Scottish Scenes

Some of our fab students have been asking us how to get to some of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations which we don’t currently offer trips to. The EAS team sadly has to limit our excursions to an hours radius of Glasgow but the brilliant International Society at Glasgow (ISoc) offers trips which travel the length and breadth of this gorgeous country. Below is a quick how-to guide to touring Scotland and some of the must-see locations! This list is for those of you that want to try and go it alone – no tour bus, no package holiday, just your boots and your backpack and a group of friends.

Loch Ness:

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Perhaps one of the most well known places in Scotland people from around the world come to Loch Ness in search of mythical monsters and wonderful weekend breaks. There are a few ways to reach Loch Ness from Glasgow, the most affordable way (unless you’re taking a tour bus package) is via public transport. You’ll have to strap yourself in for around 5 hours total via a mix of trains and buses to reach Loch Ness.

The easiest route is to travel from Glasgow Queen St Station taking a direct train to Inverness. This leg of the journey lasts around 3 hours and costs around £54.00 for an adult open return ticket. If you have a Railcard the price drops to £35.00 – we strongly advise you investing in a one-year 16-25 Railcard if you plan on travelling around the UK. 

Once you reach Inverness a frequent 30min bus service from just next to the Station. The No. 19, 917, and 919 all go towards the Loch.

There are many places you can stay while enjoying your visit to the loch. Hostel World is a great site to use for budget trips with large groups while Air BnB is perfect for those with a bit more cash to spend.

Ben Nevis

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The largest Mountain in the UK Ben Nevis towers at a staggering 1352m (though technically the largest mountain in Scotland is actually underwater!). Ben Nevis is most easily reached via train to Fort William. Again leaving from Glasgow Queen St Station the train journey is a direct 4 hour journey which follows the stunning landscape of the West Highland Way. For an open return journey expect to pay either £35 (Railcard) or £50 (adult). Again Hostel World and Air BnB offer a range of excellent and affordable accommodation for your trip.

If you’re planning on hiking Ben Nevis don’t assume it’s going to be a nice quick wee jaunt up a hill. The climb can be very challenging so make sure to dress and pack appropriately! Check out the official Ben Nevis site for some hints and tips for how to prepare for your trek. The so-called Tourist Route is a 17km hike which takes between 7-9 hours to complete depending on your fitness levels. If 17km seems a little bit out of your comfort zone The Walk Highlands website offers a lot of other wonderful routes around the base of the mountain and the surrounding Fort William area.

Isle of Skye

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The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most beautiful jewels, it’s name taken from the Norse for ‘Cloud Island’. There are several ways for you to get to the island and all involve a combination of buses, ferries and trains and accordingly take a while to reach this fabulous place.

Route 1:

Glasgow – Mallaig – Skye

Taking the train from Glasgow Queen St Station get a direct train to the gorgeous seaside town of Mallaig. The journey is around 5 hours long and again return journeys cost between £34-50 depending on your railcard. The route to Mallaig is a stunning excursion along the West Highland way – even crossing the famous ‘Harry Potter’ viaduct near Glen Coe (more info on Glen Coe below!) which make the 5 hour train totally worth it. Once in Mallaig you can grab the Calmac Ferry over to Skye. Calmac offers a range of tickets ranging from saver singles to island hopping packages.

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Route 2:

Glasgow – Skye

The Citylink bus travels all the way from Glasgow direct to Skye (over a bridge…it isn’t an underwater bus) and takes a total of 6hours. Single tickets start from £50 so it’s a relatively more expensive option for your island excursions. Again have a look at Hostel World and Air BnB for accommodation.

Glencoe

The final place on our list is the stunning Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most historical and stunning sites. The easiest way once again is to grab a train from Glasgow Queen St and take it to either Fort William or the Bridge of Orchy (£35-50)- from here you can get a connecting bus to Glencoe and drink in the gorgeous surroundings. Again for more info on the area and what to do when you arrive, check out the official site for Glencoe.

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Get out there and get exploring!

-Alex

 

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Exploring Isle of Arran, Whiskey and Lochranza

Isle of Arran

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Arran is one of the most accessible of the Scottish islands and one of the most southerly. The line between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland divides the island almost exactly in two and Arran mirrors the differing landscapes of the country more widely, forming a “Scotland in miniature”. The north is ruggedly mountainous and sparsely populated, the south softer in landscape and home to the majority of the 4,500 people who live here.

 

Brodick

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In many ways Brodick’s main selling point lies not within the town itself but in the views from it. Brodick Bay would be an asset to any seaside resort as it curves around to the north, growing increasingly sandy as it does so. But it’s when you lift your eyes from the sea to the mountains above that you really appreciate the location.

Dominating everything else is Goatfell, Arran’s highest peak at 2868ft or 874m (and, paradoxically, one of its easiest to climb). You can see every inch of the mountain as it rises steadily from the sea to reach its classically sharp summit. In some ways equally impressive is the view as you move your focus a little west from Goatfell, to the lower but implausibly jagged ridges and peaks surrounding Glen Rosa.

 

 

Isle of Arran Distillery

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Today the Isle of Arran Distillery is one of Arran’s main visitor attractions, and by far the largest outside Brodick. Most of the production takes place in a single building. The process at Arran begins with the receipt of malted barley, which is milled on the premises before being passed through to the large open and well lit space in which you find the mash-tun, the washbacks, the stills and condensers, the spirit safe and all the other elements needed to conduct the magic of distillation.

Incredibly enough, everything that happens on the production side of the distillery, from the milling through the distilling to the warehousing operations, is done by just three men. A unique feature at the distillery is found in one of its warehouses, where barrels of maturing spirit are stacked far higher than you would find in a traditional bonded warehouse. Individual barrels anywhere – and at any height – in the warehouse can be picked by a single man operating a specially adapted forklift truck.

The distillery tours will be conducted by knowledgeable and experienced guides and begin with an audio visual presentation in the visitor center before moving on to a detailed exposition of the distilling process within the distillery itself. This is the sort of tour you’ll enjoy whether it’s your first time in a distillery or your hundred and first. It is fascinating to see how a distillery can be designed from scratch in the modern era, and the ways in which this makes it different from many older distilleries.

 

 

Lochranza Castle

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Perhaps the most scenically attractive of Arran’s villages, Lochranza is located on the loch, Loch Ranza, from which it takes its name.

Lochranza Castle enjoys a superb location on a spit of land projecting out into Loch Ranza from its south west side. As a result it provides a focal point for much of the village of Lochranza as it wraps around the loch, and features in many views of different parts of the village.

Although Lochranza Castle looks typical of many others, looks can be deceiving. The castle that was originally built in the 1200s for the MacSweens was of an unusual hall house design, comprising a two storey oblong building with storage on the ground floor and a hall and private chambers above. The “back door” was on the south wall of the hallhouse, while a second door at first floor level on the north side gave direct access into the hall from a wooden forestair which could be removed in time of attack.

The MacSweens were a powerful family during the struggle for control of the western seaboard between Scottish and Norwegian kings, and had a very similar castle at Skipness, on the other side of the Kilbrannan Sound in Argyll. But when the claims of the Norwegians were finally relinquished in 1266, Alexander III sought to strengthen his control over this part of his kingdom by granting land and property to loyal supporters. As part of this process he granted Lochranza Castle to Walter Stewart, the Earl of Menteith.

In 1306 Lochranza Castle is said to have been the spot at which Robert the Bruce landed on his return from Ireland, en route to his successful bid for the Scottish Crown. It was certainly in the possession of his grandson when he became King Robert II of Scotland in 1371. It subsequently saw use as a royal hunting lodge.

Several further changes of ownership followed, during which Lochranza Castle gradually became transformed from a hallhouse into the tower house we see today. During the 1490s it was used as a base from which James IV could attack the Lords of the Isles, and Cromwell’s troops occupied it in the 1650s. Then, following the foreclosure of a mortgage, it found its way in 1705 into the hands of the Hamilton family, like so much else on Arran. The castle has been disused since the end of the 1700s and today it is cared for by Historic Scotland.

 

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The arts are hugely popular on Arran with no shortage of paintings, woodwork, jewellery, glasswork, knitwear and photography for sale. On Arran, you’ll also find a wide range of beautiful cashmere, handmade soaps, candles and more.

Culzean Castle

This weekend we will be going on a trip to the West Coast of Scotland to visit Culzean Castle!6806351566_ee01845ec5_z

Culzean Castle was originally a medieval tower house. It was taken over by the Kennedy family in 1759. The Kennedy family are one of Scotland’s oldest families and their ancestry can be traced back to Robert the Bruce! In the early 1770s, they decided to transform the house to reflect their status in Scottish society. The result is the grand and beautiful Culzean Castle, which has multiple bedrooms, drawing rooms and even a library.

You will have the opportunity to explore the magnificent castle grounds, learn some Scottish history in the visitors centre, and take guided tour of the castle. Besides the castle there are lots of things to see and do. Explore the woods and see some Scottish wildlife, maybe even some red deer! There is also an impressive swan pond, beautiful traditional walled garden and a small beach.

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The castle recently appeared on the television show Most Haunted, as it is said to be haunted by 7 ghosts including a ghostly piper who has been heard on the castle`s grounds; he plays apparently to the celebration of marriage of Clan family members. He has also been heard playing at a spot between Happy Valley and the ocean. It is said that on stormy nights, you can hear his ghostly pipes playing mixing eerily with the howling wind and crashing waves. Also, the spirit of a woman dressed in a ball gown haunts Culzean although no one knows who this young woman was.

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If you would like to attend this trip please sign up in Room 317, Hetherington Building, 1pm – 2pm, Monday – Friday.
We hope to see you there!

Callendar House and the Kelpies

This week we are planning a visit to Callendar House and the Kelpies. Here is a little more information about this trip to get you really excited!

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First we will visit Callendar House dates from the 14th century. During its 600-year history, Callendar House has played host to many prominent historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Victoria.

We will tour the House’s permanent displays such as The Story of Callendar House, a history covering the 11th to the 19th centuries, The Antonine Wall, Rome’s Northern Frontier, and Falkirk: Crucible of Revolution 1750-1850, tells how the local area was transformed during the first century of the industrial era.

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In the restored 1825 Kitchen, costumed interpreters create an exciting interactive experience with samples of early-19th century food providing added taste to stories of working life in a large household.

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Then we can enjoy a picnic in the grounds of the house, which also contains a pitch and putt course, crazy golf, a children’s adventure playground (with the largest slide in Scotland), a boating lake and the Antonine Wall. There is also a contemporary art gallery, the Park Gallery, which has been relocated into Callendar House itself. Callendar Estate is open for walks through the woodland and also home to the Forbes family mausoleum, a large domed circular Grecian-Doric building which contains the remains of many of the Forbeses.

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Following Callendar House, we will visit the Kelpies, 30-metre high horse-head sculptures, which were opened in April 2014. The Kelpies name reflects the mythical creatures possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is similar with the transformational change and survival of Scotland’s inland waterways. The Kelpies represent the legacy of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coal ships that shaped the Falkirk area.

heavy horse barge helix

The Kelpies are set in the newly developed Helix Park, which is still under construction. When the park is complete it will include a performance area, for large scale events, facilities for watersports provided by the construction of a large lagoon, all surrounded by play areas and high quality pathways and cycle ways.

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Beautiful Loch Tay!

Loch Tay

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One of our fantastic trips taking place this weekend is to the beautiful Loch Tay, one of the largest and deepest fresh water lochs situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. The loch is 14.55 mi (23.42 km) long and spans the district of Perthshire connected small towns such as Killin, Kenmore, Fearnan and Lawers. Ben Lawers, which is one of the highest mountains in Scotland (it is the 10th highest mountain in Britain!) lies to the north side of Loch Tay and is frequently a place for hikers to explore. The loch itself is a popular spot for salmon fishing and there is even a traditional Scottish song about Loch Tay called the ‘Loch Tay Boat Song’.

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Fortingall: the Church and Yew Tree

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Before heading to this amazingly beautiful location, we will visit Fortingall: the Church and Yew Tree. The land on which the church is built is said to have been a settlement for early Christian’s from the 7th century and there are many early Scottish artifacts to see. There is a mythical legend about Fortingall. The legend goes that Pontious Pilate was born at Fortingall when his father visited the Caledonians as emissary from the emperor Augustus. There is no hard eveidnce of this, but we do know of Agricola’s campaigns in to Scotland around 800 AD and the eventual Roman front line to keep keep the Picts out of the rest of Roman Britain was at one time along Strathearn and Strathmore.

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One of the most impressive features about this location is the 5000 year old Yew Tree, thought to be one of the oldest living organisms in Europe! There are time lines marked in the paving stones near the tree, which helps to illustrate the Yew’s great age. In addition, there are a number of stone circles, standing stones and numerous large stones marked with cupmarks and three groups of standing stones clearly seen from the road in the field east of the church.

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The Scottish Crannog Centre

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After out visit to Fotingall, we will travel further north to visit the Scottish Crannog Centre. The centre carries out amazing research via underwater archaeology! The researchers explore the depths of Loch Tay to understand how the ancient Scottish settlers once lived. They have also constructed an authentic crannog, which all visitors can explore!

What is a crannog?

Crannogs are a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland. Most are circular structures that seem to have been built as individual homes to accommodate extended families. Today, crannogs are still visible on many lochs throughout Scotland, but resemble small islands! There is a large authentic crannog, which can be seen from the Crannog Centre near the northern shore at Kenmore. This was the ancient burial place of Queen Sybilla, wife of Alexander King of Scots. This crannog (also known as the Isle of Loch Tay or Priory Island) was considered a holy place and had a monastery. Through time the monastery became a nunnery and then a castle, before the constructions were engulfed by nature. It is amazing to think that 5000 years ago, the ancient settlers built these timbre constructions in some of the deepest lochs!

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This is an amzing trip that will explore some of the most beautiful features of Scottish history and natural landscapes! Not one to miss!

Trips: Saturday 28th June

Arran and Broderick Castle, £12
OR
Glasgow Bus Tour, £6

We have two fantastic trips for you to attend this Saturday, but are you unsure of which one to choose? Well here is some information on what to expect!

Arran and Broderick Castle
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Arran is a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland. It is one of the largest islands to be found and has been inhabited since the 6th century. The whole island is surrounded by beautiful forests, countryside, villages and history including the Machrie Moor standing stones, which are dated back to the Bronze Age and there are several Iron Age, Bronze Age and Viking artefacts to discover.
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We will be visiting Broderick Castle and Country Park, the only island country park in Britain. The castle offers 800 years of history, a fabulous collection of valuable artefacts, and stunning views over Brodick Bay to the Ayrshire coast. The gardens provide an unrivalled experience, from the formal walled garden to the woodland walks.
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We will be picnicking in the beautiful country park, which extends from seashore to mountain top with over ten miles of way-marked trails and abundant wildlife. With its backdrop of mountain peaks, its terraced lawns and luxuriant gardens, Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park is the very image of a Victorian ‘Highland’ estate. Definitely a place of tranquillity and a great way to experience some of the most stunning landscapes that Scotland has to offer!
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Glasgow Bus Tour

Tour Highlights: George Square, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Science Centre, The Tall Ship, Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Botanical Gardens and Kelvingrove Park

The history of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city is rich and diverse. In its 1400 years Glasgow has been a religious community, a salmon fishing village, a medieval university town, a major centre of trade with North America and the second city of the British Empire, famed for its shipbuilding and engineering. Today Glasgow is renowned as one of Europe’s foremost visitor destinations. Its outstanding variety of museums, galleries and performance venues led to the city being one of the first to be designated European City of Culture.

Victorian Glasgow has left a magnificent legacy of civic buildings that are just waiting to be discovered. Visit the recently refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where the highlights include impressionist paintings and wonderful medieval armour.
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Back in the city centre the Gallery of Modern Art has four floors of exhibition space that attracts visitors and locals alike and to the east the People’s Palace, on Glasgow Green, tells the story of the city from the perspective of ordinary working folk. The bustling Merchant City was once home to warehouses and markets. Now it’s a sophisticated area of bars, restaurants and housing. This historic area is home to towering Glasgow Cathedral, which dates from Norman times, the Necropolis where many of the city’s wealthy merchants are buried and the Provands Lordship, the oldest building in Glasgow.
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The open-top bus tour of Glasgow is the ideal way to discover all that is best about Scotland’s largest and most colourful city. There are up to 3 departures every hour and you can hop on and off at stops along the route so that you can explore the places of interest that you are hearing about in the commentary.
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Kelburn Castle and Park Trip: Your Questions Answered

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BARBECUE AT KELBURN CASTLE
MONDAY 26th MAY 2014

We’re all very excited about this trip to the beautiful Kelburn Castle and Country Park in Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland! If you have any questions about the trip, hopefully you’ll find the answers here 🙂

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
FOOD
• Whatever kind of food you like to eat, especially if it is suitable for barbecuing (and some kitchen tools if you can). Meat like lamb and beef is delicious barbecued, as are burgers and sausages. We know that, for some of you, it is essential that any meat you eat is Halal: therefore, it’s a good idea to bring your own meat or arrange to do this with your group of friends.
• You might like to make kebabs – if so, bring some skewers (and perhaps a few vegetables like peppers). If you would like to make burgers, you may wish to bring bread rolls/buns.
• Sauce or dressing, such as ketchup or mustard in light plastic bottles.
• ‘Meze’ style food, such as falafel, hummus, dolmades, quiche, samosas, flatbreads. You will find many of these items in the ‘deli’ (delicatessen) sections of big supermarkets like Tesco, Waitrose and Morrison’s.
• Salad and/or bread.
• Sweet things, such as fruit, cakes or sweets.
• Something to drink, such as bottled water or juice. It is also possible to buy snacks, ice-cream and tea/coffee at the café inside the park.

OTHER ITEMS
• Maybe a football or softball and bat – there is plenty of space for games!
• Your phone, fully charged, in case you get lost. You can find phone numbers for Jenny and Iro in the information pack you will receive on the day.
• Any medications you may require.
• A waterproof jacket – hopefully the weather will be pleasant, but you never know in Scotland!
• Please wear comfortable shoes, as you will be spending much of the day outside.
• Your camera (or phone) – we love to see your photos!

WHAT WILL THE EFL TEAM PROVIDE?
• We will provide your travel (by private bus) to and from Kelburn Castle.
• Your entry tickets to the park and castle.
• Barbecue equipment, cutlery, cups and plates.
• Vegetarian sandwiches.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAMME FOR THE DAY?
9:30am: Meet at the University Main Gate on University Avenue to board our private bus. Please don’t be late!
10:30am: Arrive at Kelburn Castle and Country Park. Take some free time or come and explore the park and castle with the trip leaders and student helpers.
12:30pm: Assemble at Ranger’s Centre (see map) for the barbecue.
4:15pm: Meet at Ranger’s Centre to walk together to car park to take the bus.
4:30pm: Board the bus back to Glasgow.
5:30pm: Arrive at University Main Gate.

WHO WILL BE THERE FROM THE EFL TEAM?
Jenny and Iro will be the trip leaders, so please report to them if you have any problems.
Maëlle, Zivile, Mengxi and Emma will be the student helpers – they will introduce themselves on arrival at Kelburn Castle. They can help you explore the park and castle.
Some of your tutors will also be there, but you won’t have to do any work!

WHO CAN COME ON THIS TRIP?
This is a special trip as it is the ONLY one on which you may bring family members. Husbands, wives and children of all ages are very welcome! Please tell us when you sign up if you are bringing family members. Adult tickets are £4 and child tickets are £2. We would love to meet your families, and the park is a safe, fun place for children to play and explore.

WHEN AND WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
Before 2pm on Thursday 22 May, either at the Language Centre Office or Chat Club.

REMEMBER: The purpose of this trip is for you to relax, because we know how hard you all work. It’s also a great chance for us to get to know your families, and for them to see a beautiful part of Scotland!