Tag Archives: sightseeing

Scottish Ale in Callander: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

scottish_ale_shophttp://focuz.ru

Today we’re visiting Callander. On our last trip, our lovely host Donnie of Ballochneck House encouraged us to go to Callander and while there to make sure we visit Mhor Fish – which we didn’t do because we instead followed his other advice and visited Rob Roy’s grave at Balquhidder.

So this time we’re going!

We saw the Whisky Castle last visit, and hubby fell in love with Scottish beer, so I figure this is a must see this time around. They have over 210 Scottish beers! If you love Scottish beer, this seems like a no-brainer.

There’s a café and a fish and chip shop (called a ‘chippie’) attached. Apart from Donnie’s personal recommendation, it was voted one of the 50 Best Cafes in the UK and won Best Newcomer in the prestigious Observer Food Monthly awards. We have to eat somewhere while we’re in Callander, right?

Bracklinn_Falls_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1350996

The Bracklinn Falls are a series of stepped waterfalls north-east of Callander. The walk down to the falls crosses a spectacular wooden bridge which replaced the original cast-iron bridge, built for a visit of Queen Victoria in the 1870s (and destroyed in 2004 by flooding).

Apparently the Falls are one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Scotland and are especially impressive after a heavy rain fall. The best place to view the falls is suspended right above the cascade!

The gorge which the falls of the Keltie Burn flow through has been formed by the action of the water on soft puddingstone which lies in a fault at this point, and so has eroded much faster than the surrounding rock.

The walk out to the Falls looks beautiful and an opportunity for the kids to have some fun.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Doune Castle and Cambuskenneth Abbey – Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

Doune Castle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It’s been a few months since I did one of these posts, so in case you’ve forgotten, by this stage in the planned trip the family is ensconced in Dalnair Castle Lodge in Stirlingshire and we’ll be using it as a base of operations for day trips for the next two weeks or so. Here’s a few of the things we might consider doing.

Doune Castle

In 1400, Robert Stewart, known as ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’, built Doune Castle. He was the younger brother to the weak Robert III, and effectively Scotland’s ruler. His seat at Doune was therefore a ‘virtual’ royal castle.

After his death, Doune Castle actually did become a royal residence, albeit only a ‘royal retreat’. It served as a summer residence from which the Stewarts could relax and hunt in the forests of the Trossachs. This came to an end in 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

Doune Castle is exceptional because it was planned ‘in one sitting’. While many castles were built, rebuilt and added on to over the centuries, Doune was not, and remains true to its original design. However, although the design was complete, construction was not, and the south range of buildings was never finished.

Falls of Falloch

Falls of Falloch

This 30ft high waterfall is located in the northern most part of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. This is said to be a great spot for a picnic, so it could be a good place to take the kids for lunch one day.

The falls are located three miles from the village of Crianlarch. If you’re travelling down the A82, it’s a good place to stop for a break.

Cambuskenneth Abbey

This ruin is unattended, and so there are a number of information boards around for visitors to learn about the abbey. Perhaps most interestingly, the abbey was the scene of Robert Bruce’s parliament in 1326 (two decades after the death of William Wallace), and also the burial place of James III and his queen, Margaret of Denmark, in the 1480s.

The abbey features a free-standing bell tower (a campanile in the Italian tradition), and is the only one of its kind in Scotland (though The Campanile in Venice is a landmark). It stands 65ft tall and in 1378 replaced the belltower over the central crossing of the abbey when it collapsed.

After its ruination, the abbey was subjected to further depredations through use as a quarry. How the belltower survived intact is unknown, but may be because it was useful as a lookout over the Carse of Stirling.

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Rob Roy’s Grave and Dalnair Castle Lodge: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne



We’ll be staying in the Trossachs as a base of operations for about two weeks. Last night I discovered Dalnair Castle Lodge, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. It’s a Scottish baronial gatehouse in the village of Croftamie in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The village pub and restaurant is a 5 minute walk, and the lodge has that quintessential feature – a castellated turret. Because, you know, turrets are a must.

The catch – it’s expensive. Of course, we are travelling in peak season (which I never do in Australia) so I may just have to accept accommodation is going to be expensive no matter what I do.


Also, it’s perfect. We’re travelling with my parents, so something that offers two ‘main-type’ bedrooms with own bathrooms is a must, and a second sitting room with TV would be useful so they can have their own space. The Castle Lodge offers upstairs bedrooms for us and the girls, with a bathroom, while downstairs offers my parents a double bedroom with own bathroom, and a ‘reading room’ separate from the main sitting room so they can watch TV separately if they desire. So much of the accommodation that is big enough to accommodate us only offers one double room with the others all being twins or singles, so this is a rare find.


Rob Roy’s Grave


Now that we’re settled in, we’ll be off on a relaxed sightseeing programme. I’ve already been to Rob Roy’s Grave, but I would like to go again and take my Dad. We saw some beautiful scenery on the way, and stopped at
Monachyle Mohr hotel for lunch afterward.

You can find Rob Roy’s grave at Balquhidder Parish church in the village of Balquhidder. We never would have found it the first time (or even known it existed) except for the advice of our host, Donnie, at Ballochneck House.


Balquhidder kirkyard is interesting in its own right and reflects Celtic worship for 4000 years, being situated in what the Celts believed to be a ‘thin place’ between our world and the spiritual world. The hill above the kirkyard is called Tom nan Aingeal, meaning ‘hill of fire’ as it was used by Druids as a site for sacred fires at Beltane and Samhain.


The first known church was built here in 1250 by Abbot Labhran; his heirs became known as the Clan MacLaren. A stone in the kirkyard records how the MacLarens were attacked by the MacGregors of Glen Dochart. In 1558, the MacGregors murdered 18 MacLaren families and got away with it! This was one of the factors (along with killing several hundred Colquhouns in 1603) that later led to the outlawing of the entire Clan MacGregor. As a result, even the name MacGregor became a capital offence.

In case you don’t know, Rob Roy was a MacGregor – although since he died in the 18th century, I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t directly responsible for any of the murders in the 16th and 17th centuries. That outlawing lasted a long time, and I can see how a hundred years later you might feel justifiably aggrieved by not being allowed to use your clan name. His gravestone was added to the kirkyard in 1981 and bears the inscription ‘MacGregor Despite Them’. 

Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne


Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my July Newsletter if you missed it.


Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.


Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

The Scottish Borders: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne



We’ve made it. Scotland. Ah, breathe in that air.

We never made it as far south as the Scottish Borders last time – Glasgow was as far south as we went – so this is completely new territory for me. We’ve just driven three hours from York, and I expect the kids are restless, so we’ll probably stay somewhere in the Borders overnight, do some sight-seeing, and then push on to our temporary home in the Trossachs tomorrow.


Melrose Abbey


Apparently this is the most famous in ruin in Scotland – and yet I never heard of until this year, when my hairdresser urged me to visit.


Apparently what’s remarkable about the abbey is an elegance not found elsewhere in Scotland. It was built in 1136, and then largely destroyed by the army of King Richard II in 1385. That’s 249 years – well, it stood for longer than Australia has yet existed! It must have been rebuilt at some stage, as the present surviving ruins are actually from the 15th century.


The exterior of the church is unusual for its collection of statuary, including – wait for it – a bagpipe playing pig! Other sculptures include hobgoblins (right down my alley) and cooks with ladles…. Hmm.


Supposedly the heart of Robert the Bruce (he of Braveheart fame and King Robert I of Scotland) is buried at the abbey. This is marked with a carved stone plaque. Why only his heart?


Caerlaverock Castle


If you’ve been following this blog for any time you know that Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais, the castle from my novel In the Company of the Dead (release date unknown) was substantially inspired by Caerlaverock Castle. How could I be in the vicinity and not visit?

The name of this castle may mean ‘fort of the skylark’ and what’s most remarkable about the castle is its triangular design. I’d love to know why it was built this way, but the reason is lost to history. It features three defensive walls of pink limestone joined at each corner by a tower. The north tower is in fact a double-towered gatehouse, and originally housed the lord’s personal suite until the construction of the Nithsdale Lodging in 1630.


Caerlaverock had its fair share of sieges but had two of particular significance. In the first, King Edward I himself besieged the castle. The castle surrendered after only two days – but famously held out for that period with only 60 defenders against an army of 3000.


The other siege of note was Caerlaverock’s last. After holding off besiegers for 13 weeks in 1640, the castle was looted and stripped and the southern wall destroyed.


Walking these ruins will be like stepping into my own book!


Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

 

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my July Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

To York By Train: Enroute to Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne




It’s time – we’re boarding a train for York on our second day in London. The decision to travel by train was prompted by the fact I’m told that:
  • Traffic getting out of London is hellish; and
  • The immediate scenery is bloody boring anyway.
Or so I’m told.

We could get the train all the way to Edinburgh, but we want to drive up through the Scottish Borders, so instead we’ll get off at York, do a little sightseeing, stay overnight, and drive on tomorrow.

While we’re in York, I absolutely want to see Jorvik, but other activities will probably depend on time and how we feel. In my experience, optional activities are great to fill in time when you feel like it and to skip when you don’t.

Jorvik

Viking woodturner at Jorvik

Apparently this is a must-see – or again, so I’m told. Or at least so the website says. It could be biased.

This is a reconstruction of 1000 year old Viking streets, I think based on actual excavation at Coppergate, and including finds from the dig. You can travel around the Viking-age city to see its houses and backyards and experience a bit of their everyday life, including blacksmithing and cooking. I imagine it’s a little like visiting Pompeii but with additional experiences. I could be wrong. In any case, it seems worth a look.

York City Sightseeing Bus


This seems like a good optional experience for if we’re tired but have some time to burn. No walking, just a drive on an open-top bus for an hour checking out the city sights. Great for tired kids who don’t want to walk anymore.

Castle Museum 

Recreation of Victorian Street

I would really like to see this, but it will be dependent on time and the goodwill of my children. If I haven’t previously mentioned, we’ll be travelling with our (then) 6 and 3 year old daughters, as well as my parents.

The museum includes recreated Jacobean dining rooms, information about famous Victorian criminals and exhibits all the way through to the swinging Sixties – which, truth be told, interests me less.

The museum has a particular exhibit designed to ‘take you back in time’ with recreated Victorian street ‘Kirkgate’ which allows you to experience victorian shops and their goods, including luxurious fabrics, traditional sweets, and children’s toys. Luxurious fabrics. Mmm. The flip-side shows you Victorian life in the poverty-stricken back streets.

A nice bonus is that kids go free with a paying adult.

National Railway Museum


Possibly a good family outing, as we can take the kids to see trains through history, including ‘the Mallard’ the world’s fastest steam train, the Japanese bullet train and Queen Victorian’s luxury train.

For the kids it features an outdoor play area and a miniature railway ride. We recently did something similar here in Australia and the kids loved it.


Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne


Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!
 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter in time for the July newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this. 

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!