So you love Outlander and have fallen for all things romantically Scottish. You have booked your trip in the hope of finding your own kilted Jamie who will whisk you off across the hills and glens to live happy ever after in your cosy Highland home.
Okay, maybe that's a wee bit of an exaggeration (or maybe not!) but let's just hypothetically say you're coming to Scotland to admire more than the scenery. As a Scottish woman I totally understand, it is in my DNA to find men in tartan skirts more attractive than well cut, tight fitting jeans. However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a kilted man in 21st Century Scotland is an elusive creature and unless you know where to look it is possible that you may be left disappointed.
Now, if you are willing to hunt them down you will be well rewarded as they seldom roam alone, meaning you are likely to find a large pack gathered in the one spot. If you are one of those people who are hypothetically coming for purposes of this sort or know a friend of a friend who might be interested then here is my guide to five places you are guaranteed to find a kilted man in Scotland.
Mauchline is a characterful little town in East Ayrshire with a long and varied history. It is the home of Mauchline ware the famous wooden souvenirs and the only curling stone factory in the world, however the main reason many people visit here is the strong connections to Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns.
Mauchline is mentioned in every Burns trail and with good reason. He spent four important years here from 1784 to 1788 and during that time he experienced many highs and lows including
I had never been to Mauchline before and decided this week that it was time to visit the area of Scotland that inspired many of my favourite Burns poems. The day I visited it was bucketing with rain which meant that I didn't manage to enjoy a full walk around the town, however there was still plenty to do and my first stop at the free Burns House Museum was a warm and welcome shelter from the wet deluge outside. A 20 minute video about the Bard's life during the period he resided here was an informative introduction to the complicated life of the poet. The museum is situated in a building where Burns and his wife Jean Armour spent some time living and features a recreation of the room they lodged in. The museum also houses Burns artifacts and even has a listening snug where you can relax and enjoy his poems. There has been alot of thought put into this museum and it's exhibits and the fact that it is free makes it an ideal starting point when visiting the town.
A couple of months ago I posted this photo on social media with the caption 'Everyone should touch the top of a Scottish mountain at least once in their life'. It proved pretty popular and I thought I'd let you into a little secret about how it was taken and how much easier it is than you might think for you to take the same photo.
The photo was taken in Glencoe and the mountain I'm 'touching' is Buachaille Etive Mòr (the great herdsman of Etive). Probably the most photographed mountain in Scotland, most images are taken from the ground but how much more impressive would it be to go home with a photo like this instead?
if you want some pretty majestic Scottish mountain shots like these without the effort of climbing an actual mountain, here is my cheat's guide.
When you walk around any city it is easy to get distracted by the waves of people, the streams of traffic and the inevitable window shopping. It is all too easy to miss the finer details that make up the urban fabric and the architectural styles of the many buildings.
Glasgow's city centre grid iron street pattern is home to magnificent Victorian masterpieces and Rennie Mackintosh and Greek Thomson gems which sit alongside architectural designs from sturdy medieval stone constructions to sleek contemporary glass formations.
If you're in any city find a place that you lets you gaze across the building tops and it will open up a whole new world to you, ornate carvings, sculptures, domes, towers, spires and characterful spaces hidden from the streets below.
The Lighthouse in Glasgow was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and now houses a visitor and exhibition centre complete with a viewing tower providing an amazing 360 degree panorama of the city. I find the views fascinating and could easily spend hours studying the detail on every building and watching the ever changing skyline as buildings rise and fall.
These photos were taken from my most recent trip there and I would highly recommend a visit but allow yourself plenty of time as you may spend longer than expected drifting among the enchanting city rooftops.
As I stand 370ft above the Firth of Forth with sweeping vistas of Fife and the Lothians stretching before me I feel like I am standing on top of the world. Looking down through the steel bones of the Forth Bridge at the toy houses and cars below provides a sobering reminder that despite how big I currently feel, I am really just an insignificant speck on this mammoth sized structure.
The cruise ship that seemed to tower from the water as I stood looking out from the shore minutes earlier has now shrunken to the size of my thumbnail and the cars crossing the parallel Forth Road Bridge remind me of a stream of ants.
Viewing the Forth Bridge from the land or water below it is easy to see the scale of this Victorian rail crossing. Prior to embarking on my jolty ride up an exterior caged hoist, my guides from Network Rail, Ian Heigh and Craig Bowman, had pointed out the viewing platform at the top of the bridge and I remember thinking how tiny it looked and how much bigger the bridge suddenly seemed. Yet, now standing on that same platform I realise it is in fact rather large and that it is the hugeness of the steel structured bridge that seems to make everything else shrink dramatically.
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 to do. 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.
If you are looking for something alternative to do in Glasgow, then this guide lists ten 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 everything listed here are free things to do in Glasgow, 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.
1. Go on a free walking tour of the Necropolis
Friends of the Necropolis run free walking tours around Glasgow's most famous graveyard. Pointing out monuments of interest and telling the real stories of some of the people that are buried here brings this city of the dead to life. The views at the top are some of the best in Glasgow.
The volunteer guides are very knowledgeable and passionate which really adds to the experience. Tours last approx 2 hrs (mine was almost 2 1/2), wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. The walking tours are free but donations welcome which help towards restoration projects, you also need to book in advance.
2. Visit the Glasgow Gurdwara
The Glasgow Gurdwara serves the Sikh community in the city and beyond. However, it also extends a warm welcome to anyone wishing to visit and free tours can be booked.
Lasting approx 45 mins, tours take in the various areas of the Gurdwara, explain about the Sikh faith and there is the opportunity to enjoy a free meal from the community kitchen.
Glasgow is a mulitcultural city and a visit here helps you understand more about one of the many faiths that make up modern day Scotland.
Shoes should be removed within the Gurdwara and scarves are provided to cover your head.
3. Take a free tour of Glasgow City Chambers
Glasgow City Chambers is the headquarters of Glasgow City Council. Free public tours take place weekdays at 10.30am and 2.30pm, there is no need to book just arrive at the reception.
Tours last approx 40 mins and take in the working area, opulent banqueting hall, marble staircase and portrait gallery. There is even the opportunity to sit in the Lord Provost's chair, an ideal photo!
As the City Chambers is a working building access to some areas may be restricted at certain times.
I highly recommend a visit here as the architecture, artwork and decor are pretty impressive, and in my opinion it is the best free tour in Glasgow!
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