back the sky turned to blue, for a wee while anyway, but as we were caked in mud by then we were glad to get home and sit down with some coffee. Sadly I didn’t lose any of the extra pounds that I put on over Christmas despite the exercise.

Fields, Fife

You wouldn’t believe that it was the same day – looking at the sky, but such is the weather in Scotland, just wait five minutes and it will have changed! I hope you enjoyed stretching your legs with me.

Fields, Fife, scenery