Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

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Enjoying Scotland in the Spring

Scotland is so beautiful in Spring.  In early May we drove through the Scottish Borders up to Perthshire in central Scotland. Instead of driving the main route up the A1 from Berwick upon Tweed to Edinburgh, we took the scenic country road through the Lammermuir Hills.

Scotland in Spring

River Whiteadder in the Scottish Borders

We stopped at the picnic area close to the Whiteadder Reservoir and walked along the river, equipped with flask, to find a coffee spot.

Scotland in Spring

View from our coffee spot

After a stop in Edinburgh for lunch, we headed north to Perth for a walk along the banks of the River Tay.

Scotland in Spring

River Tay in Perth

The next day we visited the Hermitage near Dunkeld, where we admired the Falls of Braan from balcony of the Ossian’s Hall folly.

Then we did a circular walk past the other Hermitage folly Ossian’s Cave.

Scotland in Spring

Ossian’s Cave at the Hermitage

We had a picnic lunch near Loch Faskally in Pitlochry, north of Dukeld.

Scotland in Spring

View from our picnic spot over Loch Faskally in Pitlochry

We’ll be back in Perthshire again in late June as guests of Crieff Hydro, as we do believe in making the most of the UK.

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Walking Along Water of Leith to Edinburgh Botanic Garden

When I was staying at the Travelodge Edinburgh West End (on a £19 a night Saver rate) in March 2011, I walked along the Water of Leith from Belford Bridge (next to the hotel) to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Belford Bridge with Travelodge Edinburgh West End on left

A few minutes later I arrived at a weir.

Weir near Dean Village on the Water of Leith

I thought it must be wonderful to live in one of the turreted flats overlooking the Water of Leith in Dean village.

Waterside flats at Dean Village

There’s a statue at St Bernard’s Well as you approach Stockbridge.

St Bernard’s Well

Looking back towards St Bernard’s Well (on left)

You’ll find public toilets in Stockbridge as you have to come up from the Water of Leith Walkway there. After crossing the road at the traffic lights, head right and then left immediately and the toilets are after the bus stop on your left. There’s a pizza restaurant just by the bridge where you rejoin the walkway.

Pizza restaurant on Water of Leith in Stockbridge

I was very fortunate as I arrived at the Botanic Gardens as a heavy shower started. The John Hope Gateway was ideal for shelter and there was even free wifi for me to upload some of my photos to Flickr.

View from terrace of John Hope Gateway

The sun was soon shining for a walk around the garden. You’ve to pay to get into the some of the Glasshouses.

Rhododendrons at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Then I had a look at the two exhibitions at Inverleith House in the Garden.  One was work by the French artist Claude Cahun.

Exhibition poster using Cahun self portrait from 1927

The other exhibition featured pieces by Sue Tompkins.

Untitled 2011, Typewritten text on newspaper, fabric

I even made it back along the Water of Leith to my hotel without any further rain, after a very enjoyable, free day out in Edinburgh.

You can get more ideas for free days out in Edinburgh my “Edinburgh Off the Beaten Track” article. You can see all my Water of Leith and Botanic Gardens photos on Flickr.

Find Budget Hotels for Your Stay in Edinburgh

My favourite Edinburgh budget hotel is Travelodge Edinburgh West End due to its location close to the Water of Leith, the Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and the fact that you can walk to the city centre in 15 minutes.

View over Water of Leith from my room at Travelodge Edinburgh West End

If you don’t mind being further away from the city centre the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith and Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront are good options.

Tips for Things to Do in Edinburgh

We’ve lots of Edinburgh tips on Europe a la Carte.

Click here for the lowest prices on Edinburgh hotels

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Cheat’s Guide to Climbing a Scottish Peak: Falkland Hill

When I was staying for three nights at the Travelodge Edinburgh West End in April 2011, I decided to drive north over the Forth Bridge to climb up Falkland Hill, aka East Lomond, in Fife. Now although Falkland Hill is a landmark in the surrounding area, the picnic area car park is half way up the hill, so you can get great views even if you don’t do any hard work. Or like me, you can say you climbed a hill when your car has done half the ascent.

View from Falkland Hill car park down to Forth Estuary

There was a heavy shower as soon as I arrived at the car park and I thought what timing. However I was determined to get up the hill, even if I’d to don my waterproof gear.

 

Some windswept daffodils on Falkland Hill

View from half way up my ascent on foot

Rainbow starting in middle of photo curving right toward the sky

The summit beckons but that grey cloud looks ominous

Almost there

The summit of Falkland Hill, no rain but extremely windy

I was very fortunate in having a dry ascent and descent. If you’re in the area and are lucky with the weather, do go up Falkland Hill. You can also visit the nearby village of Falkland and its palace.

Love UK

Love UK

premierinnglenrothesexterior

Review of Premier Inn Glenrothes in Fife, Scotland

I stayed at the Premier Inn Glenrothes in east central Scotland for one night on Saturday 22 January 2011. I managed to bag the room for only £19 a night (room only) during the Christmas sale on the Premier Inn website.  Now I recently did a comparison of the two biggest UK budget hotel brands in the UK, Premier Inn versus Travelodge in which I concluded that Travelodge was better mainly due to wider availability of cheaper rooms. However on this occasion a room at the Glenrothes Travelodge for the same night was priced at £23.50.

The Premier Inn Glenrothes is located just off the big roundabout as you drive into the town heading north from Kirkcaldy. There’s plenty of parking at the front and the back of the hotel. I checked in just after 2pm and requested a room at the back of the hotel at the end of the corridor, which I judged would be quieter.  The receptionist was very helpful, although I’d already been allocated a room she gave me a room which matched my request.

Exterior of Premier Inn Glenrothes

My room was a good size with the sofa bed made up as a single bed.  There’s a thermostat to control the heating and the room was warm within minutes. I also like the fact that there’s a  heated towel rail in the bathroom to make it a bit warmer and to avoid soggy towels.  The bed was very comfortable but I didn’t like the pillows, they were too soft for my liking.

Breakfast is served next door at the Brewer’s Fayre. It costs £8 per adult but kids eat free with paying adults. I didn’t bother with breakfast at the restaurant, I just ate some cereal and fruit I’d brought with me in my room. I noticed that the restaurant was doing two main courses for £10 and two desserts for £2 Monday – Friday until 18.30, meaning a couple could eat a two course meal for £12,. That seems better value than breakfast for £16 for two guests?

My room at the Premier Inn Glenrothes

While the town of Glenrothes may not be on many peoples’ top Scottish destination list, it does make a good overnight stop as you head north up the east coast from Edinburgh or as a base for spending for exploring the Fife region. Some suggestions of things to do in the area are a visit to Falkland to see the Palace and climb up Falkland Hill, the historic village of Ceres and the seaside town of St Andrews.

I’d recommend the Premier Inn Glenrothes if you can find a cheap room here by booking in advance on the non refundable rate or during a sale.

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It’s a good idea to check  prices for the Premier Inn Glenrothes on the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

Find Great Deals on Hotels in Glenrothes

Click here to check availability and price for all hotels in Glenrothes on the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

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Review of Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith

I stayed at Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith for one night on Sunday 23 January 2011 after the Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up that afternoon. I paid £19 for the night (room only) booked during the Premier Inn Christmas sale in December 2010.

Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith on the Forth Estuary

I was looking forward to staying at that Premier Inn as I really like the location down on the Forth Estuary next to Newhaven Harbour.  One big benefit of staying here is the free parking, as parking around Edinburgh city centre is expensive and it can be hard to find a space. The hotel is located around 2 miles from the city centre but there are regular buses from a stop just across from the hotel.

I was delighted with my room at it was on the first floor with an estuary view. The room was a good size with two comfy chairs and a coffee table, as well as a chair at the desk.

My room at Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith

I’d recommend the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith if you prefer not to be in the city centre and/or are coming to Edinburgh by car. You’ll either need to book well in advance on the non refundable rate or during a promotion, if you want to get a cheap room here.  There’s a Brewers Fayre restaurant attached to the hotel, a large Asda supermarket and another couple of pubs within walking distance.  The Ocean Terminal shopping and leisure centre and the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia is around half a mile away from the hotel. You can see all my photos/videos of the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith on Flckr.

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It’s also worth checking prices for the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith on the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

Search for the Best Deals on All Edinburgh Hotels

Click here to search for low prices on all hotels in Edinburgh on the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

Tips for Things to Do in Edinburgh

We’ve lots of Edinburgh tips on Europe a la Carte.

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3rd Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up, Sunday 10 April 2011 at the Missoni

The 3rd Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up took place at the Hotel Missoni Edinburgh on Sunday 10 April 2011 from 3 – 6pm.  The Missoni kindly provided chefs choice canapes, Prosecco and soft drinks for attendees.

3rd Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up at Hotel Missoni Edinburgh

This event followed on  the success of the 2nd Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up in January 2011 and the 1st Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up in July 2010.

3rd Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up at Hotel Missoni Edinburgh

You can see all my photos from the event on Flickr here.

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Review of the Hilton Edinburgh Airport

We stayed for one night in February 2011 at the Hilton Edinburgh Airport, on a complimentary basis arranged by hotels.com from their selection of Edinburgh hotels.  As we had to be at the airport by around 5am the next morning, we were concerned if there was bad weather we wouldn’t be able to reach the airport in time, so wanted to play it safe by staying close to the terminal.

Review of Hilton Edinburgh Airport

Lobby of Hilton Edinburgh Airport

We were allocated a double deluxe room on the 3rd floor. The room was very spacious and decorated in muted brown/cream colours. I appreciated that the chair by the desk was padded and very comfortable. There was a good selection of tea, coffees and drinking chocolate sachets.

The Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries in the bathroom had a lovely scent. The towels were thick and fluffy. The bed was one of the best I’ve come across in a hotel. There was a padded mattress cover and I was sorry that I had to get up at 4.30 to catch a flight, as I’d have loved to have a long sleep in that bed.

Review of Hilton Edinburgh Airport

Deluxe double room at Hilton Edinburgh Airport

There was some exterior noise of banging doors and guests laughing loudly around 3am in the corridor. However I didn’t hear any noise from outside the building.

The negatives were a large crack in the sink and some cracks in the tiles of the bathroom floor and the fact that there’s a £15 charge for internet connection.  I think that the Hilton is charging far too much for internet connection and this should be provided free of charge to guests.

We had a takeaway breakfast consisting of fresh fruit salad (heavy on apples), a bacon roll (delicious lean bacon), croissant (very doughy), a muffin (some of the best I’ve had) and an apple. I was a bit surprised that there was no drink included, I thought there would be at  least a carton of fruit juice.

The hotel offers a free shuttle bus to and from the airport but as it’s such a short distance, we walked there.  You can park your car at the hotel at a guest rate of £6 per day.

Overall I’d recommend the Hilton Edinburgh Airport if you have an early flight departure time or a late arrival.  The deluxe rooms are very comfortable and beautifully furnished and it’s great to be so close to the airport.  The only thing that let down the room were the cracks in the bathroom sink and floor, which is a pity as everything else was of very high quality.

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Click here for the lowest prices on Edinburgh hotels

clydewalk

Tips for Things to Do on a Glasgow Short Break

The Scottish city Glasgow is a great UK short break destination. It’s on the main west coast railway line and served by Glasgow Airport (Ryanair flies into Prestwick Airport), making it easy to get to from many parts of the UK and Europe.

River Clyde Walkway in Glasgow

Glasgow has come a long way since the days of post industrial gloom, to become top UK tourist destination. Below are some ideas for things to do in Glasgow during your short break.

Things to Do on Glasgow Short Break Podcast

 

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Take in Some Culture

One of my favourite Glasgow museums is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. The Burrell Collection and the Gallery of Modern Art are also very interesting.  It’s free to enter state museums in the UK, although there is sometimes a charge for special exhibitions. You can follow the Rennie Mackintosh Trail and admire the work of the Scottish architect. We had fun at the Glasgow Mela, a free multi cultural event held in Kelvingrove Park, in June.

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

The Riverside Museum, Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel, opened in June 2011.

Reflective exterior wall of Riverside Museum

Admire the Parks and Gardens

Glasgow has some beautiful parks and gardens. Glasgow Green is the city’s oldest park, home to the Winter Gardens. The Botanic Gardens have so many colourful orchids and begonias in the main glasshouses and the recently restored Kibble Palace has a collection of trees and ferns.

Winter Gardens at Glasgow Green

Shop ’til You Drop

There’s ample opportunity for shopping in Glasgow, with Princes Square, the St Enoch Centre, Sauchiehall Street & the Argyll Arcade, all in the city centre.

Princes Square Shopping Centre, Glasgow

Enjoy the Music

Glasgow has a very vibrant music scene, one of the main reasons our son Simon, a part time DJ, lives there.  There’s traditional music in pubs, techno in trendy night clubs and big names performing at the SECC.

Simon’s gig at the Lite Club by subcityphotos

Sample the Restaurants

Glasgow has the widest array of restaurants in Scotland, catering for all tastes and budgets. It’s not all fish suppers and deep fried Mars Bars! Two of my favourite Glasgow restaurants  are the Kama Sutra and Rogano.

Rogano, Glasgow

Where to Stay in Glasgow

If you can find a good deal at a hotel, as I did with my £20.12 room at the Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside, in January 2011, then you’ll have even more spending money for your Glasgow short break.

More Tips for Things to Do in Glasgow

You can also read more ideas on things to do in Glasgow collated from Europe a la Carte readers’ tips.

Click here for the lowest prices on Glasgow hotels

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Review of Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

I managed to bag a room at Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside for a stay on Saturday 8 January 2011, for only £20.12. Rooms at this price were only available for one day (20 December 2010) on the Holiday Inn site, to publicise that they are one of the sponsors of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

The hotel is a perfect location for a Glasgow short break. The hotel doesn’t have its own car park but I saw a car park close to the hotel which advertised all day stays for £5. We managed to find free on-street parking close to George Square (chargeable hours are Monday to Saturday 8am-6pm). It takes around ten minutes to walk to the hotel from either Queen St or Central rail stations. The hotel is a two minute walk from the St Enoch Shopping Centre and Argyle Street. The hotel is by the River Clyde, and Glasgow Green park (home to the People’s Palace) is just along the river.

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Doulton Fountain in Glasgow Green

Although the hotel is by the riverside, only the two rooms at the end of the corridor on each floor have full river views. It may be worth checking in early to try to get one of these rooms?

We were allocated room 523 on the top floor. Our room was at the front of the hotel facing the street, so there was some traffic noise, made more audible by the fact our window was missing one of its catches, so wouldn’t close properly.  I have to admit that I always find it noisy in city centres, as it’s very quiet where we live.  I did hear a bit of door banging and some loud voices during the night, but nothing too bad. The room was fairly comfortable but the bed had an inclination to roll together in the middle.

There was free wifi in the lobby which had a reasonable signal, although it struggled to upload a short video to Flickr.

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Lobby at Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Continental breakfast was OK but the fruit juice tasted a bit watery and one of the hot drinks machines was low on supplies, so my hot chocolate appeared as watery hot milk. However the croissant and fruity cereal were good.

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Continental Breakfast Buffet at Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside

Overall, I’d recommend the hotel as a good budget option for a Glasgow short break, with reasonable rooms, free wifi in the lobby and breakfast included, as I’ve noticed more and more hotels with room only offers. 

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There are plenty of opportunities close at hand to sample three of the reasons to visit Glasgow, restaurants, music and food. You can also read our tips on things to do in Glasgow.

You should also check out room prices at the Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside on the HotelsCombined price comparison site.