Places to visit Scotland, Travel

Glenfinnan

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Glenfinnan (or Gleann Fhionnain in Scottish Gaelic) is a hamlet in the Highlands area of Scotland and one of Scotland’s most iconic places. If you haven’t saw it in the Harry Potter films or on the back of a tenner, you’ve probably seen it somewhere else. It’s an area rich in history and a place that is fantastic for a day out with friends, yourself or with your family. It lies about 30 minutes’ drive, west of Fort William along the A830 on the road to Mallaig.
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It’s an area drenched in history dating back hundreds of years. On the 19th of August, 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his father’s standard on the shores of Loch Shiel which was a pivotal moment as this marked the start of the Jacobite rebellion and what would ultimately change Scottish history and culture forever.
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In 1815 a monument was erected in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who had fought and died in the cause of the Bonnie Prince. It was designed by a Scottish architect by the name of James Gillespie Graham. It stands at 18m high, and at the top there is a lone kilted Highlander which serves as reminder. The visitor centre offers guided tours to the top of the monument which are well worth doing, the views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding areas are truly breath-taking.
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The visitor centre tells the story of the Bonnie Prince and his campaign, from Glenfinnan to Derby then all the way back to the final defeat at Culloden. It gives a good insight into the Jacobite Rising and is well worth a wee venture to. If you are travelling by car then the car park at the visitor centre is probably the best place to park, it costs to park but gives you the best access to the centre and to the monument and saves a lot of hassle.
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The viaduct is another famous landmark which is simply stunning. Constructed in 1897 by Sir Robert McAlpine it has a staggering 21 Arches and reaches a height of 100ft above the valley. It is made completely of concrete and is used by passenger trains from Glasgow Queen Street & Mallaig. Police had to issue a warning to people walking on the viaduct due to a number of near misses so if you are visiting the viaduct, gonnae no walk on it. A plague was unveiled at the base of one of its Arches in 1997 to commemorate it’s centenary so if you are walking down at the Arches then that’s something to look out for.
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The Jacobite steam train has been operating on the line every Summer since 1984. It is an 84 mile round trip which starts in Fort William and ends in Mallaig and travels through some of the most beautiful areas in Scotland. If you ever get the chance to go on it then honestly do it, some of the views and scenery you will see are jaw droppingly beautiful. There’s a reason it has been called “the most beautiful rail journey in the world”. You may recognise the steam train from the Harry Potter films as it was used as the Hogwarts Express with the viaduct also being included in the films.
If you want to see more of the area or to get some spectacular views then the Viaduct trail is perfect for you. It is around a 2.5 mile walk and lasts usually between1 and 2 hours. The start of the trail is at the car park on your first right if you are heading from the visitor centre, if you are coming from Mallaig then it’s the first car park on the left before the visitor centre car park.
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Glenfinnan is honestly a cracking day out for everyone. If ever get the chance to visit, whether it be on the train or bus or car then you should jump at the chance to go. It’s a place that you showcases some of the finest beauty in Scotland and a place that you will never forget.
Cùm gàidhlig beò!

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Travel, Uncategorized

Riga, Latvia 

Walking in and out of the picturesque streets, it would be hard not to think you were living in a medieval fairytale.

Riga, the capital of Latvia and the largest city in the baltic states, is a city that may not be the most popular destination for tourists. To be honest, before I left for Riga my parents had to ask me about 4 or 5 times where it was and what it was like and still never had a scooby about it prior to me leaving. However, for those who have experienced it’s beauty and charm would argue the case all day long that visiting Riga should be up there at the top of your bucket list and after visiting I couldn’t agree more.

The city that boasts a population of over 640,000, was voted European capital of culture in 2014 alongside Umeå in Sweden. With so much to see and do with such little time, I decided to stay in the old town for the 3 nights that I was there and man am I glad I did!

The old town is honestly like something out of a fairytale, with an eventful history spanning over 800 years it’s a place you can feel the history in every street that you walk down. The streets are filled with bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and shops and a landmark is never more than a 5 minute walk away. Famous for it’s Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture It’s easy to see why the old town is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

I stayed just round the corner in a hostel from St Peter’s church, a Lutheran church dedicated to saint Peter. With a great view of it from my room I honestly couldn’t help but stare at it, even in passing I would stop for a minute or two to check it out every single time I passed it. It truly is a remarkable and astonishing building.

Another landmark which overlooks the old town is the freedom monument. A monument that honours the soldiers who were killed in the Latvian war of independence. Again, this was another landmark I couldn’t help but stop and stare at every time I passed it. Even for someone who has no ties to Latvia in anyway whatsoever I still felt a great amount of respect and pride for the Latvian people whilst looking at the monument, although perhaps being a Scotsman who longs for independence could have played a part in that.

One of the things that stood out for me about Riga was how cheap everything was. €7 for a decent meal at a restaurant, €3 for a pack of cigarettes and €2 for a beer! Ill say that again, €2 for a beer! Absolutely magic. To put it into perspective I read that if you want to save money you should buy a bus ticket for €1.15 at a designated area before getting on a bus, as you will then have to fork out €2 for a ticket if you buy it on a bus. When I read that all I could think was that people think that €2 for a bus is dear? That’s a bargain compared to back home. I also got a taxi from the airport to the hostel when I arrived aswell which cost me €12, for the same journey length back home it would have cost me more than double, potentially treble that. So it was happy days!

With so many landmarks, museums and gorgeous streets, there is so much to see and do in Riga. To be perfectly honest though I believe that if you’re travelling yourself, then 3 days is the perfect amount of days to visit. If you’re travelling with friends however I’d recommend staying a bit longer.

If you ever get the chance to visit then do it, I honestly can’t recommend Riga enough to you. It’s one of those cities that leaves a smile on your face when you think about it and it’s one of those cities that will always be with you.


Oh and for smokers, at Riga International Airport (RIX) after security there are plenty of smoking areas for you to enjoy a wee fag so you don’t have to wait ages for a cigarette. Hope this helps.

As usual, happy travels!

Cùm gàidhlig beò! 

Travel, Uncategorized

Why I’d recommend staying in a hostel 

As someone who has stayed in lots of different hostels in lots of different countries, I can honestly say that I would be lost without them. They are more than just an alternative to hotels, they are quite honestly an asset to people like myself who love to travel but are restricted when it comes to money.

I write this today whilst sitting in my room in the red nose hostel, in old town Riga. In a single room which has cost me £55 for 3 nights. I decided to opt for a single room instead of sharing which would have saved me £35 because it was a deal I couldn’t refuse. A room to myself with a shared bathroom, something I can live with. A bargain. A night in a hotel for the same amount of time would have cost me well over £100, and the only difference being is that I would have a bathroom to myself. Again, that’s something I don’t mind doing without.

The room I’m currently staying in 

The hostel itself is a money saving gem that makes life so much easier if you’re like me and travelling on a budget. An excellent location, within 5 minutes walk from the main sites, shopping centre, and with pubs, bars and restaurants all around it it saves the need to spend lots of money on transport. The room may be fairly basic but the hostel in general has everything you really need concerning your basic needs including a kitchen and washing machines. Which again is perfect if you’re on a budget.

The view from my room 

Most people tend to have preconceived ideas when it comes to hostels, the hostel films probably not helping those preconceived thoughts much either. The thought of sharing a room with strangers can be a daunting prospect. The language barriers, the clash of cultures, the lack of privacy, the “are they going to murder me in my sleep” thoughts, we all have them. It’s natural. The funny thing is that 90% of the people that you’ll share a room with will be in the same position as you and more than likely share the same thoughts. I can honestly say that in all the times I’ve shared a room in a hostel I’ve only ever had one bad experience, and that was one person who was really noisy when I was trying to sleep. That’s my only negative experience, and it isn’t really that bad if when you think of it.

You don’t always need to share with someone though, like I mentioned above I’m currently staying in a room by myself at a much lower price than a hotel. So if staying yourself is your preferred option or if you’re not quite ready to take the leap to staying with strangers then it’s always worth a wee look to see if you can get a deal on a room in hostel.

If you’re looking to meet people on your travels, hostels are a great place to start. The beauty of hostels is that you never know who you’re going to meet, that’s one of the things I love most about them. When I was in Berlin I went out on a pub crawl with others who were staying at the hostel, and for two nights I never got back to my room until 4 & 6 am. I ended up becoming good friends with a group of English guys and a group of Irish girls, some of who I still keep in contact with more than a year later. The people I met in Berlin made it the best holiday I ever I’ve ever went on, that’s when I truly fell in love with hostels. In my experience I’ve found that the people who I’ve shared a room with have usually been sound. They’ll engage in conversation with you whether it be small talk, in depth conversations or even a simple hi. Everyone is different. As I said earlier though, the majority of people are in the same boat as you so it makes talking to them a little bit easier.

Probably the greatest thing that can come out of staying in a hostel is the confidence you get from it. Once you prove to yourself that you can do it, it opens up so many different windows for you for your future. After that dreaded first night is out the way, you’ll feel amazing. You’ll feel like a new person and begin to discover so much more about yourself and your limits than you previously knew, it’s honestly a life changing experience. And once that fear you once had about sharing a room with strangers disappears, it will put you in a better position than ever for any future travels you may have or aspire to go on.

Happy travels and as always,

Cùm gàidhlig beò! 

Educational, Gaelic

Gaelic phrases part 3

This, the third addition to my list of gaelic phrases will be the same as the last two with regards that it’ll consist of some common basic phrases. I’m hoping to add one more basic phrases post in the near future. Once that is done I’m hoping to start a series which goes into more detail and depth on different areas with each post being dedicated to the one specific area. That’s the plan anyway, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Since I have started writing these posts I have been amazed at just how many people from countries all over the world have taken an interest in gaelic. It’s awesome! I’d love to know more about where people reading are from so if you can, or more importantly want to, leave a comment below with where abouts you’re from. Mòran taing!

If you haven’t read the last two posts and would like to you can find them below:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/outsideofthewell.com/2016/12/29/scottish-gaelic-phrases/amp/

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/outsideofthewell.com/2017/03/06/basic-scottish-gaelic-phrases-part-2/amp/

As usual, I have written these so that the first sentence is in English, with the second being wrote in gaelic and the third being the pronunciation which sounds the way it is written in English:

 

Where have you come from?Co às a thàing thu? – coe ass uh hah-neek oo?

I have come (from the islands)‘S ann (às na h-eileanan) a thàinig mi – sa-oon (ass nuh hillanun) uh hah-neek mee

My ancestors came from (the Highlands) ‘S ann à (a’ Ghàidhealtachd)  a bha mo shìnnsearan – sa-oon a (uh Gheh-ulltochk) uh va mo heensharrun

I’d like to see the placeBu toil leam an t-àite fhaicinn – boo toloom un tah-tchuh ech-keen

Are you on holiday?An e saor-làithean a th’agaibh? – un yeh seur lah-yen uh hackuv

I’m workingTha mi ‘g obair – ha mi goebir

I want to go to InvernessTha mi’ g iarraidh a dhol a (Inbhir Nis) – ha mee g-ee-urry uh gholl uh (enn-yerneesh)

How can I get there? – Ciamar a gheibh mi ann? – kimmer uh yaev mee a-oon?

Is it far away?A bheil e fad às? – uh vil eh fat ass?

When will you be back?Cuine bhios tu air ais? – koonyuh viss doo ir ash?

As soon as I canCho luath ‘s is urrain dhomh – choe loe-uh siss ooreen ghoe

Look out!Thoir an aire! – hor un arruh!

Shut up!Dùin do bheul! – doon daw vee-al!

Happy birthdayLà breith sona – lah breh sonnuh

Merry ChristmasNollaig chridheil – nolla-eek chree-yell

I am lostTha mi air chall – ha mee ir cha-ool

Justice!Ceartas! – K-yarshtuss

Freedom!Saorsa! – suer-suh!

 

I have to stress that fad às is indeed pronounced fat ass, so please don’t think I’m on the wind up! But anyways, thank you for reading and as always…

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Bratislava 

Bratislava is a city unlike any I have ever been to before. It boasts a population of 450,000 and is the capital of Slovakia, the only national capital in the world to border two countries, with those being Hungary and Austria. The beautiful buildings, landmarks and streets that make up the city makes Bratislava look like the kind of city you wouldn’t see out of place in a fairytale.

For a Scotsman in a European city there was only one thing that stood out the most for me though, it is really cheap, like seriously cheap! You tend to find that when you travel abroad you have to limit yourself to a budget for each day, but in Bratislava even when you’re living like a king or Queen you have the potential to underspend which is awesome! I was eating meals, drinking several pints in different restaurants and bars and my cheque was rarely over €10 each time which is phenomenal!


Before I got there I was a bit worried as I had a preconceived idea about eastern Europeans being rough and the cities being rough places, that was ignorance on my part. Once I got there, I discovered that the people were some of the friendliest you could meet with the vast majority being able to speak at least some basic English. Perhaps the most ironic thing being that I have felt safer in Bratislava than I have in the majority of cities I have visited.

What is there to do?

For a relatively small city there is plenty to keep you busy with, with the old town in particular being full of landmarks, sites and views that will make you fall in love with Bratislava:



There are numerous places in Bratislava such as Bratislava castle, Michael’s Gate, St Martin’s cathedral, Slavín, Roland fountain, Man at work, Devin castle, Bratislava zoo, Slovak national museum, old town hall etc and so many more. One of the perks about Bratislava is that it is a relatively quiet city, unlike many other cities where you struggle to walk down the street due to the number of tourists. There are very few quese and most of the landmarks provide you with breathing space, unlike in other cities.

I am currently sitting writing this in the Kava bar just off Zamocka Street, a smashing wee hipster cafe that appears to be pretty popular with the locals. It’s moments like these that I love when I’m abroad, chilling out watching the world go by, embracing the culture. There are plenty of little gems like these throughout Bratislava, be sure to check one out if you get the chance!



A walk down by the river Danube or a walk over the most snp is also a really enjoyable walk, giving you spectacular views of Bratislava. The Slovak pub is also a must when visiting, with amazingly tasty food and drink available for very cheap prices it’s easy to see why it has such a great reputation. The food is honestly out of this world!


How to get there

Bratislava airport (BTS) is the airport which serves the city. Situated about 5.6 miles outside of the city centre, there are several buses that go between the airport and the city centre. If you take the number 61 bus from the airport it will take you to the main train station, Hlavna Stanica. The number 93 bus will take you from there to the city centre. An hour ticket for the bus will cost you around €1.30, remember what I was saying about it being cheap?! If you do decide to take the bus make sure you buy your ticket before boarding the bus and make sure you get it validated when you get on, as at occasional stops a conductor will get on to double check tickets so you’re better safe than sorry!


Travelling to Vienna

I would highly recommend taking a day trip or an overnighter to Vienna whilst you’re in Bratislava. With the cities being so close it’s well worth the while taking advantage of. There is a direct train from Bratislava (Hlavna Stanica) to Vienna central station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) called the city shuffle which lasts around an hour and a half. I purchased a one way ticket from Bratislava for €12 and a one way ticket from Vienna for €10, so it’s very affordable. The two cities are unique in their own ways, Bratislava being the small, cute and cheap city and Vienna being the big, mesmerising expensive city. I will do a post on Vienna at a later date.


Bratislava is a wonderful little city that if you get the chance to visit, you should definitely go to! From the narrow streets of the old town to the spectacular sites and views it is a city that you will be sure to fall in love with. Happy travels!


Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Educational, Gaelic, Uncategorized

The Scottish Gàidhlig revival

In the year 1891 it was estimated that over 210,000 people in Scotland spoke gaelic, with gaelic being the only language that just over 43,000 people could speak. Fast forward 120 years to 2011 and that number had massively decreased to a mere 87,000 people with just over 57,000 being able to speak it fluently. These statistics obviously show that within that time period there was a massive decline in Gaelic speakers, but will that decline continue to happen over the next 120 years? I decided to do a little research and to my surprise, I discovered that Scottish Gaelic is going through a bit of a revival at the moment.

The decline.

The decline of speakers is due to a vast amount of factors which have each played their part for hundreds of years. The school establishment act of 1616 was probably where it all began though, the act which said Gaelic should be “abolished and removit” from Scotland also claimed that Gaelic was the reason for “barbarity and incivility” in the Highlands and Isles.

18th century

When the jacobite rebellion of 1745 had ended, it would become one of the major downfalls of Gaelic. Many speakers had died in battle, were captured and murdered or were held prisoner/sent as Indentured servants to the colonies after the battle of Culloden. In 1747 in response to the rebellion the British government introduced the heritable jurisdictions act which ultimately lead to the Highland clearances. This led to an estimated 200,000 – 270,000 Highlanders being displaced from their homes and/or emigrating abroad with many of the settlers arriving in Nova Scotia (new Scotland), Canada.

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Men of St Kilda awaiting removal – credit Clan Duncan Society

19th & 20th century

The introduction of the education act of 1872 in Scotland proved to be another downfall of the Gaelic language. It meant that only the English language was taught in Scotland. Pupils who spoke Gaelic were often teased by other classmates, belted by their teachers or could face corporal punishment if they did not give up the names of other speakers. Emigration being another big contribution to the decline, it’s estimated that over 500,000 Scots emigrated to the United States, Canada and Australia over the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The revival

The first time I probably saw the Gaelic language in writing was on a road sign up the North of Scotland many years ago. In 2001 when the Scottish government announced plans to erect bilingual signage along many of the trunk roads in the Highlands, it was met with praise but also with fierce criticism. Critics argued that they were a “waste of money” and “potentially dangerous” but there is no evidence of this at all. Fast forward a number of years from when I first saw the Gaelic Road signs, there is now a Gaelic translation for almost every train station in Scotland.

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A Scottish Road sign in Gaelic and English

Over the last decade or two there seems to have been major political boosts for the Gaelic language. The Gaelic language act (2005) was set out to secure Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, and on the 13th of February 2006 Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established as a public body in which it is “responsible for the preservation of Gaelic as an official language which enjoys the same respect as English”.

The introduction of the Gaelic schools capital fund in 2008 has led to the number of young people in Gaelic medium education to increase by a staggering 32%. There are over 40 primary schools on the mainland in which Gaelic is taught, with over 20 secondary schools teaching it aswell. All western Isles schools teach Gaelic. In Nova Scotia, Canada in 2014/15 there were 555 pupils participating in Gaelic education across 10 different schools. With many universities across Scotland offering Gaelic courses aswell as in the USA where there are 9 universities offering Gaelic degrees. There are many online and free courses available too, aswell as many apps for mobile phones. The local councils in Scotland also offer courses and classes for the language aswell, these are often fully booked though (speaking from personal experience) which is a really positive sign.

Gaelic is also thriving in the arts scene just now, with many listeners tuning into BBC radio Gaelic. With regards to TV, BBC alba which is only available to those who receive satellite TV has reached an astonishing 600,000 viewers in the past, which is 10x the amount of speakers! Many folk singers and their songs have also inspired people to take up an interest in the language. Singers such as Julie Fowlis, who sings in Scottish Gaelic and in English and who won folk singer of the year in 2008 has reached people from all over the world. With songs featured in the Disney film brave, many people who watched the film and liked her songs took up an interest in the language which is clear judging by the comments you will find on her youtube videos. Many festivals celebrating folk and Gaelic music are now available from Scotland to Canada. Celtic colours international festival being a major festival on Cape Breton.

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Julie Fowlis 2014 album cover

Perhaps the most recent surge in Gaelic enthusiasts can be credited to a series called outlander which is available on Starz and Amazon. Based on the books written by Diana Gabaldon it tells the story of an 1945 English nurse who travels back in time to the 18th century Scotland. The programme features dialogue in both English and in Gaelic and is popular with viewers all over the globe. The increase in youtube views since the release of outlander is what kind of made me question the revival of Gaelic. Videos on youtube of which when i had watched were sitting around 20,000 views and within around a year after the release of season 1 of outlander, were now sitting up at around 800,000 views! Which is a crazy increase!

Things are looking positive for Gaelic at the moment, with an evident increase in popularity and with the backing/promotion by the Scottish government it could well be on it’s way to becoming a well spoken language in Scotland again. It will be interesting to see how the revival plays out over the next decade or so but for the time being, things are looking really promising for the Gaelic language.

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

Educational, Gaelic, Uncategorized

Basic Scottish Gaelic phrases, part 2

Following up on my last post about basic Scottish Gaelic phrases, I thought I would add a couple more phrases to the list. If you never saw the last post I wrote then you can find it here:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/12/29/scottish-gaelic-phrases/

With the language going through a bit of a revival at the moment, due to more being done to encourage it and teach it than has been done in years (you could even argue centuries) and the demand for it growing, it is becoming a popular language to learn with not just Scots but with people across the globe!

I remember when I started learning the language many years ago I found it difficult to find pronunciations online so hopefully if you’re in the same boat as I was this will help you

Again, I have written out the English spelling, followed by the Gaelic spelling then the last line is how it is pronounced in Gaelic:

Where are you going? – Càit a bheil thu ‘dol? – Kahtch uh vil oo doll?

I’m going home – Tha mi ‘dol dhachaigh – ha mee doll ghachee

What is it? – Dè th’ann? – Jae ha-oon

What are you doing? – Dè tha thu ‘dèanamh? – Jae ha oo jee-annuv?

Are you coming? – A bheil thu ‘tighinn? – Uh vil oo tchee-een?

I don’t understand – Chan eil mi ‘tuigsinn – Chan yil mee took-sheen

Many thanks – Mòran taing – moe-ran ta-eeng

I don’t know – Chan eil fhios agam – Chan yil iss ackum

Can you say that again? – An can thu sin a-rithist? – Ung can oo shin uh ree-eeshtch?

Where’s….? – Càit a bheil….? – Kahtch uh vil…?

Where will I get…? – Càit am faigh mi…? – Kahtch um fa-ee mee…?

Is…. far from here? – A bheil…. fad às? – Uh vil…. fat ass?

Can you tell me? – An urrainn dhut innseadh dhomh? – Un oereen ghoot eenshugh ghoe?

How can I get to? – Ciamar a ruigeas mi? – Kimmer uh rook-yuss mee?

Congratulations! – Mealanaidheachd! – M-yallan eh-ochk

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Pittenweem

“Pittenweem, Pittenweem,
She’s every fisher laddie’s dream;
She guts the herrin doon by the quay,
And saves her kisses just for me.”

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Ahh Pittenweem (Baile na h-Uaimh in Scottish Gaelic), the beautiful little picturesque seaside village which sits on the coast of the kingdom of Fife. Sitting 11 miles south of St Andrews, the small fishing town with a population of around 1,700 people should be on your bucket list if you’re ever in the vicinity. Famous for its fish which are popular with families all across Scotland, it’s a village with a fascinating yet dark history.

What started off as an early Christian settlement many centuries ago, it was awarded the status of a Royal burgh by King James V in 1541. In 1705 it was the scene of a famous murder, in which a woman named Janet Cornfoot was falsely accused of being a witch and was lynched to death by a mob of locals. It’s history regarding witches is well worth a look into, as it’s very interesting.

The village is one that I hold close to my heart, with several of my relatives living in the village it’s a place where I spent a good number of days as a child visiting. It is also the place where my brother and my papa were laid to rest after they both sadly passed away, my brother loved it so much as a bairn that my parents decided it would be the best place to honour him. So it’s a place that holds a sentimental value to me naturally.

Onto a cheerier note though, if you’ve ever watched the visitscotland promo videos there’s a good chance you will have seen Pittenweem. Which brings me onto my next point, what to do?

The main place to go is the harbour, the views of the village from the pier is incredible. It is such a beautiful view, with the boats, shops and houses in the background it gives you a homely/calm feeling. It’s the type of view you would expect to see on a postcard. If you do visit the harbour then make sure you get yourself down to a place called the ice cream shop, the ice cream is truly phenomenal and with the amount of sweets available which are too good to turn down you’re sure to have a sugar rush for days.

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The ice cream shop at the harbour

Pittenweem priory was an augustinian priory which was built in 1318. Built over the ancient sacred cave associated with Saint Fillan, there is a stairwell linking the grounds to the cave but this has been closed off to members of the public. Although the site is now a parish kirk for the church of Scotland, the beautiful building still stands and is very impressive to visit. Most of the fortified east gatehouse still stands which can be dated back to the 15th century, as well as the gate house which is described as “one of Scotland’s best-preserved late medieval houses”.

St fillan’s cave is a hidden cave located on Cove wynd down next to the harbour. Being used as a chapel from the 7th century, it became popular with smugglers who used it for centuries but due to them using it as a rubbish dump the cave went off grid for a long time. In 1935 a horse fell down a hole which led to the rediscovery of the cave, and after being cleared of the rubbish it was refurbished and reopened to the public in 2000. The cave has a locked gate, but a key and an information leaflet are available from the Cocoa Tree Cafe which is close by at 9 High St. It costs £1 for an adult and kids go free. The church also occasionally holds services in the cave.

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St Fillan’s cave entrance on Cove wynd

There are several shops located throughout the town, as well as several beaches. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit when it’s sunny (which is a rarity for us in Scotland) then grab an ice cream and go sit down at the beach, it’s honestly sheer bliss.

 

Pittenweem is a lovely wee village which is the perfect place for a wee day away or a stopover. It is a wonderful example of a traditional Scottish fishing village and the type of place your bound to fall in love with. Happy travels folks!

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Kilmartin

Kilmartin or Cille Mhàrtainn (in Gaelic) is a bonnie wee village in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. Famous for the Kilmartin Glen, which is said to have one of the “richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland”. Seriously though, this place is an archaeologists heaven.

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It’s a village that you won’t often find on the majority of mainstream guides, just like many of the hidden gems in Scotland it isn’t one of the must see places you’ll read or hear about on the tele or online. For someone who travels all over Scotland regularly I only discovered it by accident just recently, and it was honestly the best accident I’ve ever encountered.

What is there to do in Kilmartin?

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Kilmartin Parish Church 

Kilmartin is littered with things to see or do, literally. Kilmartin Glen alone contains over 350 monuments scattered within a 6 mile radius. It’s the location of a number of important Neolithic, bronze age and iron age sites. This includes Temple wood, which consists of North and South stone circles with a burial cist in the middle. It is estimated that these were in use around 3000 bc! Aswell as Temple wood there are several burial cairns, chambered cairns, standing stones and cup and ring marked rocks all within walking distance.

Carnasserie Castle is a ruined tower house approximately 2km north of Kilmartin. It was built around 1565 and 1572 and after being blown up by royalist forces in 1685 it fell into disuse. It was taken over by historic Scotland and is superbly preserved. It is completely free of charge to go in and explore.

The medieval hill fort of Dunadd is another must see site. Believed to be the capital of the kingdom of Dál Riata (an ancient Kingdom of the Scotti tribe) it has been traced back as far as the 6th century. It is free of charge to explore.

Kilmartin parish church dates back to 1835, though there had been previous churches on the site before it. It is home to the Kilmartin stones, 79 ancient grave stones with some dating back as far the 9th/10th century. There has been a lot of theories regarding the stones and having a connection to the Knights Templars, but these theories are unproven. The church also harbours the Kilmartin crosses which are traced back to the 9th/10th centuries. It is open for visitors between 09:00 and 16:00.

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Kilmartin House Museum 

Kilmartin house is an award winning museum which interprets the monuments in the area. It has a collection of excavated artifacts that have been found within the area. It cost £6.50 for an adult and £2 for a child. It is open between 10:00 and 17:30.

The last on the list to visit is Kilmartin Castle, which was built around 1580. It stands above the village and up until recently was up for sale for around a generous price of £400,000.

Getting there

It is based around 8 miles North of Lochgilphead and 30km south of Oban. It is accessible by the A816 which runs through the town. As always I recommend travelling by car, it has so many more pros than cons. If you’re travelling by train, the closest train station is Oban so you would need to get the bus from Oban to Kilmartin. Travelling by bus is a lot easier, there are lots of buses that go to Lochgilphead from Glasgow and many buses that go to Oban from all over Scotland. There are busses between Lochgilphead and Oban daily which pass through Kilmartin.

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If you love history, or are interested in Scottish culture then Kilmartin is the place to be. For a small village it is absolutely packed with jaw dropping sites, monuments and artifacts. It’s a place you will definitely not forget. Happy travels!
Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Inveraray

Scotland never fails to disappoint when it comes to scenery and history, and Inveraray is a fine example of this. Situated in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland, Inveraray or Inbhir Aora as it’s known in Gaelic is a unique little town that is hidden away with the closest town Garelochhead being about 14 miles away.

Home to around 650 people it is a small town, but with several landmarks and attractions, the beautiful jaw dropping scenery and the history it boasts of it is a hit with tourists and easy to see why.

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The town was built in the 18th century and is described as “being one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland”. The town consists of many shops, coffee shops and restaurants. It also has a few popular tourist attractions, which brings me to my main point:

Things to do

For a small town Inveraray certainly has its fair share of things to keep you occupied.

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Inveraray jail is probably the most popular attraction. Built as a 19th century prison and court house it was used as a prison from 1820 until 1889, and carried on as a court house until 1954. It has been converted into a museum now showing what the living conditions were like for it’s prisoners, some as young as 7! It also tells you about individuals who were sent there and gives you an insight to their crimes and punishments. You can either get tickets for it online or at the door, buying online will save you a few bob. Prices are £9.50 for an adult, £5.85 for a child (under 5’s go free), and £8.95 for senior citizens and students.

Inveraray castle is next on the list. The home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell the castle is open to tourists who wish to explore it. The castle has been around since the 1400’s, but the iconic castle you see today was built in the 18th century. Visitors can explore the castle and the gardens, learn about the history of the castle and of Clan Campbell. Prices are £10 for adults, £9 for students and senior citizens and £7 for kids with under 5’s going free.

The two above are the main attractions in Inveraray, but there is plenty to do in and around the area. Why not take in the scenery of the beauty that is Loch Fyne? The longest sea Loch in Scotland. The spectacular scenery overlooking the loch will leave you breathless. With several pubs, restaurants and shops you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do.

When travelling around the Highlands of Scotland I always recommend taking a car to do it, there are just so many places that offer you beautiful views to not stop off at. If you aren’t travelling by car then your next option is the bus. There are a number of buses that go to and from Inveraray from a number of places around Scotland. There isn’t a train station within at least 10 miles of Inveraray so the train isn’t really ideal.

There a good number of hotels and campsites located in and around Inveraray.  There is also a caravan park and plenty of spots to wild camp at. If you are wild camping though remember and check the Scottish outdoor access code before you go.

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If you’re looking for places to visit in Scotland then Inveraray should definitely be up there on your list. With not only the town itself being something special, the drive to and from also offers you some of finest and stunning views in Scotland. If you have any questions or would like to tell us about your experience of Inveraray then please comment down below. Happy travels.

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!