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Things I have done in Scotland

Things I have done in Scotland, now that I have time to see the bits that aren't in Edinburgh alone

Updated March 11, 2014
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  1. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Auchencairn, Scotland, UK
    I only ate lunch here, so I am reviewing it as a restaurant rather than a hotel. The Balcary Bay hotel is in a stunning bay on the South West corner of Scotland. The building is beautiful, and the architecture is pretty much typical of the region…
  2. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    I stayed here for a wedding, so bear in mind that I'm gonna have the warm and fuzzies for the place. In fact, I would do a blog entry, but I would lay good money you are more interested in the hotel than how gorgeous my friend looked... By a sign…
  3. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Blossom House is a family run bed and breakfast on Minto Street. The rooms are clean, and nicely decorated, in teh old fashioned way that I associate with good bed and breakfasts. The room was about £30 per person, which isn't bad at all for a week…
  4. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    I would never have found this place on my own, but I was with a local. it is a very, very discrete door that makes it look like a kitchen entrance in a basement in Queen street. Blink and you'd miss it. The bar is nicely decorated, and has lit…
  5. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in United Kingdom
    This is a reprint of a previous Blog entry - someone said it wa smore of a review than a Blog, so I apologise to those of you who've read it twice. Round about the two month mark in any trip, people start asking me if I'm homesick yet. I'm not.…
  6. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Dumfries, Scotland, UK
    Caerlaverock Castle is a distinctive castle in southern Scotland, which played an important part in the Wars of Independence. It is run by Historic Scotland, and so can be a little expensive to enter. There are discounts for children and people old…
  7. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in Dumfries, Scotland, UK
    Actually, I was really impressed. The cairndale hotel is situated on the outskirts of the town centre, opposite the leisure centre. Given that dumfries is tiny, this makes it about a dive minute walk to the centre. The hotel is spotless clean…
  8. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Kismot is an Indian Restaurant is on St Leanard's Street, near the Pleasance. The curry here is very nice, with a wide range of both the classics and specials. The waiter was excellent, and honest if things were going to take a long time, or if h…
  9. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Dumfries, Scotland, UK
    Mabie Forest Mabie Forest is an area of Forestry Commission land outside Dumfries in southern Scotland. It has areas of pine forest and deciduous forest. The forest is on hilly land above Dumfries, with lovely views of the town and across farm l…
  10. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Musselburgh, Scotland, UK
    If you had to guess where you would find the best ice-cream in the UK, I would imagine your first guess would be some five starred hotel in London or Manchester, or edgy bar in Glasgow. Perhaps a Michelin starred pub somewhere in the Cotswolds doing…
  11. Average priced "General Tips & Advice" in United Kingdom
    Ordinance Survey, or OS maps, are the standard maps you would need for hiking in the UK. I think most Brits take them for granted, but apparently the level of detail that the maps include are rare internationally and non-Brits don't necessarily know…
  12. Expensive "Hotels & Accommodations" in Auchencairn, Scotland, UK
    Orroland lodge is part of a group of large private hire holiday homes on the coast near Auchencairn, southern Scotland. It is incredible, but not if you are a vegetarian… Orroland is an old hunting lodge. If you rent it, it sleeps up to 14 peo…
  13. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Edinburgh is a lovely city. Most visitors will, of course, concentrate on the history and the buildings, and of course, the drinking. This tip is for the next morning, when you wake up and realise that you cannot face either another castle or anoth…
  14. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    I am a huge fan of the Botanics. I know you didn't come to Edinburgh for the gardens, but they are really well worth a trip. The botanics are in Inverleith, a short bus ride from the town centre. Admission is free, but you have to pay to go in t…
  15. Very cheap "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    The Royal Oak is a pub just outside the city centre in Edinburgh. It is dark, has few chairs, and no trendy drinks at all. None of this is important. I'm told that it is one of the best places in Edinburgh to hear folk music, adn I can believe i…
  16. Expensive "General Tips & Advice" in Manchester, England, UK
    Things you need to know about getting trains in the UK: Book ahead No - really. Book ahead. A single to London from Swindon can cost between £7.50 and £45, depending on restrictions and how organised you've been. And almost all tickets you…
  17. Very cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    There are times, if you spend a lot of time in Edinburgh, that you will be faced with two problems: 1) you are sick of the tourists, sick of the castles, and really sick of the grey streets. you loved them yesterday. You will probably love them …
  18. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in New Abbey, Scotland, UK
    Sweetheart Abbey was founded in the thirteenth century, by a rich lady in memory of her husband. His embalmed heart was buried with her, which is how the abbey got its name. It is a very beautiful ruin, because the church was built from teh local…
  19. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Gullane, Scotland, UK
    Gullane Bents is an area of natural land and a beach near Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a lovely place for a walk along the coast. The coastal land here is a mix of sandy beach and rock pools, with some scrubby sand dunes and some pine woodland. T…
  20. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    The Pear Tree is one of the very few pubs in the centre of Edinburgh with a convincing beer garden. It is right across the road from the main campus of Edinburgh University. You can imagine this makes it quite a popular spot for most of the summer.…
  21. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in Durness, Scotland, UK
    Aiden House is a lovely bed and breakfast in Durness. It’s in a brand new, wooden house on a ridge overlooking the town below; the views are wonderful. The landlady, Alexandra, has decorated the house beautifully and the shower is fantastic. Bre…
  22. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Applecross, Scotland, UK
    The Applecross Inn is an incredibly good pub restaurant in a tiny village in Scotland. I am writing this review ten days later and I am getting very hungry just thinking about this place. The location is a picturesque village on the edge of a loc…
  23. Cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Plockton, Scotland, UK
    Calum is a man with a seal tour boat who is based in Plockton, a very pretty town not far from Skye in the Highlands. He has been running the tours for quite a long time, and also goes further out into the loch to take people to see the two dolphins…
  24. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Thurso, Scotland, UK
    The Central Hotel is a hotel in the centre of Thurso. It is a little shabby and down at heel, but it is cheap and all the staff are lovely. Rooms are large, and clean, although the decoration is a bit on the old fashioned side. As well as the show…
  25. Expensive "Hotels & Accommodations" in Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, UK
    The Cluanie Inn is a hotel and restaurant in the middle of nowhere on the moor on the road to Skye. I've put it down as in Kyle of Lochalshe, but it's really a good 45 minutes away. it's just that it's a good 45 minutes away from anywhere. Somet…
  26. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Isle of Handa, UK
    Handa Island nature reserve is an incredible place, and an internationally important bird breeding ground. The whole island is a nature reserve, and black rats have been successfully eradicated, so all sorts of birds and small animals can breed tha…
  27. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Inverewe, UK
    Inverewe Gardens are a beautiful set of gardens that, because of hard work and the gulf stream, have some really amazing plants that don't normally grow this far north. The setting is wonderful, right on the edge of Loch Ewe, and the gardens are lov…
  28. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Helmsdale, Scotland, UK
    La Mirage is a deeply strange little restaurant in Helmsdale, Scotland. The food is good, but the surroundings are strange, and even a couple of weeks later I haven’t quite worked out if that’s in a good way or a bad way. Getting the food ou…
  29. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Durness, Scotland, UK
    Mackays is listed on this site as a hotel, but as I didn't stay there I'm rating it as a restaurant. Mackays restaurant (pronounced McEye and for goodness sake don’t get that wrong in Durness!) is a genuinely fantastic restaurant in Durness. It…
  30. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Durness, Scotland, UK
    Smoo Cave is a large cave with a waterfall flowing through its roof, near Durness in Scotland. You can enter the mouth of the cave to see the waterfall for free, and if the cave tours are running you can pay for a tour. Unfortunately, the tours onl…
    This review was featured on Monday August 16th, 2010
  31. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Durness, Scotland, UK
    The Smoo Cave Hotel is a small pub/restaurant/hotel near Durness. I ate there but didn’t stay, so will be reviewing the food and not the accommodation. Sat on a slightly bleak hillside east of Durness, the Smoo Cave hotel is a welcoming an…
  32. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Lybster, Scotland, UK
    The Grey Cairns of Camster sound like something that would rise out of the mists to greet a Tolkein character, probably on some improbably bleak hillside. You know something? They look like something that would rise out of the mists to greet a T…
  33. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Stoer, Scotland, UK
    The Old Man of Stoer is a famous sea stack off the West Coast of Scotland. Although only just off the coast it still manages to have a real air of mystery. There is no road to the Old Man; you have to hike for about an hour, depending on the …
  34. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in Dirleton, Scotland, UK
    ** I didn't stay here, I came here for a family party - so I can't rate the room accurately, just the amenities*** The Open Arms, in Dirleton in East Lothian, is a very nice place to have coffee or a meal. It is well established in the area – …
  35. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Isle of Handa, UK
    The Shorehouse is a fish restaurant in Tarbet, facing Handa Island. It also sells ice cream. The location is excellent, with beautiful views over the sea to the islands beyond. All the fish is as local as possible, and where possible caught …
  36. Expensive "General Tips & Advice" in Kylerhea, Scotland, UK
    Kylerhea ferry is an old ferry crossing to Skye, still maintained by the community as a community interest company (sort of like a charity) despite the free bridge. Fairs are around £12 for a car (July 2010). It is a much nicer way to travel to Sk…
  37. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Bonnyrigg, Scotland, UK
    Dalhousie castle, in the central belt of Scotland, offers a range of facilities including a hotel, wedding chapel, spa and falconry centre. I went to the spa and the restaurant and I’m only reviewing the bits I saw. The first thing you notic…
  38. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Bonnyrigg, Scotland, UK
    The Sun Inn is a fantastic gastropub (posh pub) in Scotland, very close to Edinburgh. The pub does excellent food, and makes quite a thing about local sourcing of the ingredients. It shows in the quality; I went with six people and all of us lo…
  39. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Dynamic Earth is a visitor attraction in Edinburgh, near Hollyrood Palace and at the foot of Arthur's Seat. It is brilliant fun. It's aimed to explain natural history to children. And it has an iceberg! The entrance to the attraction has a co…
  40. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in United Kingdom
    Can I trust this review?  Many travellers now rely heavily on online reviews to choose hotels and other attrachtions.  But it is a real issue deciding who you can trust online.  With some sites having hundreds of reviews saying wildly different t…
  41. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in North Berwick, Scotland, UK
    Please note that I am reviewing this as a place to have coffee - I haven't stayed there - but the silly website doesn't seem to want me to do that today! MacDonald Marine is a hotel that I visited whilst looking for a wedding venue. Because of …
  42. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Kelvingrove is a large, grand museum in Glasgow. It has displays on a wide range of things, from fossil giant elks and ichthyosaurs through ancient Egypt to domestic violence, mental health and sectarianism in Glasgow and the art of the Scottish…
  43. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Fort William, Scotland, UK
    Climbing Ben Nevis   Fort William is a relatively sleepy town, that probably wouldn’t be nearly as well known to tourists if it wasn’t for one thing – one looming, mighty, brooding thing glowering over the town.  Ben Nevis – the UK’s hi…
  44. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Fort William, Scotland, UK
    The Ben Nevis Inn is at the foot of the main path up Ben Nevis at Achintee.  It is fantastic.  It would be fantastic anywhere, as it has lovely food and is a warm, pleasant building to be in, but it is particularly amazing when you are limping off …
  45. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Glen Coe, Scotland, UK
    Hill Walking tips These tips are for hill walking as an activity, rather than strolling on little rolling hills in the lowlands. Hill walking is one of the best activities for a traveller in Scotland.  The landscape is at its finest away fro…
  46. Average priced "Hotels & Accommodations" in Fort William, Scotland, UK
    The West End hotel in Fort William is a large hotel just on the end of the High Street, facing Loch Linhe across the road. It has friendly reception staff, and does great breakfasts. Like many of the hotels in the area, it doesn’t look like…
  47. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Mallaig, Scotland, UK
    Many people come to Scotland for the romantic ruined castles. And they go away happy, with their pencil from the romantic gift shop and their beautiful photos, that artfully conceal the coach park. This is a real ruin, miles from anywhere, and …
  48. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Ardnamurchan, Scotland, UK
    I bet you thought that was Lands End, right? Britain tilts at an angle, meaning that the most westerly point is actually half way up Scotland. Almost completely unexploited by tourists, you go down one of the twistiest roads I have ever seen, pas…
  49. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    The Cameo is a cinema in Edinburgh, just outside the city centre towards where the students are. It is an Edinburgh institution, in the middle of a renovation. It’s sort of an art house cinema. I say sort of – it basically has a policy o…
  50. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Drymen, Scotland, UK
    Ben Lomond National Memorial Park is a National Trust for Scotland park dedicated as a peace memorial. It is also a site of special scientific interest, because of the range of plants and animals there. The park includes a sculpture trail and low …
  51. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    Oran Mor is a multipurpose venue in a converted church on the junction of Great Western Road and Byers Road, Glasgow.  It has a brasserie, bar, garden and auditorium, and offers weddings (which is why I was there), theatre, gigs and other events.  …
  52. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Riverside Museum is a brand new museum on the banks of the Clyde, in reclaimed docklands.  It focuses largely on transport, although there are smaller displays on life in Glasgow, including the cinema, pawn shops, and children’s toys.  It wou…
  53. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Ubiquitous Chip is a top-end restaurant in the West End of Glasgow that does not, to the best of my knowledge, serve chips.  It is one of the best known restaurants in Glasgow, possibly in Scotland, and it’s wonderful.  The restaurant has…
  54. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Creelers is a fish restaurant on Hunters Square, just off the Royal Mile.  With pleasant, open rooms and lovely art on the walls, it is a relaxed place to eat lunch or dinner.  The colour scheme is a lovely open blue and green.   It’s also not …
  55. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    The Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Fringe (of which the Comedy Festival is a cleverly branded fraction), Art Festival and Book Festival run at the same time in Edinburgh.  With around 200 venues showing back to back shows, ranging from C…
  56. Very cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Edinburgh's Mosque Kitchen used to be a well kept secret. Tucked around the back of the mosque, students and well informed festival goers could get a plastic plate of curry and rice for about five pounds. Well, the secret is out. The Mosque Kitchen h…
  57. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
     The Ghillie Dhu is a bar with live music and, sometimes, ceilidhs.  It is just beyond the west end of Princes Street, near Rutland Street.  It makes quite a big deal of its Scottish heritage, which is to be expected given where it is  and its na…
  58. Expensive "General Tips & Advice" in Scotland, UK
    Regular readers will have noticed that I make pretty much constant mention of the concept of a “ceilidh.”  What is this mysterious row of unpronounceable letters?   A ceilidh, pronounced kayley, is more or less Gaelic for party.  For non-Gae…
  59. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Royal Glasgow Concert Hall is a mid-sized venue, smaller than I was expecting.  It’s easy to find, right outside Glasgow Queen Street Station and near the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre.  It has excellent sound quality, comfortable seats …
  60. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    The Stockbridge tap is a nice pub with real ales in the Stockbridge neighbourhood of Edinburgh – pretty much exactly as you’d expect from the name.  It is pleasantly, if a little blandly, decorated.  Prices are about average for the area – th…
  61. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Glasgow Film Theatre is a glorious art house cinema, where I saw a genuinely terrible film.  The cinema screen is one of the most beautiful screening rooms I’ve seen – sweeping art deco style curves and beautiful lighting before the film sta…
  62. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Glasgow Pond Hotel is at Gartnaval Hospital, 10 or so minutes walk outside the West End of the city and close to a suburban railway station in Anniesland.  This makes it a good base if you are with someone who knows their way around Glaswegian p…
  63. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glenelg, Scotland, UK
    Glenelg brochs are two ancient brochs, close to the Isle of Skye ferry at Kylrhea. Brochs are ancient forts, made before the Romans invaded the UK, almost certainly by native Picts. Nobody is completely sure what they were for or what they looked l…
  64. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Henderson's is a well established vegetarian restaurant in the New Town of Edinburgh. Priding itself on being "slow food" - that is, properly prepared, made of actual ingredients, and nicely served - this is not a good place to come if you are in a …
  65. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Howies, which has four locations across Edinburgh, was something of a legend when I was in university. It was, in fact, where people's parents took them for lunch for a treat. My parents lived 500 miles away so I never got to go. Yes, I know, I ca…
  66. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Scotland, UK
    Midges are small, biting insects that live in Scotland. They are especially fond of the West Coast, and like to live near water. This includes flowing water, unlike Mosquitos. Midges are not, to the best of my knowledge, carriers of any horrible…
  67. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Blairgowrie, Scotland, UK
    I didn’t spend long in Blairgowrie, as it was sort of an unplanned stop.  But whilst there, I walked for a short distance along the River Ericht Walkway. This is a nice way to spend a couple of hours.  The River Ericht is a broad river that runs …
  68. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Please bear in mind they ask you not to take photos, which means that these couple of snaps are the outside, and they don't do it anywhere near enough justice. The website has a lot of lovely photos: http://www.rosslynchapel.org.uk/ Roslyn Chapel …
  69. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Biggar, Scotland, UK
    Biggar is a small town on one of the through roads from the south west of Scotland to Edinburgh, and the route you are most likely to take if you are coming from the north west of England by road. It is an excellent place to get a pie. Pies in Sc…
  70. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Burrell Collection is a small museum in a beautiful country park in Glasgow. Founded by a private collector and gifted to the nation, it’s one of these wonderfully eccentric collections of stuff that someone very rich liked. This means that t…
  71. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Glasgow Museum of Modern Art is a museum in the Merchant city area of Glasgow, focusing on late 20th century and contemporary art. Admission is free. I enjoyed my trip to this museum. It focuses mostly on visual art and some sculpture,…
    This review was featured on Saturday September 1st, 2012
soonthiam says:
Thanks for the advise. I have hired a car and will be driving around for two weeks. Trying to see as much as possible.:)
Posted on: May 14, 2012
sarahelaine says:
Thank you! Although I do have a specific Edinburgh list - some of the things on this list are a full 6 hours drive away from the capital, with no real public transport. :) You might want to look for my Edinburgh list as well!
Posted on: May 14, 2012
soonthiam says:
Very comprehensive list. Now I know what I want to see in Edinburgh during my trip later this month. Thanks.:)
Posted on: May 13, 2012
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