Lately I have spent most of my time in Glasgow enjoying the atmosphere while the Commonwealth Games take place. However, with the glorious sunshine that we have been experiencing in Scotland this summer I really wanted to get out the city for the day and take in some of our stunning natural scenery.
Loch Lomond is only 30 minutes away and is an ideal destination for a day trip from Glasgow.
I love exploring this area all year round, however the lush green coloured coat that it puts on in summer makes the perfect contrast to the blue water and sky.
I started my trip at Inveruglas on the west shore, home of the Sloy Hydro-Electric Power Station which dominates the hillside. This is a popular stopping point and there are toilets and local information leaflets available which can help you plan out your travels in the area.
There is also a cafe which used to be very good and I would make a point to stop here when travelling north. Sadly the last couple of times I have been in I have experienced terrible service and found it overpriced and from reviews on TripAdvisor it seems I am not alone in my thoughts. I hate to find poor service anywhere but a cafe that operates within one of our National Parks and is frequented by tourists should be a shining example of the best Scotland has to offer. I really hope the next time I visit it has improved.
After Inveruglas I headed south to Firkin Point. Although busy with picnickers and sunbathers, a short walk and I had the place to myself.
Next destination was the pretty conservation village of Luss. With quaint cottages and stunning gardens bursting with summer flowers and scents it is easy to understand why tourists flock here.
If you had told me when I was a girl growing up in Glasgow that one day I would sail into my home city on the biggest flotilla ever seen on the river to the cheer of thousands of people it would have sounded like a fantastical story. In fact until a couple of months ago I would still never have believed it, yet this week it actually happened and I am still wondering if it was all just an amazing nautical dream.
The Commonwealth Flotilla was timed to coincide with another huge event happening in Glasgow, the Commonwealth Games. Although sailing isn't one of the sporting events in the Games it is one of the events that make up the Olympics and it was a good way of reminding people that sailing is another of the many sports that people can get involved in.
As Saturday morning arrived and my train pulled into Greenock I was almost bursting with excitement. I was soon shown to my transport for the day, the Clyde Clipper, one of two boats run by Clyde Cruises that were taking part.
I had very kindly been invited along by James Stuart, CEO of RYA Scotland to not only experience this once in a lifetime event but to learn more about the opportunities available for people in Scotland to get on the water. I was joined by other excited guests, many of them RYA Gold members and representatives from other agencies looking to promote water based activities available in the country.
With the sound of boat horns and the musical strains of a piper drifting from the quayside we started to move into position.
We were one of the leading boats with the new hybrid CalMac ferry, Lochinvar, guiding us up the Clyde.
The Commonwealth Flotilla was making history as this was the biggest flotilla ever to have sailed up the river with over 250 boats of all shapes and sizes taking part. As we left Greenock behind and boat after boat appeared on the horizon I started to get my first real visual understanding of the scale of the event.
One of the reasons I love Glasgow is the vast amount of free things on offer. From attractions to tours there is always something to do and it is the perfect city for those on a budget
Widely advertised are the big museums and parks which offer amazing experiences and there is a reason that they are so popular. However, there are also plenty of lesser known gems in the city that are equally deserving of a visit and offer a more unique experience.
This guide is my list of ten alternative places and tours that are free and in my opinion worthwhile. As with everything in my travel blog I have visited them all and I'm happy to provide any more information you need although I've included all the links to the appropriate websites.
Although the things listed here are free I've noted ones that are grateful for donations to help maintain their attraction so please consider this if you enjoyed your visit.
I could easily have included another ten so maybe I'll have to work on part 2! If you're looking for something different to do in the city this is a good place to start.
Take a Walking Tour of the Necropolis
Visit the Glasgow Gurdwara
Take a tour of the City Chambers
Entering the enchanted grounds of Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park feels a bit like stumbling out of a rabbit hole into a strange world beyond. Around every corner is something mysterious and wonderful, sometimes natural, sometimes man made but always a delightful surprise.
The sculpture park is an outdoor gallery which displays and sells works of art by established artists. If like me you are an Andy Scott fan there is a treat in store as the macquette for his next proposed giant canal structure, The Maryhill Bigman, is currently on display here.
The gardens are a wonder of their own, with stunning views across the Kyles of Bute and access to the scenic shoreline. Rustic summerhouses, a characterful boathouse, walled garden, wildlife pond and tennis court are just some of the architectural jewels.
Situated in Colintraive on Argyll's secret coast, the sculpture park is a real hidden gem. A visit here is a total treat for the senses and imagination and somewhere well worth seeking out.
Every traveller seems to have a bucket list and I'm no different. Despite having had many great experiences around Scotland there are still lots of things I dream of doing and places I would love to visit.
In general I want to go island hopping and explore more of the remote areas of Scotland away from the tourist destinations. I also need to adventure around the Northern fringes of the country and across to Orkney and Shetland as these are areas I've not visited yet.
As for specifics my wish list could go on and on so I've tried to narrow it down and have come up with 15 'starter' wishes which are all quite doable if I save up my pennies and dedicate the time! These are all things I've wanted to do for a while, some for many years, but for one reason or another I have never quite managed them. I hope by committing them to my blog I will be inspired to achieve them all...eventually!
So here is my random Scotland Bucket List (in no particular order!)
I'd love to hear if you have you done anything on the list or have a suggestion for something I've missed. Do you have a bucket list of your own that you would like to share?
I'm always looking for new ideas on things to do and places to visit in Scotland so please feel free to get in touch!
An hour by train from Glasgow Central and a 35 minute connecting ferry ride will bring you into the centre of Rothesay, the main town on the Isle of Bute.
A perfect day trip from Glasgow, this little Scottish island has plenty to offer and provides a pretty and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. It may not have the mountains of Skye or the brightly painted houses of Mull but Bute has a charm all of it's own
Although a day won't be enough to take in all the history, wildlife and activities on offer it will certainly give you a flavour and a reason to return.
First stop should be The Discovery Centre in Rothesay, here you will find tourist information and a great free multi-media exhibition telling you a bit more about The Isle of Bute. It is only a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and a fantastic introduction to the island.
Then take a stroll along the promenade and admire the beautiful flower displays, if the weather is nice why not enjoy a shot on the putting green and take a seat by the fountain. Admire the boats in the harbour and the views over the Firth of Clyde to the mainland.
Bute is the little island oasis I currently call home and knowing all that it has to offer has made it difficult to narrow down a list of places you can visit in a day. I could easily have provided a week long itinerary but I feel that coming to an island should be about relaxation and I think my suggested things to do find a balance between visiting some interesting attractions and taking it at an easy pace. Hopefully you will leave feeling not only chilled out but with a little bit of knowledge about this historical Scottish island and a yearning to come back.
Follow me as I search for the best and most original travel experiences in Scotland.