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!

 

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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!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Glen Etive

Places to visit in Scotland 

Glen Etive

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As someone who travels through the Highlands of Scotland on a regular basis, I honestly cannot help myself but stop every single time I pass and gaze at the beauty that Glen Etive has on show. It truly is an amazing place.

Glen Etive or Gleann Èite (the Gaelic spelling) is a glen located in the Scottish Highlands. The name Etive is believed to mean “little ugly one” from the Gaelic goddess associated with Loch Etive, which would leave you to believe that those Scots back in the day had a cracking sense of humour as nothing could be further from the truth.

It became semi famous in 2012 after the James Bond film Skyfall filmed a scene there, that left a lot of viewers asking the question “where is that?”. Moving from modern day blockbusters to ancient folklore now, the Fachen is also known as the dwarf of Glen Etive. This being a creature with half a body, a long black mane on it’s back, a mouth extremely wide and having such a terrifying appearance that it’s believed to induce heart attacks for those unlucky enough to see it. So er, try not to stumble across one if you can!

For those avid mountaineers and hill walkers, you’re spoiled for choice at Glen Etive. There are several peaks all around that fill up your view, I’ve made a wee list below:

  • Buachaille Etive Mòr (1,022m)
  • Ben Starav (1,078m)
  • Meail a’ Bhùiridh (1,108m)
  • Beinn Fhionnlaidh (959m)
  • Buachaille Etive Beag (958m)
  • Beinn Sgulaird (937m)

 

The river Etive which runs through is also a popular destination with kayakers. It is supposed to be one of the most challenging whitewater kayaking routes in the whole of Scotland. With grade 4 rapids, and a countless range of waterfalls and pools.

Travelling to Glen Etive can be easiest done by car. Approximately 11 miles to the southeast of Glencoe on the A82 is the road in and out of Glen Etive. It requires a good bit of concentration and observation skills though as it’s very easy to miss, and I mean very easy to miss. If you’re not travelling by car then your best bet is to get a bus to Glencoe and embark on good ole fashioned walking or cycling but with that being said it may take you a few hours, but surrounded by the beauty of the Highlands? I can’t imagine a nicer walk.

There are cottages and campsites available in the area but luckily as “wild camping” is legal in Scotland if you’re planning on camping then you can pretty much do it anywhere you like (within reason) make sure to check the Scottish outdoor association code below before you do though.

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/Practical-guide/public/camping
Whether you’re visiting or just passing by, Glen Etive should be a place on your bucket list. A place you should stop and just take in and embrace the beauty in which the Scottish countryside has to offer.