Sale of World's Oldest Bottle of Scotch Whisky
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The record for a single bottle of Scotch remains at GBP26,000 ($50,100) which was paid in 2002 for a bottle of Dalmore, which had been matured for 62 years prior to bottling.
Visit Scotland's distilleries with catswhiskerstours.
Scotland's Small Islands Struggle to Survive
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Papa Stour ( Name means Great Priest Isle). Pop 25. Lies west of Shetland mainland.
North Ronaldsay (Name means Ringan's or Ninian's Isle). Pop 57. Lies north of the Orkneys.
Foula (Named after Scandinavian word for bird 'fugla'.) Pop 26. Lies west of Shetlands.
Canna (Name origin unknown). Pop 15. Lies N.W. of Rum.
Rum (Name possibly of Viking origin.) Pop 29. Lies south of Isle of Sky.
Fair Isle (Sheep Isle from Norse word 'faer'.) Pop 70. Lies between Orkney and Shetland.
Muck (Island of Swine.) Pop 34. Very small island which lies south of Rum.
Gigha (God's Isle or Good Isle.) Pop 150 and rising. Lies off the Kintyre peninsula.
Explore Scotland's islands with catswhiskerstours.
Labels: Scotland's Islands
New Seaplane Service from Glasgow
Monday, November 27, 2006
Explore Scotland's West Coast with catswhiskerstours
Two Day Tour from Glasgow
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Collect clients from Glasgow hotel at 0915. Drive to Rosslyn Chapel, south of Edinburgh (about 90 mins). We spend about 90 mins visiting this iconic site with its unique history and link with the
Da Vinci Code. We avail of the special guided tour and admire the wonderful carvings and architecture. Superb photo opportunities! Only negative aspect is the lack of heating, which is particularly noticeable during the winter time!
At midday we drive into Edinburgh to avail of a light lunch at the Restaurant adjacent to the Palace of Holyrood House. This eatery is a value for money, self-service facility which is adequate for our purposes.
After some external photos of the Palace we move on to Calton Hill, the famous 'Athens of the North' which, owing to clement weather, affords superb views of Edinburgh City and the Forth Estuary.
On then to 96 George Street and the Grand Lodge of Scotland which incorporates a museum and library. This is a fascinating building with opportunities for learning about Masonry.
See fascinating Edinburgh with catswhiskerstours
After the Grand Lodge we drive back to Glasgow via famous parts of Edinburgh, including the Mound, Grassmarket and Castle.
Arrive back at the hotel about 5.00pm.
Collect group from hotel at 0900 then drive north through central Glasgow through Strathblane to Glengoyne Distillery. We arrive in time for the 1000am tour which transpires to be excellent value as our group enjoys the sole services of a distillery tour guide.This tour last about 90 mins and proves a very interesting and informative experience.
Visit Scotland's distilleries with catswhiskerstours
Late morning we drive on up through the Trossachs, taking in Aberfoyle and Loch Katrine, the latter forming Glasgow's main water supply. After some short photo stops we drive on to the superbly situated Lake of Menteith Hotel where we enjoy a pleasant pub lunch combined with superb views of Scotland's only Lake on an island in which sits the famous Inchmahome Priory. Again, the weather permits photo opportunities at this scenic spot.
After a relaxing and enjoyable lunch we drive on to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland's best visitor attractions which also offers superb views of the local countryside and the nearby Wallace Monument of 'Braveheart' fame.
After an enjoyable tour of Stirling Castle we move on back to Glasgow.
Overall, a diversified and interesting short tour of Scotland's famous sites. Enjoy Scotland with catswhiskerstours
Labels: two day tour
News from Scotland
Thursday, November 23, 2006
- Latest statistics show that Scotland is becoming a safer place-as reflected in a 2005-6 murder rate at a 15 year low of 93 compared with 137 in 2004-5. The number of firearms related offences also fell.
- Two men from Aberdeen University died after being caught in exposed conditions in the Cairngorms. Temperatures had dropped to minus 20C (minus 4F).
- Big upsurge of immigration from Eastern Europe: Figures indicate that possibly 60,000 migrants from the new EU states have arrived in Scotland since their countries joined Europe two years ago.
- The Crook Inn, a 400 year old hostelry where Robert Burns wrote the Willie Wastle poem in 1792, has been acquired by a developer who is seeking permission to convert the inn into four separate properties. The development is being opposed by the local community. The Inn is used as a base by the Porteous Clan and receives many visitors from America.
Visit interesting Scotland with catswhiskerstours
Labels: Scotland news
Mystery of the Bog Bodies of N.W.Europe
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It has been noted that the bodies have often been subject of violent deaths. They tend to be found on the borders of tribal boundaries and/or Royal estates. According to one theory, the burials represent an offering to the gods of fertility by kings in support of successful reign. The bodies are placed on the borders of estates to ensure success of the Kingship-by appeasing the gods of fertility.
Explore Scotland's history with catswhiskerstours
Labels: bog bodies
Kenneth Mackenzie, Scotland's Nostradamus
- Industrial Changes
- Downfall of the Clans
- Battle of Culloden
- Building of bridges over the River Ness
- Victorian Spa resort of Strathpeffer
- The Caledonian Canal
Visit Scotland with catswhiskerstours
Open-Top Driving in Scotland
- Dukes Pass from Aberfoyle to Callander
- The single-track road up Glen Affric in Inverness-shire
- The A85 linking Crieff and Crianlarich through Strathearn in Perthshire
Campaign to replace Forth Road Bridge
Failure to act in time, whether by way of a new bridge or tunnel, could cost the Scottish economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
See the Forth bridges with catswhiskerstours
Visit to Lake of Menteith Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
This hotel currently has no current star rating but will apply for same (probably early 2007) post the refurbishment which is currently in process. In the writer's estimate rating should be strong "3" if not a "4". Absence of 24 hour reception may militate against the latter.
Five Superiors (doubles/twins) each of which has a lake view. These are currently priced at GBP70 per person for bed and breakfast.
Five/six intermediate rooms which are priced at GBP55.00 per person for bed and breakfast. One bedroom with four poster bed and lake view.
Four standard rooms priced at GBP45 per person for bed and breakfast.
A former manse which is set just a few metres/yards form the edge of Scotland's only lake-Lake Menteith. The bar and dining room benefit from superb lakeside views of this famous lake in which is located Inchmaholme Priory with its Mary Queen of Scots connection. The pontoon from which the small boast which transports visitors to the island on which sits the Priory is conveniently situated just a few hundred metres form the hotel.
Close to the hotel is a large local church. Behind are the beautiful hills of the Trossachs. Aberfoyle is about 5 miles distant whilst Stirling is 14 miles away. Glasgow and Edinburgh are each about one hours drive.
Nick Nairn's Cook School is about 5 minutes away from the hotel. Nick Nairn appears to have a small equity interest in the hotel.
With Nick Nairn's School close by and the two rosette Glasgow Buttery under same ownership/management as the hotel, there is, naturally, a strong emphasis on quality food and fresh, local produce.
Staff (about 8) are mainly British with a small contingent (2) from Eastern Europe. The writer was very well received by the staff during his visit and gained a favourable impression of service quality.
A stylish, New England type interior with a fresh/clean impression notwithstanding which an upgrade/refurbishment is planned.There is a bar dedicated to malt whisky tasting.
The hotel appears geared towards the private visitor as opposed to budget coach tours. Location relative to Edinburgh and Glasgow means the hotel is convenient for corporate offsite activities such as "brainstormings" and conferences. The hotel management have targeted this market and provide a well equipped conference room and a connected "break-out" room. There is limited internet "wi-fi"connectivity.
A new brochure is planned for 2007.
This hotel far exceeded the writer's initial impression gained from the website. The latter does not do the hotel justice.
Visit the Trossachs and Inchmaholme Priory with catswhiskerstours
Edinburgh and Victorian Photographers
Monday, November 20, 2006
In the late Victorian period, Evelyn George Carey was active; he meticulously documented the construction of the Forth Railway Bridge. Also, Alfred Henry Rushbrook was active at the same time.
The best way to view the iconic Forth Rail Bridge is by boat.
Explore and photograph Edinburgh with catswhiskerstours
Scottish Whisky Distilleries
History of Scotland's Newest Malt Whisky DistilleryGlendronnach
Founded 1826 by John Allardyce.Historically contributed to the Teacher's blend but has been mothballed since the late 1990s.The single malt is a golden, medium dry 12 year old, quite spicey and with good length.Fettercairn
Founded 1824 near to the village of Fettercairn. Most of the output goes to Whyte & Mackay.Blair Athol
Founded 1798. Historically connected with Arthur Bell & Sons but now under Diageo ownership.Famous for its 12 year old malt about half of which is sold through the distillery shop.Oban
Founded 1794 by Hugh Stevenson.Unusually located in the middle of the town.This remains one of the smallest distilleries in the Highlands with just a solitary pair of stills.The spirit is a fairly lightly peated, quite smoky and with a faint prickle of spice which has now been eleveated to the status of 'Classic Malt'.Edradour
Smallest distillery in Scotland, established 1825.Produces 90,000 litres per annum.It was Edradour whisky which sank with the SS Politician in 1941 and led to the book and film 'Whisky Galore'.Aberfeldy
Founded 1989 by John Dewar and Sons.Famous for association with the White Label blend. As a single malt it produces a scent of vanilla and boiled sweets with luscious, oily flavours.Speyside Cooperage
The ancient art of coopering. See skilled coopers and apprentices at work.Ben Nevis
Founded 1825 by 'Long John' Macdonald and built beneath Britain's tallest mountain.Now the most northerly distillery on Scotland's West Coast. Most of the malt goes into the 'Dew of Ben Nevis' blend. However, a small amount is bottled as a single malt.This distillery will allow the public to buy a hoggshead direct.Glenturret
Founded 1775 as the Hosch Distillery, Crieff.One of the oldest distilleries in the Highlands if not the world.Closely associated with the Famous Grouse brand.Deanston
Founded 1966 near Doune in Perthshire.Acquired by Burns Stewart which also owns Tobermory on Mull. Deanston's own malt is bottled in various maturities with the unpeated 12 year old providing a smooth-as-honey flavour proving very popular.Glengoyne
The first Highland distillery founded in 1833 by George Connell. Now owned by the Robertson Trust which links Glengoyne to sister brands The Macallan, Highland Park and Famous Grouse.The 10 and 17 year old Glengoyne are both quite flowery,unpeated whiskies with the sweet smack of American oak.SPEYSIDE
Founded 1990 and otherwise known as Drumguish. With two stills producing 600,000 litres of alcohol p.a.this is the second-smallest distillery in Scotland. Output will go into blending with some retained for bottling as a 10 yr old single malt.BALMENACH
A Speyside distillery founded 1824 by James McGregor.Now owned by Inver House and has six stills.Benriach
Built 1898 in Speyside by John Duff.After 3 years went dormant for 65 years until reactivated in the 1960s.Operates in conjunction with sister distillery, Longmorn. The single malt is light and flowery.Balblair
Founded 1790 by James Mckeddy in Ross & Cromarty.Was the oldest distillery in Scotland with history going back to the 1670s.Rebuilt in 1894 but closed for 30 yrs after World War 1.Output was used in Ballantine's Finest. Now owned by Inver House.Allt'A Bhainne
Founded 1975 near Dufftown.The name is Gaelic for 'the milk burn' which is close by.With four stills can produce 4 million litres p.a..Most of the production goes into blends but the occasional independent bottling produces a light, floral malt.Aberfeldy
Foundxed 1898 in the Tay Valley.This distillery has become something of a shrine to the White Label blend following opening of the 'Dewars' World of Whisky' in 2000.Glen Garioch
Founded 1798 in Old Meldrum, Highlands.Historically connected with VAT 69.As a single malt the peat content has been reduced to release the underlying flavours of heather blossom and a faint hint of spice.Royal Lochnagar
Founded 1845 on Deeside.Visited by Queen Victoria in 1848.Much of the early production went into VAT 69 but now used in premium expressions of Johnnie Walker for the blue and gold labels.The standard 12 year old is an amber,sweet scented malt with a curiously rich buttery flavour.Scotch Whisky Tours
the body which protects the interests and integrity of Scotch Whisky worldwide.Dalmore
Founded 1839 in Ross-shire. Capacity was doubled in 1966 to 8 stills the shape of which is considered eccentric. Product is a major contributor to the Whyte & Mackay blend. There is also a 12 yr old single malt nwhich has a certain spicy richness.Ardbeg
Scotland's peatiest malt.Celtic Malts
the site of whisk(e)y guru, Riannon Walsh.Loch Fyne Whiskies,Inveraray
Site of Richard Joynson's renowned whisky shop in Inveraray, ArgyllshireGlenburgie
Last survivor of Speyside's wester fringeGlen Moray
Noted for its superb blend, Bailie nicol jarvie.Miltonduff
Built beside the ancient pluscarden priory near elgin and first licensed in 1824Linkwood
Effectively two distilleries whose spiritis vatted together to produce a complex single malt whit a burst of inctial sweetness finishing quie savoury.Longmorn
A top-class ditillery dating from 1894Aultmore
This malt occasionally appears as part of diageo's 'distillery Malts' range and the occasconal independent bottling.Strathisla
A photogenic distillery whose future is secure at heart of chivas regal - the world's top selling deluxe blend.Strathmill
A pretty late victorian distillery whoise production goes into blends.Auchroisk
Built in 1986 for J&B rare. Bottled as a single malt 'the singleton of Auchroisk'Glenrothes
Dating from 1878 this Speyside distillery can pump 5 million litres of alcohol in a good year. Popular with blenders it features in Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark.Glen Grant
Founded 1840 on Speyside by members of Clan Grant, Glen Grant 5 year old is the biggest selling whisky in ItalyCraigellachie
Founded on Speyside in 1891 b y a partnership of blenders. Long history with the White Horse blend.It occasionally appears as a luscious, lightly smoked malt.MACALLAN
Founded in 1824. Provides one of the finest malts in Speyside, if not Scotland-a dark, almost mahagany coloured malt, with a rich, spicey nose and sumptuous in the mouth.BENRINNES
Founded on Speyside in 1834. Produces a relatively rare 15 year old which is full-medium bodied,sweetish after dinner malt.DAILUAINE
Founded on Speyside in 1851. Most of the output of the 6 stills goes into Diageo's blends but can also be found as a single malt under its 'Distillery Malts' range.Tamdhu
Founded on Speyside in 1897 output is a key ingredient of Famous Grouse.Tamdhu makes a fragrant, quite sumptuous single malt which trails off in a wisp of smoke.Cragganmore
Founded on Speyside in 1869 it now has four stills. Features in Diageo's 'Classic Malts' collection.Tormore
Founded on Speyside 1958-60 by the American company Shemley Indistries to be the spiritual home of the Long John brand. Eight stills produce a malt which at 10 years old is delicate, dry, almost flinty whisky.Balmenach
Founded on Speyside in 1824 by the McGregors who were related to Compton Mackenzie of Whisky Galore fame. Was mothballed 1993-8 but now in production under new owners, Inver House.Glen Ord
Founded 1837 in Ross-shire. This distillery has had an erratic history. Now has 3 stills and on-site malting. The single malt is a finely tuned 12 yr old that starts with a caramelised sweetness and seems to dry in the mouth.Dalwhinnie
Founded 1987 in Inverness-shire. Located at 1000 ft. above sea level it has the twin features of being the highest place in Britain making whisky and at just 6 degrees centigrade mean annual temperature it is the coldest inhabited place in Scotland. Historically, the output was used as a key filling in the 'Black & White' blend.Royal Brackla
Founded 1812 in Morayshire and obtained a royal warrant in 1835.Macduff
Founded 1962 in Banffshire by a consortium.Now has 4 stills. As a 12 yr old and sold as 'Glen Deveron' it is considered a Speyside. Since 1972 Macduff has provided the heart and soul of the owner's eponymous blend.Ardmore
Founded 1898 in Aberdeenshire and connected with the Teacher family. The 8 stills can produce 3.5 million litres of alcohol per annum. Most of the output goes into Teacher's Highland Cream. Some is bottled as a luscious, quite oily single malt.Isle of Jura
site for Isle of Jura Single MaltWhisky Heritage
site of the Scotch Whisky Heritage CentreScotch Malt Whisky Society
Check this site for news and benefitsRoyal Mile Whiskies
in Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile - one of Scotland's best independent whisky stores.Glendullan
Founded on Speyside in 1897 and rebuilt in 1962.As a straw-coloured 12 year old, the product has a madium rich malty character with the sweet smack of oak.Laphroaig
Laphroaig's own site.Glenmorangie
Founded in 1843 in Tain,Ross-shire. Now produces Scotland's favourite malt. Demand is so strong that 95pct is bottled as Glenmorangie leaving just 5pct for blending.Spirit of Speyside
Site for all news and updates of the annual whisky fest on Speyside.GlenLossie & Mannochmore
GlenLossie's malt is more fragile than its fresh, fulsom neighbour. Manochmore prudules a black whisky called "Loch Dhli"Inchgower
Main role is to provide a little edge to the gentler speyside and Perthshire malts that contribute to Bell's 8 year old.Speyburn
Classic Speyside know for its 10 year old singlw malt.Caperdonich
Founded in 1897 but always under the shadow of Glen Grant. This Speyside distillery was rebuilt in 1965.Glen Spey
Dating from 1884 this distillery was rebuilt in the 1970s. Output features in J&B but very occasionally as a single malt.Cardow/Cardhu
Founded in 1824 by the whisky smuggler, John Cumming.The production supplies the heart of Johnnie Walker.The Spanish are fond of the sweet,silky smooth,unpeated flavours of Cardhu.Glenfarclas
Founded on Speyside in 1836 and has remained in the same family's hands since 1865. The single malt is available as a 10.12.21,25 and 30 year old. There is also the famous 105 cask strength which, at 60pct alcohol by volume, is one of the strongest whiskies on the market.Glenlivet
Founded on Speyside in 1824, Glenlivet remains one of the top selling single malt whiskies in the world and is very popular in the U.S.A. There are two principal products: a sherry scented 12 yr old that is pale in colour, gentle to the taste and a much richer, more succulent 18 year old that has won many awards.Bruichladdich
see them making the whisky via webcamTullibardine
nestles in the village of Blackford at the foot of the Ochil Hills in Perthshire,Glen Elgin
Usually found in the white horse blend and occasiunally appears as a 12 year old honeyd floral singel malt.Glen Keith
Built 1958. All the output goes into blends, notably chivas regal and passport.Glentauchers
Six stills with Pagoda roofs. This distillery has had a chequered history.Balvenie
Founded on Speyside in 1892.Most production goes into blends but also as a 10 and 12 year old single malt.Mortlach
Founded on Speyside in 1824 by James Findlater. It was here that William Grant served his 20 yr apprenticeship.Produces a beguiling and perfumred malt.Aberlour
Founded on Speyside in 1879. The malt plays a leading role in Clan Campbell, France's most popular Scotch Whisky.As a single malt it has won praise as a supple, creamy and faintly spicy 10 year old.Knockando
The name is Gaelic for 'the dark hillock'. Founded in 1898 it enjoyed success as a key filling for J&B. As a single malt Knockando is ripe and flowery on the nose,quite sweet and creamy in the mouth,drying alittle on the tail.Highland Park
Founded in 1798 in the Highlands (Orkney).This distillery has a long and illustrious history. The product is a moderatley peated 12 yr old dram imbued with the scent of orange peel, smoke and heather-honey.SCAPA
Founded 1885 on Orkney.The distillery was upgraded in 1978. with just two stills, this distillery produces a rare, salt-flecked, soft centred malt.Tomatin
Founded 1897 in Inverness-shire.This distillery has 23 stills, making it the largest malt whisky distillery in Scotland.Normally,only half the stills are working.As well as supplying whisky for the 'Big T' blend, the distillery produces a nicely, toffee-scented, quite peppery single malt in various ages from 10 yrs upwards.Dallas Dhu
Founded 1899 in Morayshire but now a whisky museum following cessation of distilling in 1983. The water supply was erratic and the operatiion relied on a waterwheekl for some of its power until 1971.Benromach
A small speyside distillery dating from 1898Glenglassaugh
Rarely seen as a single malt, its main rule is behind the scenes in such blends as famous grouse and cutty sark.Glenfiddich
Founded on Speyside in 1887. Produces the world's biggest selling single malt. To cope with demand there are now 29 stills.Dufftown
Founded on Speyside in 1896. A key filling in the Bell's blend, Dufftown occasionally appears as a green,herbal,slightly oily single malt.Imperial
Founded 1897. This distillery has had an erratic history. Since 1989 its big stills have produced a malt used in blending.Braeval
Founded on Speyside in 1972, most of the output goes into the big Seagram blends but can also be found as a single malt.Tomintoul
Founded on Speyside in 1964 in the highest village in the Highlands.It now stands on the banks of the River Avon. Outout forms part of the Whyte & Mackay blend and is also bottled as a single malt which is considered more delicate and herbal than the other 'Glenlivets'.Old Pulteney
Founded 1826 in Caithness. This distillery has had an erratic history. Was used as a constituent of Ballantines. In 1997 the owners launched Old Pulteney as a 12 yr old single malt.Clynelish
Founded 1967 in Sutherland.However, its predecessor was established in 1819.Teaninich
Founded 1817 in Easter Ross. There are now effectively two distilleries on site whose spirit is vatted together before being filled into a cask.As a 10 yr old in Diageo's Distilleery Malt range it is a lively, gently peat-smoked, citrus flavoured single malt.Visit Scotland's Distilleries with catswhiskerstours
Scotland and the English Language
Friday, November 17, 2006
- Prior to and during the Roman Occupation of Britain, the natives spoke Brittonic languages or Pictish. Goidelic (Gaelic) was spoken in Ireland.
- English ( a Germanic language) developed in England consequent upon the Germanic invasion sof the 5th century.
- English grew in popularity, progressively pushing Brittonic into Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria and S.W.Scotland.
- Pictish was progressively replaced by Gaelic in Scotland.
- Post AD 843 Gaelic became the 'standard' language north of the Forth and Pictish progressively disappeared.
- Anglian English ( Inglis) was spoken south of the Forth.
- Around AD 1067 it is believed that Malcolm III of Scotland ordered Inglis to be spoken at Court and subsequently became the official language whilst Gaelic was spoken north of the Highland Line.
Ossian's Hall and the Hermitage, Dunkeld, Perthshire
The Hall comprised part of a 'finger' of landscaped garden which in turn was part of the nearby Atholl Estates.
The approach to the Hall is via a trail through a large grove of Douglas Firs which was planted in 1920. The trees originate in North America and will probably last another 300-400 years.
The river hurtles through the dark and deep chasm then under the highly picturesque bridge (c.1770) that crosses the river then runs black and silent into a pool on the edges of which grows one of the tallest trees in Britain, a Douglas Fir with a height of about 200ft. Salmon are found in the pool but they have difficulty moving upstream through the falls.
Ossian's Hall sits forty feet above the bottom of the waterfall and was constructed (1758) in such a manner, that the visitor, approaching the cascade, is entirely ignorant of the waterfall, it being concealed by the walls of the Hall. In its original design, the visitor would undergo a series of "experiences", firstly a painting of Ossian, the last of his race, blind form age, lamenting to Malvina the death of his son Oscar:-
Darkness comes on my soul, O fair daughter of Toscar!
I behold not the form of my son at Carun,
Nor the figure of Oscar on Crona
The rustling winds have carried him far away
And the heart of his father is sad.
But lead me, O Malvina! to the sound of my Woods,
To the roar of my mountain streams.
Let the chase be heard on Crono;
Let me think on the days of other years.
And bring me the harp, O maid,
That I may touch it when the light of my soul shall rise.
Be thou near to learn the song:
Future times will hear of me!
The sons of the feeble hereafter will lift the voice on Cona
And, looking up to the rocks, say, 'here Ossian dwelt!
Then the visitor was presented by a loud noise, and the whole foaming cataract before him/her was reflected in several (20?) mirrors, and roaring with the noise of the thunder:-
A gay saloon, with waters dancing
Upon the sight wherever glancing;
One loud cascade in front, and lo!
A thousand like it, white as snow,
Stream on the walls, and torrents foam
As active round the hollow dome.
Illusive cataracts! of their terrors
Not stripped nor voiceless in the mirrors;
That catch the pageant from the flood,
Thundering a-down a rocky wood,
Strange scene! fantastic and uneasy
As ever made a maniac dizzy.
When disenchanted from the mood
That loves on sullen thoughts to broad.
The Hall interior was decorated with finely executed Arabesques which captured visitors attention. It was originally decorated by a Mr.Stewart of London, a native of the Strath in which the Hall is placed.
In 1860 the Hall was blown up by local rioters. The mirrors were shattered but not replaced and remained in situ until the 1920s. The Hall was in danger of collapse in 1944 when the National Trust acquired the property. It was then rebuilt using a design by Basil Spence (architect). Another rebuild was undertaken in 2006 with aim of retaining the original series of experiences. Doors reinstated and also the mirrors; the latter using polished stainless steel.
The building described above is not the true Hermitage (or Ossian's Cave) which is situated a little further on.
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Scots Goldmine to Reopen
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Reopening has been facilitated by the strong gold price which is expected to offset the costs of the deep mining operation at Tyndrum in Perthshire.
The site is controlled by Fynegold in turn backed by Canada's Caledonia Mining.
If given the go-ahead by planning authorities, the site is expected to provide skilled, year-round employment for the local populace.
The unique Scots mined gold is expected to command a premium price on the market.
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Remote Scottish Island Seeks New Settlers
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Scotland's Glamis Castle twinned with Great Wall of China
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Statue of Buffalo Bill Cody in Glasgow
Monday, November 13, 2006
Buffalo Bill Cody is to be honoured with the unveiling of a statue – in a new housing development in the east end of Glasgow
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Edinburgh and Glasgow Culinary Rankings
Edinburgh ranks as number one with more than half the 48 Edinburgh restaurants featured in Harden's 2007 UK Restaurant Guide impressing the panel of independent reviewers compared with just 28pct for Bristol.
Within the Edinburgh restaurants featured are VinCaffe and the vegetarian David Bann
Glasgow ranks as number 8 in the league ranking.
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ONE DAY BATTLEFIELD TOUR OF SOUTHERN SCOTLAND
Sunday, November 12, 2006
0830 Collect group of Army personnel from Edinburgh barracks. Head North West to Stirling passing close to Falkirk where on Jan 17th 1746 there occurred a battle between Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie and a Royalist army under command of Lieutenant General Hawley. The battle lasted just 20minutes and the result appeared inconclusive although the royal army lost around 350 men killed, wounded and missing with 300 captured. The Jacobites lost some 50 dead and 70 wounded. Hawley was a ruthless disciplinarian and his handling of the army was inept. Subsequently, the Duke of Cumberland arrived to take command on Jan 30th 1746.
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We arrive at Bannockburn in the shadow of Stirling Castle. Here on June 23rd and June 24th 1314 was fought arguably the most decisive battle in Scottish history and which acted as a watershed in Scotland's fraught relationship with England.
The catalyst for the battle was the Scots' siege of Stirling Castle. This was the only remaining English occupied stronghold in Scotland which was to be surrendered on June 25th. 1314 if not relieved by that date.
King Edward II of England moved up a force of 17000 with some 200 supply supply wagons. Against this force King Robert had just 5000 foot soldiers and 500 horse (cavalry) plus a reserve of some 2000 lightly armed Clansmen.
The Scots made use of natural defences, occupying an elevated position with wet ground of the Bannock Burn in front supplemented by concealed pits and traps sown with triangular spikes (calthrops) to maim horses.
The English resolved on a frontal assault combing both cavalry and foot (archers). However, the defensive obstacles took their toll and the English advance faltered aggravated by lightening attacks from the Scots cavalry.
Due to a combination of strong defences and a strategy blunder, the English withdrew with the King deciding to focus solely on the relief of Stirling Castle and embarked on a forward strategy which ignored the possibility of a Scots attack. At this stage the English were bogged down and crammed into an area of half a square mile.
On the morning of June 24th the Scots advanced at 2.30 am. They were in good spirits whereas the English had experienced an uncomfortable night with little food or rest.
However, the English position remained tenable; the Right was protected by the Bannock Burn and the army enjoyed numerical superiority. The key weakness was lack of space.
Initial contact resulted in a section of the English army fleeing in a disorderly manner. However, the main advance was halted by the sheer concentrated mass of the English foot.
The battle raged, inconclusively, for an hour but after 20 minutes gaps began to appear in the English ranks and then defeat became imminent. King Edward had failed to demonstrate generalship and was persuaded to leave the field, an action which proved negative for English morale. At this time the Scots reserves came up which triggered a collapse of the English army which suffered losses of between 3000 and 4000. Scots casualties were about one tenth of this figure. Following this defeat Stirling Castle surrendered to the Scots.
After visiting the memorial to the battle and statue of King Robert we move on to Stirling Castle which occupies a commanding position, high on a 350m year old volcanic rock formation.
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This is Scotland's sixth ranked city. To reach the castle we drive up through the medieval Old Town. On arrival we use the Castle car park as a view point to see the battle sites of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. In the distance we can also view the Wallace Monument of Braveheart fame.
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Battle of Stirling Bridge: September 11th 1297
This was another defining battle in the fraught relationship between England and Scotland. It took place on and around a wooden bridge across the River Forth (some 180 yards upstream of the 15th century stone bridge which still remains in situ).Key protagonists are John de Warenne, Governor in Scotland for Edward I and William Wallace aka 'Braveheart'. The battle was won by the Scots.
After spending some time viewing the battle site and various aspects of Stirling Castle's exterior, including various memorials to fallen British soldiers-Boer War and Various Indian military actions-we move on into Perthshire
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Ardoch Roman Fort
The route takes us through some stunning and rugged scenery augmented by vibrant rainbows which are a function of the constantly changing weather conditions.
Ardoch is located at the edge of the village of Braco and, sadly, has no visitor centre or even conspicuous direction signs. The casual visitor would be unaware of the existence of this magnificent Roman site, possibly the largest of its type in Scotland. An aerial view can be found in catswhiskers photo gallery
Ardoch was built by and occupied by the Romans intermittently over a period of some 36 years between AD 80 and AD 160. It is one of a chain of garrisons established along along a line running from Camelon on the Forth to Bertha on the Tay. During the late first century it may have comprised part of a frontier system encompassing the Findo Gask Ridge and which is now a candidate for recognition as a World Heritage Site in conjunction with similar Roman frontier sites in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
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After spending some time inspecting the Ardoch site and its stunning series of defensive earth built ramparts and ditches we move on through the country town of Crieff to a similar small Perthshire town of Aberfeldy.
The visit here is twofold: to view (a) the famous military bridge built by General Wade and (b) the memorial to raising of the famous Black Watch regiment which occurred very close to the military bridge.
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General Wade was charged by King George I in the 1720s to build a series of roads in Scotland to facilitate troop movements in response to the Jacobite threat. The bridge over the River Tay at Aberfeldy was designed by William Adam and cost about GBP1M in today's money. It formed part of a vast network of military roads which later grew to over 1000 miles. This existence of the bridge acted as a catalyst to the development and growth of Aberfeldy which until then was little more than a hamlet.
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The Black Watch
This is one of Scotland's finest and best known military regiments. It existed for over 266 years from September 1739 to March 2006 during which period the regiment gained 164 battle honours and 14 Victoria Crosses.
Not forgetting that every army marches on its stomach, we follow the course of the River Tay to Birnam where we enjoy an excellent 'pub lunch' at the Birnam House Hotel, which itself has an interesting history dating back to the early 1800s.
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Suitably refreshed we move on up the A9 via Pitlochry to Killiecrankie.
This famous battle occurred on July 27th 1689 the catalyst for which was a vote by the Scottish Parliament to replace the catholic James VII with his protestant nephew William of Orange. Supporters of James were known as Jacobites.
A Jacobite army of 2500 under Viscount Dundee vied for control of Blair Castle with his opponent General Mackay who led a Williamite force of 4000. The Jacobites won the race for Blair Castle whilst Mackay established his H.Q. at Urrard House, a few miles away, a positioned his battalions for for the expected attack. However, due the difficult terrain, Mackay lacked heavy guns.
The Jacobites swooped down from Craig Ealloch leaving Mackay trapped between the River Garry below and rising ground in front.
The Jacobites charged after the bright sun began to wane at 8.00pm. Mackay had made strategic errors in positioning his troops which gave his opponents an advantage. The famous Highland Charge struck hardest on the left. The bayonets of the Williamites proved no match for the Highland Broadsword and the ranks began to break and run.
Mackay managed a fighting retreat, falling back along the pass towards Stirling. About half his force was dead or prisoner whilst the victors lost about 600 including their General, Dundee.
After driving around visiting key features relating to the battle we park at the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre where the young soldiers try to emulate the Olympic long jump of Government soldier Donald MacBean as jumped the river to escape the victorious Jacobites. After spending some time at the very scenic Pass of Killiecrankie we move back down the A9 to the small town of Dunkeld where there was a secondary action after the Battle of Killiecrankie.
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Following their victory at Killiecrankie, the Jacobites marched down and attacked the town of Dunkeld which was garrisoned by Williamite, Cameronians comprising a body of raw recruits.
On the morning of August 21st a body of some 4000-5000 Jacobites furiously attacked Dunkeld pushing the defenders back to a position behind a wall surrounding a house belonging to the Marquis of Atholl
The Jacobites also occupied houses in the town which they used as vantage points to pour fire on the defenders from the windows. A contingent of the defenders set fire to the houses whilst locking the doors and thereby causing the occupying attackers to be burned alive.
With the town ablaze, the battle lasted four hours after which the Jacobites began to fall back in disorder to Blair Atholl, near Blair Castle. The entire town with exception of the Cathedral and three houses was burned down with inhabitants taking shelter in the Church.
The defending Cameronians suffered severe losses, including their commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Cleland and their Major.
On the 24th of August, just four weeks after the battle of Killiecrankie, the army of the previous victorious Jacobites had ceased to exist and Blair Castle opened its gates to General Mackay.
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We pay a visit to the tomb of Lt. Colonel Cleland in Dunkeld Cathedral and then head back down the A9 to Edinburgh and army base returning about 6.15pm.
All agreed this was an informative and interesting tour.
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Labels: Scotland BattlefieldTours
Scottish Rural Communities Buy Islands and Estates
Friday, November 10, 2006
- Gigha: Island acquired for GBP3.5m with support from the Scottish Land Fund
- North Harris: Estate acquired for GBP4.5M in 2003 supported by GBP1.6M from the Scottish Land Fund and GBP400K from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
- North Harris: Estate and 19th century Amhuinnsuidhe Castle were acquired for GBP4.5M by the local population of 800 in conjunction with businessman Ian Scarr-Hall. The transaction was facilitated by a GBP1.6M grant from the Scottish Land Fund and GBP400K from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Community Land Unit.
- Lochinver, Wester Ross: 800 strong community purchased 44,000 acres of the Assynt Estate for GBP2.9M aided by grants from the Scottish Land Fund and other public bodies.
- Isle of Eigg: Heritage Trust focused on 76 strong community acquired the island in 1997 for GBP1.5M.
- South Uist Estates: Islanders have been awarded GBP2.0M of public funds to help acquire the 93,000 acre estate. The transaction includes virtually all of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay for a total cost of GBP4.5M.
Famous Americans with Scots Ancestry
Thursday, November 09, 2006
David Dubar Buick: Born in Arbroath, Angus in 1854 but left for Detroit, Michigan at the age of two. He founded the famous Buick Motor Company in 1904.
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Capercaillie Fighting Back
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The bird is a forest living member of the grouse family whose numbers dropped from a peak of 20,000 in the 1970s owing to loss of habitat and climate change. The bird is confined to central and north-eastern Scotland.
The three Scottish sites with best breeding success were in Strathspey and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB and Rothiemurchus Estate under the auspices of the European Commission funded LIFE Project.
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New Forth Road Bridge Proposed
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
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Scottish Food: Clootie Dumpling
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Clootie's ingredients include:
- plain flour
- golden syrup
The dish is best served with either clotted cream or custard.
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Battle of Culloden: A defining event in British History
Sunday, November 05, 2006
On August 19th 1745 Charles Edward Stuart "Bonnie Prince Charlie" landed on the shores of Loch Shiel at Glenfinnan. This was the catalyst to a military based challenge to claim the crowns of England and Scotland for the House of Stuart. Some eighty years earlier Charles' grandfather, James II had been evicted by the British establishment owing to James' catholicism subsequent to which Britain had been ruled by Protestants.
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Charles had the support of France which had originally supported his venture in two ways:
- Through the direct supply of ships, weapons and 700 soldiers to Charles.
- An understanding that a successful rebellion in Scotland would trigger an invasion of Southern England by France.
The West Highlands where Charles landed was a harsh terrain, remote from the rest of the country and whose people had maintained different traditions. Many were still catholics. The tough existence grew ferocious warriors.
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Call to Arms
Glenfinnan was the second point of landing . Upon arrival Charles attempted to rally support from the Highlands via a network of agents carrying crosses dipped in blood. After a prolonged wait a piper was heard which transpired to represent a 800 man contingent from Clan Cameron led by Cameron of Lochiel. Following example of the Camerons other Clan chiefs rallied to the cause. The Rising had begun.
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News of the Rising caused concern, but not panic, in the capital, Edinburgh. General, Sir John Cope was charged with defence and led a his army into the impenetrable Highlands to take the fight to the Jacobites. However, the Highlands is one of the wettest and most hostile places in Britain. The Government redcoat soldiers were conspicious in the green/grey environment whereas the Highlanders were well camaflouged. A game of cat and mouse ensued but Cope never found the rebels.
Charles' army, having successfully evaded Cope, was now 2000 strong and resolved to target Edinburgh. In the capital over 60,000 citizens gathered to celebrate arraival of Charles. With exception of a small contingent of troops in Edinburgh castle, the capital was secured for the Stuarts.
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On hearing of Edinburgh's capitulation, Cope raced back to the capital. His troops faced the Jacobites on open ground at Prestonpans some 10 miles east of the city.Cope's army appeared to be well postioned- facing west between a hill and the sea and protected in front by a boggy marsh.
Battle of Prestonpans
On September 20th 1745 the Jacobites appeared with a force of some 1800 men. Cope swung his army to face them across the marsh. It should be borne in mind that the Government forces were well armed and well trained. On the other side, the Highlanders were, essentially, tribal warriors with Broadsword, Long Knife and Shield. Their secret weapon was the Highland Charge.
The marsh was the principal obstacle to the Jacobites. However, Lord George Murray (military advsisor to the Charles) had learned of a hidden trail through the marsh which was unguarded by Government forces.
Using the hidden trail, Charles' forces launched an attack which resulted in an astonishing victory for the Highlanders: the battle was over in just 15 minutes with 400 Government troops killed an d 1400 captured against 40 Jacobite fatalities.
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Onward to England
Bouyed by the victory at Prestonpans Charles' army had grown to 7000. He also had supplies of gold and muskets. He took up residence at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. On October 3rd 1745 Charles met with his military advisors. Charles wished to invade England but Lord George Murray vehemently objected, warning of fatal risk of such an adventure. Charles won the day by just one vote.
Charles then moved on at a pace, spurred on by rumours of a French attack on England. Within 2 days he had captured Carlisle then Preston then Manchester, the latter with just a handful of troops. The Jacobites had covered 200 miles in less than 30 days without a shot being fired in anger. His troops were told that a supporting French invasion was imminent.
On December 4th 1745 Charles' army reached Derby with forward units capturing Swarkestone Bridge 6 miles south of the town. Charles had now covered 300 miles in 4 weeks and crossed the River Trent. London was just 120 miles away.
Panic in London
The invasion from the North aggravated by rumours of an impending French invasion gave rise to hysteria in London. 'God Save the King' was first performed at this time as a morale building measure. There were also rumours that King George II was about the flee the country. Infrantry was ordered to the northern outskirts of the city.
Charles had reached a standstill. There was continuing tension between Charles and Lord George Murray which had now reached breaking point. Murray was concerned because the Jacobites supply lines had become too stretched and there was no sign of the mooted French invasion. At this critical juncture news arrives from one Dudley Bradstreet, a supporter with impeccable Jacobite credentials. Bradstreet reported that a Government army of 9000 was blocking the road to London (compared against the Jacobites 5000). In fact this information was an elaborate lie; the troops never existed and Bradstreet proved to be a Government spy.
Return to Scotland
Ignorant of the deceit, Charles reluctantly agreed to return to Scotland where his troops returned somewhat despondent with a feeling of non-achievement.
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Charles now has to contend with a reinvigorated British army led by Britain's top general and seasoned soldier-the Duke of Cumberland who is the second and favourite son of King George. The Duke is determined to defeat Charles.
Government Troop Tactics
Cumberland marches north but stops at Aberdeen for rest and training. Troops are taught a new bayonette drill: must not thrust into opponent immediately ahead but diagonally to the right into the Highlander's unprotected flank between shield and arm. Success of this tactic depended on total trust between soldiers in the line. Also, troops were trained to increase rate of musket fire to 3 rounds per minute. Intensive training was the order of the day.
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The Looming Battle
By spring 1746 Cumberland was ready and moved his army towards the Jacobite stronghold at Inverness. Charles elected to stand and fight at Culloden Moor, a barren, treeless, windswept, heather clad bog.
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Aborted Surprise Attack
On April 15th., 1746 Charles drew up his forces. However, Murray was concerned with the terrain and favoured a surprise night attack on Cumberland's forces who were celebrating the Duke's 25th birthday. Charles agreed to the strategy. That night Murray led his men across country to avoid Government scouts. As the darkness closed in it became evident that the night march was too ambitious. There was too little moonlight to navigate rivers and walls, the line became dangerously stretched and many became lost. At 1 hour before dawn the Jacobite troops were ordered to return to Culloden-in an exhausted and dispirited state. A full scale battle was now inevitable.
Battle of Culloden
The opposing armies assembled at mid-morning on April 16th 1746.The armies faced each other some 400 meters apart but the two lines were not parallel. Charles had some 6000 men while Cumberland commanded some 8000. However, Charles took comfort from the famous Highland Charge to redress the imbalance.
The ground in front of the Jacobites (on the left) was boggy. They were joined by handfuls of French and Irish troops-which were held in reserve.The Jacobites front line comprised Clansmen clustered around their respective chiefs, e.g.MacDonalds.
Unfortunately, the Jacobites were not battle ready, being tired, hungry and in poor spirits. Food had not arrived from Inverness and some men had left the field to scavenge for food. However, they still retained the memory of the successful charge at Prestonpans.
The Government redcoats comprised 7 infantry regiments from England and Scotland. There were 500 men in each regiment standing 3 ranks deep. Each regiment was named after its respective Colonel, e.g. Barrel.
The Redcoats stood in well ordered ranks, each man issued with 24 rounds of ammunition and a warming tot of brandy.
At 1.00pm Charles orders his cannons to launch the battle. In response Government guns commence repetitive firing. the Jacobites stand whilst cannonballs tear into the ranks. No oreder is given to advance. Finally, Jacobites on the centre and right broke ranks and charged. At this stage Government gunners switch from cannon to more lethal grapeshot which produces small pieces of metal hitting directly the advancing Highlanders.The effect is devastating. The Charge degenerates into a shambles. A bunching occurred because Highlanders on the right flank had less distance to travel over dry ground whereas those in the centre drifted to the right to benefit from the firm ground and were hemmed in by a stone wall which separated the two opposing lines.Both groups charged towards the south end of the Government line which resulted in chaos. On the left flank the Highlanders moved more slowly; they had further to travel and became stuck in the boggy ground. The MacDonalds struggled to make any headway.
Barrel's regiment took the full force of the Highland assault but sttod fast. the Highlanders were packed into an unstoppable mob taking punishment from grapeshot and musketfire. The Highlanders crashed into Barrel's regiment and now had the advantage; they could use their broadswords and dirks to awesome effect. Barrel's soldiers were hacked down and the line smashed open. Then the Highlanders attacked Munro's regiment alongside that of Barrel.
The momentum of the charge had been dissipated. However, despite the Highlanders initial success the Redcoats did not turn and run. Cumberland moved up forces from the second line to reinforce the struggling front line. This was the pivotal point of the battle.The Jacobite command had no control over its troops. Highlanders pitched into the gap in the redcoat ranks and straight into the musket fire from the soldiers of then second line. The Highlanders became surrounded by Redcoats who were in a horseshoe shape and the resulting slaughter is estimated to have killed/wounded about 700 in just 2 or 3 minutes.
The Highlanders retreated the way the had come-straight into a hail of musket fire from Government forces which had moved up behind the wall on the left.
At this stage Charles is persuaded to leave the field and Cumberland commences his retribution for which he awared the nickname "butcher". No mercy was shown. Any injured Clansmen on the field were shot, clubbed or bayonetted to death. About 200 Clansmen were buried where they fell. So ended the last battle on Britsh soil.
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That summer Government forces carried a vicious policy of "pacification" entailing the immediate slaughter of any one suspected of Jacobite tendencies. Also, the Gaelic language, bagpipes and tartan was banned. The Highland way of life was destroyed with thousands deported to the New World. Government policy of repression continued for decades.
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Charles had a GBP30,000 price on his head. He eventually escaped to the Continent and died a drunken wreck 42 years later.
Implications of Culloden
The battle marked commencement of a long period of stability. Now secure at home the British Government turned its attention to bulding an empire abroad.
Sea Eagles on Isle of Skye
Friday, November 03, 2006
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One Day Photo & Architecture Tour of Glasgow
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
First stop is the nearby Falkirk Wheel. This was opened in 2002 to re-establish a link between the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal. Although a working boat lift it is also a stunning piece of functional architecture and well worth a visit. We arrive before the day's official opening but, neverthless, are allowed access to the site for photos.
We drive on to Glasgow passing parts of the Antonine Wall.
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On arrival at Glasgow we aim for Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. Parking proves difficult but we find a "berth" at the hospital car park.
The Cathedral is a Gothic edifice built on a site which can demonstrate religious significance since the 5th century. The earliest parts of the present building date from the late 12th century. The main construction had been completed by end of the 14th century. This is the only mainland cathedral in Scotland to have survived the aftermath of the Reformation without majot structural loss. Internal photo shoots were aided by bright sunlight streaming through the stained glass.
After internal and external photo shoots of the cathedral we walk acroos to the Necropolis, high on a hill overlooking Glasgow. This is a fascinating site full of memorials to the great and good of historic Glasgow. Some of the monuments are truly stunning and packed with family history. Excellent photo opps in the sunlight with Glasgow spread out in the distance.
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On return to the car we walk past Provand's Lordship on Cathedral Street which is the oldest surviving house in Glasgow dating from 1471. It was built as the manse for St.Nicholas Hospital.
We drive through Glasgow's industrial past, first stopping at Ibrox Football Stadium for some photos.
IBROX is both British and Gaelic, and may mean the haunt of the badger (brock, Gaelic bruic, a badger). Another savant thinks that the name may have come from a rentaller, Broc - this name, and Brokas, both occurring in the rental book of the Diocesan Registers. In a charter dated 1580 the name is written Ibrokes.
After some photo shoots we move on, under the river Clyde to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where we avail of lunch in the Cafeteria. Main purpose of the visit is to photograph the stunning architecture of this impressive red sandstone building which was opened in 1901.We move on to a very different part of town, the Gorbals. This suburb has a fascinating hsitory, being originally conceived as prestigious example of Regency era town planning but subsequently became tenemented and notorious for poverty and deprivation. In medieval times the Gorbals was a leper colony but after subsequent population growth became annexed to Glasgow in 1846.
We pass a couple of 1930s era cinemas (one being redundant) and then towards a landscape of derelict railway viaducts, waste ground and some early examples of 1970s housing blocks which seem to be in poor condition. Close by is one empty and derelict tenement building, possibly the last of its type remianing. We take photos of this and the nearby Regency era Caledonian Road Church
We then move on, past some interesting modern architecture to the Southern Necropolis.This is an eery and fascinating site dating back to the 1840s. Many of the monuments and gravestones have been vandalised in the past but the site is kept in good order with only a little graffiti and grass kept neatly mown. The various monuments reveal an intersting history of the local populace, albeit the ones who could afford gravestones!! Would make an intersting film location.
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After more photos we leave Glasgow and return to the Pineapple
An interesting day, exploring Glasgow's industrial, religious and social history. All providing good photo opportunities aided by clement weather conditions.
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