As a Scottish travel blogger that prefers to head away from the typical tourist trail, finding inspiration for new places to visit is not always easy. Hidden gems are by their very nature difficult to discover.
With a free day to go exploring I found myself struggling to come up with somewhere new and unique that was an easy drive from Glasgow. After trawling through the internet for way too long, I was about to give up hope of finding some divine inspiration when I chanced upon Crawick Multiverse, only a one hour drive away in Dumfries and Galloway. A former open cast coal mine, transformed into an artland inspired by space, astronomy and cosmology, it certainly ticked the boxes for being unique and within a reasonable driving distance. Excited by the prospect of a new adventure, I quickly grabbed my camera, made up a packed lunch and jumped in the car. Before long I was turning off the busy motorway and found myself negotiating quiet country back-roads, the lush rural scenery mentally transporting me a million miles away from the city.
Arriving at the unassuming car park of Crawick Multiverse, I paid the entrance fee and picked up a map of the site. On advice from the visitor assistant, I followed the path anti-clockwise as she explained this would take me uphill to a ridge with sweeping views over the area and the countryside beyond.
It was a glorious day and as the trail gained height, the views opened up and I got my first glimpse of the many enormous stones found on the site (over 2000 and counting!) which have now been utilised to create the unusual artworks.
As I reached the top of the ridge, the views across the artland and the pretty valley beyond were spectacular. This is definitely the best place to get a good overview of the standing stone artwork that spirals and swirls in patterns below.
The area which was once deemed a scar on the landscape has been transformed thanks to the famous landform artist Charles Jencks and funding from the Duke of Buccleuch, the local landowner. Now a community asset and thought provoking space, this is a fantastic example of imaginative regeneration. Although it was still patchy in places when I visited, it is a place that will continue to improve with time as the newly planted greenery flourishes and blends with the surrounding fields and hills.
I have always been curious about bothies in Scotland. Quaint little buildings that are open to anyone that needs a shelter for the night, at no cost. Often situated in remote places and rescued from dereliction, they frequently come with an interesting history and a story or two.
Although I love the outdoors, I have never actually stayed in a bothy myself. This is partly because I have always thought they were the domain of seasoned mountain dwellers, partly because I didn't quite know the bothy etiquette until now and partly because it sometimes seems that you need to be a member of some secret bothy society just to find out where many of them are located!
One man has decided to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds these bothies after spending 5 years visiting them all. Geoff Allan has just published The Scottish Bothy Bible, the first ever detailed guide to Scotland's bothies.
I first became aware of this book when the adventurer Alastair Humphreys tweeted about it and if he recommends it I can pretty much guarantee that it would be a book I would also enjoy, so I was over the moon when I got a chance o check it out for myself.
For a chance to win your own copy, see below!
I expected plenty of photos of the stunning Scottish landscape and of course lots of information on the bothies themselves, thankfully the book didn't disappoint.
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