MY PICK OF THE BEST
Wigtown was once the chief town of Galloway with considerable strategic and commercial importance. Today most visitors are drawn by its many book shops and annual book festival.
It is a great example of a historic Scottish town that has reinvented and regenerated itself in the face of an economic downturn. Wigtown harbour once thrived with coastal trade until new road and railway networks were built which bypassed the town and inevitably contributed towards a decline in prosperity and population.
In 1998 Wigtown was designated Scotland's National Book Town and this has led to a general revival, with many buildings refurbished and new businesses opening.
As someone who has always rejected electronic reading devices in favour of paper and print, I was pretty excited to spend a day in this paradise for book lovers. I visited all but one of the main book shops in the town as it was closed at the time and thought I would share a round up of my top picks. Each book shop has its own charm and unique speciality so it really is worth setting a full day aside so you have plenty of time to browse around each one.
Some of the bookshops in Wigtown have cafes and most of the town's cafes have books so there are plenty opportunities to grab a refreshment, with or without some reading material.
I was also delighted to see that several of the shops had signs saying that they welcomed dogs which is a bonus for owners like me that sometimes struggle to find dog friendly indoor activities on holiday. I must say that so far, I have found Dumfries and Galloway to be the most dog friendly region in Scotland and this is one of the reasons I keep going back. On a side note if your business welcomes dogs, a sign on the door is really helpful as dog owners aren't mind readers! I can guarantee that if I can take Willow somewhere with me, I will visit and spend money - other dog owners will do the same which can only be good for your profits.
Anyway I digress, as promised, here is my pick of Wigtown's book shops...
This is Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop and the oldest in Wigtown, with approximately 100,000 books spread over a mile of shelving! I could easily have spent days browsing the row upon row of books on every subject. Had the fire been lit to combat the chill, I might even have been tempted to move in permanently.
While the books take centre stage, their theatrical setting wouldn't be out of place in Diagon Alley. Wandering through the tardis of rooms is like stepping into a magical book filled world with a flying violin playing skeleton to welcome you and lots of quirky nooks and crannies to discover or hide away in! Needless to say I couldn't resist the temptation of so many wonderful reads and left with my bag a good bit heavier and my purse a good bit lighter.
It might come as no surprise given the topic of my travel blog that I am a big fan of Scotland and photos from my home country. What might surprise you is that I'm not actually a big fan of spending too much time online and I would rather relax with a cup of coffee on the sofa and flick through a book of photographs of Scotland than flick through my Instagram feed.
So when I got the chance to check out three new photography books by Scottish landscape photographer, Allan Wright, I couldn't wait to fire up the coffee machine, wrap myself in a cosy blanket on the sofa and indulge in one of my favourite past-times.
I'm always in awe of super talented photographers with a portfolio of stunning shots, although I'm fully aware how much time, practice and patience goes into producing the perfect image.
Allan has been taking travel photographs for a long time and this shows in his work. If you want to be inspired by beautiful shots of Scotland then his set of books should be gracing your coffee table in 2018.
This year he has published three books which can be purchased through The Scottish Bookstore and thanks to Allan, two of my lucky readers will also have the chance to WIN a set each (see below).
This is bound to be a popular choice given the sheer love of the Isle of Skye. A mixture of iconic locations and rugged landscapes, fans of Skye and Scotland are sure to fall in love with this book. Although primarily full of images, there are also some personal anecdotes interspersed throughout. There is also a handy map of Skye at the beginning with the locations of each image marked on it which makes it great for some Skye travel inspiration too.
With approximately 100 images printed on high quality glossy paper, I personally think this is a real bargain at £18.00. I've certainly seen similar quality books retail at a much higher price.
Regular readers of my blog will know I'm a huge fan of Galloway which is a really underrated part of Scotland. By coincidence I'm actually off on another trip there tomorrow although I could only dream of capturing images anywhere in the same stratosphere as Allan!
Allan is based in Galloway so it is no surprise that he has dedicated a book to the area. It is printed in the same style as the Skye book and although there are no anecdotes, there are more images (approx 135). Being a local, he is obviously an expert on where to go for the best shots and I will certainly be using this book and the handy location map for some inspiration on my upcoming visit.
Again this is for sale at £18.00 and provides a great snapshot of the diversity of Galloway which is bound to leave you planning your own visit to the region.
The Now Glasgow book is published in a different style to the Skye and Galloway books, with bright and bold images. The photographs are not so much cityscape, but rather a story of the city told through the architecture, recognisable landmarks and the personalities that make Glasgow such a friendly and diverse place. It also features lots of the amazing street art that decorates many of the buildings and walls.
They say 'People make Glasgow' and the images in this book reflect the different backgrounds and characters that make up the population. It also captures the humour, warmth and creativity that makes it such a welcoming city to visit.
Again the book can be purchased for £18 and contains approx 230 images!
I may only just have discovered Allan's work thanks to these books, but I can firmly say I'm now a fan and will no doubt be enjoying his images for many years to come. These are an excellent addition to my growing Scottish travel book library and although I was provided these books for the purposes of a review, I can honestly say I love them and I think you will too.
If like me, you aspire to improving your photographic skills then you might be interested to know that Allan also runs photographic workshops, you can find more details on his website.
WIN A SET OF ALLAN'S BOOKS
COMPETITION NOW CLOSED - WELL DONE TO THE WINNERS
JULIE CAMM & DAVE
To celebrate the launch of his books and since it's almost Christmas - Allan has kindly provided 2 sets of his book for a little competition. Yes, that's right 2 lucky readers will each win a set containing the Skye, Galloway and Now Glasgow books worth £54!
Please note that the competition is open to UK entries only.
Entering is super easy all you have to do is -
Yip, that's all you need to do, told you entering was super easy!
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
About Caol Ruadh
Entering the enchanted grounds of Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park (pronounced 'Col Ru') feels a bit like stumbling out of a rabbit hole into a strange world beyond.
The sculpture park is an outdoor gallery which displays and sells work created in Scotland by established artists. I've visited a few times over recent years and have observed dozens of unique artwork by a variety of designers on each occasion, including pieces by famous Scottish artists Andy Scott (creator of the famous Kelpies) and Rob Mulholland (creator of 'Still' the popular mirror man that until recently stood in Loch Earn).
Around every corner is something mysterious and wonderful, sometimes natural, sometimes man made but always a delightful surprise.
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.
About the Clydeside Distillery
Last week I was lucky enough to be one of the first visitors at the new Clydeside Single Malt Whisky Distillery which has just opened in Glasgow and offers tours, a shop, a cafe and of course a chance to sample a few drams. It is one of the first malt distilleries to be built in Glasgow for over a century.
Situated on the banks of the River Clyde just along from other popular city attractions including The Riverside Museum and the SSE Hydro, it forms part of an ongoing regeneration of the area. The Clydeside Distillery is housed in the characterful Old Pump House with a contemporary glass extension occupied by two giant copper stills. The building itself is a perfect representation of the old and new connections that tie the location, owners, production methods and Glasgow's whisky heritage together.
The distillery is able to produce up to 500,000 litres of spirit each year although you will have to wait several years until its first lowland malt will be ready for release. If you are in Glasgow and want to find out more about Scotch Whisky then this is a must visit. Whisky aficionados may be more interested in the history of Clydeside along with the growing revival of uisge beatha in the city.
Dating back to 1877, The Pump House with its distinctive clock tower that now houses Clydeside Distillery is situated at the historic Queen's Dock on the River Clyde. It is by no coincidence that this location was chosen as the latest venture in the very impressive Morrison family whisky portfolio,
The distillery chairman, Tim Morrison, is the great grandson of John Morrison who originally built the dock in 1836. John Morrison later partnered with Thomas Mason to form Morrison and Mason, a civil engineering and building firm that was responsible for building some of the most significant and notable structures in the city including Glasgow City Chambers.
The Pump House was originally designed to provide hydraulic power to operate the swing bridge servicing the commercial dock which witnessed the export of whisky with ships destined for all continents of the world.
Glasgow was once significantly involved in the production of whisky in Scotland and home to countless whisky distilleries with associated blending houses, bonded warehouses, bottling plants and cooperages, although very little evidence of this remains.
The history of the production and export of whisky in the city is told through a short film and self guided tour at the Clydeside Distillery.
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