Thursday, 30 August 2012

Stirling Castle UK most popular attraction - near Lomond and Trossachs Cottages


Castle voted best loved historic attraction by Which? members

Stirling Castle has beaten attractions such as The Tower of London, The Houses of Parliament and Hampton Court Palace to be rated the UK’s favourite heritage attraction.

The survey of Which? members rated the castle - which was home to a young Mary, Queen of Scots - as the UK’s top heritage attraction, impressing in areas such as value for money, customer service and quality of information.

The castle, which is run by Historic Scotland, re-opened its palace apartments to the public last June following a £12 million restoration of its interiors to how they may have looked in young Mary’s time.

Years of research were carried out by archaeologists, historians and other scholars to ensure that every detail – from the furniture to the heraldic decorations on the walls and ceilings – was as authentic as possible.

Key highlights include a set a replicas of the Stirling Heads – often referred to as Scotland’s other crown jewels – which adorn the ceiling of the Kings inner chamber. Many of the original surviving heads, which feature intricate carved images inspired by royalty, heraldry and mythology have been brought back together in a special exhibition.

Meanwhile, costumed performers from the court of a young Mary, Queen of Scots meet visitors to the palace as they arrive, transporting them back in time to the renaissance court of the 1540’s.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Scotland said;

“Stirling Castle was home to the Stewart Kings and Queens, arguably the most famous dynasty in Scottish history.

“At this time Stirling Castle and its palace were the height of renaissance grandeur and knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors would flock to the royal court to revel in its opulence.

“Through the palace project we wanted to recreate this experience for visitors by creating something entirely different to anything currently available in the Scottish market.

“It’s fantastic to see the response by visitors who have visited the castle in their hundreds of thousands since the reopening of the palace and to be recognised as the UK’s favourite heritage attraction is a huge honour and testament to the hard work of all the team.”

As well as the palace project, the castle also runs events throughout the year which bring other aspects of the castle’s chequered history to life.

Stephen continues;

“We know that visitors are increasingly looking for value for money and we want to ensure that we offer as competitive a proposition as possible.

“As well as having costumed performers in the palace all year round we also offer activities at the castle for all the family. These range from special children’s activities during the October holidays to our annual Christmas programme and themed events, and Historic Scotland members can benefit from free entry to the castle which includes all of the standalone events throughout the year.

“The castle has witnessed some of most famous events in Scottish history and we want it to be somewhere that visitors return again and again to create new memories.”

Monday, 28 May 2012

Loch Lomond Cottages - Forth Road Bridge bid for World Heritage Status

Forth Bridge to bid for World Heritage Status

The Forth Bridge will be put forward to UNESCO to consider making it a World Heritage Site.

The nomination of the engineering icon will be submitted to the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for a decision at the 2015 meeting.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:

“The Forth Bridge is a Scottish icon that is recognised the world over. We are extremely excited that we have the opportunity to make the case for the Bridge being inscribed as Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site.

“To have the Bridge inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site would be a tremendous accolade for the Bridge itself, for the local communities and for Scotland. This nomination has the potential to be a celebration of our country’s incredible engineering ingenuity and pedigree and I wish the team working on it all the best.”

The nomination will be overseen by the Forth Bridges Forum, which includes representatives from Historic Scotland, bridge owners Network Rail, Transport Scotland, the Forth Estuary Transport Authority, Fife Council and City of Edinburgh Council.

David Simpson, route managing director for Network Rail Scotland, commented:

“The Forth Bridge is one of the most recognisable bridges anywhere in the world and certainly the most cherished Scottish structure of the Victorian era.

“The bridge has become a source of pride and a symbol of Scotland’s resilience and ingenuity but we must never lose sight of the fact that it is first and foremost a working structure which still carries over 200 trains a day.

“This nomination should be regarded as a further tribute to the thousands of men who have contributed to building, maintaining and restoring the structure over the last 130 years."

If successful, the rail bridge would be the sixth World Heritage Site in Scotland – The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, The Antonine Wall (part of the transnational Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS), the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, St Kilda and New Lanark.

A revised UK Tentative List was announced in March 2011 that included 3 Scottish sites - Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, the Flow Country and the Forth Bridge

The remaining sites on the Tentative List will be given the opportunity to submit Technical Evaluations to DCMS in the autumn of 2013, detailing why they are worthy of designation. This will inform future decisions regarding which sites will be submitted to UNESCO and when this will be.

The Forth Bridge is the world’s first large-scale steel cantilever bridge.  It is 2.5km (1.5 miles) long and comprises two girder spans of 521 metre (1,710ft) made up of three 105 metre (351 ft) high double-cantilevers, with a long approach viaduct on tall granite-faced piers at its South end.

Work on the Bridge was commenced in 1882 and formally completed on March 4, 1890 by HRH Edward Prince of Wales.

The bridge used 54,000 tonnes of steel and an estimated 6,500,000 rivets.  Its total cost was £3,200, 000 (equivalent to around £235 million today).

The contractor responsible for building the bridge was the innovative Glasgow engineer, William Arrol, whose main works were in Dalmarnock and later also Parkhead.  At the same time as building the Forth Bridge, Arrol’s company also successfully re-built the Tay Bridge and constructed the steel frame of Tower Bridge in London.

One of the more unusual people who worked on the construction of the Forth Bridge was Japanese engineer Kaichi Watanabe, who had studied under the Scottish engineer, Henry Dyer, in the Faculty of Technology of the University of Tokyo.  He later studied at the University of Glasgow and then worked as a construction foreman on the Forth Bridge.  He is famous for appearing in a photograph as the central part of a ‘human cantilever’ demonstrating the engineering principles of the bridge.  This photograph can now be seen under the ‘20’ on the Bank of Scotland £20 note.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Loch Lomond Cottages invites you to Step back in time at Stirling Castle

Step back in time at Stirling Castle to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Stirling Castle will be stepping back in time to the Royal Court of the sixteenth century to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Over the weekend of Saturday 2nd June and Sunday 3rd June, the castle will be hosting a spectacular celebration of royalty in days gone by.

The castle, which has been party to a number of royal celebrations over the years including the coronations of King James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, is gearing up for a weekend to remember with a host of activities for all the family.

Visitors can experience the Royal Court to see how such occasions were celebrated hundreds of years ago in Renaissance times. There will be a host of entertaining activities from sword fighting, to royal etiquette, to the fashions of the time.

This will include the King wearing what is reported to be the first ever recorded display of tartan whilst the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting will discuss life at masques and balls. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to dress up in the costumes of the period.

The celebrations are designed to cover a whole host of different aspects of life in the royal court, from the orders of the chivalry to feasting, with the table set with dishes on display that would have been eaten at a coronation.

Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager of Stirling Castle said:  “We are delighted to be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with special events and presentations for all the family to enjoy.

“Stirling Castle has many royal links and has been witness to a number of coronations. Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned here in the Chapel Royal on 9th September 1543 when she was a baby and the crown had to be held above her head, whilst James VI was rushed to the castle for safety after his coronation at the nearby Church of the Holy Rude-Hastily for fear of a counter attack.

“Visitors will be able to find out more about these links through special tours running over the weekend as well as experiencing life first hand in the royal court through a series of interactive workshops.”

The event is included in the admission price for Stirling Castle. For further details please visit

All the World's a Stage, Loch Lomond Cottages


Come along to the beautiful surroundings of St Andrews Castle where Chapterhouse Theatre will be performing two of Shakespeare’s best loved plays.

On Thursday 7th and Friday 8th June you will be able to enjoy an enchanting performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

On Saturday 9th June, they will be performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the heartbreaking tale of two star-crossed lovers.

Doors open at 6:30 pm and the performances start at 7:30 pm.

Gillian Urquhart, Assistant Events Manager at Historic Scotland said: “Come along and enjoy the wonderful language of Shakespeare in the unique, historic setting of St Andrews castle.

“There is no seating at these events, so why not bring along a picnic and something  lawn-friendly to sit on.  Hot and cold drinks will be available.”

For information:

Adult £13.50, Concession and Child £9.00

Family ticket (two adults and two children) £40.00

Limited places so please book in advance online at:

Monday, 30 April 2012

Urquhart Castle, Grand Tournament of Foote for Loch Lomond and Trossachs Guests

Historic Scotland

Come along to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and cheer on your favourite knight at the Grand Tournament of Foote.

The grand tournament is taking place on Sunday, 6th May and Monday, 7th May from 11:00 am to 4.30 pm.

Gillian Urquhart, Historic Scotland’s Event Manager said: “Our fully armoured foot knights will collide in a series of colourful and bone-jarring bouts.

“Come along and shout for your champion – will you support Sir James Robertson whose heraldry is red with a white wolf’s head, Sir John Fraser in blue with three Cinquefoils in white, or will you cheer on Alan MacDonald in yellow with a Black galley?

“You can also visit the living history camp and discover how squires would prepare their knights for battle and see how armour was made.”

The magnificently situated castle remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart’s remains include a tower house that commands splendid views of the famous loch and the Great Glen.

The event is included in the normal admission price:

Adult £7.40, Concession £5.90, Child £4.50.

Admission free to HS members

A free park and ride shuttle service will be running each day from the car park at Glen Urquhart High School in Drumnadrochit to the visitor centre at Urquhart Castle from 10 am until 5 pm.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites - Loch Lomond and Trossachs Cottages

Join in the fun at The Antonine Wall on 18 April to mark
World Heritage Day 2012!

On World
Heritage Day, Historic Scotland’s ‘Shadows of Our Ancestors’ project will be
celebrating Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites – The Antonine Wall, The Old
and New Towns of Edinburgh, The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark and St

Redfield Arts
will be bringing together artworks and performances from each of these
locations in a unique celebration of the diversity and cultural significance of
Scotland’s World Heritage Sites.

This free
event will be held at the Croy Miners’ Welfare Charitable Society, at the foot
of Croy Hill, a key site on The Antonine Wall.

The event
will run from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm, and will include physical theatre
performances, guided walks along The Antonine Wall, and a special exhibition
showcasing artworks from each of Scotland’s World Heritage Sites.

There may
also be one or two surprises on the night, so don’t miss out - come along and
be a part of this special celebration!


parking will be available at the Croy Miners’ Welfare. A free Park and Ride
service will also be operating between Croy station and the Miners’ Welfare
every 20 minutes. The first departure is from 7 pm

Please note
that if taking part in the guided tours to the Antonine Wall, we recommend that
you come prepared for the Scottish weather.

For more
information about the ‘Shadows of Our Ancestors’ World Heritage Day 2012 Project,
please visit the website

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

WALKHIGHLANDS NEWS LETTER for Loch Lomond and Trossachs Cottage Visitors


Last month's early sunshine and hot temperatures meant the end to daily
Scottish avalanche forecasts and talk of sunburn and midges amongst the
flurry of fantastic walk reports published on Walkhighlands. For a brief
moment Walkhighlands HQ in Cromdale was officially the warmest place ever
recorded in March in Scotland at 23.5 degrees, and it was hard to believe
that snow on the hills was to rapidly follow.
1,500 route milestone reached
March also saw the number of route descriptions on Walkhighlands pip the
1,500 marker. A quick trip to Lewis in glorious sunshine resulted in another
9 routes on the site and more for the Outer Hebrides will follow very
Webtogs Walk
Reports of the Month
Chosen by Gareth from Webtogs who writes:
"So what happened to Winter eh? While we mention it, did someone
decide to bypass Spring as well going straight to summer? It's been nigh on
two weeks of beautiful weather and it seems incredible that just 6 weeks ago
we were sledging on our local hills. The weather might be inconsistent, but
one thing that has been steady is the quality of reports coming from you

At the risk of trotting out a cliche that is nonetheless accurate, it's been
a tough month to choose from yet again. In particular there have been some
total stunners, Beinn Eighe - when fortune favours the brave,
- Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measure
, Quinag
- the stuff my dreams are made of
all stood out for me.

A winner and a runner up there has to be though so here we go. Runner up was
a cracker, the trip of a lifetime - Nepal by cliverif. As an end to end report of what
you can expect from a trip out to Nepal, this is one of the best I've read.
Each section of the trip got a warm narration with some amazing photos, but
it's clivegrif's positivity that shines through. He was determined to have a
good time and as a result the focus was on the moments that made his trip. A
great report and if you haven't read it yet, off you pop and come back for the second half of my post refreshed.

All finished? See I told you it was good! Top of the pops though has to go to
the Inaccessible Pinnacle is accessed by Ranger. No prizes for what this is
about, it's the In Pinn and Mhic Choinnich. I really liked Rangers honesty,
doubts about his skills and his beautiful comparison of starting to climb the
In Pin with the Godfather! As a trip report, that told me we were in for
something bit different. Some stunning photos and no-nonsense narrative of
climbing the pinnacle has me thinking that even I can do it, and that's what
I love about this report, it's encouraged me to think a little bigger on my
plans for my next adventure.

So do you think these folks are worthy winners? Who would you have picked if
you had the chance?

PS we've still got a few rather tasty bargains with North Face fleeces at £20, and if you are still short of gear for Easter, we're offering FREE express delivery to get your goodies in time."

Various dates April - Millionth Tree Talks - Trees for Life UK lecture tour. Details
13 - 15 April - Scottish Bike Show, SECC, Glasgow - includes mass bike rides. Details
14 - 20 April - Walk Islay - varied island walking festival. Details
21 - 22 April - Outdoor Pursuits Scotland, Edinburgh - outdoor show at Ingliston. Details
27 April - Simon Yates, Inverness - The Wild Within book tour, Eden Court Theatre. Details
and coming up ...
3 - 7 May - Spirit of Speyside - Whisky themed walks and plenty of drams. Details
11- 17 May - WalkFest, Newton Stewart - 10th year for this popular Galloway festival. Details
16 - 20 May - Keswick Mountain Festival - always loads on, top speakers and great walking.
18 - 21 May - Isle of Arran Mountain Festival - promises to be a good one. Details
19 - 25 May - Ballater Royal Deeside Walking Festival - now in its 15th year. Details
26 May - 5 June - Tweedlove Bike Festival - if you fancy a change from the walking boots. Details
31 May - 3 June - Angus Glens Walking Festival - 28 walks plus food and ceilidh nights. Details
Speyside Way and West Highland Way restrictions Ballindalloch footbridge on the Speyside Way will be closed for repair until at least June - a free taxi service is in place, details
. There will also be restrictions for walkers with dogs on a section of the West Highland Way near Conic Hill for a month from 15 April to protect lambing ewes - details here
Glen Strathfarr access for cars
The summer arrangements for taking cars into Glen Strathfarrar started on 31 March and are found here.
Last chance to fill in the Walkhighlands survey
We're currently running a user survey to assist us in improving Walkhighlands. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete - we'd really appreciate your help. Complete the survey now.
Planning your Scottish holiday?
Some special locations are telling us they are already full for the peak
summer months so book your holiday cottage now. We also list thousands of walker-friendly B&Bs, hotels, campsites, campervans for hire, and hostels. Please support our
advertisers - they enable us to keep Walkhighlands free for everyone.
Walk of the Month - Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis
This walk has it all; wonderful coastal scenery, white sandy beaches, hairy coos, inland lochans and a reconstructed iron age house. A fantastic half day ramble leaving plenty of time to visit the standing stones at Callanish or plan epic days in the mountains just to the south. For a full
route description including maps, photos and GPS download see Walkhighlands.
Order Walkhighlands badges/stickers Identify yourself to fellow Walkhighlands users with
these enamel badges and car stickers. Order here.

Keep in Touch Why not follow Walkhighlands on Twitter and Facebook