Dunfermline Abbey Ideally situated in Central Scotland within close proximity to Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, Dunfermline was the capital of Scotland until 1603. In Dunfermline Abbey, the town has arguably the most significant Royal site in the country. Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is the standout highlight of the town. With the newer part of the abbey still functioning as an active parish church, the abbey church contains the tombs of 22 Scottish kings and queens, the most famous being that of the legendary Robert the Bruce himself. Built originally in the 11th Century (eventually ascending to an abbey
Exploring Loch Lomond and climbing Ben Lomond I love Loch Lomond! Anyone who has driven along the Loch's shores, drifted around the pretty villages or climbed its magnificent Ben would be mad not to agree that this is one of Scotland's absolute top highlights. I have to start with the best bit - Ben Lomond. It looms powerfully over the Loch on its east side and is impressive enough from the bottom looking up but takes on another level altogether when you actually climb the thing. It is a moderately challenging climb - taking around 2.5-3 hours up (it stands
Castle Campbell Castle Campbell is one of Scotland's most perfectly placed castles. Overlooking the welcoming town of Dollar, a walk up through the dense greenery of Dollar Glen is richly rewarded by some magnificent vantage points of the imposing castle through the trees. The picture is completed by the presence of the majestic Ochil Hills looming large over the Glen. So what's the story behind Castle Campbell? Originally called Castle Gloom it is presumed to have been built in the early 15th Century before being passed to Clan Cambell in 1465. It eventually assumed the name of one of Scotland's
Exploring the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum To A Haggis, Auld Lang Syne, Scots Wha Hae, To A Louse, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose..... Robert Burns has one of the most famous faces in Scotland to this day, he's on £5 notes for a reason you know! The legendary poet left us way back in 1796 yet his words will live on forever. I still remember at school where as kids we all competed against each other to determine which of us could best recite his poems. Hours of practice went into getting his various works word-perfect and
Stirling Highlights blog One of Scotland's great historical hubs, Stirling only achieved city status in 2002, but has plenty to keep any passerby entertained. Stirling is fantastically placed at the heart of Central Scotland and offers easy accessibility to the whole region. Stirling Castle is arguably Scotland's most impressive since its recent refurbishment. It dominates the city skyline and is top of the list of Stirling highlights. It is easy to see why it has always been of such strategic importance in Scottish military history. The castle offers first-class guided tours discussing the hugely significant history of the castle and
The Scottish Borders Abbeys The Scottish Borders is a region that is too often overlooked by travellers who tend to be drawn to the bright lights of Scotland's cities or to the more dramatic natural scenery of the Scottish Highlands. It's a great shame that so many will miss out on the appeal of the area, in particular its four magnificent 12th Century abbeys. With a fascinating but difficult history, the region has seen more than its fair share of conflict. There have been centuries of battles and raids with the English neighbours here. Still standing though, remarkably, are the
Doune Castle As I continue my search to find the best castles in Scotland I find my way to Doune Castle in Stirlingshire. For its design alone this has to rank as one of the finest standing castles in Central Scotland. Another big part of the Doune Castle appeal is its connection with the Monty Python franchise as Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here. In a nice touch the audio guides that accompany the tour are read by Terry Jones, one of its directors and stars. The castle was built in the 1300's as a residence for
Loch Leven Castle and Mary Queen of Scots Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most fascinating individuals in Scottish history. Youthful and intelligent she was the only legitimate daughter of King James V of Scotland and therefore inherited the Scottish throne from him. She achieved this at the tender age of just 6 days old in 1542. Scotland has had a bit of a turbulent history and this period was no exemption. Religious divide, strained relations with England, perpetual conflict at every opportunity and the poor girl is in charge of things before even her first birthday! Stressful
The highlights of Edinburgh blog As the capital of Scotland Edinburgh has it all. A magnificent city centre setting complete with castle background, historical and cultural highlights in abundance, a vibrant nightlife and an international and cosmopolitan buzz throughout the year. The best place to start is with Edinburgh Castle. Built on an extinct volcano it hovers powerfully over the city centre and is a great day out for all the family. The original fortress was built in the 6th Century and highlights include the Stone of Destiny upon which Scottish kings were enthroned, the fortress prisons and the National
Things to do in St Andrews Renowned as the home of golf, St Andrews pulls in the very highest standard of players from all over the world. While the Old Course is right up there with the world's most prestigious and certainly top of any golfers' list of ideal things to do in St Andrews, there are another six courses to choose from for those on a more 'normal' budget. It's not all about the gentleman's game though as the city has much more to offer. From a historical perspective, the Cathedral and Castle are hugely impressive and offer great
Costa Rica Travel Blog - Winter sun is calling Take a moment and define tropical. My long-standing inclination to revert to smoothies to combat life’s little challenges has my mind wandering to thoughts of a fruity frenzy of pineapples, coconuts et al. Then comes the presence of that big burning thing in the sky - a distant recollection in the midst of a Scottish winter. That’s a given. A beach seems appropriate, or perhaps a rainforest. A scene out of Lost perhaps. Before it went mental at any rate. The ‘totally tropical taste, man’ of Lilt also pops into sight.
5 months living in Wuhu China As I’m often asked about the practical issues of going to work in China, here’s my lingering thoughts. Whether it convinces or dissuades, the choice is yours. Going to live in China for half a year in 2010 was maybe the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Travelling as habitually as I always have, I was at a stage where it was time to take the next step and hurl myself into an extended stay somewhere challenging. The east had long been a fascination of mine but I wanted to avoid the well-travelled ‘young-westerner-in-asia’ paths
Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Isle of Harris The Outer Hebrides of Scotland are an absolutely stunning part of the world. For nature lovers I honestly don’t believe any traveller could ask for more. While each one of them offers something special, the Isle of Harris has something over them all. Often overlooked in favour of the better known Isle of Skye and Isle of Arran given their greater accessibility, Harris should without question be on the list of every visitor to the Western Isles. What particularly amazes me about Harris is the breath-taking quality of its beaches. If I reflect
Petra Travel Blog - Travels with a Kilt visits the lost city of Petra The light sneaks through the cracks on the final few steps along the meandering Siq. The shaded pathway draws to a close and spills out into a moment never to be forgotten. Petra. Early morning rays sear intensity down over Jordan’s most famous spot, the Treasury building of this hidden city. They cause the rock to beam in pink, every intricate detail of this extraordinary feat of ancient human endeavour on eternal display. Dazzling and aweing in a way that is very rarely felt, this is
Travel to Glasgow Any trip to Scotland could benefit from a visit to the country's largest city. Glasgow is renowned for its extensive shopping opportunities, its colourful nightlife and the witty charm of its good people. Often disregarded as not having the visual “wow” factor of Edinburgh’s city centre with the omnipresent castle hovering over it, Glasgow has started to return to prominence as a tourist hot spot in more recent years. As a Glasgow boy myself I may be prone to a slight bias in talking up my home city, but I promise to be as objective as possible.
Climbing Ben Nevis blog Sleeping on a rock solid surface in a leaky tent in chilly Scottish “summer” conditions at the foot of the UK’s highest mountain is probably not top of the list when you imagine the travel of your dreams. But if you’re into the outdoors, have a taste for adventure, appreciate world class views and don’t mind roughing it a bit, climbing Ben Nevis could be the ideal day trip for you. Ben Nevis and its 4400 feet takes about 9 hours up and down if you go at a leisurely pace. To get the best from