If like me you are a fan of The Kelpies then you should really visit the numerous other public sculptures designed by Andy Scott that are dotted around Central Scotland.
I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of The Kelpies and it really brought these magnificent creatures to life with fire, light and sound. Ever since I have made it my mission to visit and photograph his other works of art.
In common with The Kelpies they all capture the history and mythology of the area they represent. One of the best ways to view six of his sculptures and some lovely Scottish scenery is by following the The Andy Scott Sculpture Trail through Clackmannanshire.
You will need a car and the Visit Scotland guide provides a logical route which I suggest you follow as it would be difficult to find them all otherwise (although read my note at the end for one correction!)
This is my photoblog of my tour along the trail, for more info on the meaning of the sculptures I have added the appropriate links. Unfortunately I had mixed weather for taking photographs but that's Scotland for you!
First stop is 'This Journey's End' which is situated on Marywood roundabout on the approach to Clackmannan and Alloa. It celebrates the opening of the Clackmannanshire Bridge and represents crossing and meeting.
As soon as I pulled up to Cairn o' Mohr Winery in Perthshire I realised that this was no ordinary place. Firstly it's in Scotland which is not exactly known for it's contribution to the wine world, secondly there is not a vineyard in sight. However, it is neither of these things that strike me as the most unusual, instead it is the carved tree people, the bursts of colour, the psychedelic murals and entertainingly random signs.
Before I even step through the door I know I am going to love this place.
Bizarre, weird, wacky and strange are all terms I'm sure come to mind when people first arrive here. I prefer quirky and humorous. I get the feeling that the owners would be upset if these adjectives didn't come up as it is this quirkiness and original approach to running the small family business that has helped it grow substantially from it's humble beginnings in 1987.
If your idea of the perfect visitor experience involves relaxing with a drink in hand while you watch the world and some iconic Scottish scenery go by while learning about the local area then I may have the answer for you.
Last week I decided to go on a boat trip down the Firth of Forth with Forth Boat Tours and I can't recommend it highly enough, in fact I would go as far as saying it is one of the best things I've done in Scotland!
We were welcomed on board at the pier in South Queensferry and my four legged companion was suitably fussed over! It is so nice to find attractions that allow dogs and Willow does love a cruise being a frequent ferry traveller herself.
Our transport for the next 90 minutes was The Forth Belle, which was equipped with plenty of seats outside and an indoor lounge area with a bar on the lower deck. There are seats at the front and rear and a couple of small areas up top next to the Captain for an all round view.
On the day I travelled I'd say the boat was half full which meant it felt quite spacious, I would recommend travelling at off peak times if you want to move around easily for photographs.
I was out on a warm, sunny day and the lounge was nice and cool. On a rainy day it is heated inside so the boat is designed for all Scottish weather eventualities.
I know first hand that travelling anywhere for any length of time can add up financially. As you may have guessed I love to explore Scotland at every opportunity and share all the wonderful places I find on my blog. Like most people I don't have a huge bank account and my travels are funded by my 'real' job but there is a way to stay in some pretty special places for cheap and even better for free!
Yes, I'm going to use the 'C' word, if you want to travel on a budget then it is time to embrace camping.
My most recent camping trip took me along the west coast from Ayrshire to Dumfries and Galloway. For 2 people and our four legged companion we managed to visit some pretty special Scottish places and our accommodation costs for 4 nights were only £36. The possibilities for camping are endless but this is a summary of my trip which you could easily do or seek out your own little haven under canvas.
We spent our first 2 nights in the lovely village of Maidens in Ayrshire with a beautiful harbour view, a handy picnic table, 2 minutes from a toilet block and a couple of minutes from the beach where we watched the sunset. Can you believe we enjoyed all this for free? We basically found a nice piece of public grass and pitched our tent.
This is classed as wild camping which is permitted in Scotland providing you follow some common sense rules. For more info have a read at the Visit Scotland guide.
People passing by kept commenting on how envious they were as we had such an idyllic place to stay for the night. Camping may not be for everyone but for me it's hard to beat if you're looking to save money and still have a great adventure.
There is a hotel in Maidens if you don't fancy cooking and it is nearby Culzean Castle and Country Park which is worth visiting for the day, you can read about it on my blog. As I sat on the rocks watching the sunset with our tea brewing on our little camping stove I did wonder if life gets any better than this?
Ever since stumbling across a link to the Mull of Galloway on social media I have been inspired to visit Scotland's most southerly point and I was excited to finally get there this week. For some reason I have never reached the extremities of my country and recently added them to my Scottish travel 'to do' list.
As I drove down the Rhins of Galloway peninsula on the southwest corner of Scotland looking towards the Irish Sea I expected it to be a harsh and windswept environment, however it is anything but.
Instead you are met with wide sweeping vistas of sandy beaches and colourful patchwork fields. There is a peacefulness and lush beauty that I didn't expect and I was also rewarded with the sight of my first Red Kite hovering and swooping over the farmland below.
Drummore is the last little town you pass heading south and If like me you still enjoy sending mail the old fashioned way and not via virtual messaging then Scotland's first and last post office is situated here and makes a unique postal stop. Across the road you can also stock up on supplies at Scotland's most southerly store!
I'm going to put it out there, Culzean Country Park and it's instantly recognisable castle is one of my favourite Scottish attractions. I've been visiting this National Trust for Scotland property since my early childhood and 3 decades later not much has changed. There have been a few improvements and alterations here and there but overall this timeless classic of a park has pretty much remained the same giant playground for adventurers of all ages that I nostalgically remember.
The Robert Adam designed clifftop castle is no doubt the sparkling gem of this Ayrshire crown but the surrounding grounds offer an array of natural and historic twinkling jewels which compliment it perfectly.
The castle is open to the public and you can choose to tour the beautifully furnished room at your own pace or as part of a guided tour. The armoury is particularly impressive as it holds one of the world's largest collection of swords and pistols.
The manicured gardens below the castle with the groomed green lawn, ornate fountain and palm trees makes a perfectly picturesque lunch spot.
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