tantallon castle

A room with a view? Try Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle - one of Scotland's most dramatic Scotland's cliff-top castles are hard to match for thrills and Tantallon Castle is up there with the very best in the country. Situated close to the town of North Berwick near Edinburgh it dramatically overlooks Scotland's east coastline. As a result it has become one of the most photograhed castles in the country, not to mention making my list of top clifftop castles! The history of Tantallon Castle is predictably noteworthy. Here is a brief run through. Built mid-14th Century it was the base for the Douglas Earls of Angus. This lot
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top restaurants in glasgow

Glasgow’s best restaurants: Where to eat in Glasgow

Top restaurants in Glasgow: The best food in the city I'm always talking up Glasgow these days. From the wonderful locals to the superb architecture it is a city that keeps getting better and better. But in my past scribbles I've ommitted Glasgow's cuisine from my gushing praise. Well, no more! Here's the run-through of my top restaurants in Glasgow.   The Indian influence Indian cusine has had a huge impact on Scotland and it's most prominent in Glasgow. Indian restaurants are to be found throughout the city but my favourites (and it's hard to narrow this shortlist down) are:
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callanish standing stones

The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis

Callanish Standing Stones - A Scottish Treasure The incredible highlight of the Isle of Lewis is one of Scotland's most photographed attractions. It is an area steeped in history with an atmosphere to rival any of the world's great archaeological sites. For many it is better than Stonehenge. Within a short drive of Stornoway, the main site is principally 13 powerful pillars surrounding a monolith. It is thought that this site was constructed between 2900 and 2600 BC. It is suitably placed on a high ridge that overlooks Loch Roag with this location adding hugely to the mood of the
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edinburgh hogmanay

Edinburgh Hogmanay: A very special New Year celebration

Edinburgh Hogmanay: Scotland's big night of the year New Year celebrations are huge across the world but for passion and spectacle an Edinburgh New Year party is pretty much unmatched anywhere. New Year's Eve in Scotland is such a big deal that we even gave it its own name, Hogmanay. Since 1993 the city has put on events that include live music performances from international artists, a huge torch procession through the city and a jaw-dropping firework display at midnight. We Scots love a celebration. So the idea of making New Year a one night event was never likely. The
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ben a'an callander

Climbing Ben A’an Callander: The Great Scottish Outdoors

Ben A'an Callander: One of the best walks in Scotland Scotland is not short of amazing walks. So often the hardest part about going walking in this country is deciding between them! But in terms of the effort versus reward ratio Ben A'an is possibly my favourite of them all. So what justifies this high praise? First of all it is located near the town of Callander, pretty close to the major attractions in the central belt of Scotland. It can be reached from Glasgow in less than an hour and only a little longer from Edinburgh. Second, it is
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scottish stereotypes

Scottish stereotypes and idiosyncrasies

Some of the things to know about Scottish stereotypes Scotland is one of those nations with a big personality. People from all over the globe can probably drum up various images that embody all that is Scottish - from folklore to personality traits with some food and drink in between. In truth, we proudly display our heritage and our preferences visibly to outsiders in a 'badge of honour' form. We're not proud of them all of course, but self-deprecation is a vital part of the Scots' nature. While our history is littered with colourful imagery we, paradoxically, don't take ourselves
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lake menteith

Inchmahome Priory on Lake Menteith: A day trip to one of Scotland’s treasures

Inchmahome Priory on Lake Menteith I do enjoy a boat trip! You would think that given Scotland's propensity to dampness that a local might get more opportunity to travel over water but, alas, day trips requiring boats are not as regular as I might like. All the more reason to be in favour of this trip to Inchmahome Priory, found on the largest of the three islands in Lake Menteith. Established in 1238 by the Earl of Menteith, the priory served as a place of peace and sanctuary for Augustinian canons until the mid-1500s. There were between 10 and 15
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glasgow architecture

Does Glasgow have some of Europe’s best architecture?

Glasgow Architecture blog: Giving the city its identity Glasgow is a city that I have always loved to wander in, but lately I find myself more impressed than ever by its architectural beauty. Most people who know Glasgow will tell you to "look up" when walking the city streets to fully appreciate the intricate detail of the building designs. Very valid advice, but Glasgow has become so visually special nowadays that looking in any direction you like will surely leave you impressed. The city is just getting better and better. The rush towards the Commonwealth Games in 2014 is seeing
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Why Dunfermline’s Abbey and Palace are well worth a visit

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
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loch lomond

Is Loch Lomond the most stunning area of Scotland?

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
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castle campbell

Castle Campbell in Dollar is one of Scotland’s finest

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
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burns heritage trail

Burns Heritage Trail: How much do you really know about Robert Burns?

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
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stirling highlights

Stirling highlights: Should Stirling be on every Scotland itinerary?

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
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scottish borders

The Four Scottish Borders Abbeys: A stunning day trip in Scotland

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
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doune castle

Exploring Doune Castle: A Great Scottish day-trip

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
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loch leven castle

Take a boat trip back in time to Loch Leven Castle

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
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capital of scotland edinburgh

The best of Scotland’s wonderful capital city

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
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things to do in st andrews

Golf, history and a beach: Why we love St Andrews

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
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costa rica travel blog

A tropical adventure in Costa Rica

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.
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travels with a kilt great wall china

What’s it like to live in China?

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
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