THE MAGICAL GLENCOE LOCHAN . . .

I can’t lie, although I love revisiting some of my favourite Scottish places through writing about them, and looking at the pictures, nothing really matches up to the real thing. And, having been stuck in Glasgow since October now, places like Glencoe seem so far away and unreachable at the moment. If you are actually in an area where you’re allowed to travel far, count yourself lucky as the Glasgow area is actually teeny-tiny.

But I digress. The road through Glencoe is one of my absolute favourites, it doesn’t matter how many times we drive up it, the view just blows me away every time. But have you ever ventured over to Glencoe Lochan? It’s quite the magical place and – you’ll be unsurprised to hear – it doesn’t involve a massive walk. Result!

The story behind the Lochan is that the landowner at the time, who had moved over from Canada with his wife, had the lochan and surrounding area created for the aforementioned wife when she was homesick for her own country. If that isn’t a cue for us to all turn to our significant others and complain that they never do anything that nice for us, I don’t know what is! But the effort it took was worth it.

It’s an easy walk from the car park up to the lochan, and then you have the choice to walk around it if you wish. I’d recommend the walk around it, it’s not a long journey at all and it’s so peaceful, you won’t regret it! There are other more strenuous walks available, but I’ve not tried these so can’t comment.

I’ve visited Glencoe Lochan on several occasions – on dull days, sunny days, days where the loch was partially drained and completely frozen over – and it always looks stunning. There is also a terrific view of the Pap of Glencoe which can be seen rising over the lochan.

It can be a popular place to walk, probably due in part to how beautiful the setting is, as well as the fact it’s probably easier than many of the other walks in the area, so you may wish to avoid on the days it’s likely to be busier – I’ve generally found autumn to be a bit quieter, or days that aren’t either weekends or public/school holidays – but I would definitely recommend a visit at some point!

KINNOULL HILL PERTH: A SHORT WALK WITH A BIG VIEW!

Being a self-appointed Lazy Gal, I am all about big views with as little effort as possible.

Luckily, I know of a few ways to get big views with virtually no effort at all (I’ll likely cover this at a later date) but let’s face it, sometimes a little bit of effort makes you feel a bit more deserving of the view at the end.

The view from the top of Kinnoull Hill

And so, with that in mind, let’s have a wee chat about Kinnoull Hill.

Situated in the city of Perth, it’s somewhere I can’t currently visit sadly (which is a shame as I do love Perth), and I actually only walked up it for the first time a couple of weeks before the original lockdown. But it’s definitely one I want to do again because the views are worth it . . . and I wasn’t too exhausted from the walk!

Now, if you look at one of the walking pages it will probably tell you to start in the city centre itself, but this is me, so we found a car park a bit up the hill, meaning we were “lifting from a lifted position” to quote Jane Fonda. (I mean, she was talking about a leg lift exercise but it still works in this context also.) From there this took us up a small set of stairs and into some hilly woodland.

Another view from the top of Kinnoull Hill

I’ll admit, at this point I thought I literally had a two minute walk to the top and that would be it. It was somewhat more than that, and therefore I was a bit moany (the poor fella). In actuality it probably took around 15-20 minutes and actually the going was relatively easy (I believe there are harder routes to the top but let’s face it, if there’s an easy option I’m going for that one).

Kinnoull Hill does have dangerous cliffs so be careful!

We just basically went straight up, took some photos of the views and then came back down and that was more than enough for me that day (bearing in mind I had not planned to walk much at all that day – I’m trying to get better than this) but from what I’ve read you can turn it into a much longer walk as well as visit a folly. Maybe next time I’ll do that, I’m getting a bit better at walking now since it’s all we can bloody do during lockdown!

The views were pretty amazing, so it’s definitely worth the small effort of the walk, especially if you do it the lazier way. I’ve had a look into where we parked and I believe it was the Quarry car park (don’t quote me on that but I’m pretty sure!) but from checking comments on Trip Advisor I think there is at least one other car park on the hill which means you don’t need to do the full walk from the city centre if you really don’t want to.

Someone kindly offered to take our photo at the top… this was pre-covid obviously when stuff like that was allowed!

One thing to bear in mind though… the hill has some steep drops! But as long as you stay away from the edge you should be fine. I don’t have a good head for heights and I was okay so you can take my word for that.

Do you have a favourite hill where you get great views without too strenuous a climb? I’d love to know more if you do!

THE MANY DIFFERENT VIEWS OF EILEAN DONAN CASTLE…

Eilean Donan Castle is probably one of Scotland’s most iconic castles, situated on a tiny island where three lochs meet, and surrounded by incredible scenery. It’s really close to the bridge to Skye so it’s always a sight I love to see as it means I’m getting closer to my favourite island, but if I can make a wee stop off for pictures, I always like to do so!

Eilean Donan castle viewed from the main car park

The main pictures I see of its exterior tend to be taken from areas around the official car park, or from across the bridge at Dornie Community Hall – these are all great options to be fair, as the castle is extremely photogenic.

Eilean Donan Castle viewed from the other part of the castle car park

However, when we were travelling about a bit in the space between lockdowns last year, we found another two views of it which I wanted to share.

Eilean Donan Castle viewed from the community hall

The first is from a higher vantage point – this was a happy accident for us last year when we were passing by and spotted a sign for Carr Brae viewpoint, just to the right of the road heading north.  As you travel up the road you will spot the castle far down below, giving you a completely different vantage point of it. (The Carr Brae viewpoint itself also has some incredible views over Loch Duich but we’ll talk about that another time).

Eilean Donan castle viewed from above, on the way to Carr Brae viewpoint

For the second, you will need to swing left before you get to Loch Duich, as if you are going to Glenelg. However, rather than taking the high road, you choose the low road on the right to Ratagan. This road/path goes up the opposite side of Loch Duich and from near the end of it, you’ll find another alternative view of the castle.

Eilean Donan castle viewed from the other side of Loch Duich

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either of these views are better than the usual ones, but if you’re a frequent visitor to the Eilean Donan area and want to see it from a different angle, these are definitely good options!

Do you have a favourite view of Eilean Donan castle? I’d love to know!

LOCH LOMOND – ON WHY IT’S MY HAPPY PLACE AND MY TOP PICKS!

Do you have a place near to you that’s your happy place? A place you can visit that instantly makes you feel calmer?

For me, it’s Loch Lomond. Often, in the past, after a tough day in the office, we would take a drive up there just to de-stress. Just being in the vicinity of it gives me a sense of peace, however brief (it’s usually interrupted by other people, obviously). At the moment, we’re neither in the office (part of the working from home brigade for just over a year now currently) or able to travel outside of the Glasgow council area, but here are a few of my favourite spots to visit around it.

Milarrochy Bay

MILARROCHY BAY – a beautiful wee gem of a place on the east side of Loch Lomond, just keep going once you past Balmaha and it’s on your left. (If you reach Rowardennan, you’ve gone too far, but don’t worry as the road is one of many dead end roads in Scotland, so you can still catch Milarrochy on the way back!) It has a cute little bit of beach, fabulous views of the loch and surrounding mountains, and a highly Instagrammable tree. (Trust me, I have taken many a picture of this tree, and spotted many other pictures of it online.)

The view from Duck Bay Marina

DUCK BAY MARINA – this is a beautiful area off the A82 on the west side of the loch, and very popular with all. The views over to Ben Lomond are fabulous and there’s also plenty of space to have a wee picnic. There’s also the hotel there if you need a drink or meal when you’re in the vicinity – I haven’t been to the hotel myself but I’ve heard good things!

Inversnaid
The waterfalls at Inversnaid

INVERSNAID – this spot is a bit more complicated to get to, but it’s worth it. You basically go nowhere near Loch Lomond for the bulk of the journey, headed via Aberfoyle, but you get some bonus lochs thrown in for your trouble – Ard, Chon and Arklet, as well as Katrine if you want to tack on an additional quick trip to Stronachlachar! Once you take the winding road down to the lochside at Invernaid though you’ll find some fabulous views (of course!) as well as a fabulous waterfall next to the hotel.

Balmaha

BALMAHA – this is definitely a popular spot, so much so that they did need to close the road in the early part of lockdown as people continued to stream in. So pick your time wisely if you want to visit Balmaha, especially if you want to climb Conic Hill. The views from Conic Hill are immense, even if you are like me and don’t make it all the way up. And you can combine a trip to Balmaha with a trip to Milarrochy too if you so desire!

Firkin Point

FIRKIN POINT – another favourite, and part of this is because of the hilarity the name causes us every time we are near it. (“What’s the firkin point?” “THERE’S the firkin’ point!” etc etc. Yes, we’re not very funny.) But it is also an incredibly beautiful, photogenic little spot and, as it is at the side of the A82, it’s easily accessible.

Duncryne Hill

DUNCRYNE HILL AKA “THE DUMPLING” –   one of the few hills I’ve successfully climbed, The Dumpling can be found in Gartocharn and is a very quick walk with views that rival those from Conic. Remember, I’m lazy and so if I can say this is easily do-able, I mean it! There’s a small steep section right before the top which admittedly winded me, and the start of the walk can be boggy if it’s been raining recently (so suitable footwear is recommended rather than the first time I tried it – in ballet pumps) but it can be done easily and without too much haste, including some time admiring the view at the top, in well under an hour.

So that’s just a small selection of great places to visit around Loch Lomond. I haven’t even mentioned Rowardennan, Inveruglas, Luss, or Balloch, as well as the host of little laybys you may find at the side of the road, but the above is definitely a start.

Where’s your favourite spot in Loch Lomond?

GLASGOW LOCKDOWN INSPIRATION . . .

Okay, so you’re like me and stuck in Glasgow during a pandemic and lockdown, but pre-lockdown you loved going on road-trips around Scotland and taking photos. What do you do?

Not gonna lie, it’s a difficult one sometimes – I have spent probably hours of my time googling to try and find places to visit in Glasgow that are 1) places I have never been before and 2) places that I can actually visit, i.e. that are actually accessible and not completely closed during lockdown. And, to be honest, I did struggle to find places I hadn’t visited before. But luckily there are quite a few places you can walk, and a few places you can take nice photos, so let’s go into that.

Glasgow Murals

GLASGOW MURAL TRAIL – you can pop over here for my post on some of Glasgow murals in the city centre; take a wee walk around these (you can split it over more than one visit if you want) and get some good pictures as well as some exercise! My favourite is The World’s Most Economical Taxi, found in Mitchell Street just off Argyle Street. There are also loads of murals dotted around the west end, including down at SWG3 in Finnieston, definitely worth wandering around the area and exploring!

Linn Park

LINN PARK – I visited here for the first time a few weeks before Christmas and couldn’t believe I’d never visited before – a beautiful southside park complete with lovely views and some good walking options. (It was extremely muddy when I visited though, so you may wish to choose your footwear accordingly)

View of the cathedral from the Necropolis

GLASGOW NECROPOLIS AND GLASGOW CATHEDRAL – you can get a great walk around the Necropolis and it makes a great vantage point for views of the Cathedral as well as views of Glasgow.

Cathkin Braes – looking out over Glasgow

CATHKIN BRAES – another place with some awesome views of Glasgow, as well as the mountains behind.

Fossil Grove

FOSSIL GROVE AT VICTORIA PARK – you might not be able to see the fossils at the moment but this wee area of Victoria Park in the west end is like a little tropical oasis.

Sunsets at Glasgow Harbour are a bit special

GLASGOW HARBOUR – a great vantage point in the west end for a sunset – as I live in Partick we often pop over here to see it.

Walking along the Clyde

A WALK ALONG THE CLYDESIDE in the city centre – you can get some great pictures of, and from, the various bridges. On a sunny day, the River Clyde is an absolute beaut.

The Cloisters

UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW CLOISTERS – this is definitely worth a visit, if you haven’t already been. And even if you already have. The Cloisters have featured in many films and TV programmes, and in the winter are all lit up and so pretty!

Speirs Wharf

THE FORTH AND CLYDE CANAL – you can pop along to so many parts of the canal and make a walk as long or as short as you like; Speirs Wharf is probably one of my particular favourite parts, although I still have loads of this to explore.

Ashton Lane

ASHTON LANE – nothing in it may currently be open, but it still looks very pretty – I do miss having a wee drink in Jinty McGuintys, or raclette in Brel, though.

Hopefully this helps with some inspiration if you are in the same boat as me – but if you have anywhere else to suggest please let me know in the comments!