Exploring Beauly: Kevin and Cathy’s Highland Highlights

Exploring Beauly:

Kevin and Cathy’s Highland Highlights

Welcome to the fourth episode of Season two.

In this episode, Dawn chats with Kevin and Cathy from the YouTube channel Just Thought Lounge. The Canadian duo, who moved to the UK a decade ago, share their recent adventures in the Scottish Highlands, particularly their visit to Beauly. They discuss their exploration of the Beauly Priory, the charming local train station, and their visit to the village’s award-winning gift shop. The conversation also touches on their dining experiences and their brief trip to Dingwall. Kevin and Cathy reflect on their potential move to Scotland and the allure of the Highlands. Listen now to hear more about their delightful recounting of their travels.

FEATURED:

Kevin and Cathy- Just Thought Lounge

 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

 

TIMESTAMPS:
00:00:00: Introduction and Welcome
00:02:05: Favourite Place in Scotland: Beauly
00:03:39: Clip from Just Thought Lounge Podcast
00:05:17: Connection to Beauly and the MacRae Family
00:06:59: Exploring Beauly and the Priory
00:20:16: Trip to Dingwall
00:22:27: Future Plans and Exploring More of the Highlands
00:23:08: Where to Find Just Thought Lounge Online
00:23:45: History and Facts About Beauly
00:25:17: Annual Events in Beauly
00:26:49: Conclusion and Where to Find More Information

Visit Beauly – The Beautiful Place

Beauly – Wikipedia

Beauly Priory – Wikipedia

Lovat Castle – Wikipedia

Beaufort Castle – Beauly – Parks & Gardens

Beaufort Castle Dounie Beauly Kiltarlity and Convinth Inverness-shire Highland Scotland Scottish

Beauly Priory | Lead Public Body for Scotland’s Historic Environment

Beauly Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Beaufort Castle, Scotland – Wikipedia

BEAULY PRIORY: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

History – Visit Beauly

Highland Cross

HISTORY — Belladrum Festival 2024 – Homegrown in the Highlands

Events – Visit Beauly

North Coast 500 – The ultimate road trip around the North of Scotland

File:High Street, Beauly – geograph.org.uk – 4168794.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

The Priory Hotel | Beauly | Official Site | Best Rate Direct

File:Floral display, Beauly – geograph.org.uk – 4168791.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Beauly priory north side 29042008.JPG – Wikimedia Commons

File:Beauly Priory – geograph.org.uk – 3367209.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:The Priory at Beauly – geograph.org.uk – 5346819.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Beauly Priory.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:High Street, Beauly – geograph.org.uk – 3364923.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

CORNER ON THE SQUARE

Old School Beauly – Shopping Heaven in the Highlands

Harry Gow | Your Favourite Highland Bakery – Always Baked from Scratch | Harry Gow

Belladrum Festival – Tartan Heart Festival

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted and Researched by Dawn

Edited by Erin Erin Ferguson (@erinfergus0n) • Instagram photos and videos

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon & ES_A Sound Foundation – Airae

 

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Dawn [0:00 – 0:36]: Welcome to another episode of Scottish Digest. In this episode, we will be speaking to Kevin and Cathy from the YouTube podcast just thought Lounge, who will be talking to us about one of their favourite places in Scotland, Beaulieu. Okay, so, hi, Kevin and Cathy, welcome to the podcast.

Cathy [0:36 – 0:38]: Hi, Don. Thanks for having us. Yeah, good to be here.

Dawn [0:38 – 0:45]: Oh, it’s lovely to speak to you again. So, can you tell us a little bit about you and what brought you to the UK?

Cathy [0:45 – 1:32]: Sure, Don. Yeah. So we are originally from Canada and we moved to the UK about ten years ago so that Kathy could go to do her master’s programme was essentially what brought us over here and we ended up just really enjoying it and living in England and we decided to stay. So one short year turned into ten years and we’ve got no plans to leave. So, a little bit about us. We run the channel, a YouTube channel called the Just Thought Lounge, which is a true crime channel where we do many documentaries that are 20 to 40 minutes in length, where we just kind of consolidate and tell a story in a very succinct, distilled down way in a mini documentary format.

Dawn [1:32 – 1:46]: You’ve been very, you know, modest. It’s an amazing channel. And Kathy, I don’t know who’s doing what now, but Kathy was doing all the videos and they were beautiful. Couldn’t replicate that. Tried, couldn’t do it. Wow.

Cathy [1:46 – 1:46]: Thanks.

Dawn [1:46 – 1:48]: It’s very talented.

Cathy [1:49 – 1:53]: It’s been quite a lot. It’s been quite a journey with the channel, but we’re happy with where we are now.

Dawn [1:53 – 1:58]: Okay, then. So what we’re here for is to talk about your favourite place in Scotland where you recently visited.

Cathy [1:58 – 2:05]: And it is today we’re talking about Bewley, just outside of Inverness in north Scotland.

Dawn [2:10 – 2:41]: Like I said, Kevin is the host of the YouTube podcast just thought lounge, as well as working with Cathy to do everything else behind the scenes, the write, edit and produce the episodes for YouTube. They are both from Canada, but moved to England about ten years ago. However, they had thought about perhaps moving to Scotland in the future, and so they went on a wee holiday to a few areas in Scotland last year. But before we hear about their trip to Scotland first, heres a clip from an episode of Kevin and Kathys podcast, just thought lounge.

Kevin [2:41 – 3:39]: In March 2024, Riley Strain was on a pub crawl with friends down Broadway and Nashville, the popular main strip packed with shops, bars and restaurants. The 22 year old left his last bar of the night at just past 09:30 p.m. he seemed to vanish only minutes later, even with cameras retracing his steps through the city. There were gaps in his movements, witnesses coming forward that could not always be trusted. Clues were being uncovered that raised more questions than answers. And amager sleuths online were both helping and hurting the investigation. Hi there, Im Kevin and welcome to just thought lounge. Todays case has recently gone viral across social media. Amongst the mystery of Rileys disappearance is a family desperate for answers, bizarre clues that seem to defy common sense and a few outlandish theories.

Cathy [3:39 – 3:41]: Let’s take a look.

Dawn [3:55 – 3:59]: Why did you end up going? Why did you choose there? Why was that your place? You went?

Cathy [3:59 – 5:17]: So it was just recently, it was just in August, and we’ve recently been talking about actually making a house move and we’re looking at different areas still within the UK. And we’ve always really liked the Highlands in Scotland. We’ve been there a couple times, so, yeah, so we really like the Highlands in Scotland. Been there a couple times. So what we wanted to do before settling on any location was just kind of get a feel for the area, right, and kind of get a feel for up north towards Inverness. So we took a trip, started in Glasgow and took the train up past pit Locrie, past Avermore, took a little left at Inverness and we ended up in Beaulieu. We picked a couple spots along the way, pit lockery Avamore, just to kind of get a feel for the area. We had never heard of Bewley before. We didn’t know anything about it. But as we were looking at the area, we did have one sort of connection there, which. Which we thought was interesting, which I’m sure a lot of people say, but Kathy’s family name is McCray and the McCrays do have a link to that area. So we thought, if we’re going to be up there anyways, kind of scoping things out, why don’t we make Beulia a pit stop and kind of see what it’s all about? Do you have any Beaulieu facts?

Dawn [5:17 – 5:33]: A fun fact. The Beuley Priory was location mentioned in the Outlander book series written by Deanna Gabaldon. But I don’t watch that series to use. Do. Yeah, they love it. There you go. Beautiful.

Cathy [5:33 – 5:48]: Yeah, I was right. I had no idea there was a beauty connection, but I did in fact, read pretty much all of those books before the series started. So I have been watching it. Yeah, it’s very. It’s very cheesy. I mean, I’m not going to recommend it, but. Yes.

Dawn [5:49 – 6:01]: Yeah, very nice. And you actually sent me some photos before recorded. And it’s off. Well, it’s off the gravestone. McCrae gravestone. So what. So what is the connection then? Who’s James McCrae?

Cathy [6:02 – 6:59]: Yeah, well, James McCray is actually my father’s name. So I, you know, Google told me that the Beaulieu was the traditional home of the McCray clan. So we thought, well, we’re already heading up in this direction. This is a good area for us to, you know, just have a. Just have a look around. And I was probably at the train for, I don’t know, ten minutes before we ran into. Ran into an old resident that had my father’s name, which I just thought was, you know, so I. Whatever it is, whatever you take from that. But, yeah, I mean, the idea was to be able to view the area not so much as a tourist. They sort of get an idea of what the area would be like for locals and to live in. Of course. Though, interestingly enough, of course, you show up and, you know, with all of your luggage and the first thing you do is every touristy thing that you can because you want to get back to you what the area is and what’s interesting and what it has to offer. Essentially what we did.

Dawn [6:59 – 7:02]: So what did you do? Tell us some of the things that you did when you were there.

Cathy [7:03 – 7:51]: Yeah. So I guess arriving at Beuley worth noting is the train station. The Beaulieu train station is the smallest platform we’ve ever seen. It was probably about ten yards long. It was large enough to kind of fit one carriage on the train. You had to get off on the right one. Yeah. Basically two doors opened on the train. So that was, that sort of told us what we were stepping into was not maybe a commuter hotspot or really a happening place, but we just found that really interesting, that the planning of the Beaulieu train station was clearly. They also weren’t expecting it to grow over time. Right. They just kind of built it for that one carriage to stop, which was interesting. So.

Dawn [7:51 – 7:54]: So were you on the right carriage then, or did you have to make a mud dash?

Cathy [7:54 – 8:11]: They made sure. Yeah, they made sure that they huddled everyone forward to the right doors. To be fair, don, it was not a large train either. That’s fair. Yeah, that’s. Yeah, that’s personal. Yeah. There weren’t many of us heading that way. 50 50 chance to get the right door, I think.

Dawn [8:11 – 8:17]: So. This is great. The picture in my head, it’s like this little dinky train. This little dinky little.

Cathy [8:18 – 8:25]: We’ll send you over we actually. We got a picture of the train station, too. I’ll send that to you after and you can have a look at it. It’s pretty. It’s pretty cute.

Dawn [8:25 – 8:28]: Yeah, that would be cool. So whereabouts did you stay when you were there, then?

Cathy [8:29 – 8:48]: So we stayed right downtown on the high street. So right in Beaulieu, there’s a nice little square that basically has everything happening. And then there’s houses surrounding it. But right downtown on the high street, there’s a square, and we stay. They call it downtown. It was the happening area. It was the happening area. It was the happening. It was the high street.

Dawn [8:48 – 8:49]: Is that the only street?

Cathy [8:51 – 9:17]: Basically, state. You get off on Station Road, and you walk about a mile down station road, it turns into High street, and then you leave town. And that was basically it. But we stayed at the Priory hotel, is where we stayed. Right. Right in the square, which was really nice. Cute old hotel. Yeah. Got in there right off the train, dropped off our bags, and then were able to kind of do a wander around.

Dawn [9:17 – 9:26]: Oh, nice. And you said you went there about August. Apparently. The town, the square you’re talking about about that time. It’s full of flowers. Did you see all that?

Cathy [9:26 – 9:26]: Yes.

Dawn [9:26 – 9:28]: So did you?

Cathy [9:28 – 9:36]: Yeah, we spoke about the flower budget that Yuli and surrounding villages must have. It was really. It was very noticeable. It was very impressive.

Dawn [9:36 – 9:42]: Very. Yeah, it did. It said that that was their main event and it sounded like we got photos. Can you send that as well?

Cathy [9:43 – 9:53]: I. You know what? As much as we talked about the flowers, I don’t think we took any photos of them. I don’t think we knew it was special. We just thought maybe this was how it was done up all the time.

Dawn [9:54 – 9:55]: It was special.

Cathy [9:55 – 10:19]: Cathy, if I’d known, I would have some of those photos. Yeah. I feel a lot better about noticing it now and talking about it, but, yeah, it was. Yeah, a lot of flowers. Really. Yeah. Really cute square we ended up. And that’s actually right on the square there is just beside our hotel, is where we found the priory. Right, yeah. Hence the priory.

Dawn [10:20 – 10:26]: Is it on the same sort of site? You’re just next to it, or your hotel almost right next door.

Cathy [10:26 – 10:44]: Yeah. Sort of jaunt across the car park. And then. And then you could go. And then you could go in and see the. The ruins. And of course, it was a cemetery, hence the photos of the gravestones. But that’s probably the first thing we did once we dropped our luggage, was just explore those. Those ruins. Really picturesque. Really pretty. Yeah.

Dawn [10:44 – 10:46]: Was it a nice day? Did you have a good day?

Cathy [10:46 – 11:33]: It was good. You know what, the whole. The whole week we were there in Scotland, I remember the weather forecast was calling for rain basically the whole week. And it held off for us the whole time. I think we got. We got rain at one point, right at the end when we were in. When we were in Dingwall, but we’ll. We’ll talk about Dingwall shortly. The only rain was in Dingwall. But no, yeah. First stop was the priory. And. Yeah. And we just kind of wandered through there. We didn’t, again, didn’t know anything about Beaulieu, so didn’t know it was there, but just really. Yeah, really nice building, old building. And then that’s where we found the. The gravestones. The McCray gravestones were actually in the priory in the building. They weren’t just on the grounds, they were actually inside the building, which was really neat.

Dawn [11:33 – 11:45]: Oh, okay. So tell us, so what was it like walking through there then? Was it. I can see you in the picture. You’re right. You’re in the middle of there. Tell us about what it was like. Was it quiet? Is it eerie?

Cathy [11:45 – 13:10]: No. Yeah, it was. Yeah, it was pretty quiet. There was maybe half a dozen or so other tourists there. Right. So it was pretty quiet. You could see the different sort of gravestones in the floor of the priory, as you kind of see in different abbeys and things like that. They had, just beside the door on the inside, I remember they had a really old. It was like a stone bowl attached to the wall where they put holy water in there. And so that’s where. That’s where, you know, that’s their old bowl that they would go in and sort of everyone on their way in or way out would. Would dip their hands in that bowl. So interesting seeing those little details that have lasted over time. Yeah. You could tell that the building itself would have been when it still had a full roof cover, an impressive building. But as a result, the walls that remain, the structure that remained was quite impressive. And it really struck quite a scene walking through. What was the story? They used the stones for the. From the priory to build a building in Inverness, was it? Do you remember that? Yes. Yes. So they repurposed part of the building so you can actually. And it has. So it has a connection to another area. I wish we had written that down. Yeah. There’s a. I think there’s a tower. There was a building, a clock tower. Yeah. A building built in Inverness from the stones of the Priory. And the only thing remaining of that secondary building is the clock tower.

Dawn [13:10 – 13:18]: I think I’ll look into that. Did you happen to see the 800 year old elm tree located in the priory?

Cathy [13:18 – 13:23]: I’m sure we didn’t notice it, but I’m sure we saw it.

Dawn [13:24 – 13:26]: Like, how big must that have been?

Cathy [13:27 – 13:31]: Yeah. Yeah. No, not that we noticed, unfortunately.

Dawn [13:32 – 13:37]: Oh, that was my other fun fact. It’s a fun fact.

Cathy [13:37 – 13:41]: Now I’m sad. We sort of missed it. We’ll cheque it out next time we go.

Dawn [13:41 – 13:48]: Are you planning on going? So you said you were going up that way to look for possible places to move to. Were you thinking about it or is it not for you?

Cathy [13:48 – 14:09]: Beaulieu itself? No, no, not for us. I think we were looking for something a bit more in the highlands. Right. A bit more scenic, a bit more with the hills and the landscape, which I don’t think Beaulieu necessarily had. I think that was. I think we kind of got out of it a little bit. So, no, Beaulieu did not make our shortlist.

Dawn [14:10 – 14:13]: Oh. But still beautiful nonetheless. Is it still.

Cathy [14:13 – 14:26]: Oh, gorgeous. Yeah, gorgeous around and getting up there is absolutely. The trip. The trip up on the train is, you know, in and of itself is. Is a great. A great destination. Just. Just taking the train up there is fantastic.

Dawn [14:27 – 14:37]: And what about food? Because I know, Kevin, you’re same as me. You’re vegan, aren’t you? And I know you saw on your socials, you commented that there was a nice vegan place there. What was that?

Cathy [14:37 – 14:44]: Yeah, so we’re actually both. We’re actually both vegan. So Cathy’s. Kathy’s the one that pulled me along on that. On that trip.

Dawn [14:44 – 14:56]: Oh, Cathy, I’m sure you were there, of course, because you were the one about the restaurant down in London. Yes, I got that wrong. You. I got that the wrong way around, didn’t I? I thought it was you, Kevin. That was the dabbler still.

Cathy [14:57 – 15:51]: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. We went to unity diner in London. Right? Yeah, yeah. Food and Beaulieu, we ended up. So we were only there for a short time, but after. After sort of the priory and everything, we went for lunch at a little cafe in the square. It was called the corner on the square cafe. And it was. It was. Right, yeah, right on, right on the square corner. It was very busy. I mean, it was the type of small, little cafe that you knew the food was good because of how, like, they were overflowing with. With everyone popping in. So to, you know, either take food to go or I’m amazed we even got a table. So it was that sort of a spot, which was nice. And they had quite a few options for us, too. Yeah. Yeah. With how. With how quiet the town was. With how quiet Beaulieu was. Yeah. I couldn’t believe how many people were in there for lunch. It was just. It was like, it was the place to be, apparently.

Dawn [15:52 – 15:56]: And did you stay there? Did you have your tea there as well? Or did you just head off the next day and didn’t hang about?

Cathy [15:57 – 16:02]: We ate at the hotel, I believe, before. Yeah. For our. Yeah, before we left. Yeah.

Dawn [16:02 – 16:07]: I’m so nosy. Am I giving the itinerary, the full itinerary?

Cathy [16:07 – 17:33]: No, no, but no. So what we actually did, Don, before worth mentioning, because I think it’s a big draw for Beuley, is before lunch, after we. After we saw the priory, there was a gift shop just down the way. And it was an award winning gift shop, apparently, that they pride themselves on. And that was the old school Beaulieu gift shop is what that was called. And, yeah, we just. We went in there and it was. It was one of those places where you go in. And my first impression was there was a lot of sort of trinkets and local products, you know, people. People knitting scarves or sweaters and stuff locally and putting it in. And it was neat. It wasn’t anything really special at first glance. What I was in, what I ended up doing was I left the gift shop and I stood outside for a second and I couldn’t find Kathy. And I didn’t know. I didn’t know where Kathy went and I didn’t know how I lost her in this tiny little two room gift shop. And so it wasn’t until I went back in that I realised that the back of the gift shop opens right up to a very large bookstore. Yeah, a bookstore. And, yes, some pet supplies and some, you know, like, children homeware. Yeah. So it really. It really opened up and there was so much more to it than first meets the eye. But I almost. I almost missed. I almost missed the whole thing.

Dawn [17:34 – 17:35]: You lost Cathy.

Cathy [17:36 – 17:39]: You lost me in the back of the books.

Dawn [17:41 – 17:44]: That’s what I’m going to be. Did you buy anything as a souvenir then?

Cathy [17:45 – 18:22]: I actually think I left without anything. And I. And I recall actually carrying around quite a few different items. And I actually have photos of books. I took photos of books I wanted. I determined that it was a really, really well curated selection. There were so many of the books that I was looking through that I would have actually wanted to take home. But I have problems with indecision if there are too many things that I’m interested in. If it had been the type of gift shop that was two rooms. So there was one item I liked, I thought, oh, that’s perfect. That’s what I’ll take from Beaulieu. But I wanted maybe a dozen different things and none of them were going to fit in my suitcase. So I just took photos of items that I wanted for later.

Dawn [18:23 – 18:36]: That’s a good top tip there. Yeah, I would probably buy them and then just carry them about the rest of the holiday. So tell me, where did you go next? You went to Dingwall?

Cathy [18:37 – 20:16]: Yes. Yeah. So part of the whole trip was, you know, seeing the area and seeing what was around. And we saw on a map that that Dingwall was just a short train trip away. So we decided to head on up there. As a coastal town, we didn’t know much about it. We assumed coastal towns would be a bit lively. But we ended up, we ended up catching the bus and we took the bus up. It was maybe a 20 minutes bus ride, not too bad, and got to see all of the areas along the way, which was really neat. But when we got to Dingwall, it was a bit, the high street was closed up a bit, sort of run down. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s had some hard times. So we had a wander around Dingwall and that’s when it started raining on us. And we just did. We just did. We just did a walk around. We were maybe there for maybe an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours, just kind of a big loop around, saw what we could see and then ended up back at the bus station, at the bus stop and caught the next bus home. But what was funny was, and I think it speaks to how small some of these communities are, is that the bus on the way back we had the same bus driver that had dropped us off 2 hours earlier. But then not only that, I get bus drivers, you know, they have routes and so you’ll see them multiple times. But the one other person that was on the bus with us on the way to Digwall was also catching the same bus back to Beaulieu. So we basically had the same driver and the same passenger with us on the way there and on the way back. Yeah.

Dawn [20:16 – 20:25]: Oh, that’s really sad about Dingwall because I have actually been there. I used to go there regularly and, oh, I mean, it’s quite a small place, but yeah, that’s a shame.

Cathy [20:26 – 20:28]: What did you used to go there for?

Dawn [20:28 – 20:42]: It was just. With my previous partner, he used to just do lawnmowers and he was just. He would go to the caravan sites and, you know, service their lawnmowers and it was just. I remember it being a lovely, quiet but beautiful place. So. That’s sad to hear.

Cathy [20:42 – 20:57]: I. Yeah, it seemed like a lot. A lot was boarded up. What they did have there, though, which we saw a couple times, was a bakery. And you might know these done that. We had never seen them before, but they were gao. Is that what it was, a gao bakery?

Dawn [20:59 – 21:00]: God, I don’t know.

Cathy [21:00 – 21:16]: G o w. But the reason I bring it up is because we saw one in Avomore and then we saw another one in Beaulieu and then we saw the third one in Dingwall. So it seemed like it was a chain. Harry Gow. Harry Gow bakery is what it was.

Dawn [21:17 – 21:20]: Oh, God. I’ve never heard of him. It must be up that week.

Cathy [21:22 – 21:27]: It seemed pretty funny. It seemed like every. Every town we stopped in, there was a. There was a hairy gow bakery.

Dawn [21:29 – 21:33]: I wonder how popular that is. If he’s in all the small places, he must get the tourists.

Cathy [21:34 – 21:36]: Yeah, I guess. Yeah, maybe that’s what it is. Yeah.

Dawn [21:37 – 21:48]: Okay, then. So that was your visit to the Highlands. So do you think you’ll go back? Have you got your eye on anywhere else or in the area or see anything on the buses when you were travelling?

Cathy [21:48 – 22:25]: Well, we’ll definitely go back. Which areas we’ll choose next time. I’m not sure. I think that the next trip is going to require a car. We did this entire trip by train and that really did dictate sort of the stops and the areas that we could. That we could explore. So when we have been. Previously, we’ve driven around, you know. Yeah. So we have done that before, but we chose this time to just go by train. So if we go back up again, I think we’ll probably. We’ll map out some more smaller areas to take a look, go off the beaten track again and pretend that we’re not tourists and then end up doing touristy things.

Dawn [22:27 – 22:33]: Why do you want to pretend you’re not a tourist? It’s luckily being a tourist. It is. It is.

Cathy [22:33 – 22:42]: No, it’s. It’s. It is. It is fun, but it’s also. It’s hard to get an idea of what it’s like to actually live in a place when you are a tourist surrounded by tourists.

Dawn [22:43 – 22:51]: All right, then we’ll. That’s it. Thanks very much for telling me all about your time in the Highlands. I look forward to hearing from you again, if you go again.

Cathy [22:52 – 23:08]: Absolutely. It’s been fun. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having us on, Don. It’s been. This is, this is our. This is our first podcast that we’ve been on, so it was very, very exciting and fun. So, yeah, appreciate it. Thanks for having us. We’ll take better notes next time.

Dawn [23:08 – 23:14]: Yeah. But can you tell everybody they can find just thought lounge and you.

Cathy [23:14 – 23:40]: Absolutely, yeah. So we are just thought lounge on YouTube. So if you just kind of look us up there, all of our socials are kind of connected to that. We’re also on. On Instagram, primarily just on there. So if you want to see some pictures of our travels around Kent and specifically our two cockapoos, then make sure you find us on Instagram, which is just thought lounge there as well.

Dawn [23:45 – 27:11]: According to Wikipedia, beaulieu is a town in the Highlands, located on the river Beaulieu and is 12 miles, or 19 kilometres, about a 20 minutes drive west of Inverness. According to visit Beaulieu, Mary Queen of Scots visited Beaulieu in 1564 and stayed overnight, with many believing that the town got its name when she stated, pardon, my friend, c’est un Beaulieu, which means what a beautiful place in French. Although others believe that it is more likely the town’s name came from french monks who had a base in Hampshire in England called Beaulieu. Again, according to visit Beaulieu. The town is centred around a square where you will find many award winning independent shops and places to eat. And in the spring, visitors will come from far and wide to see the annual floral displays. Beaulieu is also a great base to start the north coast 500, from which is according to Northcoast 500 dot Comma, Scotland’s ultimate road trip, a route that covers 516 miles, or 830 kilometres of the North Highlands, where you will pass some breathtaking scenery, beautiful sandy beaches, rugged mountains and quaint fishing villages. An experience that you will not forget. For more information and to see the route, visit Northcoast 500 Dot. We talked a lot about the Beaulieu Priory in this episode, which was founded in 1230. And as I mentioned, there’s an 800 year old elm tree located in the extensive priory. And so now on to the annual events that take place in the Beaulieu area. Well, there’s actually quite a few. There’s the Beaulieu gala that takes place in July each year and the Highland Cross finishing line is at Bewley. The Highland cross is a 50 miles, being 20 miles on foot and 30 miles by bike duathlon that traverses the Scottish Highlands from coast to coast, west to east, ending like I say in Bewley. But the event that really caught my eye was the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, which takes place every year just a few miles from Bewley in 2024. It will take place on the 25th to the 27 July and tickets are on sale now from tartanheartfestival.com. the Bella Drum Tartan Heart Festival was first established in 2004 and has become one of the most unique and anticipated music festivals in Scotland, with a record breaking 20,000 people attending in 2022. It brings a diverse range of music genre together, from indie to folk, as well as showcasing local and international talent. It has also won many awards, such as an award at the scottish e awards in 2023 for best festival. It sounds like it would be a fantastic weekend. If you’d like to find out more or buy tickets then visit tartanheartfestival.com. so that’s about the end. If you’ve enjoyed the episode and would like to hear even more of Kevin’s delightful voice, then you can find just thought lounge on YouTube. A link to this as well as everything mentioned in this episode will be in the show notes as well as on our website, clurintornous.com scottishdigest that’s cluaranton.com Scottishdigest so we hope you join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.


Solway Firth Stories: Alistair Braidwood’s Annan Anecdotes

Solway Firth Stories: Alistair Braidwood’s Annan Anecdotes

Welcome to the third episode of Season two.

In this episode Dawn is joined by Alistair from the Scots Whay Hae podcast to discuss his favourite place in Scotland: Annan and the Solway Firth, located in south-west Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway.

Alistair shares nostalgic memories of his childhood holidays in Annan, highlighting its charming countryside, historical significance, and local culture. He reminisces about cycling through quiet streets, playing in fields, and enjoying fish and chips. The conversation also touches on Annan’s efforts to revitalise itself as a tourist destination, with events like the Annan Harbour Festival and the town’s rich history. Tune in for a delightful journey through Annan’s past and present, filled with personal anecdotes and cultural insights.

FEATURED:

Alistair- ⁠Scots Whay Hae⁠

 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts, and watch on YouTube

 

TIMESTAMPS:
00:00:00: Introduction by Dawn
00:01:00: Clip from Scots Whay Hae Podcast
00:01:54: Dawn Welcomes Alistair
00:06:01: Alistair’s Favourite Place in Scotland: Annan
00:08:09: Childhood Memories in Annan
00:09:16: Recent Visit to Annan
00:10:36: Beaches in Annan
00:11:48: Historical Railway Viaduct
00:13:08: Annan’s Red Sandstone Buildings
00:14:00: Robert Burns’ Connection to Annan
00:15:13: Pagani’s Fish and Chip Shop
00:16:02: Staying with Family in Annan
00:16:42: Travel Time to Annan
00:17:20: Scenic Routes to Annan
00:18:04: Childhood Activities in Annan
00:19:26: Walking Routes in Annan
00:20:47: River Annan
00:21:34: Annandale Way Walking Route
00:21:44: Stone Bridge Designed by Robert Stevenson
00:22:36: TV Programme Featuring Annan
00:22:45: Scandinavian Origin of Solway
00:23:19: The Wicker Man Filming Locations
00:24:47: Overlooked Beauty of Dumfries and Galloway
00:25:08: Scenic Drives in the Area
00:27:48: Riding of the Marches Festival
00:29:37: Community Spirit in Annan
00:31:13: Annan Harbour Festival
00:33:10: Potential for Tourism in Annan
00:34:07: Future Visits to Annan
00:37:32: Where to Find Scots Whay Hae podcast.
00:38:36: Facts About Annan and Solway Firth
00:40:33: Conclusion and Next Episode Teaser


Solway Firth – Wikipedia

Solway Firth Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

The Solway Firth Visitor Guide | Out About Scotland

Solway Firth (song) – Wikipedia

Annan, Dumfries and Galloway – Wikipedia

Annan Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Annan Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland

SWH! Podcast | Scots Whay Hae!

Scots Whay Hae! | Scots Whay Hae!

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Penguin Essentials): Written by Truman Capote, 2012 Edition, (Re-issue) Publisher: Penguin [Paperback]: Amazon.co.uk: Truman Capote: 8601417132517: Books

File:Ashley Jensen June 2016.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Haaf Net Fisherman on The Solway Firth – geograph.org.uk – 4116075.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:The river Annan at Annan – geograph.org.uk – 3626304.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan Bridge – geograph.org.uk – 4113600.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:High Street, Annan – geograph.org.uk – 3536074.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:High Street, Annan – geograph.org.uk – 5919085.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Lonsdale Cinema and Bingo Club – geograph.org.uk – 6001711.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan, alongside the river – geograph.org.uk – 4594853.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Solway shore at Powfoot – geograph.org.uk – 3644589.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Remains of tidal swimming pool at Powfoot – geograph.org.uk – 4513403.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Lonsdale Cinema, Annan | Home

BBC – Robert Burns – The Deil’s awa wi’ the Exciseman

File:Town centre architecture, Annan – geograph.org.uk – 6001690.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

(2) Facebook

(2) Facebook

File:River Annan railway viaduct, Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:River Annan upstream of the pedestrian bridge, Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Footpath beside River Annan – geograph.org.uk – 1067582.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan river bridge – Oct 2006.JPG – Wikimedia Commons

BBC Scotland – My Kind of Town, Series 1, Annan

File:’The Wicker Man’ Filming Locations, Plaque On Whithorn Public Library – geograph.org.uk – 4085699.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annandale Distillery, Annan, Dumfries & Galloway. Chimney and courtyard.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station 2.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Chapelcross04JM.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Annan Harbour – Dumfries and Galloway south west Scotland

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted by Dawn

Written and Produced by Dawn Young

Edited by Erin Erin Ferguson (@erinfergus0n) • Instagram photos and videos

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon & ES_A Sound Foundation – Airae

 

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Dawn [0:00 – 0:59]: Welcome to episode three of season two of Scottish Digest. In this episode, we will be speaking to Alister from the podcast Scotsway Hay, who will be talking to us about his favourite place and area in Scotland, which is Annan and the Solway Firth. Alister is the host of the podcast Scots Whay Hae, which discusses modern Scottish culture, whatever and wherever that may be. And Alister has had some fantastic guests on his podcast. Alistair and I also appeared on the BBC Scotland show the Big Scottish book club crime special episode, which you can watch on iPlayer if you’re in the UK. Just before we speak to Alister, here’s a wee clip from an episode of Scott’s Way Hay.

Alistair [1:00 – 1:53]: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Scots Whay Hae podcast. And today I’m joined once again by writer Denzil Meyrick to talk about his new novel, Murder at Holly House. Hello, Denzil. Hello there, Alistair. It’s nice to see you again. And nice to see you again. And this is, as we just mentioned before we start recording, this is a bit of a departure. So what can you tell listeners about murder at Holly House? Murder at Holly House is set in 1950s North Yorkshire and it involves Di Frank Rasby, who arrives in the village of Elderby to find somebody dead down a chimney, something he wasn’t expecting. And one of the lines that the young laird of the manor says on this discovery, well, Santa got it terribly wrong this year.

Dawn [1:54 – 1:57]: Hi, Alistair. It’s lovely to have you on the podcast.

Alistair [1:57 – 1:59]: Hello, dawn. Thank you for asking me.

Dawn [2:00 – 2:11]: Oh, I wasn’t going to not ask you after meeting you. Billy Conley esque. So, can you tell us a little bit about you and about your podcast Scots weigh?

Alistair [2:12 – 3:00]: Sure. Well, Alastair Braidwood, who runs the Scots Whay Hae website and podcast, both of which look at Scottish culture. They’re a celebration of all things about Scottish culture. So it started out kind of focusing on books, but now it’s music, it’s theatre, it’s paintings, it’s opera, even. So, covering all sorts of different things. I just recently did a podcast with a couple choreographers who’ve got two dance shows out, or they did have last month. So it’s amazing the different things that we’ve kind of covered. I’ve learned so much doing it over the years. We’re coming up to our 300th podcast, so that’s coming up fairly soon.

Dawn [3:01 – 3:03]: Good God, that’s an achievement there.

Alistair [3:03 – 3:20]: Yeah. So it started 2011, I think was the first one. Website started in 2009, and both just been regularly doing over the years and it’s been great. I’ve absolutely loved it.

Dawn [3:20 – 3:31]: Yeah, you’ve got an amazing, like, so many different guests. Like you were saying, it’s just. It’s just so random, isn’t it? Each episode is just. You never know what you’re going to get. I like that.

Alistair [3:31 – 4:30]: Well, it’s interesting because when I started the website, people said, well, concentrate on one thing, you know, and that’s. That’s the best advice. And I thought, I don’t want to do that because I’m interested in loads of things. Yes. I was doing a degree in literature at Glasgow Uni at the time, which is one of the reasons I started it. But I also love my music and I love going to theatre and all sorts of things, so I kind of ignored that advice and maybe that was the right thing to do. But it does mean that you get a real mix of people coming on. We did one with Nancy from Crimecon, for instance. I never thought I would introduce her through yourself, and, of course, had the podcast sharing collaboration that you sorted out last year, which had all different people from different areas. Yeah, it’s been. It’s a great way of meeting and talking to new people. I think that’s the main thing. And if you’re interested in people, there’s nothing better.

Dawn [4:31 – 4:49]: Definitely. And it was. That’s where we met Nancy as well, didn’t it? At the BBC’s. BBC, Scotland’s, the big Scottish Book Club. That was where I first met you as well, in person. It was lovely doing that with you. But that wasn’t your type of book, though, was it? It was Truman Capote in cold Blood.

Alistair [4:49 – 5:48]: Well, in a way, it was my type of book. I would have read before I said Scottsdale. Hey, I’d read it and years and years and years ago, when I used to read a lot of american writers and things like that. I was really glad you asked me because it was something different for me, because now I mostly review fiction. That’s not true. I review a lot of nonfiction as well, but in terms of crime, it’s mostly crime fiction instead of true crime. So it was interesting to go back to a book which I kind of still thought of as a novel, because it’s a kind of novelization, a dramatisation of a true crime, which is what we ended up talking about a lot on the day. So. But actually, you asking me to do that, I think that’s a great example of the kind of connections that you make through doing podcasts and meeting new people, and then someone will say, oh, I don’t know who might do that. Don might do that. You know, that’s the way that he’s. And that’s probably why you’ve asked me on today, because, you know, these connections are made.

Dawn [5:48 – 5:59]: Oh, sure, yeah. Always. I love making connections and just sharing. Like you say, it’s interesting meeting new people and different walks of life, so. Yeah, definitely. I’m glad we met.

Alistair [5:59 – 6:00]: Yes, absolutely.

Dawn [6:01 – 6:08]: So, anyway, we’re here today to talk about one of your favourite places in Scotland. Do you want to tell us where it is?

Alistair [6:08 – 6:27]: I was so excited when you said this, because the place is Annan in Dunfisher, in the borders, and not a lot of people still know what it is. It’s become a little bit more famous recently because Ashley Jensen, the new lead on Shetland, that’s where she’s from. Yeah, she’s from Annan, yeah.

Dawn [6:27 – 6:28]: I didn’t know that.

Alistair [6:28 – 8:09]: Yeah. And I’m kind of surprised we never bumped into each other as kids because she’s a year older than me. She, I think, was born in 69 and I was born in 70, but. But we didn’t, however. Yeah, we used to go. The reason I picked Anand is because when we were kids, from a young age to teenage years, that’s where we would go on our holidays. So whether it was Easter, whether it was school holidays, whether it was summer holidays, that’s where we would go, because that’s where my mum’s from, so, her mum and dad. But although my granddad passed away when I was only three, we used to go down there for our holidays and it was, in hindsight, it was a good thing because I was from cambus Lang in Glasgow, a very different place, I think, to be playing on the streets. Dan Annan, which is very much. It was a kind of. Almost like a famous five time. You know, we were young, there was lots of fields. You had the solway, not that far, you know, you would go fishing for tadpoles, it sounds like, from something from the 1950s, but all sorts of things like that. There was a pipeline that used to go down to the solway, which we would walk down. Don’t think we were supposed to, but we did, and we would climb trees and build tree houses and we would play putting and it was just a lovely child go cycling. I don’t think we would have been allowed to cycle around Cambusland all day, but in Annan there was hardly any cars, really, on the street back then in the seventies and eighties, and we just went everywhere on bikes. It was a great time, it looked.

Dawn [8:09 – 8:13]: Sounds amazing. And you went there, you’ve got a brother as well. That’s who you went there with, wasn’t it?

Alistair [8:13 – 9:15]: Yes. Me and my brother’s three years younger than me. And we would go down. You asked for a picture, a picture of me and Andy. Now, Andy would have been really young there, looking at that picture, but, you know, there was a little play park and we would go, and as he reminded me back then, play parks were all covered in concrete. They were dead traps, you know, and we’re swinging up as high as we could. And it was beside Annan High School, which was the local high school. So we soon made friends with local kids, Peter and Helen Gilmore, if they ever hear this. Hello. Who lived in the same crescent as my granny did, and other folk like Pete Jackson and then later on, other kids. And so they were almost like your holiday friends, if you know, your school friends, camber slang. Friends, school friends here. And then you had your holiday pals when you went down there and. Yeah, so it was like another life, slightly from the rest of the year.

Dawn [9:16 – 9:21]: So have you been more recently? I mean, have you ever been back again? When was the last time you were there?

Alistair [9:22 – 10:35]: Funnily enough, I went last year because my mum and I were going down for a wee break down south, and she still got friends there that she went to school with and keeps in touch with them. So she was going to meet two of them for a lunch. So I was driving, so I said, I’ll drop you off, you go and have your lunch and then I’ll have a wander about and, you know, old memories. And it was great. It was really lovely to do. It’s not a big place anand you can walk around it quite easily. And it was great to see some of the old places that I remembered were there. Of course, a lot of them weren’t, but the basic structure of the town and the high street northwest was still there and some of the old buildings and Lady street cinema, which was the cinema we used to go to as kids, you know, the kind of morning shows off various things. Yeah, it was great to go back and have lots of memories, but I do often if I’m going down south or I’m passing nearby, I’ll pop in, because my granny and granddad are both buried there. So I’ll go and, you know, give the stone a clean and put some flowers on and that kind of thing. So that’s kind of the only time that I’m down. But it was nice to go back last year and really explore again.

Dawn [10:36 – 10:40]: And I’ve got some beautiful beaches there as well, haven’t they? Did you ever.

Alistair [10:40 – 11:29]: Absolutely. The one we used to go to was pow foot, which was. I mean, I could cycle to it, you know, quite a lengthy cycle, but, yeah, so that’s not too far from Annan at all by car. And it’s got some great beaches and jellyfish on the beach, you know, just lots of. There was a. There was a. I think they were called the notman’s, and I don’t know how legal this was or even anything, but they used to sell ice cream out of their kind of back kitchen, like proper ice creams they’ve got in their freezer. So jellyfish and ice cream. That’s what I remember a lot about power footage. But there’s a nice hotel there and the hotel still there, and there’s a golf course, and it is quite a kind of destination. But for us it was like jumping in the car, going and playing in the rock pools, and then maybe braving a swim.

Dawn [11:30 – 11:48]: Sounds good. And I mentioned, obviously it was maybe before your time, but I mentioned that there used to be a mile over the viaduct. There used to be a railway over the viaduct. Did you know anything about that? It was quite interesting.

Alistair [11:48 – 11:49]: In Ireland.

Dawn [11:51 – 11:56]: Over the sottles hallway. It used to be from England to Scotland.

Alistair [11:56 – 12:25]: Oh, right. I was thinking more just about Allan, but there was a bridge that went over, because the railway line still has to go over the solway. I think it’s a while since I passed, but when you. My memory here is if you’re driving south from Annan towards Gretna and then Carlisle, particularly near Gretna, you can look out your right and you can see a bridge where the rail, where the railway goes on it going down south, so that’s probably true. Yeah.

Dawn [12:26 – 12:38]: I read that it was. The Scottish used to go over into, use the bridge to go over to England, because the. You could drink there seven days a week and you couldn’t. I like that.

Alistair [12:38 – 13:08]: That’s probably true. I have to say, there is a great history off the borders. I read a book last year and his name escapes me, but it was all about the history off the borders. The writer had walked from one side in the east all the way along, jumping between the two sides, going from Scotland to England, back to the Solway. And yeah, it was a fascinating history a lot. I didn’t know a lot about it, but it really is.

Dawn [13:08 – 13:13]: I haven’t ever been to Annan, but I read somewhere that a lot of the buildings were made of dark red.

Alistair [13:14 – 13:55]: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. And a lot of the municipal buildings which are still standing, a lot of them unfortunately, look pretty empty from when I went around recently. And a lot of the. Yeah, they’ve got that real kind of red sandstone. I don’t know the history behind where that might come from. But. Yeah, that’s true. It’s a really interesting. Oh, there’s a lot of history there as well. Thomas Carlisle is linked. In a moment I’ll talk about a cracking fish and chip shop, which is there, but the tale is that on that space, Robert Burns wrote the deals awa with exciseman because he worked down in Dumfries. He was an exciseman down in the fries shirt.

Dawn [13:55 – 14:00]: And there’s a cairn on the jetty that commemorates them as well, I think.

Alistair [14:00 – 14:01]: Yeah, there will be.

Dawn [14:02 – 14:04]: No, I like that. Robert Burns, eh?

Alistair [14:04 – 14:05]: Yeah.

Dawn [14:09 – 14:11]: Tell us about the fish and chip shop.

Alistair [14:11 – 15:12]: Well, I was thinking about. Because you’d said right away, where did you go to eat? And we didn’t go out a lot. It was usually kind of even back then it was going to take away. I will say, when we were really young kids, there was a corner shop which was. We could walk down to that used to sell at five p mixtures and, you know, really fruit salads and blackjacks and all those kind of things. And I mean, no wonder my teeth are so bad. We were kind of raised on if my granny would give us a five p, we were straight down here for something very sugary and sticky. That was probably the first place I thought of. And then there was the Solway cafe, which when we were young, when I was kind of 1213, about to become a teenager, I don’t think my folks were that happy about me going there. It was almost like the coffee shops off the fifties, you know, I think that’s where the bad kids hang about, all that kind of stuff. It’s absolutely fine. And I never saw any bother. And coming from cambus Lang, it was unlike, you know, it’s a different thing there.

Dawn [15:13 – 15:15]: Well, you would be the ball there. You’re not bringing the ball out there.

Alistair [15:15 – 15:46]: I was a very good child, but then there was. Now I remember this is a pagani’s fish and chip shop. And I looked it up and it said the cafe royal. And I think that’s its real name, is the cafe Royal. But the family who ran it, well, the paganis. And that’s what everyone knew as paganis fish and chips. And it’s a crack it. It was a really good. People travelled for miles around. In fact, I was looking at the tripadvisor, and people still travel from Carlisle to get some fish and chips.

Dawn [15:46 – 15:47]: Really?

Alistair [15:47 – 16:01]: It’s supposed to be freezing by the time they get home. I think you can sit in. I’m pretty sure you can, but, yeah, that’s a really good fish and chip shop. Worth visiting. If you’re in Ireland, that’s definitely the place, I would say, to visit.

Dawn [16:02 – 16:07]: And what about staying, when you went, did you ever stay? Did you stay with family or did.

Alistair [16:07 – 16:42]: You just stayed up? My grandson, my gran, lived on Solway Crescent. Now, living on a crescent’s great, because there’s hardly any cars again going round. So you’ve got this grass mound in the middle and we could just cycle round it and round it and round it. And so that’s where we would stay at my granny’s every time. Yeah. She passed away in 2011, so since then, that’s why we don’t visit like we once did. But right up to the end, you know, I would still go to visit her back then. Yeah.

Dawn [16:42 – 16:47]: How long does it take to travel from where you are now? Is it not going down?

Alistair [16:47 – 17:20]: I would say if you really put your foot down, you could probably do it in an hour, but probably about an hour and a half, I would say. And there’s some lovely ways to get there. You know, you could just east it down the M 74 and do that. But the old road, the b, I’m going to say 778, I might have got that wrong. But the old b road is still open, which is a really lovely road. Once you get down to kind of beatuk, you can take the back roads and go through things like Lockerbie and Eckelfeken and all these wonderful names.

Dawn [17:20 – 17:22]: I love that name. Always love that echo.

Alistair [17:22 – 18:04]: Fecken and Lochmaben and all these places. And these were the places we used to cycle to, because those roads were quiet. So you would get on your bike on a summer’s day and go out to Hodham Castle or go down the coast and go down to the solway. And we used to. We used to play in the fishing nets, which now seems like a strange and probably quite a dangerous thing to do. But they were all kind of like walls and you would kind of like little mazes and. Yeah, I now know that the tide is actually quite dangerous in there, but as kids, danger wasn’t really a kind of just went and did it. That was the kind of famous five side of things. You would just go and you know, luckily you were safe.

Dawn [18:04 – 18:09]: I love that famous five reference I can picture in my head, because I was a fan as well.

Alistair [18:09 – 18:39]: Yeah, it was. It was fun. And my friends actually had a dog, so we had our own Timmy the dog as well, to get it. As I said, it was just such an. It sounds. I don’t know if I’m viewing it now through real rose tinted specks, but it was a really idyllic place to kind of run about in summer and, you know, and just enjoy it. Plus it was also, you know, half an hour drive to Dumfries or Carlisle, so if you wanted to go into the big town, if you like, you could still go and. And do that.

Dawn [18:40 – 19:00]: His kids, though, I think I preferred the country as well. I liked. I wasn’t bothered about the towns or shopping and all that. It was like you sprang over things and splashing about. That was. Yeah, happy times. Don’t get that anymore, really. Was just jumping in puddles with your welly boots was just a great time.

Alistair [19:01 – 19:17]: Yeah. And, you know, going back to the old swim parks and everything, they were absolutely brutal. But you didn’t think that you might come off and split? I think I did once come off and split my head, but, you know, you did. You know, you just got back on and went and did it again.

Dawn [19:17 – 19:26]: Just what you’re used to, isn’t it? It’s normal. And are you into walking, Alistair? Because there’s a big walk, isn’t there, from.

Alistair [19:26 – 20:46]: I am into walking, but I wasn’t really at that time, so I would go walks and some of the ones I would go would be down to the solway along the coast and back up. I had. I was a runner when I was younger. I used to run a lot, so I would, you know, go running to power foot and even further. My grannies, my uncle and his wife, great uncle, I should say. He was an ex gamekeeper. So he lived in this wee place called green hill with really low roofs and there was a couple of ferrets running about the house and stuff like that, you know, real old school. But sometimes you would run out as far as there to go and. But there’s a lovely walk that goes down the river, and the river Annan’s a hugely important part of it. You know, fishing was a big part of the kind of economy there. Although my mum’s dad actually worked in Cochrane’s boilermakers, which was down in Newby. They’re actually from a little village called Newby, which is just down the river. And Cochrane’s was a big employer in the area and did boilers for boats and trains and all sorts of things. But, yeah, the river Anning is a big thing and you can still do a great walk, which is all path now, you’d have to fight through bramble bushes to get there. That’s a really beautiful walk, actually, to go out that way.

Dawn [20:47 – 20:51]: And there’s a route called. Is it the Annandale way as well? Is that the one you’re talking about?

Alistair [20:51 – 20:59]: I’m not sure if that’s the name of it. I wouldn’t know the name of it, but it could be. But there’ll be walks up hills and I’ve tried to remember the names of them.

Dawn [20:59 – 21:02]: Now, there’s a Moffat, Moffett Hills.

Alistair [21:02 – 21:08]: The one starts the Moffat hills. That’s quite a distance away, though, is it?

Dawn [21:08 – 21:12]: Yeah, it’s a 53 miles walking route. If you’re really keen.

Alistair [21:12 – 21:32]: Well, you’d have to be really keen. It must be about that. It must be about that. But you could probably a bit like the West Highland way. You could walk and do it. And also, as I was saying earlier, you can walk the border line. You might have to, you know, sometimes move from one side to the next to make it along. But you can do it. It can be done.

Dawn [21:34 – 21:43]: And you mentioned, is there a stone bridge there as well? It’s quite designed by Robert Stevenson. I love old things. I love these kind of old designy things.

Alistair [21:44 – 22:36]: Beautiful bridge. When you arrive in Annan that goes over a stone bridge. Now. I don’t know, again, I don’t know, my research, we just arrived and that was it. And we’d be cheering. When we arrived. And we passed the sign that said Annan, we thought, whoa, we’re in Annan. But it’s a beautiful old bridge and. Yeah, that’s very much. There’s lots of these kind of striking features in the place. If you like your old buildings and you like a bit of a local history, it’s worth checking out. In fact, have you seen the television programme where the presenter goes from town to town? I think it’s called in my town, something like that. He’s a visually impaired presenter and he goes with his guide dog. I think they’re all on BBC iplayer. And he did one in Annan and that’s if you’re interested in what I’m talking about. He’ll give you real dates and times and people and places on that.

Dawn [22:36 – 22:45]: Oh, that’ll be interesting. Have a look at that. The solway is that of scandinavian origin. Do you know, about that, the name.

Alistair [22:45 – 23:18]: Of it, it could be. There’s lots of cook named places in the area, which is a scandinavian for church. And so I don’t know if it is or not, but it’s. It was a place where, I think, kind of border raids happened, you know, the fights for the rights of the lands on the solway and fishing rights and all sorts of things. I think the Vikings would have been in and around that area at some point, considering how far down the coast they went, and then over to Ireland as well.

Dawn [23:19 – 23:24]: The wicker man was filmed round in a boat down that area, wasn’t it? Were you a boat for that?

Alistair [23:24 – 23:33]: A little bit before my time, but actually, Don, it’s one of my favourite films. I love the Wicker man in a big, big way.

Dawn [23:33 – 23:38]: I didn’t know. I always thought it was up north, further north it was filmed, but I.

Alistair [23:38 – 24:47]: Think it was filmed nearer, kind of Castle Douglas way, so slightly more into Galloway. I think that’s right. I’m not entirely sure I should know because I’ve read books about the making of the Wicker man. I think that’s right. And where they got that lovely sunset. And I think that’s all filmed on the mainland. And I should know where the house is that the Lord Summer Isle stays as well. I can’t remember. But, yeah, you’re right. It’s in that Dumfries and Galloway area. And what I would say is a lot of people overlook not just Annan, but Dumfries and Galloway in general. I think that’s partly because they built the M 74. Right. You know, beside it. So if you were travelling from Glasgow to Carlisle, for instance, you would go through Annan. That was one of the main roads, so it was really busy thoroughfare. And then, of course, that changed, and a lot of these places are forgotten for that reason. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who live in Galloway and love it, and it’s a beautiful part of the world, as is Dumfries, but a lot of people forget about it on their way up to the central belt or even on their way up to the Highlands.

Dawn [24:47 – 25:08]: Mm hmm. I do the same. I come from the northeast and I get over to Carlisle and straight up in the motorway and, you know, it’s such a boring. I am used to driving in the Highlands and I love, you know, actually doing something with your brain and actually driving a car around corners. That’s what straight line is, boring. So I don’t know why, but it’s just. It’s quicker, I think, isn’t it?

Alistair [25:08 – 25:54]: And it’s a good bit quicker, which is why they did it. What I would say is, if you’re ever visiting Ann, and instead of just jumping back on at the motorway, head out towards Lochmaben and Beatock. And those be back roads, because they’re beautiful roads to drive and they’re quiet these days. Unless you get stuck behind a tractor, which can help, you’ll come out kind of near Moffat. So it’s quite a nice drive and it doesn’t take that much longer than it would on the motorway. But if you want to go, say you were going up to Ayrshire, that drive Dumfries, Galloway, Castle Douglas, and then up the corner, up past Killane Castle and into Ayres. That’s beautiful drive.

Dawn [25:55 – 26:14]: I’ve never done that. I’ve actually looked at properties over in Annan and over that way, because it is. I think I saw it one time on escape to the country, and I was like, oh, I’d love to be over there, but I’ve never, never made it. Do you think, is that somewhere you would ever, you think, maybe have a wee retirement tool? Or is it not for you?

Alistair [26:16 – 27:48]: Now, it’s interesting you talk about escape to the country because it’s a programme. I used to work in television. Well, I used to subtitle television. I didn’t work in television. I subtitled the Telly for a few years, and I remember doing an escape to the country, kind of in Perthshire, and I thought, oh, that would be quite nice. And my brother’s up in Braemar, so it’s not that far. So I think I might think of going further north than there. But my brother saw a programme, a property programme, and one. He must have read it online or something, and there was a beautiful old house which overlooked the river, and it was quite inexpensive in terms of, you know, how much. And he kind of went, oh, that would be good to maybe buy as a holiday home or something. But then cents kicked in and, you know, and I went, no, I don’t. I don’t think that’s right. And I kind of wonder if you were to go back there, if that would spoil the memories that we have of it when we were kids, because it’d be such a different thing. I don’t know. But it was nice to go back and visit and I think it made me feel I should visit more often. But my mum’s got connections still there. I don’t really have connections there anymore, although I’ve still got family on mum’s side who are farmers. They’ve been farming in the area, and some of them are still down in that area and teaching and doing all sorts of things. But, yeah, I don’t know is the answer. There’s some lovely spots. There are some absolutely gorgeous spots.

Dawn [27:48 – 27:51]: Yeah. Like you said, it will spoil it.

Alistair [27:51 – 28:44]: It’s nice to consider, I think, definitely something I would. I’d like to mention, if it’s okay. One of the things they do every summer now, border towns have their ridings of the marches. They have their kind of celebrations every summer, and Annan had the riding of the marches every year. And we like people because it’s a country area, there’s lots of horses and that kind of thing. And people would get dressed up in the hunting. I don’t know if they actually hunted. I never suddenly crossed my mind if there was actually hunts going on, but they were dressed up in that way and they were blowing horns and they were on horseback, and everyone went down and cheered and all that kind of stuff. And I have to mention this, or my mum would kill me. There’s always a queen of the border each year, and my mum was once queen of the border with the crown and the staff and all that. Yeah. I think she’d only be about 15 or 16, maybe.

Dawn [28:45 – 28:47]: Is that like a gala or something? Is that. What is it?

Alistair [28:47 – 28:57]: It’s a gala. It’s a kind of gala. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All over the borders. But the Annan one’s called the riding of the marches, and that’s because it’s nearly all done on horseback.

Dawn [28:57 – 29:02]: That’s an amazing thing to watch. I mean, obviously, I don’t agree with the hunting side of it, but I.

Alistair [29:02 – 29:12]: Don’T know if they did, you know, I don’t know. They weren’t dressed in red things and, you know, it was. It seemed more ceremonial. But I could be wrong about that. That could be me being naive, kid.

Dawn [29:13 – 29:37]: You know, you don’t think about that. But no, it’s just been part of that. I, on my other podcast I did, I hadn’t ever heard of this gala when there’s queen queens and such like. And I did an episode that talked about Lockerbie, something that happened in Lockerbie, and that was the first time I heard about it, and it sounded amazing. And my sister and I were saying, why did we never have anything like that? That would have been so cool, so interesting.

Alistair [29:37 – 30:55]: It seems to be a real border town thing because they have it in Jedburgh and gala shields and all of these places. And. Yeah, the more I’m thinking, I think it was more about. You talked about the Wicker man earlier. There was more about kind of celebrating the summer and, you know, almost like a kind of harvest festival aspect to it, but on horseback, if that makes sense. Yeah. And they used to have fancy dress competitions where you would get dressed up, going, and one year, this. This ages me. It was the year after Scotland got put out, the World cup in 1978, or it was maybe that summer, and Ali’s tartan army, Ally McLeod’s tartan army, came back with her tail between her legs and everything. And we got dressed up as Ali’s battered army and we were like, in football strips with bandages and all that around us, and took part in this parade. We were on my uncle Alec’s van and I met talking to my mum before, about. Before we started talking. I said, how did we get Alec’s van? Why would you let us have this van? But, yeah, it was, again, that idea of kind of. You wouldn’t get that in Glasgow, or at least, you know, not that way. So it was a really interesting kind of very different experience.

Dawn [30:56 – 31:01]: I like that. It’s like all communities coming together. You can do that in the weird places, can’t you?

Alistair [31:01 – 31:13]: Yeah, it was stuff like that because the leader of the march might be the local hairdresser, and then there would be the farmers, and then there would be. The schools would take part and, you know, it really did bring the community together, no doubt about it.

Dawn [31:13 – 31:38]: I’m talking about events that take place. Have you ever been to the Annan Harbour festival? Have you ever been down when you’ve. No, no. It’s on every year and it’s on towards the end of your September time. And it just sounds. It doesn’t sound as good as the writing thing about, but it’s just cooking demonstrations, you know, food and drink and crafts and arts and lightning.

Alistair [31:38 – 33:09]: Sounds like that’s much more recent than I would have been, but it sounds like a good thing to visit. And I think. I think, from what I could tell last time, Annan’s really trying hard to have a bit of a regeneration in terms of trying to make it more of a destination for tourism having. They’ve got Annan distillery. That’s where my mum went for lunch that day. They’ve got their own distillery down there that’s new. They’ve got a lot more kind of brown sign spaces, you know, historical. They didn’t really play on their history back then. The other, I talked about fishing industry, but the other big industry in the seventies and eighties and into the nineties was there was the chapel cross power station down there, which was a huge power station, and a lot of people worked there. And then that closed, as you can imagine, and has been flattened. When we were. When we used to go down to Annan in the car, a game that we always played was the first person to see Chapel cross from the motorway. And you can still see the kind of where it was. But they’ve not got these big cooling towers that they had previously. But I think it was really struggling in the eighties and nineties for that reason. Apologies if that’s not correct, but that was the feeling I got when a big industry kind of left, as it did in so many places. I get the feeling it’s really trying to kind of reclaim its own identity with lots of different things going on. So that harbour festival sounds perfect for that. And something I might cheque out at some point.

Dawn [33:10 – 33:19]: And you think it can do that, then? Has it got the, you know, the structure about it, that it can actually make it a little tourist spot destination?

Alistair [33:19 – 34:06]: So it’s close to lots of lovely countryside? It’s close. It’s got a lot of its own identity, historically. Lots of old buildings, statues, that kind of thing. Lovely. It’s got the river with everything that goes on down there. And an athletic football are doing better than they used to when I was a kid. They are now doing all right. So, yeah, I think it could do that. I think it probably is doing that. And what I was really impressed the last time I was there was how busy it was. It really was busy. And it looked to me like a lot of them would be tourists. So I think, yes, I think it can, and I think it is doing that, to be honest.

Dawn [34:07 – 34:07]: Good.

Alistair [34:07 – 34:14]: But that’s. That’s taken from, like, a couple of experiences recently. As I say, I kind of haven’t been for a long time.

Dawn [34:14 – 34:18]: Yeah. So do you get any. Have you got any plans to go again soon or.

Alistair [34:18 – 35:17]: Well, Andy, my brother and I always talk, or often talk about the two of us going and just walking the streets that we used to go. And I think we will do that, no doubt about it. Go up and walk around the crescent, up Hecklegarth, which was the name of the street, another great name, Hecklegarth. And maybe even walk down the pipeline, if we can still do that, and look at the fields where we used to make the tree houses and carver names, and the railway bridge where we used to wave at the drivers, you know, that kind of stuff that you did and. Yeah, I walk down to the solway and probably go to power foot. Yeah. And do all the things that we used to do and just kind of refresh our memories for all those things. I don’t know if the tennis courts and the putting are still open. That used to be a regular thing, but yeah, we do that and we fish tea and paganis would just kind of round the whole thing off.

Dawn [35:17 – 35:29]: God, you know, I’ve not heard of fish teas for a wee while. Fish teas? Yeah. You can’t beat a cup of tea in a fish shop. That sounds like a lot. I think that’s a nice idea. We video it though, so you’ve got it.

Alistair [35:29 – 36:12]: We’ll certainly be taking lots of pictures and selfies with it when we do. If we do, I’m sure we will, actually. And I’m sure Andy would love to take his son down and show him, you know, where we kind of went and played as well. I think the swing parks will be more child friendly than they were in early, but it was just like, you know, kicking, picking a football till it was past dark and you couldn’t see it anymore. And it was. I think it was because my mum grew up there and she felt safe, so she felt safe, us just, you know, getting up in the morning and chewing, see us for the rest of the day and it was fine. And she never worried, you know, at all.

Dawn [36:13 – 36:29]: These are the days, eh? I remember these days as well, showing my age as well. When you said the football, see, when you said about the football and how Ali. I thought you were going to talk about Ali McCoys. That’s my era. I didn’t know that. Oh, I know. Oh, no, I don’t know him.

Alistair [36:30 – 36:58]: No, no, that’s, uh. Admit I watched him play a game of handball. Ali McCoys back in the day, East Kobride boy, I was canvas lang, so we. I used to go up Teesco bride quite a bit. But no, Ali Macleod would have been before your time. He was the manager in 78 and I was only eight years old. There was only a kid myself, but yeah, it was. It kind of traumatised the nation when we went to Argentina thinking we were going to win the World cup. And then we’re just battered.

Dawn [36:59 – 37:03]: It’s gotta be a bit better, though. I remember it always used to be getting battered.

Alistair [37:03 – 37:06]: Yeah. No, recently it certainly has.

Dawn [37:07 – 37:15]: Alistair. It’s been really, really good listening to you talking about your childhood memories. I’ve loved it, really. Thank you.

Alistair [37:15 – 37:30]: It’s been lovely it’s been lovely to think about those days and kind of think about time spent in Annan, where it really was a. An escape for us all, you know, it was. That’s how it felt anyway. A real escape to the country.

Dawn [37:32 – 37:39]: You had to get that in, didn’t you? Can you tell everybody where they can find Scottswehy?

Alistair [37:39 – 38:32]: Well, yes, absolutely. Scottswahe.com is where the website is, and on there you’ll find all the podcasts. And also, I should say, I do a radio show on Cam Glen radio every Sunday night between seven and nine. You can find the links there to that show, too, but there’s lots of reviews and the podcast interviews and a whole lot more. On the website, you’ll find the Scottswahi podcast. If you just put in Scotsway Hay, that’s s c o t s w h a y h a e, wherever you get your podcast from. I know we all say that these days, but it’s true. It’s on everything. And then we’ll go on social media as well. Same spell in the scots way, hey, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or X, as it is now known. But yeah, so that’s where you can find everything. Scots with heish.

Dawn [38:36 – 40:33]: So Annan, according to Undiscovered Scotland, is probably derived from the gallic goddess of prosperity, Annu. And according to visit Scotland, Annan is a town on the north shore of the Solway Firth, lying on the east side of the River Annan and being about 8 miles or 13 kilometres from the english border, the Solway Firth estuary, which forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway, and is the third largest estuary in the UK. Being a special area of conservation comprises coastal dunes, salt marshes, raised mires and agricultural land. If you’re a bird lover, there are also two nature reserves along the coastline where, according to Visit Scotland, you can see thousands of barnacle and pink footed geese from autumn until spring. And I did, you know, is that the american heavy metal band Slipknot released a song called Solway Firth in July 2019, which was named after the Firth. I also mentioned the Annan Harbour Festival, which takes place in September each year and is a fun and free family event with a range of activities including cooking demonstrations, food and drink, crafts, children’s entertainment, live music and boats, fishing and heritage displays. You can visit annanharbour.org dot uk for more information. And that’s almost the end of the episode. If you have enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more Alister’s Billy Connolly esque voice. Then, like Alister said, you can find Scotsway. Hey, podcast. Wherever you get your podcasts, a link to this, as well as to everything mentioned in this episode will be in the show notes as well as on our website, cluranton.com scottishdigest that’s Cluaranton.com scottishdigest. We hope you join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.


Stefanie's Scottish Favourites: From Cromarty's Pirate Graveyard to Millport's Crocodile Rock

Stefanie’s Scottish Favourites: From Cromarty’s Pirate Graveyard to Millport’s Crocodile Rock

Welcome to the second episode of Season two. In this episode, Dawn chats with Stefanie, host of the podcast Scottish & Scared, about her favourite places in Scotland: Cromarty and Millport. Stefanie shares her experiences exploring the picturesque village of Cromarty, known for its historic charm and the eerie Pirate’s Graveyard, which is adorned with Memento mori symbols. She also reminisces about childhood trips to Millport, an island famed for its scenic bike rides, unique rock formations like Crocodile Rock, and its family-friendly atmosphere. Stefanie’s vivid descriptions offer listeners a delightful glimpse into these lesser-known Scottish gems. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for travel inspiration, this episode has something for everyone. Tune in to discover the beauty and mystery of Cromarty and Millport.

 

FEATURED:

Stefanie from the Scottish & Scared Podcast

 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts, and watch on YouTube

 

00:00:00: Introduction to Episode Two of Scottish Digest
00:01:17: Welcoming Stephanie to the Podcast
00:02:25: Discussion on Favourite Places in Scotland
00:02:39: Stephanie’s First Favourite Place: Cromarty
00:03:34: Description of Cromarty and the Drive from Glasgow
00:04:23: Exploring Cromarty Village
00:06:31: Searching for the Pirate’s Graveyard
00:08:16: Discovering the Pirate’s Graveyard
00:10:04: Explanation of the Pirate’s Graveyard Name
00:11:27: Cromarty’s Waterfront and Additional Attractions
00:12:13: Visiting the Fishertown Inn
00:13:12: Proximity to Inverness and Scenic Drive
00:14:38: Stephanie’s Second Favourite Place: Millport
00:15:25: Location and Travel to Millport
00:16:20: The Crocodile Rock
00:17:02: Childhood Memories and Activities in Millport
00:18:16: Family Visits and Cycling Around Millport
00:19:26: Wildlife and Puffin Incident
00:19:56: Other Attractions in Millport
00:20:33: Future Plans to Revisit Millport
00:21:42: Contrast Between Glasgow and the Countryside
00:23:08: Millport Raft Race
00:24:01: Conclusion and Where to Find Scottish and Scared
00:25:06: Additional Information on Cromarty
00:26:07: Additional Information on Millport
00:28:09: Millport Events and Conclusion

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted by Dawn

Written and Produced by Dawn Young

Edited by Erin Erin Ferguson (@erinfergus0n) • Instagram photos and videos

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon & ES_A Sound Foundation – Airae

 

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Dawn [0:00 – 0:49]: Welcome to episode two of Scottish Digest. In this episode, we will be speaking to Stefanie from the podcast Scottish and scared, who will be talking to us about our favourite places in Scotland being Cromarty and Millport. Stefanie is the host of the podcast Scottish and scared, where she discusses everything from haunted castles to ghost stories and mythological creatures from across Scotland. So if you’re interested in scottish history, horror, or just love a good ghost story, this is the podcast for you.

 

Stefanie [0:49 – 1:17]: So today, my lovelies, we are back in the wonderful city of Edinburgh. We are going to be talking about the Edinburgh vaults. You may have heard of them before, they’ve been investigated by ghost adventures most haunted, and we all know how I feel about those shows, but yes, they are renowned for being extremely haunted and are open to the public for tours. I myself have been on a tour of the vaults and had what I would consider a very strange experience. So I’ll tell you all about that later on in the show.

 

Dawn [1:17 – 1:21]: Hiya, Stefanie. It’s really great to have you on the podcast. How are you doing?

 

Stefanie [1:22 – 1:24]: I’m absolutely great. How are you?

 

Dawn [1:24 – 1:34]: I’m really good. Pleased to be speaking to you again. It’s been. It’s been a year since I’ve last seen you, mind, it was at the ghost hunt was the last time I’ve seen you. That was about this time last year, wasn’t it?

 

Stefanie [1:34 – 1:42]: Yeah. I can’t believe that’s been a year. Doesn’t feel like a year, this entire year. I just think it. I’m like, it’s November. What? It was November.

 

Dawn [1:43 – 1:52]: I know, aye. So, steph, before we talk about your favourite places in Scotland, can you just tell us a bit about you and Scottish and scared?

 

Stefanie [1:52 – 2:18]: Yep. So I’m Stefanie, I’m the host of the scottish and Scared podcast, and it is just a podcast talking about scottish history, scottish folklore, scottish myths, legends, ghost stories, haunted castles, all the creepy stuff that people want to know about Scotland. So, yeah, it’s about. It’s about all that kind of stuff. So if you like ghost stories or you just like history, it’s probably a good podcast for you listening.

 

Dawn [2:18 – 2:22]: And you’ve got a great accent as well, so that’s nice to listen as well.

 

Stefanie [2:24 – 2:25]: I’ve got a niche.

 

Dawn [2:25 – 2:38]: You do, you do. Brilliant. So you’ve got a couple of places you want to talk about today, isn’t there? So can you tell us what’s your first favourite place that you like to visit and why?

 

Stefanie [2:39 – 3:34]: So, my first favourite place is the wee village of Cromartie, and it is about a four hour drive from Glasgow, so that’s where I live. So it’s about a four hour drive north of Glasgow. The drive alone is beautiful. You go through Glencoe and stuff, you get to see the mountains, the wildlife. It’s honestly really, really stunning. We decided to go there last year in the summer when Scotland had that really nice summer, and we just decided to go see some places in Scotland that we’ve been talking about. I think it’s a bit different, actually getting the vibe of the place, rather than just looking at pictures and stuff. So one of the places that my cousin had researched was a place called the pirates graveyard. So we weren’t actually sure where it was. We just knew it was called the pirates graveyard, looked at a wee bit more, seen that it was in Cromarty, and then just decided to go. So, like I say, it’s a bit.

 

Dawn [3:34 – 3:39]: You’d never been to Cromarty before, had you? Because I’d not even heard of it. Until you said I was exactly the.

 

Stefanie [3:39 – 3:48]: Same, I’d never really heard of it. I’d never even really heard of the Black Isle either, because it’s located on the eastern point of the black Isle. I’d never even heard of that.

 

Dawn [3:48 – 3:51]: Neither did I, I’m ashamed to say. I was like, ah, that’s all right.

 

Stefanie [3:53 – 4:23]: I know it was shameful, but, yeah, it’s about a four hour drive north of Glasgow, like I say. And it’s. It’s one of the villages where it’s like one road in, one road out, and it’s. It’s very off the beaten path, it’s big wind and country road, so again, it’s a beautiful drive, but it’s a really small, like, 18th century kind of village and it’s only got a population about 700, so that’s not a lot, considering me coming to the big city of Glasgow is like, what I know.

 

Dawn [4:23 – 4:26]: Everybody will know everybody’s business, definitely.

 

Stefanie [4:26 – 4:30]: Well, definitely. We got there and people were staying quite a bit, so.

 

Dawn [4:30 – 4:35]: And friendly, because obviously Scots are always scottish, people are always friendly, so.

 

Stefanie [4:35 – 4:50]: Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, a lot of people were just driving by the cars, just staring at me, but, I mean, I do look a bit like, what is that? Walking over there in the best way possible. In the best way possible.

 

Dawn [4:51 – 4:57]: Hey, Stefanie, what do you mean? You got your tattoos, haven’t you? Is that what you’re meaning?

 

Stefanie [4:57 – 5:04]: Yeah, because it was. It was a height this summer, so obviously you have everything that people don’t usually see, so everybody was about like, oh, where’s that?

 

Dawn [5:05 – 5:15]: And you like to wear, you know, you like to be like Halloween, don’t you? Because we’re supposed to. You were going to do a Halloween party and I said, oh, I don’t know what I’ll dress up as. And you said, I always look like Halloween.

 

Stefanie [5:15 – 5:25]: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I mean, I think of people that know me would class me as goth, but, I mean, I’m just. Halloween is my aesthetic. Really. Halloween in horror movies?

 

Dawn [5:27 – 5:34]: Oh, I like that. But I. So tell us, what was it like? So it was just this one street going in and out.

 

Stefanie [5:34 – 6:26]: So it was one road going in. And then when you. You’ll know when you get to the village, because it’s. You’ll see there’s an oil rig just, like, off the coast, like this huge, big oil rig. And I spoke to my dad about it because my dad knows a lot about that kind of stuff. And he said that that’s kind of where they go when they get, like, decommissioned and stuff. So you’ll see them, like, just in the water. So you’ll see them first, and then you obviously see the village, but there’s, like, a small wee car park just as you pull in. So if you just pull into the car park, that’s what we did. And then we just go and kind of explored a wee bit. But it’s just. It’s a really beautiful weed wee village. It’s. There’s a lot of mix of, like, different buildings. There’s townhouses, like, really grand looking townhouses. And then you’ve got, like, small cottages, you’ve got thatched roof cottages, and then you’ve got, like, wee fishermen cottages that are all, like, painted different colours. So it’s just really beautiful place to just wander about and have a wee look.

 

Dawn [6:26 – 6:30]: All right, mix. So where did you go? What did you see when you were there, then?

 

Stefanie [6:31 – 8:15]: So we were looking for the. The pirate’s graveyard, but we didn’t actually. We can actually see it on a map because it’s not called the pirate’s graveyard. It’s actually called St. Regulus’s graveyard. So we didn’t know that. So we were walking about this town. We didn’t want to ask anybody because we didn’t want to look weird. Why are they looking for graveyard? So we just kind of explored to be back. There was loads of shops and stuff, and there was a courthouse in the middle of the village that we thought was a church because it kind of looks quite church like. So we just thought, oh, well, there must be a. There must be a graveyard here somewhere. So we went into this, like, back path behind this big grand courthouse and we walked up this big massive hill and it was roasting. But we did get to the top. The graveyard wasn’t there, but there was another graveyard at the top. And I don’t know if there’s war memorials and stuff there, but it’s just loads and loads and loads of graves. There’s like a. It looks like it used to be an old chapel or something and it’s like ruined now, but it’s really beautiful. I took some pictures and stuff and then we had to walk all the way back to the village to find out where this graveyard was. But if you walk to the end, if you’re in the middle of the village and you walk to the end of Church street, you’ll find there’s a wee church called East Church. And it’s got a cemetery as well. And it’s a really beautiful cemetery. There’s also, like, it’s just very that vibrant. Loads of overgrown trees, grass, and the graves are all mossy and stuff like that. So that’s a really beautiful wee cemetery. If you’re into that kind of thing, you can go in there. And I think you actually go into the church as well. I think it was like one of the first presbyterian churches that was ever built in Scotland or something like that.

 

Dawn [8:16 – 8:21]: Is that the church that you sent? Because you sent me a lot of photos. Is that one of the wee steeple at the front of it?

 

Stefanie [8:22 – 9:26]: No, that’s the. That’s the courthouse we thought was a church. But this church is a wee bit. Is a bit further down. But again, I think you can go inside and you can do tours and stuff and they’ll tell you about different history and stuff. But because we were there for one thing, we didn’t really look at a lot of stuff. We just were there to do that one thing. But eventually we asked. We were into a wee pub that was in the middle of the village and asked the bar maid and she was like, oh, no, it’s here. So if you’re looking for it and you’re in the middle of the village, you want to just walk straight to the bowling green. There’s like a bowling green in the far side the village, and once you see the bowling green, there’s like this really big hill and really steep hill. There’s not a lot of signage, but if you just follow the hill, you’ll come to this, like, really eerie looking tunnel. And it’s like. It’s got a locked gate on it and stuff like that. It’s really dark. It looks really scary. And that’s the servants tunnel. And that actually leads to Cromarty House, but it’s obviously not in use anymore, so it’s all kind of, like, gated up, but it’s very creepy. It’s supposed to be haunted as well, so we took a lot of pictures of that as well.

 

Dawn [9:26 – 9:30]: You can’t get close to it. There’s a. You know, I love these old, scary places.

 

Stefanie [9:30 – 9:30]: Yeah.

 

Dawn [9:30 – 9:32]: Can’t get close to it at all.

 

Stefanie [9:33 – 10:03]: I’m not sure if you can go to Cromwell House, if you can go there. We never really looked at it that much, but I know that that tunnel is there. So if you’re looking for the graveyard, once you see the tunnel on your right, there’s like, a small, like, stony staircase to your left. It’s really hard to miss because it’s just in between all the bushes and stuff. But if you follow that staircase, it will take you into the pirates graveyard. So that’s. We eventually got there sweating, warm, moaning so is it.

 

Dawn [10:04 – 10:12]: Is it. Okay, I’m going to ask a stupid question. Is it called the pirates graveyard because it’s. Pirates are buried there. Well, what’s the story?

 

Stefanie [10:12 – 10:46]: Funnily enough, there are no pirates buried there. But the reason that it’s called the pirates graveyard is because I would say, like, 80% of the graves in there, they have memento mori carved onto them. If you don’t know what memento Mori is, just this kind of, like, artistic trope that you usually see on, like, really mediaeval graves. You can sometimes see it on masonry, you sometimes see it in art and stuff like that, but it almost always has skull and crossbones. You have seen the skull and crossbones, probably, and stuff.

 

Dawn [10:46 – 10:50]: Oh, I can see on one of them, I’m looking at eye. I can see the skull and cross bones.

 

Stefanie [10:50 – 11:26]: Yeah. So you usually. Momentum worry will always have a skull and crossbones, and that just kind of symbolises the inevitability of death and. But can sometimes the other. They include other symbols as well, like hourglasses and bells and stuff. That just depends what kind of person designed it and stuff. But obviously, momentum warrior is latin for remember, you will die. So that’s why this graveyard is called the pirates graveyard, just because they are the skull and crossbones. But it’s quite fitting, though, because when you’re in that graveyard, you can. It’s like. It’s on, like, a steep hill and it looks at onto the ocean. So it’s like very like pirates of tea.

 

Dawn [11:27 – 11:41]: So is this the picture? Because I know you’ve got a couple of places. So is the street. I’m looking. Is it right by the water? I’m looking at the pictures you sent me. Is it got a beach by?

 

Stefanie [11:41 – 11:42]: Yeah, crawl by. It’s got a beach.

 

Dawn [11:42 – 11:43]: It’s h. Right.

 

Stefanie [11:43 – 11:51]: The entire village is basically on the waterfront, so you can walk along the entire village. Majority on the water.

 

Dawn [11:51 – 11:54]: Hey, it looks really nice. It looks beautiful. Jay Yard.

 

Stefanie [11:55 – 12:12]: It is a really stunning place. I really like to go back. Like I say, they do loads of stuff that we never even knew that they did. They do like wildlife tours. You can see dolphins and stuff. They have a cinema. They have loads and loads and loads of stuff today. It’s definitely worth a wee drive in the summer.

 

Dawn [12:13 – 12:18]: Not scorching hot and not wearing a big black jacket in the summer.

 

Stefanie [12:18 – 12:42]: No, but we went to. Once we had our adventure and stuff, we went into the Fishertown Inn as well, which was just like a wee local pub that just had, like, really simple comfort pub food. And it was really, really nice. It was like cosy. The bartender came over, the owner came over on Saturdays and spoke to us and stuff. So it’s a really nice, welcoming place. So, yeah, I highly recommend.

 

Dawn [12:42 – 12:52]: And it’s not sort of a tourist destination, is it? I mean, like I said, I hadn’t heard of it before. You hadn’t? It’s not. Did you see. Was it busy when you. When you got there? Were you seeing a lot of tourists?

 

Stefanie [12:52 – 13:12]: There was a lot of cars in the car park, but it was. It wasn’t even busy. Like, you could walk and go see somebody for a couple of minutes. It wasn’t like pandemonium or anything. It’s like air or something like that during the summer. So as I think that’s due to the fact that it’s like a four door driveway. Classical so. But it is really, really stunning. Really, really beautiful.

 

Dawn [13:12 – 13:21]: And it’s not far from Inverness. It’s about 40 minutes drive from Inverness, I think. So it’s not. It’s not that awfully beaten track. Or is it. When is it. Is it wee roads you’re on or.

 

Stefanie [13:22 – 13:40]: Yeah, it’s like big open fields are just like grass and trees and stuff, like, on the way in. It’s just like a country road, but it’s very open. There’s lots of, like, fields and there’s like a wee place you can stop just before you get to cromry and it’s like a wee. You know those vending machines you see sometimes that sell, like, vegetables and eggs and milk? One of them.

 

Dawn [13:40 – 13:51]: Weird that when I found out about that, I’m like, what, in a vending machine? And did you stay over or did you just stay for the day, a few hours?

 

Stefanie [13:51 – 14:38]: No, we just. We just went for the day. We just went to take a few pictures and look at. We about. Speak to some of the people that were there. The people are really, like, if you have any questions or anything, like we asked about in the pirate’s graveyard, there’s like. There’s like a slope in the middle that you can walk down and there’s a crypt at the bottom of it and you can go inside it and there’s like four graves inside it, like, really small ones. And it was a bit odd. And we were. We asked, obviously, what it was and apparently there used to be like a. Like a chapel in front on top of it that’s obviously no longer there. So, like, just. You can ask people, they’re no, like, oh, God, tourists. They’re quite happy to just sit and have a week at me and talk about stuff and so I really enjoyed it.

 

Dawn [14:38 – 14:46]: It sounds lovely. Sounds. I like that. And going by the pictures, it looks beautiful. And didn’t even know it existed.

 

Stefanie [14:47 – 14:48]: Neither did we.

 

Dawn [14:49 – 14:53]: All right, then. So tell us about your second place.

 

Stefanie [14:53 – 15:24]: So my second favourite place is the famous Malcolm. It’s my favourite because as a kid, I think a lot of people my age that are from here, we have a great aunt and a great uncle who don’t have kids, so they just treated us like their kids. And they used to take us to Malport, like, every second weekend or something like that, especially during the summer. So we spent a lot of our summers on Malport, like, doing the bike rides and crocodile rock and all that kind of stuff.

 

Dawn [15:25 – 15:31]: First of all, tell us where. About how far away from Glasgow is that, then? How long did it take you to get there? Because it’s over the ferry, isn’t it?

 

Stefanie [15:32 – 15:58]: Yeah. I’m not really sure, to be honest. I’ve not been in a very long time. I know that. It’s obviously, you get the ferry from Largs, so I don’t know how long it is for Glasgow to larks. I’m terrible with distances, by the way. Miles have lost on me the idea. But you get to largs and you get the ferry for largs, but I’m not really sure how long that entire distance is.

 

Dawn [15:59 – 16:18]: I didn’t. It’s another place I didn’t know about at all. I didn’t. I didn’t know it was an island. I didn’t know it was near Arran, because I covered a case of my other podcast on Arran, and I didn’t. No idea. So it was just like, oh, I like this place. So tell us. You mentioned it. The crocodile rock. Tell us about the crocodile rock.

 

Stefanie [16:20 – 17:02]: I’m not going to be as fully information as I was about Cromwell, just because it is a childhood place. So I don’t really know much about it. But, yeah, on the beach in Malport, there’s this kind of rock that kind of protrudes from the water, and it’s. Somebody painted it, I don’t know how long ago, but it was there when I was a kid, and that was like 20 years ago. But there’s. They painted it to look like a crocodile, so it gets called crocodile rock, but when they see the tides up, it’s like, fully out of the water. You can climb on it, you can set up. We’ve got loads of. I’ll need to send you some. We’ve got loads of pictures sitting on the rock, but when the tides in, it looks like it’s in the water, so it’s actually quite terrifying.

 

Dawn [17:02 – 17:17]: Bloody. It looks really good. I like it. I was like, what the hell is this? So you said that you went there when you were like a kid? A lot of the time. So what. What did you get up to as kids? It’s kind of a family place. Is it?

 

Stefanie [17:17 – 18:16]: Yeah, it’s, um. We used to. They do this. I don’t know if they still do it, but they do this thing where you can ride it on the island on a bike. So you hire a bike and you just. It’s like a perfect circle. You just go around a circle and there’s loads of things to see. So we used to do that. And there’s the crocodile rock, and then there’s other rocks as well. Around the island. There’s a rock, I’m sure it’s called indian rock, and it’s. I think it was. The same person has painted, like, um, like a native american painting on the front of it, so it looks like a face. And so there’s, like, things like that, I’d say, but that’s huge. That’s, like, on the side of a cliff, and you can see that there’s lion rock, which is just like a big rock that comes up for the hillside. It looks like a line. So we used to do that. We used to just cycle down the island and, like, see the cows and, like, stop at the beach, collect seashells or that kind of gutsy family stuff. And then we would just go for, like, a wee lunch and a wee pub somewhere and then just sit on the beach for a while and go home.

 

Dawn [18:16 – 18:19]: Oh, so you didn’t stay there either? You were just there for.

 

Stefanie [18:19 – 18:34]: I’ve actually never stayed. My dad’s. They used to take my dad and my uncle when they were young as well. It was like a family thing. And they stayed quite a lot in, like, b and b’s and stuff. But we’ve never stayed. We’ve just. Because we had the car and stuff when we were young, we used to just hop back on the ferry and come home.

 

Dawn [18:35 – 18:51]: I like the sound of it being like, a perfect circle because I think it’s apparently called, like, the island of a thousand bicycles, because it’s just. I don’t know whether they’ve got a thousand of them they can rent. I’m not sure why, but it’s just like this. Beautiful. It must have been beautiful. I loved rides when I was young, honestly.

 

Stefanie [18:51 – 19:26]: It’s a really beautiful. The island is beautiful in general, but that ride, that site, I don’t think I could date at this age, if I’m being honest. I think I really like. Right, get the car. But it honestly is. It’s beautiful. And the only thing that I would say is there we had an incident on one of the bike journeys. My dad was standing too close to a tree and, like, puffins attacked them. And I don’t know if, like, there’s puffing mating season or something like that, or puffins have their eggs or something. My dad got attacked with puffins. So there’s puffins on the island as well.

 

Dawn [19:26 – 19:32]: Oh, I’ve never seen a puffin close up, so we didn’t want to see them that close.

 

Stefanie [19:32 – 19:33]: Very aggressive.

 

Dawn [19:33 – 19:36]: They’re only teensy little things as well, aren’t there?

 

Stefanie [19:36 – 19:55]: I think it’s maybe been nesting season or something like that, and my dad’s just got too close. But, yeah, there’s loads of wildlife. There’s rabbits, deer, and there’s a lot of farmland as well, in the root, so you can stop, like, pet cows and stuff like that. And there’s horses. So it’s a really beautiful journey, adventure.

 

Dawn [19:56 – 20:11]: And did you do anything else? Do you remember anything else? Do you remember visiting a wee cathedral or anything there? They’ve got. Apparently they’ve got the world’s or the island’s smallest cathedral, the smallest cathedral in the UK is on the island. Do you remember that?

 

Stefanie [20:11 – 20:33]: I’ve honestly, like, we never really did, like, touristy things. We just went there because it was like our whole families went there, like, since they were small and that was the majority. What we do is just sit on the beach, collect shells, crabs and the bikes and stuff. But I do want to go back as an adult, so I’ll definitely be writing some stuff done and checking it out when I’m there.

 

Dawn [20:33 – 20:38]: Oh, that’ll be good. It’ll be good to have you back on and find out the difference of when you were a kid and what it’s like now.

 

Stefanie [20:39 – 20:41]: Well, definitely no bike rides, I’ll tell you that.

 

Dawn [20:42 – 20:46]: Is it not flat or is it bottom? Hilly? Is it, like, hill?

 

Stefanie [20:46 – 20:52]: Some of it’s flat and it’s not like big, steep hills, obviously, but it’s an incline.

 

Dawn [20:54 – 21:00]: No, I’m not a fan of inclines. Can you get these electric ones now?

 

Stefanie [21:01 – 21:20]: Probably. It’s funny because me, my sister and my cousin used to. We were like, we threesome memorial. And my uncle, who used to take the car, he would drive her in the island, went beside us in the car, on the bikes, just to make sure we were all right. And every time my cousin and my sister would just get up and put the bikes in the boat and they would just get in the car and I would just begin.

 

Dawn [21:21 – 21:22]: Are you joking?

 

Stefanie [21:24 – 21:25]: I was like, I’m looking up.

 

Dawn [21:28 – 21:35]: I used sound like my sister. She’s like that. I remember her doing something similar, just, they would follow her with a car and she just would keep on going.

 

Stefanie [21:35 – 21:42]: Yep, I just loved it. I just love being outdoors and fresh air and the wildlife and the greenery. I just. I love all that.

 

Dawn [21:42 – 21:52]: And it’s different, I suppose, from where you are in Glasgow. Like you say, it’s like a city and then you’re out in the country just a lot. Like, it’s not far away, it’s not like 4 hours up the road. It’s like over the water, isn’t it?

 

Stefanie [21:52 – 22:09]: Yep. Glasgow, it’s just buildings. You don’t really see the sky. I know that sounds crazy, but, like, I can’t look at my window right now and see the sky. Like, there’s just buildings. But when you’re outside and you can actually look up and see the sky and the stars and stuff, it’s like so alien to people that live in the city.

 

Dawn [22:09 – 22:15]: Aye, the stars, because you don’t see that when you’re in the built up areas. But there’s so many of them.

 

Stefanie [22:16 – 22:21]: I went to. I went to Yorkshire a couple of years ago.

 

Dawn [22:21 – 22:22]: What was that for?

 

Stefanie [22:23 – 22:42]: I ended up with sepsis. So, from the water, no shade, Yorkshire. But, yeah, I was stupid. I didn’t realise that you couldn’t drink water in England. Well, some parts of England. I didn’t know that. Just being in Scotland my whole life and no ever travelling to England, I.

 

Dawn [22:42 – 22:42]: Didn’T know that either.

 

Stefanie [22:43 – 22:48]: I got really, really, really ill and I ended up having to be hospitalised when I came home and I had sepsis, so.

 

Dawn [22:48 – 22:51]: All right, then. So you’re definitely a scottish girl.

 

Stefanie [22:51 – 23:04]: He’s staying in Scotland, no shade, Yorkshire. But. Come on. But, yeah, when I went to Yorkshire, the stars, I was see just the stars, being able to see the sky like that, it was so alien, which is just bizarre.

 

Dawn [23:04 – 23:07]: I know. It’s a big world out there, isn’t it?

 

Stefanie [23:07 – 23:08]: Yep.

 

Dawn [23:08 – 23:15]: I know. You’re only there for the day. Did you ever be part of the raft race? The partners do raffle races there every year. Have you ever done that?

 

Stefanie [23:15 – 23:17]: Is that where you build the rafts?

 

Dawn [23:17 – 23:26]: I think so. It’s really competitive. There’s only seven people last year, I think. But they were really coming down to the wire. They were, like, going for it.

 

Stefanie [23:26 – 23:32]: I’ve seen that on the news and stuff, but I’ve never actually done it. I think my dad and my uncle mate, I did something like that when they were young.

 

Dawn [23:32 – 23:33]: I’m sure.

 

Stefanie [23:33 – 23:36]: I’ve seen pictures of them on the beach building stuff.

 

Dawn [23:36 – 23:38]: I think it’s from lurgs to Millport.

 

Stefanie [23:40 – 23:42]: See, I’ve just got so much to learn.

 

Dawn [23:42 – 23:45]: No, get yourself over there as an adult.

 

Stefanie [23:47 – 23:48]: I’ll report back.

 

Dawn [23:49 – 24:01]: So, anyway, Stefanie, it’s been really, really great speaking with you and hearing about Cromarty and Millport. So can you tell everybody, if they want to hear your lovely voice more, where they can find scottish and scared?

 

Stefanie [24:02 – 24:31]: So if you just go to our website, scottishandscared.com, you’ll find all our links on there. We. Our instagram’s on there. Everywhere that you can listen is on there. All the links. But, yeah, just your usual apple, Spotify, Google play, all that kind of stuff. That’s where you’ll get is. You can follow us on Instagram. That’s where we just put up a lot of stories and stuff there. Just things that we’re up to, events are coming up, all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, that’s where you can find us.

 

Dawn [24:35 – 28:49]: So, that was my week chat with Stefanie about Cromarty and Millport. Two of our favourite places in Scotland. While I think Stefanie did a fantastic job painting a picture of Cromarty and Millport, here’s some further information for you. Firstly, about Cromarty, which according to Wikipedia, is a town situated at the tip of the Black Isle on the southern shore of the mouth of the Cromarty and is about a 40 minutes drive north of Inverness. And according to cromartyartstrust.org dot Uk, Cromarty is the Highland’s best preserved historic town, having 209 listed buildings, including a lighthouse which was built by the uncle of Robert Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the novel Treasure island. There’s also a thatched cottage and museum, which was the birthplace of Hugh Miller, who was a 19th century geologist. There’s also an 18th century courthouse museum you can visit, which according to cromertocourthouse.org dot Uk, you can come face to face with a tough Highland justice of the time, visit a prisoner and take part in a trial. It also has many exhibitions and collections to see if you’re a cheese lover. You’ll also find in Cromarty an award winning cheese shop where, according to scotlandbucketlist.com, you will find a great selection of authentic dutch cheese. Now, if you’re tempted to visit Cromarty after hearing about Stefanie’s visit there, then you might be interested to know that every march the Cromarty Film festival takes place, where you can expect to see a variety of different films from well known short independent films and those by scottish filmmakers. Next up is Milport. I personally really enjoyed hearing about the lion Rock, the indian rock and the Crocodile rock, which have been around for about 100 years, and cycling around the islands of Cumbri sounded idyllic. According to milport.org comma, the island of Cumbri is referred to as the island of a thousand bicycles simply because Cumbri is a paradise for cyclists. The island of Cumbri is located off the west coast of Scotland, about 36 miles, or 58 kilometres west of Glasgow, so quite near if you fancy a day trip to Millport, and during the summer months, the P’s Waverley, which is the last seagoing passenger carrying paddle steamer in the world, calls Millport twice a week on trips from Ayr in Glasgow, as well as visiting the iconic rocks while you’re visiting Millport, there’s also, as I mentioned, the smallest cathedral in the UK to visit, as well as the Garrison house, which is not far from the cathedral, which was built in 1745, and it also houses an impressive model railway. Theres also a home called the Wedge to visit, which according to Jacksaltstays dot co dot UK comma, was in the Guinness Book of Records for being one of the narrowest houses in the world at 47 inches or 119 centimetres. Although it has now lost the title of being the narrowest in the world, it still holds the title for being the narrowest house in Britain. Sadly, you arent able to go inside this house elsewhere on the island of Cumbria, Jacksaltstays dot co dot UK recommends visiting the Gladestone, which is located at the very top of the island and will give you 360 degree panoramic views of the island. And what about events? Well, I mentioned the Millport raft race in my chat with Stefanie, and after a two year break it began again in September 2023 where, according to Largs and millportnews.com comma, hundreds watched seven raft teams compete from Kames Bay to the pier head. If youre more interested in dry land events, then theres the Millport vintage scooter rally that also takes place over a weekend every September, with the weekend being packed with scooters and bands. Well, I hope you enjoyed hearing about Cromarty and Millport from Stefanie. If youd like to hear more about scottish haunted castles, ghost stories and mythological creatures, then as Stefanie said, you can find scottish and scared wherever you get your podcasts. You can find all links to everything mentioned in this episode by visiting clurinton.com scottishdigest. We hope you join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.


Hidden Gems of Fife: Marti's Top Picks in East Neuk

Hidden Gems of Fife: Marti’s Top Picks in East Neuk

Welcome to the first episode of Season two, and what a great first episode it is!

In the first episode of season two, Dawn is joined by the fantastic and funny Marti from the podcast Mums, Mysteries and Murder. Originally from Australia, Marti shares her love of Scotland, and specifically the picturesque areas of Elie and Earlsferry in the East Neuk of Fife. Marti discusses the charming fishing villages, scenic beaches, and unique local attractions like the lobster shack in Crail and the mysterious Dunino Den. The conversation also touches on Marti’s podcast, which covers true crime stories from Scotland and Australia. This episode is a delightful blend of travel recommendations, personal anecdotes, and intriguing mysteries, perfect for anyone looking to explore the beauty and quirks of Scotland.

 

FEATURED:

Marti from Mums Mysteries and Murder Podcast

 

SHOW NOTES:

Hidden Gems of Fife: Marti’s Top Picks in East Neuk – Cluarantonn

 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts, and watch on YouTube.

 

TIMESTAMPS:
00:00:00: Introduction to Season Two
00:01:14: Introduction to Mums Mysteries and Murder Podcast
00:02:03: Welcome and Introduction of MartI
00:02:16: MartI’s Move to Scotland
00:04:07: The Cow Parade in Glasgow and Edinburgh
00:05:17: MartI’s Hometown in Australia
00:05:31: Origin of Mums Mysteries and Murder Podcast
00:08:22: Marti’s Favourite Place in Scotland: East Neuk of Fife
00:09:50: Description of Earlsferry Beach
00:10:34: Crail and its Attractions
00:14:27: Marti’s Photos and Experiences in Boar Hills
00:18:36: The Chain Walk and Elie Lighthouse
00:21:02: Dunino Den and its Mysteries
00:25:22:St. Fillan’s Cave in Pittenweem
00:27:47: Other Villages in East Neuk
00:28:59: Ardross Farm Shop
00:29:06: East Neuk Festival
00:30:43: Bowhouse Market
00:31:05: Future Visits to East Neuk
00:33:02: Marti’s Social Media and Podcast Information
00:35:36: Additional Information about Elie and Earlsferry
00:36:37: East Neuk Outdoors Activities
00:37:07: East Neuk Festival Details
00:38:08: Upcoming Episode on Mums Mysteries and Murder Podcast

East Neuk – Wikipedia

Edinburgh to Elie and Earlsferry – Google Maps

East Neuk Festival – East Neuk FestivalEast Neuk Festival | Annual international music & arts festival

10 fascinating facts about… St Andrews and the East Neuk – Scottish Field

Multi Activity Days – East Neuk Outdoors

East Neuk Outdoors – East Neuk Outdoors

The East Neuk of Fife Visitor Guide | Out About Scotland

The East Neuk of Fife – sea views in one of the prettiest parts of Scotland

Elie Earlsferry Beach, Elie – Beaches | VisitScotland

Things to do in Elie – East Neuk of Fife, Scotland

East Neuk of Fife Travel Guide & Things To Do – The Chaotic Scot

Elie and Earlsferry – Wikipedia

Elie & Earlsferry Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland

Home – Elie & Earlsferry History Society

beauly – Search

Elie Holiday Park at Shell Bay, Fife| Abbeyford Leisure

Home – The Shellfish Shack Fife

(20+) Facebook

Home – Crail Pottery

St Andrews 4 miles-Quiet hamlet-Walk to the Sea! – Cottages for Rent in St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom – Airbnb

Elie chain walk – scrambling Scotland’s via ferratta on the Fife coast

Daneger and Stacey – YouTube

Pittenweem Chocolate Company – Pittenweem Chocolate Co.

St. Fillan’s Cave – Pittenweem, Scotland – Atlas Obscura

Ardross Farm

Bowhouse – Replacing the missing link in the local food chain

St Andrews 4 miles-Quiet hamlet-Walk to the Sea! – Cottages for Rent in St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom – Airbnb

Fife business – Lady’s Tower

Wikimedia Commons

Market Weekends – Bowhouse

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted by Dawn

Written and Produced by Dawn Young

Edited by Erin – Erin Ferguson (@erinfergus0n) • Instagram photos and videos

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon & ES_A Sound Foundation – Airae

 

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Dawn [0:00 – 1:12]: Welcome to episode one of season two of Scottish Digest. This season we will be hearing from a variety of people about what their favourite places and areas in Scotland are, what they love about it, and what things they love to do when visiting, as well as hear their food, drink and accommodation recommendations. And of course, I’ll be telling you all about the events and or festivals that take place there each year. We hope you enjoy hearing more about the beautiful places and areas around Bonnie Scotland. In this episode we will be speaking to Marti from the podcast Mums Mysteries and Murder, which is hosted by Marti and Effie. Marti is from Australia, but moved to Edinburgh and Scotland in 2006. A native, Scott, Effie grew up in Aberdeen but now also lives in Edinburgh. Before we hear from Marti and about her favourite places and areas in Scotland, here’s a wee flavour of what you can expect from the Mums Mysteries and Murder podcast.

Marti [1:14 – 1:58]: Hi, I’m Marti. And I’m Effie. And we are mum’s mysteries and murder. We’re mums obsessed with true crime and mysterious happenings in our respective countries. Australia and Scotland. We talked about it all the time, so we thought, screw it, let’s record that shit. And we started a podcast. Each month we bring you an episode from either Scotland or Australia, both well known and less well known. And we might talk about some other stuff in between too. So if you love a bit of true crime, weird accents, you love a mystery and you don’t mind a bit of random chat in between, then this is the podcast for you. You can come and follow us on Instagram, umsmysteries and murder and listen and subscribe where you get your podcasts. Bye.

Dawn [2:03 – 2:05]: So, hi Marti, welcome to the podcast.

Marti [2:06 – 2:07]: Thanks for having me.

Dawn [2:07 – 2:14]: I’m excited. So can you tell us a little bit about you and what brought you to Scotland?

Marti [2:16 – 3:50]: So I moved to Scotland back in 2006. I had been here before, so a very long time ago. It was actually the year 2000. I lived here, but I lived in Cheltenham, further down south, and I’d been to Glasgow for one day, I think I’d been to Edinburgh for half a day when I lived here. So I’d come up, stayed here. The guy that I was going out with at the time, he was working in Glasgow. So I caught the train up and I met him in Glasgow and I stayed here for a couple of days. I stay here, I’m in Edinburgh, but I love the shopping so much. I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying to me. I could not understand. I just kept saying yes to people and that was sort of my experience with Scotland. Like two days. It was literally two or three days that I’d spent here. But I remember the shopping and how amazing the shopping was. So when I went back to Australia and decided that I wanted to come back, Scotland was the first place, not just for the shopping. I’m not that shallow. But I remembered, like, how green everything was. Everything to me. Because Australia is so brown, because it’s quite hot in Australia all the time, most parts of Australia. So, yeah, I actually remember taking pictures of Scotland and being shocked at how green the grass was and how beautiful it was. So when I decided to come back, I thought, I’m just going to try Scotland, see how it is. If I don’t like it, I can move somewhere else. But, yeah, that was sort of like the decision, I think the shopping, the green, the cow parade was on. Do you remember the cow parade?

Dawn [3:50 – 3:52]: No. Nope.

Marti [3:52 – 3:52]: I don’t know.

Dawn [3:52 – 3:54]: The co parade in glass.

Marti [3:54 – 4:07]: You said that like you knew exactly what that was then. No. So it was like a. You will remember it when I explained this. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. So they were fibreglass cows and they were painted by different people and then they were auctioned off for charity.

Dawn [4:08 – 4:11]: Do you remember, was it in Glasgow?

Marti [4:12 – 4:24]: It was all over Edinburgh and Glasgow. I think it was Glasgow as well. So they auctioned them off. So I remember saying to my friend that was moving over with me at the time, let’s go to Scotland, because they have good shopping and there’s a cow parade.

Dawn [4:24 – 4:31]: Hose. Oh, my God. I’ve never heard of that. I’m gonna have to ask my gran.

Marti [4:33 – 4:50]: I mean, yeah, it was really. It was a very not well educated decision, to be fair. But I didn’t regret it and I loved it and I’m never leaving, so, I mean, it’s all worked out well in the end, hasn’t it? Cows or no cows, clothes and shopping.

Dawn [4:50 – 4:55]: Okay, and green. Whereabouts in Australia? Whereabouts in Australia? Where you from?

Marti [4:55 – 4:56]: Melbourne.

Dawn [4:57 – 4:58]: All right, okay.

Marti [4:58 – 4:59]: Which one is that?

Dawn [4:59 – 5:00]: Neighbours.

Marti [5:00 – 5:17]: That’s. Yes, that is neighbours. Right down the bottom. I’m actually born in a smaller town that’s just near Melbourne. That guy pearce is from. That’s all we’ve got. That’s the only claim to fame. We’ve got guy. Peace and quicksilver. Quicksilver comes from there as well. Yeah.

Dawn [5:17 – 5:20]: Yeah. Oh, no, guy. Peter is a good one. He’s done well for himself.

Marti [5:21 – 5:28]: Yeah, he’s. He’s a good one to have if you’ve only got one small person. That’s a good person. It’s a good looking person to have, isn’t it?

Dawn [5:31 – 5:36]: And tell us a little bit about the podcast as well. How did that come about? Mum’s mysteries and murder.

Marti [5:36 – 6:12]: So that kind of come about in Covid, pretty much like everyone else’s business did and everyone else’s podcast did. Effie and I would talk about true crime and, you know, we’d send each other links to things all the time. Effie. Effie’s really annoying the way she does it, though. She’s not going to kill me for this because she knows. She knows what she does. She sends me a message that just says OMG and nothing else. And you’re sitting there like, what? What is OMG? What do you tell me what you’re talking about. You’re just sitting there waiting. She’s not even typing. You know, you can see them typing. She’s not even typing.

Dawn [6:12 – 6:16]: Getting your attention first. Are you really paying attention? I’ll tell you the punchline.

Marti [6:16 – 7:42]: That’s what it is. You have to wait and be interested. But, yeah, we would often send each other random little facts about true crime stories that she would send me the most random things about people in Russia and, you know, all this sort of stuff, and I would send her lots of serial killer information because that’s not really her thing. So we sort of started talking about it a little bit and she was quite hesitant at the beginning. I had been a guest on other people’s podcasts to talk about social media, which is my day job. So I was sort of a little bit. Let’s just give it a go. No one will listen. It’s fine. And so I really had to talk her into doing it. But, yeah, it’s worked out really well. We have a really good rapport. We’re sort of at the stage where, because we’ve known each other for so long, we feel quite comfortable speaking to, like, interrupting each other and asking random questions and, you know, she’s very good at asking random questions that I feel like I’m never going to have the answer to and vice versa. And she has lots of very strange stories. She has. We’re similar, but I’m sort of from the city, so I grew up near the city and I’ve always lived near the city and she’s from Aberdeen, but a little bit further away. So sort of like the real country. So the stories that she comes up with are just so bizarre and, yes, so bizarre and so different. But we have this same sort of sense of humour. So I think it sort of works out really well.

Dawn [7:42 – 7:59]: Oh, it does work out, really. And you’ve got some great following amount of, you know, checked out your reviews and you get some lovely reviews and, you know, people, even on social media, you’ve got, you know, people saying how great you are and how much they love your conversations and it’s lovely to see you’ve done really well.

Marti [7:59 – 8:15]: Yeah, it’s a really. Thank you. It’s a really lovely follower base that we have. We have, like, a few certain people that will message us all the time after episodes and I’m thinking, why do you love it so much? It’s really not that good, but I’m not going to tell them that, so it’s fine.

Dawn [8:16 – 8:19]: No, you’ve got something, you know, you’ve obviously got something.

Marti [8:19 – 8:22]: Yeah. All right, then.

Dawn [8:22 – 8:29]: So back to Scotland. We’re here to talk about your favourite place, which is reveal.

Marti [8:29 – 8:37]: Wow. I did say early, but I’m going to be a bit sneaky and say the ace nuke of fife.

Dawn [8:37 – 8:45]: That’s okay. I was like, oh, what are you going to say? Because I’ve not done research. You can do that to me because.

Marti [8:45 – 8:59]: Technically Ely is part of that area, but there’s so many little villages in that whole section and I’m just in love with it. But Ely is the main focus for us, really.

Dawn [8:59 – 9:07]: So, um, we’ve got east Nook and specifically Ely and Earlsbury, because they are joined villages, aren’t they?

Marti [9:07 – 9:50]: Yes. Do you know Earlsbury is. I didn’t really know much about Earlsbury and I don’t really know a lot about it, but the beach at Earlsbury is one of the most beautiful beaches, I don’t want to say in Scotland, because I know there’s Shetland and all those amazing beaches and, like, Harris and all of that, but in this little part of the world, elsewhere, beach is so beautiful and, like, ely’s got such a huge main beach. It’s huge. And, you know, they play cricket. There’s always, like, cricket. It’s really well known for cricket games on there and, like, lots of sporting activities. But the beach at Earls Ferry is just stunning. It’s always deserted as well.

Dawn [9:50 – 10:12]: I saw, I was looking on YouTube and there was a video from a couple called Dan. He’s called Dean. Dean and Stacey, and it’s danger and Stacey. And they showed and I haven’t. Is it like a little cove? Yeah. Oh, that was the video they showed and it was beautiful. So I know which one you’re talking about.

Marti [10:12 – 10:34]: It’s just when you compare it to Ili because Ily is so busy and so full of families. It’s a nice beach, but it’s nothing special. This is going to sound bad. Earls Ferry is just like. I’m almost torn about whether I wanted to mention it because I want it to stay really quiet. When we were there, we could hear seals on the rock out at sea. It was amazing.

Dawn [10:34 – 11:02]: It looks beautiful. I’m going to have to show a picture of that. It’s situated on the northerly part of the firth of force in Fife. It’s about 46 miles, or 74 kilometres northeast of Edinburgh, or about an hour and a half journey. It’s quite small, it’s 40 sq mi and it’s known for its scenic coastline and pretty fishing villages with Petoween and Strother and Creole. Is it Creole?

Marti [11:02 – 13:03]: Yes. I’ve got Crail on the list. I’m so glad you mentioned Crayole. Crail is one of those places. Right, because. So we’ve been going to ily for the last few years, maybe about. For the last four or five years, and we usually stay in the caravan park. I think it’s called Shao Bay Caravan park. Yeah. Which is amazing. It is such a pretty caravan park. I never grew up doing caravan holidays. Right. We were not rich by any means at all, but we never did caravan park holidays when I was little. So this was the first caravan park I’d been to. And it’s just. Yeah, it’s so pretty. I mean, they have the disco, they have the kids disco and all that that you can go to, you know. And I know people aren’t a big fan of that. I mean, we went once and it was brilliant. Yeah. Oh, I mean, it was brilliant. So we usually drive around, we’ll do the St Andrews thing and we’ll go to anstruther and all that sort of thing. But we discovered krail only two years ago and I was like, how have we not found this amazing place? So it’s quite small. It’s really small. You wouldn’t spend the day there. You’d spend maybe half the day there. Right. But it’s one of those places when you walk around the corner and every corner is instagram worthy. I’m not just saying that because I work in social media. It is so beautiful. It’s winding. Like, it’s all really winding and it sort of goes up to like a big cliff top that overlooks the harbour. And there is someone that sells lobster rolls. I think it’s called the lobster shack. I’ve written it down. Lobster shack on the harbour. And you can just go and get a lobster roll in the summer. Oh, my God. It is amazing. And they have the Crail Harbour gallery, where you can get a coffee. And that is sort of right at the top of the harbour. And it just overlooks. If you can get a seat in there, I mean, get in there at 10:00 in the morning because the tourists will be there and there’s no way you’ll get a seat. We’ve never managed to get a seat in there.

Dawn [13:03 – 13:05]: But is it just little or just a little?

Marti [13:05 – 13:42]: Yeah, it’s tiny. And then there’s, like, a little bit that goes outside and sort of. It is just stunning. It is just one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever seen. There’s like a little krail pottery place. I think it’s just called krail pottery, but it is really small. Like, it’s super small, but it’s just sort of up on a. It’s almost like a. What’s the word? Like a turret. There’s almost like a big sort of turret at the top. It’s really hard to explain, but it is just the most beautiful place. It is gorgeous, yeah.

Dawn [13:42 – 13:48]: And it said it has an attractive harbour as well. Is that right? You mentioned the harbour.

Marti [13:48 – 14:08]: Yeah. It’s quite small. There’s not really much there. But I mean, the lobster shack, you can sit there on the harbour and have your lobster roll. And it’s quite famous, I think, the lobster shack, I think it’s quite well known. There’s not. I mean, there’s not much there at all, but it’s just such a beautiful place to spend the morning. It’s just lovely.

Dawn [14:09 – 14:15]: Just to unwind. It sounds like it’s just a slow down kind of place. Just let it roll over you.

Marti [14:15 – 14:27]: Yeah, it’s one of those places where you go around the corner and there’s more people on their phones taking photos, and then you go around the corner, more people take. You know, it’s one of those really little cute places, but it’s just beautiful.

Dawn [14:27 – 14:44]: Now, you did send me a couple of photos of you and your family there as well in Ely, was it Ely you were at? Yes, apparently. Again, it’s the green. You mentioned the green, and the photos were beautiful, and there was green everywhere. Can you just tell us a little bit about the photos and what you were doing that day and.

Marti [14:44 – 15:29]: Yes. So that green, actually is just near St. Andrews. So that’s another little town that we stay in called Boar Hills. So we went there for the first time this year. We were looking for Ealy. Ealy was sold out, so it often sells out really quick. But this is a little Airbnb and I think I’ve sent you the link so you could put it in the show notes even. But it’s a really little. It’s not. I don’t even know if you’d call it a village. There’s a few houses and it’s about ten minutes drive from St. Andrews and it’s a little area called Moor Hills. And we send this Airbnb. Absolutely stunning. They had a hammock in the back garden and they had, like, a little fire pit for roasting marshmallows. So lovely. The owners were so lovely.

Dawn [15:29 – 15:32]: Miranda, it says it was horsted by Miranda.

Marti [15:32 – 15:57]: Yeah. Yes. And so child friendly. One of the rooms, you opened the cupboard and it’s packed full of toys, like a full doll house, a full kitchen. So, yeah, it’s a really great place to stay if you have kids because it’s quite peaceful and it’s not too far from anyway. But that little, that image that I sent you with the grass, that’s actually a walk that goes down to a beach.

Dawn [15:58 – 16:10]: Yes. It was an easy walking distance to the sea. So that’s. I can see that you got the grass. Beautiful picture. Chocolate, it’s green. And then you’ve got the blue, and then the blue sky and it’s beautiful.

Marti [16:10 – 17:30]: It is so beautiful. I’m. I’m a little bit of an old lady when it comes to Scotland, really. I’ve turned into my dad, you know, when we were little, my dad would take us to go and see boats and go, oh, look at that boat. That boat’s amazing. It’s got a really loud voice, which is what been transferred to me, clearly. But look at that boat. That boat’s so nice. Look at it. Oh, wouldn’t you love to go and say, no, I don’t want to sit in that boat. And now my little boy, because he’s grown up here, so he know, like, he’s used to Scotland, but to me, I still find everything just so beautiful and, like, walking in the woods, I just am constantly taking pictures. That green just. I took so many pictures of that day. I’ve got so many pictures of the same beaches in Italy, the same villages, you know, in Krail, the same walk that we do when we go to Grail. It’s just so stunning. It’s just such a different view to what you get in Australia. And I’m so pleased that, you know, I’ve been living here for so long, and I still find just everything so beautiful in Scotland. It’s just such a beautiful place to live. Even Edinburgh, you know, when you see the castle all the time, you sort of get used to it. But I’m so grateful that I still, you know, will come down in autumn and see Princess street gardens. And I’m like, oh, I’m so lucky to live here. Just so striking.

Dawn [17:31 – 17:41]: It is. It is a beautiful place. Yeah, I’m biassed, I suppose, but, yeah, no, the photos were. And even the other one you sent me as well, of you and. Is that your husband and you, wee boy?

Marti [17:41 – 17:48]: Yes. So that’s actually on the beach. You get like, a private beach at the caravan park in Ely.

Dawn [17:48 – 17:50]: Oh, right. So it’s like one of the.

Marti [17:50 – 18:36]: Yeah, that. Well, that was actually at nighttime. So we tend to go down in our pyjamas at nighttime to this beach. Yeah, it’s literally. So a lot of the time when we book, we try and book the front pitches. So you’re literally about 20 steps from the beach when you stay there. And it’s your own, like, little private alcove beach, which is just beautiful. I mean, it’s not really amazing for swimming. There’s no waves or anything, but it’s just lovely to go down at nighttime. You can watch the sunset and it’s just such a beautiful, peaceful place. The whole area is just such a beautiful, peaceful place. I mean, there’s the chain walk. That’s not peaceful. And I’m never going to do that because I’m not good with stuff like that, so.

Dawn [18:36 – 18:39]: What’s that? Sorry? The chain walk.

Marti [18:39 – 18:57]: Yeah. So it’s like the coastal. I think it’s called the. Is it the fife? I don’t think it’s called the fife. It’s the coastal chain walk. I think that’s what. Eight, five. Coastal chain walk. That could be what it’s called. Or maybe it’s East Newark, however you pronounce it.

Dawn [18:57 – 19:01]: Oh, the faith coastal walk. Is that to St. Mornans?

Marti [19:01 – 19:07]: Yes. And you. And you follow chains and you go around the rocks. Oh, yeah.

Dawn [19:07 – 19:08]: So you’ve never done that?

Marti [19:09 – 19:13]: Oh, it’s just not for me, Dawn. I can’t deal with things like that.

Dawn [19:15 – 19:21]: Well, there’s a story there, but it takes you to the Ely lighthouse. You pass the Ely lighthouse as well, I think. That one.

Marti [19:21 – 19:27]: Yes, yes. And St. Mounan’s windmill and everything is that way as well.

Dawn [19:28 – 19:43]: And there’s also a ruby bay. It was named after the garnets that were once mined there, and a ladies tower, which was a changing room that was built for the Lady Anne Strother in the 1770 so she could bathe in the floor.

Marti [19:43 – 19:45]: I’ve actually been to that tower.

Dawn [19:45 – 19:46]: Have you?

Marti [19:46 – 20:05]: Yeah, I met. It is beautiful. It is actually really, really beautiful. It’s like an old ruin. But we met some really nice Americans there and they were, like, telling us the whole story of the tower. They like me the whole story. They were driving around in a campervan. They were amazing. See, this is what happens in Scotland.

Dawn [20:05 – 20:17]: You meet everyone on the campervan community is amazing. The way that everybody. We did campervan in once and everybody passed the wave at you and it’s just. Oh, it’s so friendly.

Marti [20:17 – 20:20]: I’d love to do that. I’d love a campervan.

Dawn [20:20 – 20:27]: It was amazing. You just never feel alone because you just feel that somebody would stop if you needed them. They’re just so friendly.

Marti [20:27 – 20:29]: It’s so lovely, isn’t it?

Dawn [20:29 – 20:36]: Isn’t it? Because that was the first time we did. It was a couple of years ago and we didn’t know what was happening. And we’re like, oh, what the hell’s going on?

Marti [20:37 – 20:41]: Why are people waving at me? This is crazy.

Dawn [20:42 – 20:44]: Yeah. It took us a minute.

Marti [20:44 – 20:46]: Oh, I love it.

Dawn [20:46 – 21:01]: But that lady, Anne Strother, apparently she would have. She had a bell toll. She would go down and swim in the fourth and she had the bell toller told the bell, so everybody knew not to go near when she was swimming. She was a right madam by the time.

Marti [21:02 – 21:12]: I love that. There’s so many weird things in Scotland, aren’t there? There’s like so many little. Oh, well, have you heard about Danino Den?

Dawn [21:12 – 21:13]: No.

Marti [21:13 – 21:26]: So this really freaked us out. So my husband, he’s not really into true crime, but he’s into weird stuff, right? Not. That sounds weird now. He’s into, like, mysteries and, you know, that sounded so bad.

Dawn [21:27 – 21:28]: I’m leaving that in.

Marti [21:30 – 21:54]: That’s fine. I’m happy with that. We’ve all got our things. Yeah. Danino den. So it’s nice. St. Andrews. And he found it and he was really interested in it and he was like, we have to go to this place, right? It’s this little den. It’s. It’s an ancient site of druid pagan worship. You’ve heard of it, haven’t you?

Dawn [21:54 – 21:59]: I think there was something that was. Yeah, carry on. It’s. Yeah.

Marti [22:00 – 24:32]: So it’s in a wooded area and it’s just behind the abbey. Right? So it’s quite. It’s in the middle of nowhere, right? So you just go up this big long road, and me and my little boy, so he’s twelve. He was eleven when we went. We were like, I don’t know about this because, you know, I’m true crime background. I just. I’m suspicious of everything. I like peaceful places, but if they’re too peaceful. Nah, I’m not having this. Right, yeah. So you get it. So it’s been around since 4000 BC, which my brain doesn’t compute that that is actually a thing I don’t understand. Yeah, we talk about this all the time on the podcast. Anything BC? No, no. My brain starts. I know they were like cavemen and dinosaurs and all that, right? And then I know that there was like Henry VIII, and that’s the two bits, right? And I don’t know what happened in between. There were things and there were other things, but my brain doesn’t compute those, right? So that really freaks me out. Anyway, so there’s steps to go down to the den, right? So you go into this wooded area, and there’s like little steps. When I say steps, they’re sort of like built into the rock, so they’re sort of hard to get down, but you could get down, right? And there’s like celtic crosses and faces etched into the rocks. So, like, when you google it, they’re real. Like it’s a proper face. It’s not just like, you know when people say it’s etched in and it’s sort of a face, you’re not like, oh, it’s sort of a face. You know, people have like a potato and it looks like Jesus. And you’re like, that doesn’t look like Jesus. So these are like, who knew I’d start talking about potatoes and Jesus? They’re real faces etched into the rock, right? And people leave things there. So when you look down, there’s all ribbons tied to the tree. People leave money, there’s beads. I think there’s other weird stuff left there as well. But when we got there, this is going to sound really weird, but I’m not making this up. So my husband went, and me and my little boy sort of waited, and we were like, I’m not going down there. It’s a bit. Bit freaky. I don’t like it. And he doesn’t really like things like that. So I said, we’ll stay here. We could hear singing. We could actually hear singing. There was no one in the abbey because there was two cars in the car park and one was ours. The abbey was completely quiet and there was like a little. I mean, it’s a little chapel. It’s not really like a big abbey and there’s like a cemetery. It’s really pretty. There was no one around and we could hear singing. And he was like, what’s that singing? I’m like, it’s nothing. But I was freaking out as well. I was like, I’m not sure about this. I don’t like this at all.

Dawn [24:32 – 24:35]: And did your husband hear it from down there?

Marti [24:35 – 25:21]: No, he said he didn’t hear it. But then people started coming back. So there were other people there, but this was different singing to what normal people would have been doing. So we didn’t like it. And we sort of headed back to the car and he kept going. I know it was really creepy because it was so secluded and the woods were so secluded. And there was bells and bells. Woods and bells and singing. Oh, my God. Yeah. It’s the start of a film when everything goes bad and everyone dies. Leave the woods. Leave the woods. Anyway, I mean, it was the middle of the day and it’s just, you know, he went down there and said it was fine, but he did say it was slightly creepy. But he’s, you know, he likes all that sort of weird stuff again. Weird stuff.

Dawn [25:22 – 25:24]: Have you got a photo? Can I see the photo?

Marti [25:25 – 25:30]: I don’t think we took any photos. We should have. I mean, we were so freaked out.

Dawn [25:30 – 25:31]: Yeah.

Marti [25:31 – 27:02]: That we just left. But there is photos of the faces and things on Google, if you go on Google. But it’s just fascinating, like the weed stuff. There’s also pit and weem. So pit and weem’s another, like, little fishing village. Lovely. The chocolate cafe. They’re amazing. Handmade chocolates in, like, mice. Everything you can imagine. Lavender, chocolate. Unbelievable, right. But they have a cave there called St Finian’s Cave. Again, my husband found this. Of course he did. And it’s basically. It’s so weird. So it’s a little. So pit and we. Magen is a little village, fishing village. They have, like a main harbour and they have an old fashioned sweet shop and ice creams and all that sort of stuff. Lovely. And then you sort of go up these windy little paths where people’s houses are really pretty. But in the side of the wall, it’s sort of like rock. Some of the houses sort of built into rock, almost. Right. And in the side of the wall is a little cave which is actually just a padlocked gate. Right in the wall. And you look through the wall and you’re like, what’s that? It’s a cave, right? And apparently it’s said to have been a refuge for Saint Finnian, who lived there for a while. And he wrote sermons by the light of his glowing arm. What the actual hell is that? Okay.

Dawn [27:02 – 27:05]: I didn’t know that was where you were going. He’s arm.

Marti [27:05 – 27:27]: He’s arm. And you can go in there. Right? But this is what’s so weird, and this is what’s amazing about Scotland. You have to go into one of the shops to go and get the key to go into this cave. Yeah, it’s padlocked, but you can go in there. There’s a sign to say. And there’s actually a little altar still in there. That’s like a little shrine to St Finnian. It is amazing.

Dawn [27:28 – 27:34]: You know, I’ve heard of St Finian’s Cave, but I’ve never. I didn’t know anything about it. I had no idea that. That it was.

Marti [27:35 – 27:47]: It’s crazy. Why are there all these weed things in Scotland? I absolutely love them. But, yeah, amazing. And that’s in Pittenweam. Pittenweem is so beautiful. I love Pittenweam. It’s really pretty.

Dawn [27:47 – 27:53]: So all along the east coast, it sounds like there’s loads of little wee villages and. Beautiful.

Marti [27:53 – 28:09]: They’re literally like ten minutes away from each other. St Monan’s is really pretty as well. There’s not loads in St Monan’s. I mean, there’s no glowy arm cave or weird pagan rituals. But they do have the best farm shop in Scotland.

Dawn [28:10 – 28:12]: In Scotland, that is. Yeah.

Marti [28:12 – 28:31]: In Scotland. I know that. Oh, actually, I think I might take that back. It’s pretty good. I haven’t been to all of Scotland, but it’s an amazing farm shop and we always spend. We get to the front and we like. That’s 80 pounds. And we’re like, 80 pounds. What have we bought? But it is amazing.

Dawn [28:31 – 28:33]: The best and most expensive.

Marti [28:33 – 28:59]: The best and most expensive. It’s called Ardross adros farm shop. And it’s just. I mean, it’s really good quality stuff. It’s one of those places where you go in and there’s everything you’ve never seen before. Do you know what I mean? Like giant marshmallows. Oh, we need to make s’mores. Let’s get that. And then there’s like, special jams and, like, fancy bread and they have all the different meats and. But do you know, I mean, it’s expensive. But all farm shops are expensive.

Dawn [28:59 – 29:06]: Well, they also do a festival up there as well, called East Nook Festival. Have you ever heard of that or been to that?

Marti [29:06 – 29:07]: No.

Dawn [29:08 – 29:17]: It’s a registered charity and they raise money each year. They do it every year. Next year it’s on the 26th or 30 June. And it’s just a lot of musicians coming together and just.

Marti [29:18 – 30:43]: I love that. They do a good market there as well, actually. The bowhouse market? Yeah, it’s just near St. Monan’s and it’s the. Now, I’m going to get this wrong, but people can look it up. It’s the first Saturday of the month, or it’s the last Saturday of. And every year when we went there, we just missed it. Like, it’d be. Oh, it’s next weekend. Oh, it was last weekend. We went this year. Absolutely amazing. Do you know what? There was a massive line for a guy just selling sausage rolls. Who knew? Really? Yeah. Amazing. I was talking to a lady selling candles and I was like, what are those people lined up for? Is that like a special thing? I thought it was like bespoke something, you know? No, she’s like, yeah, he’s the sausage roll guy. Oh, God, that sounds such a good market. You’ve got to get there really early because it gets quite parked and they have a whole section in the back for street food. Really? Yeah. So it’s like the whole maker’s market. It’s really big. It’s huge. And a sausage roll guy in the middle and someone selling coffee at the front. Always handy. And then you go to the side and it’s street food. And weirdly, a middle aged guy. I shouldn’t say that. A guy. Do you know what he knows? He’s middle aged. Middle aged guy djing. When I say djing, he’s just like, got a big speaker and he’s playing some music, having a fun time.

Dawn [30:44 – 30:45]: Is it good music?

Marti [30:45 – 30:48]: I mean, it was a bit quiet, so you couldn’t really hear it.

Dawn [30:48 – 30:49]: Okay.

Marti [30:49 – 31:05]: But, you know, people want to talk, so, you know, well done to him. But, yeah, that is an amazing market. Yeah, he’s doing his best. That’s what we’ll say about him. But, yeah, that. That’s a really fantastic market. You could be there for ages.

Dawn [31:05 – 31:16]: I need to tell my sister about that. She loves these kind of things. Yes, we quaint things. So are you planning on visiting again? Any holidays planned? East nuke or ely?

Marti [31:16 – 32:01]: Do you know what? Yeah, I think we’ll probably do it again next summer. It’s one of those places that just has such lovely memories for us because my little boy was so little when we first started going there and I just think it’s just such a peaceful place and we have. We know each little town that we’re going to go to on what day. I mean, we do St Andrews and we do lots of stuff around there as well, but just the little fishing villages. It’s not too far from Edinburgh, it’s not too much of a drive. It’s like an easy three or four days. You could just get away. It’s not too expensive, it’s a lovely thing to do with families and it’s just such a lovely atmosphere there. So, yeah, I think we’ll probably definitely go there next summer as well. Yeah, 100%, definitely.

Dawn [32:01 – 32:08]: It sounds really nice. You’ve painted an amazing picture, honestly, you have. And I’ve never been so. Yeah, I’ve got lots of nice.

Marti [32:08 – 32:19]: You have to go. I mean, you have to go to that weed just for the. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And get some chocolate after you’ve been to see the arm because that cafe. Amazing.

Dawn [32:20 – 32:24]: But you said mice. I was like, I remember the little mice when we were young. Do you remember the little.

Marti [32:25 – 32:33]: Yes. These are more detailed, though, and they have like, cardamom and like, they have amazing flavours. Oh, you’ll spend a fortune there as well.

Dawn [32:33 – 32:33]: See?

Marti [32:33 – 32:38]: Yeah. It’s all around food for me, isn’t it? Food and weed things and money.

Dawn [32:38 – 32:39]: We need to take money with us.

Marti [32:40 – 33:01]: Yes, yes. I mean, it’s not a massively expensive holiday really, either. You could do it fairly cheaply. You could get fish and chips, get an ice cream, you know, sit on the beach. Yeah. Maybe don’t go to the farm shop until the end and see how much money you’ve got left. I have a lot of nice gin, I’ll say that. They have a lot of nice gin.

Dawn [33:02 – 33:05]: You need it by the end because you’ve got to go back home again, haven’t you?

Marti [33:05 – 33:12]: Yeah, exactly. And you need to calm yourself after the pagan. Oh, yeah, the pagan ritual stuff. Yeah.

Dawn [33:12 – 33:17]: I don’t think I would go there, but I’m curious if. I’m going to have a look at the faces, though. I want to see what that looks like.

Marti [33:17 – 33:32]: It’s so interesting. I mean, I understand why people go there. It’s really, really fascinating and it’s a very peaceful area, so I sort of understand it. It’s not meant to be creepy. I think it’s just me. I read a lot of books. I watch a lot of true crime. So.

Dawn [33:32 – 33:38]: Got a podcast. So my murder podcast. So, yeah, yeah. Your imagination must be going wild.

Marti [33:38 – 33:42]: I mean, you’re the same, so. Yeah, I understand.

Dawn [33:42 – 33:47]: Alyssa Marie, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you. Thanks for sharing, Easton.

Marti [33:48 – 33:55]: Thanks for having me. I get very passionate and very excited when I talk about these places.

Dawn [33:55 – 34:11]: I’m trying not. I’m trying to stay calm because when I get passionate and excited, I talk like 100 miles an hour and nobody can understand what I say. I just try and keep it calm. I know. It’s been a pleasure. So can you tell everybody how they can find you on socials and your pod?

Marti [34:11 – 34:31]: Yes. Thank you. So we are at mumsmysteries and murder on Instagram and you can find us everywhere. You get your podcast for mums mysteries and murder, whether you’re apple, your Google, all the places, Spotify everywhere. And we have a very exciting episode coming up very soon.

Dawn [34:32 – 34:34]: Ooh. Can you give us any clues?

Marti [34:35 – 34:54]: Well, it’s actually someone in Australia who has been all over the news. Do you know, we had another episode set up and we’ve recorded this episode today, actually, this woman was arrested on Friday. So it’s very, very new. We’ve never covered a case that recent happening.

Dawn [34:54 – 35:00]: So is it somebody that’s been murdered in the past and, like, somebody’s just been arrested now or is it just all happening now?

Marti [35:00 – 35:10]: No, it happened in July, July of this year. It’s actually Erin Patterson and she’s known as the mushroom murderer.

Dawn [35:10 – 35:12]: Oh. Oh, yeah.

Marti [35:13 – 35:31]: Very interesting. It’s an australian case, though. This one’s australian. So we take turns. For people that haven’t listened to the podcast, we take turns. So I’ll do the australian episode and then Effie will do a scottish story the month after. So we sort of take turns. So it’s a bit of a mixture, but yeah, very, very interesting case.

Dawn [35:36 – 38:51]: So that was my conversation with Marti. But let me tell you a few more things about the Ely and Errols ferry area. According to outaboutscotland.com, comma, East Nuke is an area of 40 sq mi and is known for its scenic coastline and pretty fishing villages, with Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail having particularly attractive harbours. And according to Lovefromscotland, Co dot UK, Ely and errolsferry is a quintessential scottish seaside village and popular holiday destination. If you like water sports, then there’s the east nuke outdoors, which is a family run outdoor activity centre on Fife’s east coast in cellar Dyke by Anstruther and it offers a range of outdoor activities including kayaking, canoeing, archery, paddle boarding and axe throwing, with activities for individuals or all the family, and is located a 15 minutes drive north east of Ely and Errolsferry. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, you can find out more from east nukeoutdoors dot co dot UK now Marti mentioned so many food recommendations, but according to scottish spill dot co dot UK comma, an early seafood product from east nuke was the Creo Caprin, which is sun dried haddock and a couple of fun facts are that a small pictish dwelling near Elsferry was discovered in 1923 when a tractor fell through its roof and the 1997 film the Winter Guest, which starred Emma Thompson and was directed by Alan Rickman, was filmed in Ely and Errolsferry. Now I did mention the East Nuke festival when I was talking to Marti, but here’s a wee bit more about it. It has been taking place since 2004, when Donald and Louise Macdonald had the seed of an idea and believed that live music could not only bring joy, but could transform lives and connect people from those in the community to professional and new musicians. With the inspiration behind the festival being taken from the landscape, heritage and history of the area and attendance over the years has grown to an estimated 25,000, with some of the comments on the website from people who have attended saying that there superb music and a friendly atmosphere, while another said that there was wonderful music in a magical setting and that they received a warm welcome in 2024. The East Nuke festival will take place from the 26th to the 30 June and you can find out more information about the East Nuke festival as well as see the full programme for 2024 by visiting east nukefestival.com. Marti also mentioned in our conversation about a case that mums mysteries in murder would be covering. It was a murder that took place in July 2023 and the suspected murderer Erin Patterson, who is known as the mushroom murderer, was arrested late in 2023 at the time of the recording. So if you’re new to the Mums Mysteries and Murder podcast and want to listen, then I’d recommend starting with that episode. A link to the Mums mysteries and murder podcast, as well as to everything mentioned in this episode will be in the show notes as well as on our website cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest. So we hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and my chat with Marti and join us next time for another wee slice of bonnie Scotland.


Episode 8 - Pitlochry

Episode 8 – Pitlochry

In this episode we will be telling you all about #Pitlochry, which is in Perthshire and situated almost half way between Edinburgh and Inverness and lies on the River Tummel.

We’ll hear from Graeme from Scotland’s Stories who will tell us about his visit to Pitlochry and Perthshire and its history, from Helen from Wheely Braw who talks about the accessible places she has visited in Perthshire, and from Monique from The Enchanted Forest, which is an event that takes place every year, and in 2023 will take place from the 5th of October to the 5th of November.

You can listen to Episode 8 wherever you get your podcasts, and watch on YouTube.

Pitlochry – SCOTLAND UNWRAPPED

In the Heart of Scotland – Pitlochry

Pitlochry – Wikipedia

12 Incredible Things To Do in Pitlochry | VisitScotland

Pitlochry | VisitScotland

34 Things to do in Pitlochry Scotland – Our Complete Guide

Explore Pitlochry and Highland Perthshire – Pitlochry Scotland

Gateway to the Highlands | VisitScotland

Queen’s View Visitor Centre – Forestry and Land Scotland

Perthshire – Wikipedia

Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre | Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre

Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre | Pitlochry Scotland

Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Rannoch walks (Walkhighlands)

Accessible Holiday Accommodation Scotland

Handmade Jewellery Made In Scotland | Scottish gifts | Discover Heathergems

Moulin Hotel Pitlochry – Highland Perthshire Hotel

Home (pitlochryandmoulinheritagecentre.co.uk)

Edradour Distillery

Scotch Corner of Pitlochry Ice Cream Sweet shop

Blair Castle, Pitlochry | 5 Star Visitor Attraction in Perthshire (atholl-estates.co.uk)

www.fieldfare.org.uk

Mains of Taymouth Courtyard – Kenmore Delicatessen & Gifts

Highland Safaris & Red Deer Centre – Aberfeldy Safaris

Fishershotelpitlochry.com

File:Pitlochry Hydro-electric dam – geograph.org.uk – 2422561.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Pitlochry dam and power station (2) – geograph.org.uk – 3221568.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry – geograph.org.uk – 4721620.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Shops on Atholl Road, Pitlochry – geograph.org.uk – 5113729.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Pitlochry and Ben Vrackie – geograph.org.uk – 5184466.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:84-104 Atholl Road, Pitlochry (geograph 6570515).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Pitlochry – panoramio (4).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Welcome to Pitlochry – geograph.org.uk – 170713.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Power Station at River Tummel (49005660133).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:River Tummel, Pitlochry – geograph.org.uk – 2279092.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Footbridge over the River Tummel at Pitlochry – geograph.org.uk – 4078333.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Pitlochry, Perthshire (50248088648).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted by Dawn

Written and Produced by Dawn Young

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon & ES_A Sound Foundation – Airae

 

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Hosted by Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 7 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Aberfoyle.

[Music]

In today’s episode we will be hearing from Graeme from Scotland’s Stories who is never happier than when he is donning his Kilt and exploring Scotland with Molly the Labrador, and his stories from his exploring are truly engaging. We’ll also hear from Helen who is a disability travel blogger who runs the website Wheely Braw, whose aim is to help wheelchair users and other disabled people get the most out of their visit to Scotland. And will also hear from Monique who will tell us all about The Enchanted Forest, an event that takes place every year near Pitlochry, and in 2023 will take place from the 5th of October to the 5th of November. So we’ve got quite an episode for you.

But first, where is Pitlochry? Well, Pitlochry is a picturesque largely Victorian town in Perthshire, situated almost halfway between Edinburgh and Inverness, being about 71.4 miles or 115 kilometres northwest of Edinburgh and 85.9 miles and 138 kilometres southeast of Inverness, and it lies on the River Tummel. According to Scotland Unwrapped, Pitlochry is often referred to as the Gateway to the Highlands and is one of the jewels in the crown of Scotland. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 Pitlochry had a population of 2,776, but, due to not only the charm of Pitlochry but also its perfect placement to explore Perthshire, visitors from all over the world return to Pitlochry year after year. Pitlochry is also known for the Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder Visitor Centre, which, according to pitlochry-scotland, is cantilevered eight metres out from the banks of the River Tummel
and gives excellent views of the dam. According to Brendan from scotland-unwrapped.com, the dam being constructed where it was, in the late 1940s and early 50s, would have prevented the huge amount of salmon and sea trout that migrated annually from reaching their spawning beds upstream, and so a salmon ladder of 310 metres was also created, allowing the fish to reach the waters above the dam. You can read more about this and about Brendan’s numerous visits to Pitlochry, which is one of his favourite places to visit in the world, at scotland-unwrapped.com.

Okay, so as Pitlochry is another place I have passed by many many times but not actually visited, let’s hear what Graeme from Scotland’s Stories discovered on his trips to Pitlochry and Perthshire as a whole, and what stories he can tell us.

[Music]

Graeme – Hi there. I’m Graeme from Scotland’s Stories and I’m here to tell you why the wee Perthshire town of Pitlochry is one of my favourite destinations. Pitlochry is one of the gateways to the highlands, nestled in between Ben Vrackie and the River Tummel.

It’s a bustling town today, but that hasn’t always been the case. The town as we know it began to form when General Wade’s military road passed through here in the 1700s, and its importance was solidified with the arrival of the railway over 100 years later. It still retains much of its Victorian tourist town charm with plenty of quirky wee shops and cafes for you to choose from if you like a wee bit of shopping. But for something completely different there’s the Heathergems Visitor Centre and shop, where craftspeople make beautiful jewellery out of Highland heather stems. Now as Pitlochry increased in importance it overtook an older settlement of Moulin, which is well worth visiting. It’s just a short journey up the hill to the Moulin Hotel beside the old church, but it is like traveling back in time. You find some great walks from here as well, including hiking to the top of Ben Vrackie, or you can take things a bit easier by just visiting the Heritage Centre inside the church. You’ll learn everything you could possibly want to know about Pitlochry, Moulin, the local area, from ancient origins to more modern memories. Don’t miss the Crusader’s Grave in the kirkyard, said to date from the 12th century, or the short walk out to the Black Castle. Built in the 1300s it allegedly gained its name after an outbreak of the black death amongst the castle inhabitants in the 1500s. The locals destroyed the building to contain the disease, but I promise it is safe to visit today. If you’ve worked up a thirst by now pop into the Moulin Hotel for a tour around the brewery and sample some local ales. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit stronger, then Pitlochry has a couple of great whisky options for you. The first is the Blair Athol Distillery, found in town and available for a number of different tours to wet your whistle. But just out of town Edradour Distillery, unfortunately closed for 2023, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the taste. My top tip is to visit the Scotch Corner shop in town, order some of the Edradour whisky ice cream. Even if you’re not a big whisky drinker I challenge you not to enjoy it. One of the more unusual, but still popular attractions, is the Pitlochry Dam. Now it’s a marvel of engineering from the mid-20th century, built to create hydroelectric power from the River Tummel. But there was plenty of local opposition at the time. One of the main concerns was how salmon would manage the annual swim up river to spawn. But the problem was solved with the creation of the Pitlochry fish ladder and its 34 stepped pools, where visitors can watch the salmon swim through the chambers all the way from the bottom to the top. If you’re really lucky then it’s not unknown to spot the fish leaping in the air.

Don’t just limit yourself to the town of Pitlochry though, there is so much to see in the nearby area. The bright white Blair Castle isn’t far away, and it’s easily one of the most popular attractions in the area. Once home to the Earls and later Dukes of Atholl, the castle has a fascinating history from its 13th century origins as a sturdy tower, right up to its modern incarnation as a lavish mansion. Guarding the only easy passage through the mountains to Inverness, Blair Castle was caught up in the Jacobite risings, but thankfully survived fairly unscathed. While no longer home to the Duke of Atholl, it does happen to be home to Europe’s only legal private army, The Atholl Highlanders. Next head to Queen’s View, enjoy the view down Loch Tummel, past Schiehallion towards Loch Rannoch, and on a really clear day you can see all the way to Glencoe. Nearby you’ll find somewhere that’s been one of my favourite places since I was a kid, and not just because it’s a fun word to say, Killiecrankie. As well as being a beautiful woodland walk this wee gorge was the setting for the first real battle of the Jacobite risings in 1689, which would dominate Scottish history for the next 60 years. The Jacobites won that clash, although their leader, Bonnie Dundee, would be killed. If you keep your ears open as you wander above the river you might still hear the ghostly sound of clashing swords and firing muskets, of a battle long over. An easy walk there will take you to Soldier’s Leap, where the river churns in a tumbling waterfall. That’s where a government Soldier, Donald McBane, was trapped by a group of Jacobites and faced with what seemed like certain death. Turning around, he raced towards the water and somehow managed to leap the 18-foot gap to safety, although he did lose a shoe in the process.

So, from leaping salmon to leaping soldiers, Pitlochry and the surrounding area has plenty of things worth experiencing, no matter what time of year you decide to visit. If you’re looking for more travel suggestions, or Scottish stories, you can find me at scotlands-stories.com or on whatever social media you use is scotlandsstories. If you see a bald guy in his Labrador, I think you’re in the right place.

Dawn – Killiecrankie is a place myself and my husband have passed so many times too when we visited my gran on Skye, and it’s a place name that always makes me smile. I absolutely love Graeme’s stories, they’re so interesting and engaging, and I love his voice. You can find so many more stories from Graeme on his website scotlands-stories.com, or follow him on social media for more interesting and funny videos. But I hope he’s given you a good wee insight into what you can do and see in and around Pitlochry.

[Music]

According to Visit Scotland, Perthshire is known as Big Tree Country due to there being more than 200,000 acres of woodlands. And with the abundance of scenic forest trails, gigantic mountains and atmospheric lochs to be explored in Perthshire, and activities such as fishing, golfing, walking, hill climbing, mountain biking and bungee jumping being aplenty, staying in Pitlochry and exploring the surrounding area really does become even more attractive. And never fear if you have a disability and think you won’t be able to enjoy or participate in activities in Perthshire, because Helen from Wheely Braw is here to tell you differently.

[Music]

Helen – As a wheelchair user I won’t pretend it’s easy to find accessible things to enjoy in Scotland, particularly if you want to get lost in nature, but there are some beautiful spots around the country to enjoy, including some in Perthshire. When you hear wheelchair accessible, mountains might not be the first thing that you think of, but Perthshire offers at least two opportunities for wheelchair users and other disabled people to explore mountains. First up is Ben Lawers, or Beinn Labhair in Gaelic, which means Speaking Mountain. Well, it certainly spoke to me, especially when I found out that there’s a National Trust for Scotland car park up at 1,400 feet with some spectacular views over Loch Tay. The ground up there is rocky and uneven but I managed a short wheel to admire the snow-capped Munro. It’s breathtaking up there. Next up is Schiehallion, which has been named Scotland’s first wheelchair-friendly Munro by the Fieldfare Trust. So the general advice here is to park in the Braes of Foss car park and take the path to the summit of East Schiehallion. You might not get to the summit as only the first third of the path is advised for wheelchair users, but you can assess the terrain and decide if it’s safe for you to complete the journey. I’m yet to visit and try this but I can’t wait. There’s something really empowering about showing up in spaces where people don’t expect to see you in a wheelchair, and mountains definitely fit that bill. If you fancy something a bit more down to earth then Kenmore is a lovely stop on the shore of Loch Tay. A while back I visited The Courtyard shop and deli in Kenmore for a browse and came out with a bag full of treats; gin, fudge, biscuits, jams. It’s such a beautiful shop. It’s accessible and represents Scottish producers really well. Just next door is The Courtyard bar that has an all-day menu with some vegan and gluten-free options too. Not far from Kenmore is Dull, which really isn’t dull it’s beautiful actually. I visited Highland Safaris there for one of their red deer feeding experiences. It was lovely to be able to get so close to these beautiful creatures. Our guide was really knowledgeable and also understanding of my accessibility requirements. It is such a family-friendly activity, and there’s a wee café on site too, because no day trip is complete without cake. I hope this has given you a couple of ideas of wheelchair accessible things to do in Perthshire. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface, so if you want to keep up with my adventures you can follow me on Instagram @wheelybraw that’s w-h-e-e-l-y-b-r-a-w.

And my wife Kirsty and I have just started a joint venture Accessible Holidays Scotland, which is a growing database of accommodation, days out, places to eat and shopping. You can follow us at accessibleholidays.scot and visit the website at

www.accessibleholidays.scot. We’d love your support.

Dawn – All the places that Helen mentioned are no more than about a 20 mile or a 32 kilometre drive from Pitlochry, with the exception of Ben Lawers, which is a 32.7 mile or 52.6 kilometre drive away.

As Helen said she has not even scratched the surface when it comes to telling you about the places she has visited and what she has done, and you can find so much more from her website wheelybraw.scot, or follow her on social media for some great videos.

[Music]

I really hope both Graeme and Helen’s stories about their visits to Pitlochry and Perthshire have tempted you to visit the area yourself. However, if you’re still on the fence, perhaps hearing all about The Enchanted Forest will entice you, which according to the website enchantedforest.org.uk will set your imagination alight with dazzling visuals and innovative design, all choreographed against an original music score, while you explore the stunning Autumn woodland setting of Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. Here’s Monique to tell you all about it.

[Music]

Monique – Hi, my name is Monique McArdle, and I’m the event producer at The Enchanted Forest. The Enchanted Forest is an award-winning annual sound and light show which transforms the beautiful Faskally Wood in the Scottish Highlands into a magical destination each October. A trailblazing event that is creative, energetic and entertaining, it requires a combined pool of extraordinary talent, drawing in some of the best creative minds in the UK to work together to create entrancing visuals and original music score, and stunning visual effects, which succeed in raising the artistic bar year on year to celebrate outdoors. The event showcases Scotland’s natural landscape at its Autumnal best. One of the UK’s most successful cultural events, The Enchanted Forest will take place at Faskally Wood Pitlochry from the 5th of October until the 5th of November this year, and will have an aquatic theme entitled From the Deep. This is designed to create a bigger splash than ever before. Using captivating visuals and an original music score, their year’s show will see visitors transported into the depths of an underwater world, blending light, video and sound to create a truly unique visitor experience. Faskally Wood will transform into an underwater forest with a deep watery glow of aqua blue and green. From the depths of the sea beds, visitors will make their way around the forest trail, swept along by the currents and tides, on a brightly lit journey that will span the globe, discovering the mysteries of our ocean and its inhabitants. As with previous years, this year’s show will include several impressive installations; including a spectacular light show over Loch Dunmore, which will use music, animation, projection, beams, lights and lasers, to tell the story of bioluminescent creatures that are found throughout marine habitats, from the ocean surface to the deep sea floor. There will be ample catering options on site for those visitors who are feeling a little bit peckish, from fresh pizzas, fish and chips and sweet snacks, and not to mention the legendary toasted marshmallows, there will be something for everyone. Menus will be announced on The Enchanted Forest website in August. Due to the success of our autism friendly performances at last year’s show, these will be returning for 2023. The autism friendly performances offer our autistic customers and their families the opportunity to be right at the start of the bus queues before any crowds
have built up, and be the first ones on site at the beginning of the night. For those who are unable to take the regular coaches from Fishers Hotel to reach the event in the forest, an accessible bus will also be available this year for customers with specific mobility or access needs, and will depart from the Blair Athol Distillery. This year tickets are free for the under threes and are priced at £14.50 for 3 to 15 year olds, £26 for an adult and £72.50 for a family. All tickets can be booked via the website at www.enchantedforest.org.uk. Over the 20 years The Enchanted Forest has been running it has seen significant growth, from just 1,500 people over three nights in 2002, to attracting over 83,000 visitors over five weeks in 2022. The event delivers an incredible shot in the arm to the local tourism economy in and around Pitlochry and Perthshire, with a staggering economic impact of nearly £10 million. Proceeds raised from the event are put back into local community initiatives, administered through The Enchanted Forest community fund. To-date, the fund has reinvested £320,000 back into the region, making a lasting positive impact by benefiting more than 137 local community groups, projects and charities. The unique nature of the show has gained it worldwide acclaim. To keep up-to-date with the latest news concerning the event, you can find The Enchanted Forest on Twitter, Tiktok and Instagram using the handle @enchantforest, and on Facebook using the handle @theenchantedforest. We look forward to welcoming many of you to the event this October.

Dawn – Like Monique said, you can find all information about The Enchanted Forest from the website enchantedforest.org.uk, or on social media. I’ve not been to this event myself but I watched the videos on their website and it looks amazing. I’m very very tempted to go this year. Let me know if you’ve attended before, or plan to attend this year, I’d love to know what you thought.

[Music]

So that’s almost the end of the episode, and it is the last episode of Season One of Scottish Digest. I really hope the places and events we have talked about in Scotland this season have inspired you to visit. I’ve really enjoyed season one and hearing from so many people who love traveling around Scotland, visiting beautiful and fascinating places, and telling us all about it; such as Suzanne, Helen, Kathi and Graeme. Or those who are proud of where they live and the events that take place there, and want to share with others. It’s inspiring. I hope you will join me for Season Two, where I will be finding out more about places in Scotland from people who live there or visit time and time again, having a wee chat with them and delving into what they love about that specific place. If you love a specific place in Scotland and feel it needs to be talked about, please let me know on social media or by emailing me at contact@cluarantonn.com, that’s contact@c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com. All links from today’s episode will be in the show notes or on our website cluarantonn.com.

We hope you join us next season for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.

[Music]

Granny Robertson – Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.


Episode 7 - Aberfoyle

Episode 7 – Aberfoyle

In this episode we will be telling you all about Aberfoyle, which is situated north west of Glasgow on the River Forth. We’ll hear from Paul who runs the website seelochlomond.com who will tell us all about what Aberfoyle and the surrounding area has to offer visitors, as well as from Beth from Bike Trossachs who will tell us all about Gravelfoyle and the Dukes Weekender, which is an event that takes place every year, and in 2023 will take place on the 9th and 10th of September.

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted by Dawn

Written and Produced by Dawn Young

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Hosted by Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 7 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Aberfoyle.

[Music]

In today’s episode we will be hearing from Paul, who runs the website seelochlomond.com, who will tell us all about what Aberfoyle has to offer visitors, as well as some of his favourite eateries, and we’ll also hear from Beth from Bike Trossachs, a community interests company, who will tell us all about Gravelfoyle, one of the UK’s finest gravel and road cycling waymarked routes that start from Aberfoyle and weave around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, as well as tell us about the Dukes Weekender which is an event that takes place every year, and in 2023 will take place on the 9th and 10th of September. Aberfoyle is a place I’ve never visited or even passed through, so it was interesting finding out about it and what there is to do and see there. But first, where is Aberfoyle. The picturesque Village of Aberfoyle is about 26 miles or 42 kilometres northwest of Glasgow and, according to Wikipedia, is situated on the River Forth, which is a 29 mile or 47 kilometre major river in central Scotland which drains into the North Sea on the east coast of Scotland, at the foot of Craigmore which is a 378 metre or 1,207 foot high hill, is part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and is known as the southern Gateway to the Trossachs. So this wee village with a population, according to Wikipedia in 2011 of 1,065, certainly packs a punch. And I’ve only just scratched the surface of what there is to do in and around Aberfoyle, and with the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond and Loch Ard being nearby where, according to lochlomond-trossachs.org, you can enjoy magnificent scenery and see some amazing wildlife, enjoy cycling, walking, water activities, golf, loch cruises and hike or climb up a Munro Mountain, Aberfoyle is a perfect place to base yourself. And while that all does sound absolutely amazing and a lot of fun, there was something else I found that I personally would love to try first, as I do love a bit of adrenaline sometimes, and it’s called Go Ape, which is located about 0.8 miles or 1.3 kilometres outside of Aberfoyle.  If you guessed that this would include zipping along over trees and waterfalls while being afforded some amazing views of the Scottish Highlands, then you’d be right. According to goape.co.uk Go Ape Aberfoyle is home to two of the longest zips in the UK. And so you can expect to experience some fantastic views, as well as be absolutely exhilarated, as you fly along either a 323 metre zip or a 45 metre high 426 metre long zip. My only bit of advice would be don’t look down. Okay, so if zip lining is not your thing and you prefer something a wee bit more sedate, never fear, Aberfoyle has something for everyone. Located just off Main Street is the Scottish Wool Centre, and it is well signposted. According to Visit Scotland, the Scottish Wool Centre aims to tell the story of wool, from sheep to shops, by putting on daily live shows during the season, such as the dog and duck show which features Collie dogs herding Indian ducks through an obstacle course, as well as demonstrations of spinning. Now, no place in Scotland is complete without a fairy lore story and Aberfoyle is no different. According to atlasobscura.com, Doon Hill and Fairy Knowle, located a mile or 1.6 kilometres from Aberfoyle, held a particular fascination for a Reverend Robert Kirk, who in 1961 published his book called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves and Fairies. A year later his body was mysteriously found on Doon Hill. Many believed they knew what had happened to Reverend Robert Kirk, but I’ll let Paul from See Loch Lomond tell you what the belief was, as well as tell you more about Aberfoyle and the surrounding area, as well as some of his favourite places to eat and what activities he likes to do in the area.

[Music]

Paul – Aberfoyle is Gateway to the Trossachs, with lochs, forests and beautiful villages like this one. You can explore this part of Scotland’s first National Park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, by bike, boat and boot. But before you set off on your adventures take a stroll up Aberfoyle’s Main Street, it’s bright and colourful with lots of hand-painted signs on the interesting shops and cafes. I highly recommend the Station Coffee Shop with locally roasted coffee and an amazing haggis toasty. And next door is Maggie’s which is full of treats. On my See Loch Lomond website we have a stack of guides to help you explore Aberfoyle and the area around it. And Visit Scotland has an information centre just opposite the Station Coffee Shop. Pick up in there a leaflet for the Trossachs trail, which will give you a map and guide to help you navigate the area, and there is also a website for what was Scotland’s first geographical trail. With the Gravelfoyle tracks and NCN7 there are excellent cycling routes, plus a stack of walking trails. And keep going straight on through the village to get to Loch Ard, and then Loch Chon, which are ideal for stand-up paddle boards, kayaking and canoeing. It’s my favourite place in the National Park to do this. Altskeith House on Loch Ard does amazing food for B&B guests, and it is also a popular wedding venue. Back to Aberfoyle and you must take a two hour circular walk, sign for the large free car park in the village. And you’ll be following the footsteps of former Minister for Aberfoyle the Reverend Robert Kirk. Hopefully you’ll get on better than he did because in 1692 he was doing this walk, but was punished at Doon Hill for revealing the secrets of the fairies in a book that he published. And they are said to have taken his spirit and placed it in a pine tree at the top of the hill. And by that tree you’ll find lots of charms, ribbons and other items placed around it. Moving on from the village go across the steep climb of Duke’s pass to get to Loch Katrine, home of the 123 year old steamship Sir Walter Scott, which has recently completed a £750,000 restoration and is back sailing. It was the public reaction to Sir Walter Scott’s 1810 poem Lady of the Lake, a blockbuster publication in the day, that brought visitors to the area, and they wanted to see the landscapes described so vividly by Scott for themselves. And this resulted in the Trossachs being considered as the birthplace of Scottish tourism. Now, the steamship Sir Walter Scott sails three times a day, and there is a new exhibition about the history of steamships at Loch Katrine on the pier. The steamship is wheelchair friendly.  And, alternatively, if you want to take a climb to get a good view of Loch Katrine go up Ben A’an, which is one of Scotland’s most popular hill climbs. There is so much to do in and around Aberfoyle, and just enjoy the amazing scenery on two wheels, on foot or by water. And if you follow any of the guides on the See Loch Lomond website, which is seelochlomond.co.uk, do leave me a message letting me know about how you got on, what you saw and what you enjoyed.

Dawn – So, what did you think about the Doon Hill mystery, and of the reason many people believed Robert, Reverend Kirk, had died? According to lochlomond-trossachs.org Doon Hill is thought to be a doorway to an underground fairy queen palace, and that this is where Robert Kirk’s soul is still being held captive. An interesting story for sure. Now, like Paul said, you can find so much more about Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the villages, lochs, islands and activities within, by visiting his website seelochlomond.co.uk.

[music]

I mentioned earlier that one of the many activities that can be enjoyed in and around Aberfoyle was cycling, and that Gravelfoyle had the UK’s finest gravel and road cycling waymarked routes, with many of the routes starting from Aberfoyle and taking you deep into the National Park. Well, here’s Beth to tell you more about that, as well as tell you so much more about the Dukes Weekender, which takes place every year in Aberfoyle.

[music]

Hello. I’m Beth from Bike Trossachs, a local community interest company based in Aberfoyle. We’re the people behind the newly established waymarked cycle trails which start in the village, and our annual gravel racing event the Dukes Weekender. This year on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of September Aberfoyle will come alive for the Dukes Weekender. This is a family-orientated off-road cycling festival set in the heart of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The cycling festival has a kids gravel enduro, a gravel hill climb and a signature gravel enduro event which takes place over the two days. Saturday morning sees the event village open in the heart of Aberfoyle, the vibrant race village will be hosting a fully sized, free to use pump track, demo bikes, brands and local community enterprises, and entertainment open to all. Our first event on Saturday morning is the children’s mini enduro. This is a hugely popular part of the Dukes Weekender, and a great chance for kids to sample the gravel enduro racing and get in amongst the action. It’s aimed at children aged 8 to 14 years old but they have to be accompanied by an adult. We have prioritised the tickets for this as pre-entries and we have a few left on the website, so please check it out for details. Saturday afternoon comes alive with cowbells and crowds as competitors take on the gravel hill climb. If you want to visit as a spectator only, Saturday from 2pm you want to be at the waterfall by the David Marshall Lodge above Aberfoyle. The gravel hill climb is stage one of the full Dukes Weekender, but it’s also available as a standalone event too. This is a unique opportunity for riders to ride up the gravel trails beside the Dukes pass in a vibrant and fun atmosphere. The climb itself is 1.3 kilometres, climbing up to 150 meters in height, and is achievable for both occasional riders through to the pros. So you can take in the scenery or chew on the bars, it’s up to you. The route is lined with people, local schools, we have live Taiko drumming, a wee bar and ice creams for sale. It’s an incredible experience for all competitors and we can’t wait for it. Back in the village that evening we’re hoping to run our adventure film night as well. Sunday sees our 75 kilometre gravel enduro. This is a social format of an event where riders can ride in groups at a relaxed pace for most of the route. This is with the exception of six short timed stages where they race individually against the clock. The incredible route weaves around the stunning lochs and glens of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The format of the race allows competitors to stop for lunch, coffee and snacks in Aberfoyle and Stronachlachar in the selection of local businesses. The Dukes adaptive riders also ride on Sunday, and the village festivities and event village entertainment continue throughout. The competitors are supported by marshals and full signposting along the route. Our competitors come from a fully diverse range, with some people participating in their first ever cycling event alongside world and Olympic level champions. Inclusivity is really important to us at Bike Trossachs. Last year we had a 25% female representation which was nearly double that of the previous year, and we’re currently sitting at a 30% female sign up for 2023, so our best representation ever. We’re also one of the first gravel events in the country to include an adaptive and recumbent cycle category. Last year saw the event handed over to Bike Trossachs CIC, which means all profits now go directly back into the local community. The gravel enduro-only tickets are sold out, with entries filling fast for the kids and adaptive cycle categories. We have very limited full weekend tickets left so please go to dukesweekender.com to find out more. It’s worth making the trip to visit Gravelfoyle at any time of the year though. Whether on our waymarked routes or exploring further, Aberfoyle village and the surrounding area offers one of the UK’s most extensive arrays of gravel trails and roads. Within just a 12 kilometre radius of the village there are over 200 kilometres of gravel roads, trails and paths to explore, taking you deep into the National Park and exploring incredible scenery from lochsides to mountain tops. In addition to this there is our three waymarked routes of 10 kilometres, 20 kilometres and 30 kilometres that give riders of all abilities the opportunity to take part and explore the beautiful surroundings of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. If you want to find out more about gravel riding in the Trossachs, please go to gravelfoyle.com or search for Gravelfoyle on the socials. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Gravelfoyle.

Dawn – Gravelfoyle and the Dukes Weekender sound like such fantastic experiences. Let me know if you plan to attend, or do attend, and what you loved about the Dukes Weekender or Gravelfoyle the most. If you’d like more information or to register for an event you can visit dukesweekender.com or gravelfoyle.com. All links mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and on our website cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest. That’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottishdigest.

So, that’s the end of today’s episode, we hope you have enjoyed finding out about Aberfoyle and just what it has to offer as much as I did. Join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.

[Music]

Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.


Episode 6 - Dunoon

Episode 6 – Dunoon

In this episode we will be telling you all Dunoon, which is the main town on the Cowal peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute. We’ll hear from Colin from Dunoon Presents and from Ciorsdan who both tell us what Dunoon has to offer visitors, as well as from Malcolm from Cowal Gathering who will tell us all about the Cowal Gathering which takes place in August every year, and in 2023 will take place from the 24th to the 26th of August.  

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted and written by Dawn Young

Produced by Dawn Young

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Hosted by Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 6 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Dunoon.

[Music]

In today’s episode we will hear from Ciorsdan, who lives and works in Dunoon, who will tell us a little bit about what visitors can expect, from Colin from Dunoon Presents who will tell us more about what you can do and see while visiting Dunoon, and also from Malcolm who will tell us all about the Cowal Gathering event that takes place every year in Dunoon, and in 2023 will be taking place from the 24th to the 26th of August. While I apparently visited Dunoon regularly when I was young, visiting family members and for days out when we lived in Lochgilphead and Oban, I don’t actually remember these visits, so I’ll be finding out about Dunoon along with you. First off where is Dunoon? Well, according to Wikipedia, Dunoon is the main town on the Cowal Peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute, and is located on the western shore of the upper Firth of Clyde, to the south of the Holy Loch and to the north of Innellan, and is also the gateway to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It is about an hour and 52 minute drive north west of Glasgow.  But, while lovely that drive is, as I’ve driven on that route to and from Glasgow many times, it’s not the most direct route. This would be via ferry, and you have a couple of choices. If you have a car you can travel by Western Ferries from McInroy’s Point in Gourock to Hunters Quay, which is located about a four minute drive from Dunoon centre, and ideal if you were planning on staying at the Hunters Quay Holiday Village, and this crossing takes 20 minutes.  Or there’s a passenger ferry ran by Caledonian MacBrayne which departs from Gourock Ferry Terminal, where you will also find Gourock train station, and lands at Dunoon Ferry Terminal located right at the heart of Dunoon. This crossing takes about 25 minutes. So a wee bit shorter than driving around the road to Dunoon, and you get to relax and enjoy the crossing. However, if you’re like me and enjoy driving and decide to take the road to Dunoon well, just before you reach Dunoon, about 13 minutes outside of it, you will come across Benmore Botanic Garden, which is home to a world famous collection of plants from regions ranging from the Himalayas, China and Japan, to North and South America, with over 300 species of rhododendrons, which sounds very much like something which my gran would enjoy visiting, and she told me that she did frequently when she visited Dunoon. But, I’ve said a few times now, I much prefer visiting castles, and the Castle House Museum is a mere six minute walk from the Dunoon Ferry Terminal. According to castlehousemuseum.org.uk,  Castle House is a beautiful building with its own rich history, such as the flag post marking the original site of a 13th century stone castle. Castle House later became Dunoon’s public library, but now hosts the museum, where you can discover the history of the Dunoon, such as Highland clan battles, wartime Cowal and the Clyde Steamers in their heyday. A short walk from Castle House you will find a statue of Mary Campbell, also known as Highland Mary, who had an affair with the famous poet, Robert Burns, located on Castle Hill overlooking the water and Dunoon Pier. Speaking of the pier, Dunoon Pier is a fabulous Victorian Pier, which, according to Visit Scotland, is one of the finest and rarest examples of a category A listed Victorian Pier, which was completed in 1898, although its earliest parts date to 1835. The areas surrounding Dunoon are, according to Wikipedia, fast becoming recognised as a destination for outdoor pursuits, so let’s hear more about this from Colin from Dunoon Presents.

[Music]

Colin – Dunoon is a small town on the west coast of Scotland just across the water from Greenock, indeed just a 15-20 minute sailing by ferry. Dunoon in the last 30 years has somewhat fallen by the wayside due to changing consumer trends, but that’s all changing. Dunoon is a town

very much on the up, there’s a multi-million pound private sector investment going into the town now, which will make the town one of the foremost mountain biking locations, not only in Scotland but across the UK. That project is at an advanced stage. Our project, we are called Dunoon Presents and we have honed a series of high-end events over the last five to eight years bringing new visitors to the town. There’s regular events on in the town all through the year, from markets selling high-end food and non-food, outdoor markets. There are many sporting events, we run a 10K in August,  we run an ultra marathon in October, which is an off road race for a distance in excess of 26 miles, in this case 33 miles. We host a round of the Scottish rally championship, Dunoon is one of the rounds of seven on that. Indeed the town is on one night of that event turned into a, effectively, a Scalextric track, for one of a better term, and one of the rounds is raced round the streets of the town. It’s a fantastic spectacle. We have had, and will have back again, a round of UK powerboat championships, hopefully in 2024. The last one we did was 2022, which was highly successful. So, you can see that we’re using the natural resources of the town, which are the land and the sea, to bring new visitors to the town. And if you check us out either on Dunoon Presents Facebook page or our website, which has regular updates with event information, is www.dunoonpresents.co.uk. And if you’ve got any inquiries at all please email us on info@pa23.org.uk, that’s info@pa23.org.uk. We look forward to seeing you in Dunoon very soon.

Dawn – dunoonpresents.co.uk is full of information about Dunoon, including accommodation, places to eat, places to visit, and events that take place there throughout the year.

[Music]

In my gran’s day when she would visit Dunoon, she told me that during the two-week Glasgow Fair holiday in July, where everything in Glasgow closed down, Dunoon, amongst other places on the west coast of Scotland, was inundated with visitors arriving by paddle steamer from Glasgow. So I hope the regeneration that Colin talks about will bring back the ‘Doon the Watter’ era, which refers to Glaswegians visiting the Clyde Coast en-mass for the holidays. Speaking about Dunoon being inundated with visitors, during the Cowal Gathering, around 23,000 people visit Dunoon each year to experience the festival of Scottish culture. Here’s Malcolm to tell you more.

[Music]

Malcolm – Cowal Gathering has taken place at the end of August in Dunoon on the West Coast of Scotland since 1894. The event has grown since those early days to become a three-day extravaganza of traditional Scottish culture. We are delighted to host several of the most important Highland Dancing championships in the Highland Dancing calendar, including the World Highland Dancing championships, which brings Highland Dancers from across the world, including Canada, America, South Africa and New Zealand. Cowal Gathering also hosts the Cowal Pipe Band Championship, which is the oldest pipe band championship in the world, having first been held at Cowal in 1906. Unbelievably, the Argyll Shield is also the oldest Pipe Band trophy in the world, and was donated to the competition in 1906 by Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter. We also boast a juvenile solo piping competition. There is also international backhold wrestling with competitors from France and Germany and across the UK. And also an international heavy athletics championship, which this year will see teams from Austria and Germany and Scotland battle it out for the incredible Sutherland trophy. So the Cowal Gathering really is an excellent display of traditional Scottish culture, featuring some of the top competitors in all the fields from around the world. But it’s more than that. On the Saturday of the Cowal Gathering we also have a fantastic array of free family entertainment in what we call the top field area.   This includes the Cowal live music tent, which this year is headlined by Trail West, but also has fantastic bands like Torridon, Cala and Trávee playing. There’s also a live Ceilidh dancing tent, where you can take your partners and learn to do traditional Ceilidh dancing to the live band the Inverhooley Ceilidh Band. There’s also plenty for the kids to do though, with Artie’s Singing Kettle entertaining the very youngest kids, there’s a mountain bike track for the  middle-aged kids, there’s arts and crafts workshop for children. There is also, we are delighted this year to have The Clan, Scotland’s mountain bike stunt team are back, wowing everyone with their high jumps. There’s also Punch and Judy shows, clowns, balloon modelling, axe throwing. All kinds of amazing things for the family to do, that are all included in the actual admission ticket price. So, you can come to the Cowal Gathering and you can have a fantastic day out and it doesn’t need to break the bank, most of the entertainment that’s there is included in your actual admission ticket.

Dawn – If you’d like to find out more about the Cowal Gathering visit cowalgathering.com.

[Music]

Finally, here’s a bit more information from Ciorsdan Faga, who lives in Dunoon and works as a product development agent for the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative.

[Music]

Ciorsdan – Dunoon is the main town on the Cowal Peninsula.  It’s situated on the Firth of the River Clyde and is only about 90 minutes away from Glasgow, but it’s a world of difference away from it. It’s the gateway to the Highlands and it has an island like feel but with the benefit of both road and ferry access. There’s a beautiful wide stretch of promenade along the east and west bays, where you can walk along the seafront enjoying the surrounding sea and mountain views, and many of the locals will greet you as you pass them on the prom. There’s lots of great things to see and do in Dunoon. Dunoon has one of Scotland’s few remaining Victorian Piers, it has the Castle House Museum, the Burgh Hall, there’s the Benmore Botanical Gardens that’s close by, which is home to a world famous collection of plants. Dunoon is also the marine gateway to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and a section of the park is actually located just down the road. There’s a host of cycling, walking and running opportunities in the hills and forest tracks that surround Dunoon, and if you’re a keen mountain biker in particular you should look up the Dunoon Project who have focused on developing the mountain bike trails on the hills just behind Dunoon. Also there’s great amenities in the town, such as a local swimming pool, a cinema, two supermarkets and there are great shops. There’s a whole host of events held in the town all year round, from local markets, music events, running and cycling events, artist open studios, a walking festival, the Argyll Rally, and of course the Cowal Highland Gathering, which actually hosts the Highland Dancing World Championships every year. You can find out more information about the events on the Dunoon Presents website and What’s On Dunoon website. Wildlife is also a big feature here, if you’re a bird lover it’s a dream; with Eider ducks, Cormorants, a variety of Waders and Birds of Prey. You can also see Porpoise, Dolphins, Red Squirrels, Pine Martens, the list goes on. There’s plenty of choice for foodies in Dunoon too, with a host of cafes and restaurants, and self-cater holiday makers can get excellent locally sourced produce in the local butchers. You can find out more on the Wild About Argyll website under the Dunoon and Cowal Section, and you can also find local accommodation through this site.  Dunoonhas something for everyone; culture, the outdoors, wildlife, adventure, events, family activities and local products. What more could you ask for?

Dawn – All links mentioned in today’s episode you can find on our website cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest, that’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottishdigest. So that’s the end of today’s episode. We hope you have enjoyed finding out more about Dunoon. Join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland

[Music]

Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.


Episode 5 - Orkney

Episode 5 – Orkney

In this episode we will be telling you all about Orkney, which is located off the north coast of Great Britain.

We’ll hear from Kathi, host of the Wild for Scotland podcast, and from Howie, who will tell us all about the Orkney International Science Festival which takes place every year, and in 2023 will take place from the 7th to the 13th of September.

Watch Me See – A Scotland Travel Blog by for Happy Planners

HOME – Orkney International Science Festival

Work With Me! – Scotland Travel Blog – Scotland’s Stories

Wild for Scotland Podcast | Podcast on Spotify

Scotland’s Stories – Graeme Johncock & Molly (@scotlands_stories) • Instagram photos and videos

 

 

Orkney Folk Festival | Orkney.com

North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival | Orkney.com

19 Must-Do Festivals on Scotland’s Islands | VisitScotland

Podcast – Watch Me See

Orkney – Wikipedia

Orkney.com | This is Orkney

Lorraine Kelly’s guide to visiting Orkney | Orkney.com

Pentland Ferries – The Journey North to the Orkney Islands

Home – Sands Hotel Orkney

History | Orkney.com

The Orkney Museum | History | Orkney.com

Unstan Chambered Cairn | History | Orkney.com

The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival | History | Orkney.com

Our Routes to Orkney and Shetland | NorthLink Ferries

A Guide to Orkney | Orkney Island Holidays | NorthLink Ferries

John O’ Groats Ferry – Ferry Timetable

John O’Groats Ferry – passenger service & day trips to the Orkneys

South Ronaldsay – Wikipedia

St Margaret’s Hope – Wikipedia

Home – Sands Hotel Orkney

Orkney Folk Festival – 25-28 May, 2023

Frontiers 2021 Archives – Frontiers Magazine

Roads and shores of the West – Frontiers Magazine

The Italian Chapel | Orkney.com

Italian Chapel – Wikipedia

The Ness of Brodgar Excavation – Investigating a prehistoric complex in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Maeshowe Chambered Cairn | Orkney.com

20 Must-Do Festivals on Scotland’s Islands | VisitScotland

Skara Brae | Business Directory | Orkney.com

Visiting Orkney In Winter – Scotland’s Stories

Scotland’s Stories: A Scotland Travel Blog With Great Stories

The Italian Chapel | Business Directory | Orkney.com

Ring of Brodgar – Wikipedia

The Ferry Inn | Home

Heart of Neolithic Orkney – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Orkney Ferries | Bookings, timetables and information

Westray Community – Queen o’ the Isles

Westraak Guided Tours of Westray: Bookings Calendar

Facebook

The Murray Arms Hotel – Orkney

Welcome to St Magnus Cathedral, Britain’s most northerly Cathedral. – St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall Orkney

Orkneyjar – The Dwarfie Stane, Hoy

Dwarfie Stane – Wikipedia

St Magnus Cathedral – Orkney Museums

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted and written by Dawn Young

Produced by Dawn Young

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Hosted by Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 5 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Orkney.

[Music]

In today’s episode we will hear from Kathi from the amazing and immersive Wild for Scotland podcast, who will tell us all about her time visiting parts of Orkney, what she loved about it and her recommendations of places to eat, as well as hear from Howie, who will tell us all about the Orkney International Science Festival which takes place in September every year, and in 2023 will take place from the 7th to the 13th of September. But first a wee bit about my trip to parts of Orkney, and where Orkney is. According to Wikipedia, Orkney is a cluster of about 70 islands located off the North Coast of Great Britain, but only 20 of those islands are inhabited. You can reach Orkney by plane or ferry, with flights from Scottish airports; Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, with the flight from Inverness being a mere 30 minutes. However, when we visited Orkney we travelled by ferry. Again, there are a few different routes to Orkney from the mainland. According to northlinkferries.co.uk you can get a Northlink Ferry from Aberdeen to Hatston, which is just outside of Kirkwall in the Orkney islands, or from Scrabster, which is located at the very top north of mainland Scotland, to Stromness  in the Orkney islands. This journey takes about 90 minutes and sails past The Old Man of Hoy. You can also take a passenger ferry from John ‘O’Groats  to Orkney, which, according to jogferry.co.uk, is a 40-minute sailing, and there is a bus at the Orkney port that will take passengers to Kirkwall. But we took another route, via Pentland Ferries, which sailed from Gills Bay in Caithness to the Village of St Margaret’s Hope, which, according to pentlandferries.co.uk, is the third largest settlement in Orkney, with, according to Wikipedia, a population of about 550, and is the island of South Ronaldsay’s main village. It is about a 1 hour and 10 minute sailing, and, once at St Margaret’s Hope, only a 20-minute car journey to Mainland Orkney, crossing the famous Churchill Barriers. It was a slightly bumpy crossing for us, but it was dry so we went up top to see as much as we could as we sailed along. And I’m glad we did as, despite it being quite eerie and quiet, as we sailed past the Orkney island of South Ronaldsay we saw large concrete boxes, which were abandoned gun towers and look out posts, and, according to pentlandferries.co.uk, these concrete boxes serve as a reminder of the importance of the Orkney Islands during the Second world War. Upon arriving at St Margaret’s Hope we made the eight minute drive to the Island of Burray where we had booked into The Sands Hotel, right by the sea, which was our base for two nights. This hotel may be small, having only six ensuite bedrooms and two luxury suites, but it was beautiful. Myself, my husband, my gran and my aunt stayed in one of their luxury suites and we couldn’t have been happier, it was really comfortable, very spacious, and we would definitely stay again. They also have a restaurant called the Watersound and this was where I had for the first time, despite growing up in Oban, the seafood capital of the world, a lobster, and it was so good. Myself, my gran and my aunt also had, for the first time, Cullen Skink at this restaurant, and again it was so tasty. So, a first of a few things for myself and my family while visiting Orkney. Before I go on to tell you about the places we visited while in Orkney, let’s hear about Kathi’s trip to Orkney. And another first, as this was Kathi’s first ever trip to Orkney, and you can hear just how excited she was to be there.

Hello there, my name is Kathi. I run the Watch Me See travel blog and the Wild for Scotland podcast, and I recently went on my very first trip to Orkney for the Orkney Folk Festival. Now, Orkney has over 70 Islands which means that every trip to Orkney will look slightly different because you may choose different islands than the next person. On our trip we spend a lot of time in Stromness, which is the main venue of the Orkney Folk Festival. There are a few pubs in town and our favourite was the Ferry Inn by the harbour, where we enjoyed some great local beers and listened to more than 30 musicians from the Edinburgh Uni Folk Society. The free pub sessions are a really big part of the festival and it’s great to bounce from pub to pub to hear a range of different players, everybody can join in and the whole town is filled with a really great atmosphere. We also attended some of the ticketed events in Kirkwall, which was a great experience. The bands we saw were really varied and showed the breadth of traditional and folk music out there. But of course we didn’t spend all of our time inside the pubs and music venues of Orkney, we also did a lot of sightseeing. Orkney is well known for its many neolithic monuments and heritage sites, and together they form the heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited several of the places that are a part of this, including the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the Standing Stones Of Stenness, and the neolithic settlement of Skara Brae. The only site we didn’t manage to visit is the Maeshowe Chambered Cairn. You can only visit it on a guided tour and we were unfortunately too slow to get tickets. So my top tip is to look into booking tickets for Maeshowe as early as possible, if you’d like to see it. We also did several coastal walks while we were in Orkney. On the Mainland, which is confusingly the name of the main island, we visited the Brough of Birsay,  which is a tidal Island connected to the Mainland by a narrow causeway. You can only walk across at low tide, so it’s very important to check the tidal times, the last thing you want is to get trapped on the island. On the Brough of Birsay you’ll find the remains of Pictish, Norse and Medieval settlements, so for history lovers there is a lot to explore. There’s also a lighthouse you can walk to, towering cliffs and sweeping views of Marwick Head along the coast. My highlight however was to sit still and observe nesting seabirds on the cliffs, we saw Razorbills, Guillemots, Bonxies, and even some Puffins. Speaking of which, one of the best places to see the Puffins is the Isle of Westray. We took a day trip to this island and took the inter-island ferry from Kirkwall. The journey takes about two hours, and along the way you’ll see the outlines of other Orkney Isles on the horizon. We decided to bring our bikes for this trip and cycled from the south of Westray, where the ferry arrives, to Pierowall main village on the island in the north. There we stopped at Groatie Buckies for delicious iced coffees and cakes, and visited the ruins of Noltland Castle. On our way back we did a small detour to walk to the Castle o’Burrian, which is one of the best places in Orkney to see Puffins on. Orkney castles are often not actual castles but sea stacks that tower above the sea. We sat near the sea stack for about an hour and watched countless Puffins soar through the air and sitting outside their nests. Puffins spend most of their life at sea, but when it’s time to mate and nest they gather in large colonies in remote spots on the Scottish coast. They can be seen on land from late April to late July, although the best time to see them is in June and July when the chicks have hatched and the parents frequently leave their burrows to bring back fish. If you don’t want to cycle in Westray, which admittedly was very hard with the headwind, you can also bring your car across or book a guided tour with the local company Westraak. Another amazing coastal walk, although without Puffins, is on the south coast of South Ronaldsay. The southern islands are all connected to the mainland by causeways, the so-called Churchill Barriers that were built during the Second World War. We drove all the way to Burwick for a walk along the coast there. Not only did we enjoy the views towards the Scottish mainland, but the cliff tops were also covered in blooming sea pinks, which was just spectacular. On our way back we visited the Italian Chapel, and had two of the best meals of our trip; the café Polly Kettle on Burray dishes up fantastic Egyptian food, including the best cakes we had on our trip and great vegan options, and the Murray Arms Hotel in St Margaret’s Hope specialises in phenomenal seafood and sources all of its ingredients within a 15 mile radius. One more thing before I finish, when I was researching and planning our trip I paid close attention to the schedule of cruise ships docking in Kirkwall. When there is a large ship in the harbour it means that there will be many buses touring the island, so on the days with the biggest ships we stayed away from the main sites and did more outdoorsy things, like our day trip to Westray or the coastal walk on South Ronaldsay. There is of course a lot more to see on Orkney; from countless beaches to whisky distilleries, and I can’t wait to return to see more of these beautiful islands. You can find more travel tips and itinerary suggestions for all over Scotland on my travel blog watchmesee.com or listen to my immersive travel stories on my podcast Wild for Scotland. I also plan custom itineraries, so if you need some handso on support with your trip you can get in touch with me.

Dawn – We played a trailer for Kathi’s podcast Wild for Scotland in our Oban episode, but Wild for Scotland is an immersive travel podcast about Kathi’s trips around Scotland. Kathi is a beautiful storyteller and you feel like you’re there with her on each trip. I’d highly recommend giving it a listen. Now, Kathi also mentioned the Orkney Folk Festival, which was actually one of the reasons Kathi wanted to visit Orkney and she’s already booked to go back next year for the Orkney Folk Festival, and she did say that accommodation and events book up quickly. So, if you would like to attend the Orkney Folk Festival which takes place every year, and in 2024 will be taking place from the 23rd to the 26th of May, then it’s recommended you get booking soon. You can find out more details about the Orkney Folk Festival at orkneyfolkfestival.com. Another festival that takes place in Orkney every year is the Orkney International Science Festival, which in 2023 is taking place from the 7th to the 13th of September. Here’s Howie to tell you all about it.

Howie – When you’re visiting Orkney you want a sight of the Sun, and this year’s Orkney International Science Festival is providing seven days of it from 7th to the 13th of September. The sun we’re featuring is a huge model sphere with an ingenious projection system that brings the surface to life, with time lapse photography of the actual sun from NASA spacecraft. So, you can see the surface blazing with light, seething with solar storms. It was developed by an artist and a solar physicist in collaboration. And there’s music too. And it’s in the spectacular setting of St Magnus Cathedral. Around it we’re building a range of events at various venues including, in the cathedral, a concert combining ethereal, electronic music with choral singing, several instruments, and the cathedral organ. At other venues there are talks on topics like the northern lights and stories of arctic journeys in search of them, and there are also astronomy workshops about observing sun and stars.  Indeed, that a traveling planetarium among our wonderfully varied mix of activities for the family day. Every one of the seven days is packed with events from morning to late evening, including talks on a range of frontier areas. These include energy from wave and tide and offshore wind, as well as robotics with several friendly robots coming to visit. We’ll hear about the science of photonics and about tracing viruses that integrate into genomes, and will feature AI and satellite data for rural areas, and the story of great Ice Age glaciers that shape the Orkney landscape. There are opportunities to go outdoors, including; walks with archaeologists on ancient sites to learn about the neolithic landscape, and about plants and animals of five thousand years ago. We will also feature a wizard from Kansas with a world-renowned science show, accompanied by four cowboys who are legends of western music. And they’ll appear in concert, and also join us to tell the story of the town of Tombstone Arizona, with its famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and also it’s not so well-known microscopical scientific society. And we’ll hear of the amazing coincidences in tombstones history, with a remarkable year of light in art and physics. Indeed, one of our very distinctive features is the way we link science with art and music and history. We’re going to have a great day in the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, looking at the mathematical influences on some of the classic works in the permanent collection there. And we’ll be celebrating at the pier some anniversaries in a remarkably talented Scottish family from history. We’ll also celebrate the 75th birthday of a modern Scottish composer with new films, featuring all five of his astronomy influenced pieces of music. We’ll celebrate the centenary of the birth of a mathematician of Orkney descent, who, with his wife, preserved many traditional Scottish dances. We’ll also mark the 50th anniversary of the death of an Orkney born lady who preserved much knowledge of traditional Scottish food and drink, and indeed we’ll taste some samples. The lunches of Orkney fair are always something special, as are the evening sessions of music and chat. There is also time to think, in places like the cathedral with its warm red sandstone and the light shining through the stained glass windows, or walking along the shore with the sound of the waves and the light on the sea. And I haven’t yet mentioned the study of ancient cereals, or the story of a unique flock of island sheep, or an ancient Greek computer with mechanical gears, or a look back to an epic journey in a hurricane, or the science and practice of ultra running. There’s digital fashion, a wildlife photography workshop, and a look into Orkney’s genetic past and present, and we’ll meet the people who unearthed a mammoth graveyard, and much much more. And to find out about it go to our website, where we have some details now and the full program from the 8th of June, the address is www.oisf.org. That’s www.oisf.org. Tickets will be on sale in late June. The website also gives links to our social media pages, and to our rich and varied online magazine called Frontier. Ahead of your visit you can sample online some of our events from last year, with no charge. And if you can’t come, well we’ll have some of this year’s events online, again free. But if you can come, we would love to see you.

Dawn – Like Howie said, there’s so much taking place during the week of the festival; from talks, music, walks, workshops, family and evening events, fantastic lunches, exhibitions, and even online events if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to attend this year. It will be the 33rd International Orkney Science Festival, and you can find out more information and see the full schedule of what is on every day and where at oisf.org. Tickets will go on sale towards the end of July. And if you’d like to sign up to the newsletter or read the online magazine then visit frontiersmagazine.org.

[Music]

Now as Kathi mentioned previously, as there are so many islands that make up Orkney and so many things to do and see while you’re there, there really is no one size fits all and everyone’s visit to Orkney could be completely different to the next persons. But there’s one person I have recently started following whose videos of him and his dog Molly’s trips around Scotland I have been enjoying, who has also recently visited Orkney, and so I thought you might like to have a look at his videos too. But first, here’s a wee bit more about our trip to Orkney and what we saw. Once we had decided to visit Orkney, we all were in agreement that we definitely wanted to visit the Italian Chapel, which is why we decided to stay where we did as the Italian Chapel is only a seven minute drive away from The Sands Hotel, again over the Churchill Barriers. We’d all seen the Italian Chapel in pictures but it was something special actually standing in front of it, and it was just as beautiful inside. If you’d like to find out more about the Italian Chapel and the history of it then visit orkney.com, but in brief; over a thousand of the thousands of Italian soldiers that had been captured in North Africa were transported to Orkney, where 550 of them were initially tasked with constructing barriers that would close off entrances and make the home fleet base more secure, known as the Churchill Barriers. However, when the camp’s priest requested that a chapel be built, it was agreed that two Nissen huts would be joined together, and Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the Italian prisoners captured and shipped to Orkney who was an artist, as well as other tradesmen, were tasked with making this transformation happen. And, according to Wikipedia, despite Domenico’s fellow prisoners being released shortly before the end of the war, Domenico stayed on to finish decorating the chapel. According to orkney.com the Italian Chapel is one of Orkney’s most loved attractions. We then drove 15 minutes north to Kirkwall, which is the largest town in Orkney, where we parked at the harbour and had a wee wander about. But it was wet and cold as it was off season, so we didn’t spend too long here. There definitely was lots we didn’t get to see and appreciate in Kirkwall, including St Magnus Cathedral, which, according to orkneymuseums.co.uk, was founded in 1137 and built from local red and yellow sandstone. We then drove for about 90 minutes to west Mainland where we stopped at the Ness of Brodgar, which, according to nessofbrodgar.co.uk, is an archaeological site that covers 2.5 hectares and sits between the Ring Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. The site has been under excavation since 2004 and has revealed a massive complex of monumental neolithic buildings that date from around 3000BC, which makes it one of the most important archaeological excavations in the world. To say it was quite impressive would be an understatement. We next visited the Ring of Brodgar, which is a neolithic stone circle, and, according to Wikipedia, it is the only major henge and stone circle in Britain which is an almost perfect circle. We then drove a further eight minutes west we visited the Unstan Chambered Cairn, which, according to orkney.com, is a 5,000 year old burial tomb and is just one of hundreds throughout Orkney, one of which being the larger Maeshowe  Chambered Cairn that Kathi mentioned she had visited. The Unstan Chambered Cairn’s main chamber has separate compartments, as well as what orkney.com calls small individual cells, which shows both kinds of traditional burial chambers found in Orkney. For our final journey, before heading back to the hotel, we drove a further 14 minutes northwest to Skara Brae Prehistoric Village, situated right on the beach. According to orkney.com the site was uncovered by a storm in 1850, and it shows what life would have been like in Orkney around 5000 years ago. You can walk around this site looking down from above to really appreciate the size of the site and get a feel for the individual ancient homes. And you can easily imagine what life would have been like when you see such things as stone bed enclosures, dressers and seats, and there’s actually a replica home that you can go into which is fitted with these things so you can vividly get a feel of how people lived in these ancient homes. It was pretty special walking around the site looking down on the way people used to live, giving a real glimpse into the past. By the time we got here the day had brightened up so we were able to really enjoy the experience. After this we headed back to the hotel to enjoy more wonderful food, before heading back to mainland UK the next day, departing from St Margaret’s Hope. We really enjoyed visiting Orkney and would love to go back one day, this time it would be good to see the Puffins as it was out of season when we visited.

As I mentioned before, another person who visited Orkney, also out of season when he visited for three days in January 2023, was Graeme and his faithful Labrador Molly, and he packed so much into the three days. I recently came across Graeme from Scotland’s Stories on Instagram. I don’t know how I hadn’t found him before because he’s not only very popular but a fantastic storyteller and his videos of his trips visiting places in Scotland are a delight to watch and listen to, especially when Molly gets involved too, and you can clearly tell just how much he loves Scotland. Not only can you find Graeme’s video about Orkney, but also so many other places in Scotland he has visited, on his Instagram @scotlands_stories and on Facebook and Twitter @storyscotland, but you can also find his blog posts about the places he has visited too, including Orkney, on his website scotlands-stories.com. I’d highly recommend any and all of Graeme’s video posts and his blog, and his Orkney video is no exception. He visited places on Orkney that neither I or Kathi had, including St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. He also took a ferry to the Island of Hoy where he visited the Dwarfie Stane, which is a giant stone that had been carved out to make a tomb, and it’s really eerie seeing Graeme emerge from inside this massive stone. In Graeme’s Orkney blog post he also tells you of some places he stopped off to eat at while he was in Orkney. I will put a link to Graeme’s blog post about his trip to Orkney in the show notes, along with links to Kathi’s website watchmesee.com, where you can find all manner of helpful travel tips as well as itineraries to help you get the most from your visit to Scotland. If you enjoy Graeme’s videos as much as I do, then I’m pleased to announce that he will be featuring on a future episode of Scottish Digest when we will be covering Pitlochry, which is a town in Perthshire, and I’m really looking forward to hearing all about Graeme’s trip there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode all about Orkney, and I hope you do give the immersive and brilliant podcast by Kathi, Wild for Scotland, a listen, as well as follow Graeme and Molly on social media and get watching all of his brilliant and engaging videos of his trips around beautiful Scotland. You can find the links from today’s episode in the show notes as well as at cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest. That’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottish digest. We hope you join us next time for another slice of Bonnie Scotland.

[Music]

Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.


Episode 4 - Campbeltown

Episode 4 – Campbeltown

In this episode we will be telling you all about Campbeltown, located on the Kintyre peninsula, and is the westernmost town in the Island of Great Britain.

In this episode we will hear from Scottish Author Denzil Meyrick who is from Campbeltown, and we’ll hear all about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival, which in 2023 will take place from the 9th to the 13 of August.

Bestselling Scottish Crime Fiction Author Denzil Meyrick

Iain from the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival

Denzil Meyrick | Official Site

Home – Mull of Kintyre Music Festival

Explorekintyre.com

Mull of Kintyre Music Festival | Facebook

Mull of Kintyre Music and Arts Festival, Campbeltown – Celtic, Folk and Traditional | VisitScotland

Campbeltown Malts Festival 2023: Dates, events and festival bottlings from Glen Scotia and Springbank | Scotsman Food and Drink

Campbeltown Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Campbeltown – Wikipedia

The Kintyre 66 | Visit Campbeltown & Kintyre | Argyll

Is Kintyre’s ‘Route 66’ the next road to recovery? – BBC News

Scotland’s K66 driving route | loveexploring.com

Visit Campbeltown and Kintyre | Argyll and the Isles

Ferries to Scotland & Scottish Isles | Caledonian MacBrayne | CalMac Ferries

e-ticketing rollout | CalMac Ferries

Campbeltown Heritage Centre – Wikipedia

Visit | Discover the Social History of the West of Scotland | Campbeltown Heritage Centre

Memorial Garden

Linda McCartney Memorial Garden – Campbeltown, Scotland – Atlas Obscura

Campbeltown Harbour | Discover the Social History of the West of Scotland | Campbeltown Heritage Centre

Springbank Single Malt, The Whisky Drinker’s Whisky

Glen Scotia | Campbeltown Whisky | Single Malt Scotch Distillery

Number Forty Two

Muneroy Restaurant and Stores

Ardshiel Hotel Campbeltown, Accommodation, Restaurant, Whisky Bar

Kilkerran Single Malt – The newest, old distillery in Campbeltown

Home – Beinn An Tuirc Distillers, Kintyre Gin

SKARA | SKARA CEILIDH BAND

About Fiona | Fiona Hunter

Welcome to Skipinnish – Scottish Highland and Contemporary Musicians

About | ceol-an-aire (ceolanaire.com)

Home – Mairi Campbell

Find tickets for ‘campbeltown’ at TicketWeb

Caravan and Camping Holidays | Machrihanish Holiday Park (campkintyre.com)

 

Images from commons.wikimedia.org/

Map from openstreetmap.org

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted and written by Dawn Young

Edited by Erin Ferguson

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Hosted by Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 4 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Campbeltown.

[Music]

In today’s episode we will hear from Scottish crime fiction writer, Denzil Meyrick, about his favourite places to eat in Kintyre, as well as hear from Ian, who will tell us all about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival which takes place every year in Campbeltown, and in 2023 it will be taking place from Wednesday the 9th to Sunday the 13th of August. Ian will also tell us more about the Kintyre Route 66, which is a guide to not only what is happening in Campbeltown but wider Kintyre, well as tell us about his favourite places to visit, eat and stay in Campbeltown. But we’ll get to that. Let me first tell you a wee bit about Campbeltown and where it is. Campbeltown, according to Wikipedia, is located on the Kintyre peninsula, lies by Campbeltown loch, and is the westernmost town in the island of Great Britain. As the crow flies it is a mere 60 miles or 96 kilometres west of Glasgow, however, due to the fact you have to travel over hills and around lochs, the journey by car, despite being beautiful, will take you about three hours. You can of course travel to Campbeltown via Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, as well as fly. In 2018 there was an estimated population of 4,600, making Campbeltown, according to visitscotland.com, one of the largest towns in Argyll. If you enjoy your whisky then you’ll be pleased to know there are three active distilleries in Campbeltown, and Campbeltown is one of five areas in Scotland that is categorised as being a distinct malt whisky producing region. However, according to wildaboutargyll.co.uk, there used to be more than 30 distilleries at one point, and Campbeltown was once known as “The Whisky Capital of the World.” As well as being known for whisky distilling, Campbeltown used to also be a busy fishing port, and there is an exhibit at the Campbeltown Heritage Centre, located on Big Kiln Street, which shows the different types of fishing vessels that operated from the harbour. There are also a wide range of other exhibits and collections to see at the Heritage Centre, such as coal mining, farming, fishing and shipbuilding, with some of the objects dating back from around 1700 up to the present day. Now we’re going to hear a bit more about the Kintyre Route 66 from Iain, but, if you enjoy walking, taking in this route is a must, along which you’ll come across ruined castles, beautiful beaches and some amazing food stops.

[Music]

Iain – Kintyre 66 is a new route which was launched by Explore Kintyre and Gigha two years ago. It’s got a map and an itinerary planner. So, if you want to come along to Kintyre there’s six  different areas that you can visit in Kintyre,  six ferries come to the area, there’s six islands off the area, and, you know come for three days, six days. You can go visit Skipness, Tarbert. You can visit Gigha, Campbeltown, Southend, Machrihanish, East Kintyre, West Kintyre. The itinerary planner tells you all the places you can visit. We’ve actually got an Anthony Gormley sculpture, the only one in Scotland, and it’s up at Saddell where the Mull of Kintyre music video was created by Paul McCartney. There’s loads of wee quirky things of interesting in Kintyre. It lists all the events and festivals, because there’s lots of other events and festivals, lots of sporting events on in Kintyre as well. And it gives you an overall view and what all you can do and places you can stay when you’re here, places you can eat when you’re here. And if you go to explorekintyre.com you can download the map and itinerary planner there, and then take your time, time just dawdle round the route. If you’ve got a motorhome you can go to the local hire companies and they will hire out a car for you if you’ve got a motorhome as well, because one of the roads is a B road so you’ve got to be very careful when you’re driving around that with a motorhome. For accommodation if you go to explorekintyre.com that’s got lots of accommodation, places to stay.

Dawn – One other thing to mention about Campbeltown is its distinctive and sheltered harbour. We’re going to hear from Scottish author, Denzil Meyrick, in this episode where he will tell you some of his recommendations about Campbeltown, as not only is this where Denzil is from but the distinctive harbour features heavily in his DCI Daley books. And if you’re a fan of Denzil’s books or if you have listened to the interview I did with Denzil recently on my other podcast, Scottish Murders, you will know that his DCI Daley books are going to be made into a major television series starring Rory McCann from Game of Thrones, and the series will be filmed in Campbeltown and will of course feature the very distinctive harbour. So it’s definitely worth visiting the harbour at Campbeltown, which, according to campbeltownheritagecentre.co.uk, was essential to many industries from whisky to wind turbines, as well as being a key element in the naval defences during the first and second world wars.

[Music]

Denzil – Campbeltown is on the Kintyre peninsula. It used to be a much bigger town than it is now. During the second world war there was about 20,000 to 30,000 people in Campbeltown because of the the naval base then and the ships in Campbeltown loch, which was a major port during the second world war. Nowadays it’s very much centred around farming, and the whiskey distilleries are making a new… there’s whiskey distilleries being built there as we speak, and Springbank and Glen Scotia are fine whiskies that have won awards around the world. The town itself is bustling and really interesting with a great history. Friendly people. Lots of places to go, lots of places to eat and have a drink and enjoy yourself. And good hotels. And I thoroughly recommend it to anybody. Do you have a favourite place you eat at when you go there? Number 42 is very good, it’s on the main street, it’s owned by a friend of mine, so it’s very nice. But I love Southend, which is right down the bottom of the peninsula, a village right down the end. And Frances at Muneroy, has wonderful cakes and teas and things like that, so I commend her to you. If you’re in Kintyre at all go to Number 42 restaurant or the Ardshiel Hotel, which has a great stock of whisky, or Muneroy down at Southend, which, you know, if there’s a better cake maker in the world than in Frances, I’ve yet to meet her.

Dawn – Now, while we’re going to hear about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival in today’s episode, there are many other events that take place in Campbeltown throughout the year; such as the Campbeltown Malts Festival, which usually takes place for four days in late May. At this festival you can expect such things as tasting, live music and talks. Another festival that takes place every year is the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival. Here’s Iain, one of the organisers of the festival, to tell you all about it.

Iain – Mull of Kintyre Music Festival is held in Campbeltown in Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland. This year’s dates are August 9th to the 13th. It’s a five-day event, although we do have lots of other things going on around about it. The week and the run up to the event we have heritage trail walks around Campbeltown, we’ve got distillery tours from Glen Scotia, Kilkerran and Beinn An Tuirc  gin distillery. On the Wednesday the 9th first thing is a children’s show, it’s the McDougalls which is held in the Town Hall in Campbeltown. The first concert for the music festival is on Wednesday the 9th, it’s the Beinn An Tuirc festival Gaelic Night, and that is held in the Argyll Arms Hotel in Campbeltown. The headline act for this is Kathleen MacInnes and Mike Vass. And this is actually quite a rare choice to catch Kathleen, she doesn’t play that many live events. It’s a good old-fashioned Gaelic night with lots of stories, various different artists and musicians from around Campbeltown and Argyll going up beforehand, and then we finish it all off with Kathleen’s performance. That’s £12 a ticket for that concert. It starts at seven o’clock. The Thursday night is the Young Folk Night. Now that’s the 10th, and that’s held in the Campbeltown Heritage Centre. Now that’s a concert which celebrates the sort of the young musicians around Kintyre. A very popular night with families, but it’s great for visitors as well as it’s got lots… You can get a good chance to see some of the young and up and coming musicians and singers that are coming through. Got pipe bands on it, we’ve got brass bands on it, we’ve got Highland dancers on it, so it’s a right good mix of things. And that’s £8 a ticket and it starts at seven o’clock as well. On the Friday night we have the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band do a performance at the head of the old quay. That’s at half past seven. They then march into the Victoria Hall for the first of the concerts in the big hall. Now the Victoria Hall is right beside the roundabout, and basically that’s where the main concerts are held. This is the Festival Ceilidh night and it’s a big big family event, we’ve got  people of all ages and stages go to it. It starts off with the Pipe Band playing on the floor, and it’s quite a thing to see actually. That’s followed by  The Dalriada Connections Band. This is a band which is comprised of students and tutors from Campbeltown Grammar School and interspersed with musicians from across Argyll and Northern Ireland who come on stage. I think the biggest band we ever had was a 27 piece band, which is a bit of a nightmare for the sound crew but it was a great sound, and it’s a great start to the concert cause they’re on the stage. Next we have the Wee Toon Tellers, which are a local band who have been about for about 30-40 years. Great band with lots of songs and tunes and quite a bit of craic with the audience at that one. And then we’re into the Ceilidh Band which is the Skara Ceilidh Band. This is their first time in Campbelltown. A really good Ceilidh dance band, and the whole night is like an old-fashioned ceilidh, where everyone gets up and ceilidh dances. Tables and chairs at this event, but a huge big dance floor. Tickets for this concert are £18 for an adult and it’s £9 if you’re under 12. So it’s just trying to encourage whole families to come along to this event. That starts at 7.30, doors are at 7.30 for that event. On the Saturday, the 12th, we start off the festival parade. That kicks off around 12.30 at the Esplanade. That’s led by the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band. They march through the streets of Campbeltown and they’re followed by floats with local businesses on it,  community groups on it, we’ve got children’s entertainers walking on it, walking groups. It’s a very colourful event. That goes right round the town, finishes at Kinloch Green, where the Pipe Band then march on to open up the afternoon event, which is Doon the Green. That’s what we call it. That’s a huge big community event with lots of community stalls, it’s got live bands on the stage, it’s got Highland dancers, we’ve got Taekwondo exhibition on it, we’ve got children’s entertainment. The fair is right beside it as well, so it’s great for the adults because the children can go across to the fair and the adults can sit and enjoy the afternoon. We’ve got a big bar area and a big children’s field as well. It’s an all round family event. That’s free to go to. Of course donations are welcome. But it’s a nice big way for the whole community to come together. The first of the evening concerts is the traditional concert which is held in Campbeltown Heritage Centre. It’s the second concert in this event. And this year it’s headlining with the Fiona Hunter Trio. And we have an opening act which is the Argyll Ceilidh Trail, who are doing two performances that Saturday night; the first one is an acoustic set and the second one will be in the next concert which I’ll tell you about shortly. Tickets for this concert are £15 and this concert starts at seven o’clock, doors at 6 30. This concert normally finishes around about 9, and that’s when the West Coast Rocks concert starts. This is the Glen Scotia West Coast Rocks concert, and this is the second concert in the Victoria Hall. This is like a three bands all playing good festival sets, headlining with Skipinnish, who are one of the main attractions in Scotland at the moment. We also have Ceòl an Aire, a band from Oban, a five piece band from Oban.  Opening will be the Argyll Ceilidh Trail doing their second performance, and this is a good festival ceilidh  set they’re going to do. This is a big lively event. There’s some tables and chairs, not all seated by any means, a huge big dance floor and very popular. Tickets for this concert are £28. And,  just to point out, tickets are going very fast for concerts so if you want to go to events don’t waste too much time before getting them, if you want to guarantee you want to go. The next event is on the Sunday, we have the Dalriada Connections concert. Now this is actually an event which has been going now for about 15 years. It to celebrate the links between Northern Ireland and in Kintyre and the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, which basically we’ve got the strapline for the music festival is Cradle of the Nation, and basically if you go back in history the Scots went to Ireland for the Ice Age, they then came back and they landed in Kintyre cause it defrosted first, waited there for a few hundred years, moved north, caused  all sorts of wars and all this sort of stuff. So we say it’s Cradle of the Nation because we have a footstep at Southend which is called the […..] footstep where the first kings of Scotland were crowned. So the Dalriada Connections concert is a celebration of the links. We’ve got a double headline for this, we’ve got Mairi Campbell coming through and she’s going to do the opening set. And then we have a duo which is Archie McAllister and Sileas Sinclair who are doing a fiddle and piano set. And various other artists from across Argyll, from Northern Ireland, they’re all playing. And we all finish up with the Dalriada Connections band again.  This is a collection of all the artists, the musicians who played during the whole Sunday afternoon, and they all finish it all off. Bonus for this one is you also get a Kilkerran Distillery miniature to take away with you. The tickets for this concert are £14. Doors are 1.30, starts at 2, finishes around about five o’clock. You get a short break and then at 7.30 the doors to the Victoria Hall open for the last concert. This is the Kilkerran  Survivors Night. This is a great event,  sells out in no time at all. A few tickets left for this course at the moment. And what we have at this is we headline with a band called Slainte Davaar Allstars. It’s a mixture of all the sort of musicians  from Campbelltown, and they’re joined by various different musicians from around the area each year. They did 22 new tracks every year, tracks from the 60s, 70s, 80s, right through to the naughties, and you’ll hear everyone from Tina Turner to, you know, right to the chic.  You can hear anything. We also then have the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band, they’re going to play up on the stage, and they actually hook up with lots of other musicians so they’ve got a full drum kit behind them, and it’s something special when they play. It’s their first performance at the Kilkerran Survivors Night for seven years. So, we’re really looking forward to that. Before that we have a band called we.R.soul, got to watch how I say that. And this is a band of musicians who play a set of swing. They do a bit of funk. They’ve got a brass section with it as well. I love the big band, a 12 piece band. So you get a bit of brass, a bit of funk. It’s a great band.  Tickets for this concert are £22. This concert starts at 7.30, door 7.30, starts at eight o’clock, runs on until one o’clock/two o’clock, a big long concert. It’s a great night out. Most of the concerts are licensed, the ones in the Heritage Centre are not, the rest are all licensed. Lots of fringe events around the event as well, there’s lots of stuff in the pubs and the bars and the hotels, their social clubs, they’ve all got live music on. The open air events are across the town, so you can just pick and choose, you can go to a free event, you can go to a concert. The concerts are all ticketed individually, basically because very few people can actually manage to go to all seven concerts, but it’s only about £150 to go to every single concert. But you can pick and choose which concerts you want to go to,  which venues you like. We get people coming from all over the world to this event. I’ve had a quick check with ticketweb, and this year we’ve got people from across Europe; Sweden, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, France. We’ve got a lot of people from USA coming across, Canada, South America. We’ve got ones coming across from China this year. So it’s quite a global event. One of the reasons we started the event was actually Campbeltown in the early 90s, it wasn’t really doing that well, there wasn’t a lot of tourists. We started the event up actually to help extend the tourist season. So, it was always usually held at the second last Saturday of August, we’re a week earlier this year because of the pipe band championships. But basically the festival was started just to sort of get people to come to the area and, as I say, extend the tourist season. It’s now the busiest weekend in the whole of Kintyre. It’s very difficult to get beds. So what we’ve done is we’ve worked in with Machrihanish holiday park so you can come along with camper vans, you can camp. So it’s different ways of coming to the festival, different types of accommodation at the festival. If you’re coming make sure you book early. And, as I say, it’s lots of stuff across the whole event; from children’s entertainment to big live concerts. The Saturday night in particular is like a festival within a festival, that’s the way we look at it. But we’ve also got workshops at the event as well, we’ve got tours around the harbour on the Saturday morning. So all in all it’s a fun event to come along to, and you can pick and choose what you want to go to. You can find out more at the music festival website which is www.mokfest.com, you can buy tickets directly from it. And you can email me, I’m Iain Johnston at mokfest@hotmail.co.uk. And you can visit our Facebook page, so it Mull of Kintyre Music Festival, there’s lots of individual posters about each concert telling you much more about the event. And we’re really looking forward to it and we’d love for you to come along to it.

Dawn – I absolutely love the sound of the Mull of Kinytre Music Festival. If you’ve been to a previous festival or are planning on going to this one, please let us know what you enjoyed about it the most. Like Iain said, if you plan to go this year, from the 9th to the 13th of August 2023 and want to attend a concert, then get your tickets now while they’re still available, by visiting mokfest.com. You can find out more about the Kintyre Route 66 by visiting wildaboutargyll.co.uk and search for Kintyre Route 66. Now, of one final thing to tell you about Campbeltown. In the heart of Campbeltown there’s a beautiful peaceful wee garden which is called Linda’s Memorial Garden, after Sir Paul McCartney late wife Linda. According to atlasobscura.com, upon Sir Paul and Linda getting married in 1969, they lived in a farmhouse about an 11 minute drive outside of Campbeltown and the couple were very fond of Kintyre and felt so at home there, with Linda’s ashes actually being scattered across the Kintyre area. The Campbeltown residents were also very fond of Linda and Sir Paul and, so, as a tribute to Linda, the Lady Linda McCartney Memorial Garden was created, with Sir Paul, according to lindasgarden.co.uk, generously donating a bronze sculpture as the centrepiece for the garden. The garden is a quiet haven for rest and contemplation and is located on Shore Street near the Campbeltown Museum.

And that’s the end. A big thank you to Iain for telling us all about the Mull of Kintyre Music festival and Kintyre Route 66, which you can find more about from mokfest.com and wildaboutargyll.co.uk. And also a big thank you to Denzil Meyrick for giving his personal Kintyre food recommendations. If you’d like to find out more about Denzil’s books you can visit denzilmeyrick.com. All links will be in the show notes or under this episode at cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest, that’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottish digest. We hope you enjoyed this episode. Join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.

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Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.


Episode 3 - Portsoy

Episode 3 – Portsoy

In this episode we will be telling you all about Portsoy, located in Aberdeenshire. We’ll hear from Susanne from Adventures Around Scotland who will tell you about her visits to Portsoy, and from Lauren, who will tell you all about The ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival which takes place every year, and in 2023 will take place from 30th June to the 2 July 2023.

Adventures Around Scotland – A Scotland Travel Blog

ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Portsoy – Wikipedia

Portsoy Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

portsoy | OpenStreetMap

Award Winning Ice Cream & Sorbets at Portsoy Ice Cream

Portsoy, Aberdeenshire – Visitor Guide

Portsoy, Moray: Things to Do | Out About Scotland

Walk Report – Hidden gems of Portsoy: Boyne Castle • Walkhighlands

Boyne Castle, a true hidden gem near Portsoy

PORTSOY LINKS BAY – 2023 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Dexys Midnight Runners – Wikipedia

Overview – Portsoy – Aberdeenshire Harbours

Portsoy, Moray: Things to Do | Out About Scotland

THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Portsoy – 2023 (with Photos)

File:Portsoy Old Harbor – Portsoy Marble and Warehouse.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Portsoy Old Harbour – geograph.org.uk – 434379.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Wheat, Portsoy – geograph.org.uk – 3225361.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Portsoy harbor (43077737375).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:The Old Harbour from Shore Street – geograph.org.uk – 2254530.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Portsoy Harbours – geograph.org.uk – 3534612.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Portsoy Marble – Portsoy and Whitehills

Portsoy Salmon Bothy

Wooden Boat Building @ The Portsoy Boat Shed

Facebook – The Portsoy Gift Box

Brandon Lodge Bed and Breakfast – Located three miles from the historic harbour town of Portsoy

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail | VisitScotland

CONTACT – SKERRYVORE

Facebook – Fair Trickit

Facebook – Skip 2 The Beat

Rhythmnreel

Reaper returns to Portsoy ahead of Scottish Traditional Boat Festival – History Scotland

Scottish Fisheries Museum – Home Page

Wood fuel products including wood pellets, briquettes, firewood

Contact Us – Hamlyn’s Of Scotland

Macduff Group | Shipyards, Crane Hire, Profilers & Precision Engineering

Facebook – The Portsoy Thrift Shop

Twice Buried Rum

 

Images from commons.wikimedia.org/

Map from openstreetmap.org

Scottish Digest Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted and written by Dawn Young

Edited by Erin Ferguson

Map courtesy of openstreetmap

Images courtesty of commons.wikimedia.org/

Music:

Epidemic by ES_The Celtic Flavour – Alysha Sheldon

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Host Dawn Young

Welcome to Episode 3 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Portsoy.

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Later in this episode, we will hear about an event that takes place in Portsoy every year, where you can enjoy music and dancing, Scottish food and drink, as well as see demonstrations of traditional crafts such as weaving and knotting, and where you can also buy unique handmade gifts. But we’ll hear more about that later. We’ll also hear some personal recommendations from Susanne from Adventures Around Scotland about her visit to Portsoy. But first let me tell you a wee bit about Portsoy, where it is and what it’s known for. The charming port village of Portsoy is in Aberdeenshire and located, according to Wikipedia, on the Moray Firth coast of North East Scotland. It is 50 miles or 80 kilometres north west of Aberdeen, and 65 miles or 105 kilometres east of Inverness. According to the 2011 census, it had a population of 1,752. However, for two days each summer, when the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival takes place, Portsoy is visited by, according to outaboutscotland.com, up to 16,000 people, who come to enjoy the festivities. According to Visit Scotland, Portsoy has an attractive uphill town centre, and its fascinating, winding streets lead down to one of the things Portsoy is famous for, its distinctive 17th century harbour, which, according to Wikipedia, is the oldest on the Moray Firth, and it has featured in TV dramas such as Peaky Blinders. According to outaboutscotland.com, the harbour is distinctive due to the wall being built with horizontal rather than vertical stones, as it was assumed that this would better stand up to the fierce waves that would crash against it. And, as it still there today, they must have assumed correctly. A new larger more exposed harbour was built in 1825, and, according to aberdeenshireharbours.co.uk, it berths up to 30 boats. While visiting the harbours you might spot pods of dolphins swimming along the shore. However, even if you don’t spot the dolphins at sea, you can find a sculpture of a dolphin overlooking Portsoy. Portsoy is also famous for its jewellery, which is made from polished red and green Serpentine marble, which has been shipped and used all over the world. But you don’t have to go far to be able to see this beautiful Portsoy marble, as you’ll find it on view in a warehouse that overlooks the harbour. If you would like to find out about the history of salmon fishing, boat building and see artifacts from Portsoy’s harbour, you can visit The Salmon Bothy Museum for free. Another gem of Portsoy that you might want to sample while you’re there is the award-winning Portsoy ice cream, with so many flavours such as strawberry cheesecake, salted caramel, and even mojito sorbet, plus there are even gluten and dairy-free options available. To find out more you can visit portsoyicecream.co.uk.  If you’d like to do a little exploring, according to outaboutscotland.com, there are good walks in both directions along the coastline, and just a couple of minutes walk from the harbour is Links Bay, which offers picnic benches and amazing views over the North Sea, and you can watch the seabirds perched on the rocks. So, I hope that has given you a bit of an idea about Portsoy and what you can do and see there. Now let’s hear more about Portsoy and what it has to offer from Susanne, who has actually visited Portsoy.

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Hi, I’m Susanne from Adventures Around Scotland, and in this episode I’m going to give you my tips for things to do in the coastal village of Portsoy, which is an Aberdeenshire. Like lots of visitors to Portsoy I gravitate towards the harbour. There’s actually two harbours; one of them dates back to the 17th century and it’s particularly characterful and photogenic. There’s some nice walks round it and there’s also a viewpoint just above it where you can look out to the North Sea, and you can look across the original harbour, the 17th century harbour, and also the newer harbour, which I think dates to the early 19th century, so it’s still quite old as well. And also round about the harbour area there is the Boatshed, which is a workshop area where volunteers keep alive the skills of traditional boat making, so you can actually pop in and speak to them, find out more about the craft, and if you’re lucky, they’re very welcoming to visitors, and if you’re lucky they’ll even offer you a wee cup of tea, which is what they did when I popped in. And if you can’t make the Boat Festival, it’s a great place to find out more about the traditional boat building history in the Portsoy area. And there is a little gift shop where you can pick up some Portsoy marble. Now, it’s actually polished Serpentine and it’s famous for being exported around the world from Portsoy, but particularly being used in the Palace of Versailles. So, I think that’s quite amazing, that rock quarried near to the harbour in Portsoy is part of the fabrication of the Palace of Versailles. But that’s not the only thing that Portsoy is famous for, it’s also famous for its ice cream, and up on the Main Street is the Portsoy ice cream shop, and you’ll know it on a sunny day because it always has like a queue winding down the street. It’s award-winning ice cream and it has over a hundred, I think they have, flavours of ice cream and sorbets and some really unusual concoctions.  So, if you grab an ice cream, or even one of the fish and chip shops nearby, and head down to the harbour, that’s like the perfect day in Portsoy for me. And the last time I visited Portsoy I actually stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast called Brandon Lodge, which is in the countryside just a few miles outside of the village. So it’s like the best of both worlds, you’re staying in the country in a lovely quiet rural setting, but you’re also just a short drive away from the sea and the coast. But I’m giving it a special shout out because I think it’s one of the great things about staying at a bed and breakfast is the personal touch, and when I arrived at, I’m glutton free, so when I arrived the owner, Lorna, had actually baked me fresh home-baked pancakes, they were still warm and they were absolutely delicious. And I think it’s a lovely accommodation its own right, but Lorna also went above and beyond in many ways whilst I stayed with her, so I just think that she deserves a special mention in this podcast. And once you’re finished in Portsoy there is so much more to see along this part of the Aberdeenshire coast.  There’s actually a road route that runs round the coast called the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, and I’ve written a blog post about it so you can find that on my website. And there’s so many beautiful scenic and kind of under the radar places in this part of Scotland, so it’s definitely worth going not only to Portsoy but also exploring a bit more around the coast. So, if you want to find out more about the Aberdeenshire coast, Portsoy or other places to stay and things to do in Scotland, then you can check out my travel blog at www.adventuresaroundscotland.com, and also my social media channels, I’m adventuresaroundscotland on both Facebook and Instagram.

Dawn – Okay, so I mentioned before about the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival that takes place each year in Portsoy, so now here’s Lauren to tell you more about it.

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Lauren Ahoy Portsoy! Probably the best way to start. The ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival is returning on Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd of July in the historic harbour of Portsoy in Aberdeenshire. Now it’s famous, everybody loves it, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and we have loads on. So, we’ve got traditional sailing vessels, we’ve got music and dance, we’ve got food and drink, you’ve got age-old crafts, you’ve got unique handmade items and gifts. We’ve got loads and loads on across the weekend. So get yourself down here, it’s going to be really really fun. Now let me just tell you a little bit background on the festival. The festival was first held in 1993, it was a bit of a one-off, and then people loved it, and that’s it. Since then it’s been firmly anchored in the town’s calendar, and it takes place annually, attracting thousands of visitors across Scotland, and further afield to be honest, it’s one of them isn’t it, people just love it at the Portsoy harbour and the Boat Festival. In terms of music then, Skerryvore  is going to kick off the Festival as they headline the Big Gig on the Back Green on Friday the 30th of June. Now, this is a band that has been touring globally and they are going to be performing their new tracks from their new album Tempus, which is exciting. There’s going to be a host of local groups, artists and performers that are going to take to the stage during the weekend. We have Cullen based Duo Fair Trickit, they are absolutely brilliant, they were there last year and they are just great. We’ve got Festival favourites Skip 2 The Beat as well, they’re going to return for another fast-paced skipping stunt, which was really interesting to watch last year. On Saturday night renowned Highland rock band Rhythmnreel, they’re going to be bringing their upbeat, foot stomping tunes, and they’re going to be headlining the Big Gig on the Back Green as well, so that’s going to be exciting. There’s lots and lots of music across the weekend. Other things to look out for obviously boats, the main thing, the main attraction, and the Reaper, the iconic Reaper is making a comeback. A 19th century Fife sailing herring drifter, it’s going to be returning to the festival, so it’s a rare survivor of the golden age of sail. And it’s had a bit of, well it’s been restored, so it’ll be something new to look at. It’s owned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther in Fife, and it is one of the few vessels in the UK’s National Historic Fleet which is actually still in condition to be in the sea.  Skipper, Eric Lauritsen, he is making his way with his eight crew, they’re going to be making an 18 to 20 hour journey to Portsoy for the festival. And obviously you can get on board the Reaper and have a little look on, and experience the life, what it was like at sea over 100 years ago, which is going to be fantastic. It’s going to be amazing. And the other thing to look out for is the food fair. So if you’re hungry, definitely the place to be for the weekend. You’ll get the best Scottish produce on the menu, it’s going to be all locally sourced, Aberdeen Angus beef, handmade pies, pickled onions, locally produced gin, we’ve got rum, whiskey, we’ve got sweet treats including fudge and toffee, Belgian chocolate, and of course so we cannot forget the famous Portsoy ice cream. Man, I’m just so hungry thinking about it. We’ll also have the craft demonstrations, so they’re going to be on display in the craft fair. We’ve got handmade ceramics there, jewellery, prints, paintings, all available to browse and buy. Now this is perfect if it’s someone’s birthday coming up or Christmas you’re thinking ahead to, then definitely something to get along to. Other thing as well if you’re thinking about bringing the kids or anything, then we do have a kids zone. So we’ve got trampolining, bouncy castles, segways, teacups, we’ve got glitter tattoos, we’ve got loads and loads on to keep your little ones entertained, so you can bring them. We’ve also got the onboard Tam O Shunter land train, that’s going to be amazing, so that’s going to be running throughout the weekend, you can have a wee shot on that. We’ve got the raft race, that’s the ever so popular raft race, it’s always a laugh to watch, and and that will take place on Saturday afternoon. You can see teams of three compete to make it across the harbour, and they’re in their homemade rafts and paddles, so it’s gonna be interesting. And the one thing is is that they’re not allowed to fall in. So, yeah, definitely something fun to watch. Now, we want to say a massive thank you to all the festival sponsors; we’ve got ACE Winches, we’ve got Puffin Wood Fuels, Hamlyns of Scotland Oatmeal, MacDuff Shipyards, Portsoy Thrift Shop, Twice Buried Rum, Moray West, we’ve got loads and loads of sponsors, so thank you to you, because without you we wouldn’t be able to do this at all of course. Now, if you would like to come along to the Portsoy Boat Festival, you’re thinking this is right up my street, this is brilliant, then head to www.stbfportsoy.org, that’s where you can purchase some tickets, that’s www.stbfportsoy.org. And if you fancy going on social media as well, give us a wee follow at stbfportsoy, or you can #ahoyportsoy. Anyway, I really hope to see you there. That is the 1st of July and also the 2nd of July, Saturday and Sunday, at the Portsoy Boat Festival. We can’t wait to see you. Ahoy Portsoy!

Dawn – If you like the sound of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival and would like to attend, you can find all information and get your tickets at stbfportsoy.org.

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Before we go just another we interesting fact about Portsoy. According to Wikipedia, Jim Patterson, who was the trombonist with the late 70s early 80s band Dexys Midnight Runners, one of their songs being Come On Eileen, was born and raised in Portsoy. And that’s it for this week. We hope today’s episode has given you an insight into Portsoy and what is available to do and see there; from the distinctive 17th century harbour, the award-winning ice cream and the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, it really does sound like an interesting place to visit. You can find all links to what I’ve talked about today in the show notes or from cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest, that’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottishdigest. If you have plans to visit a specific place in Scotland, or if you would like help or advice in planning your trip to Scotland, then please visit adventuresaroundscotland.com where you will find a host of information about where Susanne has visited and what she has experienced, as well as Susanne’s contact details if you would like further advice or information. We really hope you have enjoyed this episode of Scottish Digest, and we would love for you to join us next time, where we will focus on another beautiful part of Bonnie Scotland.

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Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.