My recommended things to do in and around Montrose
As always, I aim to show you places in Scotland that don't always make it to the guide books or other travel blogs. i think it is fair to say that the town of Montrose in Angus falls in to that category. I rarely hear of tourists including it in their travel plans and as with many places in Scotland, that comes mostly down to the fact it is not promoted very well meaning visitors don't know what it has to offer.
Even after some online and guidebook research, I still wasn't sure what there was to do in Montrose and whether it was worth exploring. Fate stepped in as I ended up staying just across the river in the village of Ferryden. This gave me 4 days to check out as many things to do in the Montrose area as possible. It turned out there was more than enough to keep me busy.
It might not be the first place you think of for a short break in Scotland, however after reading about all the diverse Montrose attractions that I managed to pack in, you might just be inspired to add it to yourScotland itinerary.
I've also marked all of the places mentioned in a handy interactive map at the bottom of this post.
The east coast of Scotland is blessed with some fantastic beaches and Montrose Beach is up there with the best of them. The vast expanse of pristine sand stretches for over 3 miles and is popular with families and dog walkers. This was one of our first stops in Montrose, mainly so Willow could get a run about, but the humans enjoyed it too!
Plenty of nearby parking is a bonus and the adjacent promenade is perfect for a leisurely stroll. With a children's play area, cafe, art deco pavilion and William Lamb statue (see below), it is a worthwhile destination even if you don't venture down on to the sand.
The Walkhighlands website features a circular walk of just over 7 miles that starts at Montrose Beach if you are keen to explore more of the area on foot.
I've said it before on other blog posts but museums are usually my first stop when I visit a new destination and Montrose was no exception. I love to learn a bit about a place before I start exploring as I appreciate my location more when I've educated myself on some of the history and culture first.
Montrose Museum was purpose built in 1842 to display the growing collections of the Montrose Natural History and Antiquarian Society. The neo-classical building is impressive from the outside with lonic columns either side of the entrance-way and Greek key design features.
The interior is just as remarkable, with an atrium, mezzanine and galleries. The museum collections cover many eras including early archaeological finds, the Jacobite period, maritime history of the area and much more. There is also an art gallery with changing exhibitions.
I think this is a great museum with enough displays to be interesting but not too much information to be overwhelming. It is also free to visit which means adding it to your Montrose itinerary seems an obvious choice.
Montrose Heritage Trail
If there is a way to learn about places that I love even more than museums, it is by following heritage trails. History isn't behind glass cases on these walks, it is all around, and you usually discover lots of details that are easily missed if you don't know where to look. It is also a way of increasing your daily steps without noticing which is always a bonus for someone like me who hates working out in a stuffy gym!
While I was in the museum I picked up a leaflet for the Montrose Heritage Trail and decided that was would be next on my itinerary. I actually picked up quite a few leaflets for different heritage trails in Angus so I'm looking forward to trying more out in the future.
The Montrose Trail should take about 90 minutes to complete and you can expect to cover a good part of the town. Starting at the Parish Kirk I discovered that the spire is one of the tallest in Scotland. Finishing at St Mary's and St Peter's Episcopal Church I learned that it replaced an earlier chapel dating back to 1722 which burnt down. It is reputed that legendary composer, George Frideric Handel, played the original organ in the original church.
One of many smaller details I probably would have missed without following the trail was the The Holy Royal Arch sign shown in my photo. It is listed as a monument by Historic Environment Scotland and has been a landmark in the town since the 18th Century.
The sign was carved in France and erected by Freemason captains of French sailing ships who met in the building, which used to be a coffee shop. The sign has recently been restored so hopefully it will be around for at least another few hundred years.
With 25 stops on the trail, these are just a few of the facts that I learned during my walk and I don't want to give too many away as I recommend you try it for yourself. You can download a copy of the heritage trail here.
Explore the historic closes
A guide to Ferryden
Have you ever picked a random place to stay just because you've never heard of it before or because it has a pretty name? I like to do this from time to time as I find it one of the best ways to uncover new hidden gems and this is how I ended up staying in Ferryden.
I was searching for last minute holiday apartments in Scotland for a short break when I came across a reasonably priced one in Ferryden. This is also a benefit that comes with staying outwith tourist hot spots - the overnight rates are usually far cheaper!
On further investigation I discovered that this former fishing village is situated opposite Montrose. As I didn't know this part of Scotland too well before my visit, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to rectify that.
I booked my accommodation through Airbnb. If you've not used Airbnb before you will receive a £25 discount off your first booking by using my personal link.
This doesn't cost you anything extra but I receive a little bit of travel credit if you do.
I immediately fell in love with the quaintness of Ferryden. Characterful buildings and people along with an interesting history were an unexpected surprise. Although it is small, it is the kind of place you need to walk around a few times to take in all the wee quirky details.
I have personally found that historic fishing villages in Scotland have more than their fair share of individuality and charm. I've previously written about Footdee in Aberdeenshire and Stromness in Orkney which also fall under this category. It is no wonder that coastal communities seem to hold so much appeal to me.
A road-trip around the Kintyre Peninsula
Many people have heard of Kintyre thanks to Sir Paul McCartney's iconic song about the Mull of Kintyre which is situated at the southern end of this Scottish peninsula. However, not so many people make the effort to actually visit this underrated part of Scotland, mainly as it is a bit off the beaten track. It isn't a place you pass through on your way to somewhere else; you really only go there if it is your destination.
In my opinion it is a very worthy destination due to the variety of scenery, engaging history and amount of things to do. It is a compact area which is ideal for a long weekend road-trip. It also makes a great inclusion to a longer west coast road trip in Scotland.
Hopefully my guide to things to do in the Kintyre Peninsula will inspire you and help with planning your own trip to this pretty part of Scotland.
Where is the Kintyre Peninsula?
The Kintyre Peninsula is on the west coast of Scotland in the southern part of Argyll. It is a narrow strip of land which points down towards Northern Ireland. In fact at its nearest point, Kintyre is only about 12 miles from the Antrim Coast which can be seen just across the water on a clear day.
It runs from the picturesque town of Tarbert in the north to the Mull of Kintyre in the south and as it is only about 40 miles long, its small size makes it an ideal part of Scotland to explore over two or three days.
So where is the Mull of Kintyre?
Immortalised by Sir Paul McCartney, the Mull of Kintyre is at the very southern tip of the peninsula - 'Mull' translates to rounded headland. Not only did the former Beatle write a rather famous song about this remote part of Scotland, he also bought a farm in the area where he could escape from the stresses of fame.
The history of Kintyre
The Kintyre Peninsula gained its title 'Scotland's only Mainland Island' thanks to the Norwegian King Magnus Barefoot in 1098 who wanted to add Kintyre to his claim on all the western islands.
A treaty between the Vikings and the Scots stated that Magnus could rule the islands off of the west coast of Scotland separated by water and navigable by a ship. Legend tells that Magnus reached Kintyre in 1093 and decided if his boat could travel around it, then he could also claim Kintyre as one of his 'islands'.
To circumnavigate the peninsula, Magnus stood at the helm of his longboat and his followers dragged it across the narrow strip of land which connects West and East Loch Tarbert. As a result Kintyre became part of Norway until it was returned to the Scots in 1266.
The Viking occupation is just one of the Kintyre's many interesting historic chapters. Standing stones, ruined chapels, castles and prehistoric caves scattered around the landscape are reminders of the many civilizations that have called this place home over the centuries.
Kintyre has also seen its fair share of bloodshed. As you travel around the stunning and peaceful scenery it is hard to imagine that this area was also the setting of another infamous MacDonald massacre. In 1647 approximately 300 men were murdered by The Covenanters at Dunaverty Castle in Southend.
My recommended stops around the Kintyre Peninsula
I went on a 2 day road-trip around Kintyre, staying at Machrihanish, about three quarters of the way down the west coast. I followed the coast clockwise around the peninsula, heading down the east coast and back up the west. If you decide to do a similar road-trip, here are my recommended stopping places -
Below is a round-up of what there is to do at each place mentioned and a map of Kintyre with my recommended stopping points
Kintyre Peninsula map with my recommended route and stopping places
My recommended things to do in Inverness and the surrounding area
Inverness is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. It is known as 'The Capital of the Highlands' and acts as a great base for exploring the north of the country. The city of Inverness is compact and easy to explore on foot and although there are many places to visit within Inverness itself, some of the well known Inverness tourist attractions like Culloden and Loch Ness lie outside the centre.
You can travel to the city by bus or train and many attractions are walkable from the city centre but a car is advisable if you want to explore the outlying sites mentioned in this list. Inverness even has its own airport and the city acts as a gateway to countless Highland adventures whatever direction you decide to travel in once you get there.
My recommended things to do in and near to Inverness includes a mix of some of the top things to do but also some of the lesser known gems as I always aim to showcase a different side to the popular tourist places in Scotland.
I've also included a range of sight-seeing options that are within a 20 minute drive and I've marked all of the places mentioned in this handy interactive map to help you plan your itinerary.
What to do in Inverness
All of the following suggestions can easily be reached on from Inverness city centre
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
I personally think a visit to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is one of the best things to do in Inverness. The museum covers an extensive history of the area and is a great starting point for those interested in learning more about the different historical periods of the Scottish Highlands.
On the ground floor you will find exhibits dating back billions of years in the geology section and some amazing Pictish and Iron Age finds. Medieval Inverness, Gaelic culture and Highland wildlife are all covered on this floor too.
On the first floor the story of the Jacobites, Highland dress and weaponry all feature and there is even an opportunity to dress up if you feel inclined! Other exhibits include field sports, Inverness silver, Scottish identity, the Clearances and life in 20th century Inverness.
The museum is free to visit and is also home to a shop and cafe,
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