A May 2004 trip
to Scotland by shaunandtrish
Quote: I don't live that far from the Scottish border and I go there quite often. Sometimes it's recreational and we take the dogs along to do some walking; sometimes it's business. This journal will therefore get updated from time to time.
Inside, the cottage is roomy, comfy, clean, and warm. There are two bedrooms, one has a double bed, the other two singles. The living room has an open fire for burning logs (supplied free), large TV, VHS player, and portable sound system. The open fire is supplemented by an efficient central heating system, with radiators in every room. The kitchen has a large electric cooker, fridge freezer, washing machine, and all the cutlery you're likely to need. The owner, Mrs. Janet Cope, lives across the field on a farm about half a mile away.
At the price we paid (£100 for three nights in May), I don't think it can be beaten. Location-wise, you've got Pitlochry, Blairgowrie, Dunkeld, Aberfeldy and Braemar all within an hour's drive. You can e-mail Mrs. Cope at Janet.Cope@btopenworld.com. She'll e-mail you a little brochure about the cottage if you ask. Stay there.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 5, 2004
Hotel | "East Lochhead Country House and Cottages"
1. Scenic location, convenient spot for touring the southern west highlands (Loch Lomond and Abefoyle are both less than an hour away).
2. Easy access from major routes. It’s only about 12 miles from Glasgow and 8-ish miles south of the Erskine Bridge.
3. The facilities are good and clean. You have the option of taking meals in the main house next door. We didn't trust the dogs on their own, so that was not tested.
4. At about £30 per night plus utility charges, the price was good.
5. The owners give good advice on places to go.
1. Dog-wise, there were drawbacks, mainly that the gardens were too well kept, so we had to keep them restrained on the site. It’s also sheep country.
2. The units are quite small with hard floors and rugs. Couple that with twp boisterous dogs charging around and you've got an uncomfortable combination.
3. You've really got to drive to see the things you've probably gone to Scotland for. Don't get me wrong, the immediate area is nice, but it’s unlikely to hold you there for any more than your evening stroll.
There's a website which will give you a bit more about the accommodation and quite a bit more about the owners and their personal achievements. The folder in the cottage follows that theme too, unfortunately.
It’s worth a stay, don't get me wrong, but I must say with a bit of planning ahead and an hour’s research on this website (the bible), you might well find better options a bit further north.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 5, 2004
East Lochhead Country House & Cottages
Lochwinnoch PA12 4DX
+44 (0)1505 842610
Hotel | "Queensferry Lodge Hotel, nr Dunfermline"
The main attraction of this place is its unique location. It is literally perched on the north side of the Forth overlooking the Forth Road Bridge. You cross the Forth Road Bridge South to North (80p toll) and look left and it’s there. Weather permitting, you get stunning views from the restaurant while you eat.
There's a website, but you can find and book it easy enough through all the standard hotel finder sights and you might well get a better rate.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 5, 2004
St. Margaret's Hotel - North Queensferry
Fife, Scotland KY11 1HP
+44 (870) 609-6160
Hotel | "Travel Inn, Livingston"
So if you're stuck for accommodation on your way to literally anywhere in the UK, try this website.
You will not get charm or individuality and almost certainly not major sights on your doorstep, but you will get a clean and cheap overnight stopover, and there WILL be one near where you want to be. This one is a convenient location if you're struggling to get accommodation in Edinburgh, but like most Travel Inns, it’s only an option if you've got the use of a car.
Deer Park Avenue
Livingston, Scotland EH54 8AD
44 08701 977 161
Hotel | "Abbey Bridge Inn, nr Carlisle"
It’s about eight years since I was last here and I notice it’s changed hands since then, but it’s maintained its four stars, so I reckon standards must still be high. This is a great family guesthouse with comfy double rooms and mega full English breakfasts.
It has an adjoining bar and restaurant (a converted barn) within which you are served excellent meals (not cheap, but great value for money). The bar area is small and cosy, and frequented by guests and locals (and sometimes their sheepdogs) alike. There’s a good selection of real ales and guest ales, too good as I remember.
The location is picturesque with lovely walks (fields, streams, trees, etc.) literally on the doorstep and it’s slap bang in Hadrian’s Wall territory, about four miles from Birdoswald. A bit further afield, you've got the English Lake District or the Solway Firth and Dumfries on the Scottish side, all within an hour's drive. There's a website to look at, too.
Abbey Bridge Inn
Hotel | "Holiday Inn Express, Inverness"
There are a couple of drawbacks, though. First, the rooms are not well soundproofed, so if you've got a screaming baby next door, it WILL keep you awake. Secondly, breakfast choice is limited to continental self-service and the coffee from the machine is rotten.
There are also some nice touches, though. For example, there's a snack area in reception where you can buy emergency snacks (crisps, Mars bars, instant noodles, etc.) for reasonable prices, which is handy. Also, the staff here was helpfulness personified and moved me right away when, after two solid hours, I concluded the screaming baby next door was set for the long haul.
This one is next to a retail park on the outskirts of Inverness just off the Aberdeen road. There's a handy supermarket there and also a pub/restaurant (Snow Goose) that does reasonable pub meals up to 9.30 at night. The hotel’s bar area is nice, but typically pricey for hotels (beer cost £3 a pint).
This HI Express is good as a stopover or if you're working (which I was), but not such a good base for exploring Inverness itself on foot. It’s currently on the edge of town (Inverness is sprawling at an alarming rate), so there are certainly better centrally located options if you want to be at the heart of town.
Holiday Inn Express Inverness
Hotel | "Altens Thistle Hotel, Aberdeen"
Okay, as for facilities. The rooms are quite large, clean, warm, and well equipped. The beds are big and comfy. There are several TV channels, including a sports channel. Breakfast involved a good range of standard British hot and cold choices of a decent quality. The lunches we had as part of the conference package were less impressive, with soup or salad to start, followed by a limited and uninspiring choice of hot main courses. The leisure facilities were pretty good for a hotel. There was a reasonably sized pool; it was smallish, but there was a well-equipped gym and a sauna. This was free to guests.
To put the lodging into perspective, it’s on the edge of a sprawling industrial cum retail estate. Aberdeen is a major centre for the North Sea Oil companies, and many have offices and facilities nearby. Hence, Ill bet the hotel feeds almost exclusively off these companies and their employees. That means you'll tend to get the doesn't-need-to-try-too-hard service that is typical of this scenario, and if you are on a genuine holiday, you may find yourself pining after a few human touches.
Recommendation? Good for business if your work is nearby and okay for a single night stopover, but it will fall short for holiday-makers on an extended stay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 10, 2005
Thistle Aberdeen Altens
+44 1224 877 000
Hotel | "Violet Bank House, Edinburgh"
Anyway, whilst Sighthill is not an area you'd really want to spend too much time in, the short drive out to the suburb of Currie on the Lanark Road finds you in much less threatening surroundings, and the Violet Bank Guest House is easy to find opposite the Hope Garage on the Lnark Road. So on with the review.
Room: At £60 per night it was not cheap by any means for a B&B (company paying, why am I bothered?), but this is down to the fact that it's Edinburgh (supply and demand again) and that it's a 5 star. My room was very clean, cosy, spacious, with a well appointed bathroom with relatively high spec fixtures and fittings, cable TV and tea/coffee making facilities. Large extremely comfy bed with enough cushions and pillows for it to become a minor problem.
Breakfast: Served at virtually any reasonable hour and virtually any reasonable request catered for wherever possible. Standard items include a range of cereal, toast, fresh fruit salad, full cooked breakfast, with occasional "guest" items making an appearance liked baked cinnamon plums. Good coffee.
Hospitality: Reeta, the proprietess, is a former B&B assessor for the Scottish tourist board, so she's fully aware of the dos and don'ts of B&B hospitality. She and her husband keep a very tastefully decorated and clean property and are there for you when you need them and not when you don't. There's a drawing room for guests' use that includes a book/DVD library for your use while you're there.
Location: Currie is a suburb of Edinburgh. A drive into town is (depending on traffic) about a 15-20 minute drive straight along the Lanark Road. At the time of writing the owners are in the process of extending the parking options of guests, which are a little cramped right now. Currie is a safe if unspectacular location in its own right, but ideal for access to Edinburgh, where centrally located B&Bs because of strict planning regs are relatively scarce.
In summary, the Violet Bank Guest House offers some homely charm and an extensive personal touch. Pricey by B&B standards but at least while there you can see what you're getting by paying a bit more. I suspect I'll be staying there again.
Here's the website.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 19, 2005
Violet Bank House
167 Lanark Road West
Edinburgh, Scotland EH14 5NZ
+44 (0)131 451 5103
Hotel | "Castle Campbell Hotel, Dollar"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 8, 2006
Castle Campbell Hotel
11 Bridge Street
Dollar FK14 7DE
+44 1259 742519
It’s a well-maintained and comfortable pub-type restaurant, with more emphasis on the food than the drinking side of things. Its location on a retail park just outside town will mean that most people using the Snow Goose will be driving to get there, so it's never going to be full of people enjoying a heavy drinking session. That said, the range and quality of beers is especially good.
Food-wise there is a good bar menu with starters from about £3 and main courses from about £6.50 (fish & chips, steak pie & chips). Prices go up to about £10-£12 for something like a fillet steak, sea bass or duck. Deserts came in at about £2.50-£4.50.
I had fish and chips, and the quality was good. This must have been fairly typical, however, as the Snow Goose had been recommended to me by several Inverness locals with whom I was working at the time. The thing that surprised me most of all was the speed of the service. I had my meal in about 10 minutes.
Overall I'd recommend this place for what it tries to be. A good spot for a filling pub meal with a decent range of menu choices, in a relaxed setting that won't break the bank. Try the Calders 80/- yum yum. Suitable for families. The restaurant, not the beer. Although it does get cold, so ...
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2004
Attraction | "Ben Vrackie Hill Climb, near Pitlochry"
The main things you'll need on this climb would be sunscreen and a litre of water on a clear day, and a light water-proof on a cloudy day. And maybe something to eat at the top. The whole experience should take about four or five hours, with rewarding views the whole way.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2004
North of Pitlochry
Ultimately, it brought an end to the sporadic civil uprisings between the highland clans and the English government and its Scottish supporters. It was a bloody affair that took less than 1 hour to reach a conclusion, to all intents and purposes, a massacre. The site of the battle has been preserved and now supports a nice visitor centre that attempts to give an impression of what Jacobite life was like at the time. This includes a recreated stone cottage to the rear and various artifacts inside. Its about £3 to get inside, but you can view the battlefield for nothing.
In all honesty, there's not much to see, but the attraction is to be able to identify with the conditions, terrain, and undeniable atmosphere under which several thousand men attempted to knock seven bells out of each other and to experience the site on which many men died in a very short space of time. See it at its best, when the weather is not that good, to experience the eeriness of the site.
The parking isn't free unless you're quick like I was. Don't wear your best shoes if you want to walk around the battlefield.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Inverness, Highland IV2 5EU
44 (0) 844 493 2159
Attraction | "Castle Stuart, near Inverness"
My "somewhat recommended" rating is based on its merits as a historical sight, not as a hotel. As a hotel I'd expect it to be good, because from looking at the website, it sure ain't cheap.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Inverness, Scotland IV2 7JH
+44 (0)1463 790745
For me personally it has had two main invaluable uses:
1. Accommodation find. There's a clickable map of Scotland, you put a pin where you want to stay (say, Pitlochry) and you get a list of links to accommodation options as long your arm, with links to websites, email addresses, etc. You can literally just go through the list and fire off emails to the ones you like the look of, get price and availability info, and take your pick from what comes back. The accommodations are rated by the Scottish tourist board (star system), so you know more or less what you're getting.
2. When you've got your accommodation sorted out, you can get loads of info about the region so you can plan your itinerary in advance.
Have a look!!!
Route 1. The Eastern Coastal Route Following the A1 to Edinburgh taking in Seahouses, the Farne Islands, Bambrough Castle and Lindisfarne.
The A1 is fairly quick and convenient, but like the other roads in this journal is liberally peppered with speed cameras. It is a mixture of single and dual carriageway and follows the coast from north of Newcastle to the border at Berwick, then onto Edinburgh. The coast on this stretch is quite generally beautiful and bleak, but punctuated by nice fishing villages like Amble and Seahouses. It is from the latter you will be able to take a boat trip to visit and view the Farne Islands, famous as a breeding ground for numerous varieties of seabirds. A bit further north there is the spectre of Bambrough Castle overlooking the coastline, with Lindisfarne (Holy Island) a very short drive beyond that. Be careful with Holy Island. It joins the mainland via a short causeway that floods at high tide, cutting it off for 5 hours or so twice a day. Check tidal information at the crossing before you cross to avoid staying longer than you wanted. Its a great nature/history trail, this route, with Berwick (last town in England) and Eyemouth (fishing village about 10 miles north of the border) also worth a stop. Here's a couple of useful web sites that will give you a bit more about the places I have mentioned.
The North East
Route 2. Central Border Route. Follow the A696/A68 from Newcastle to Edinburgh through the bleak and beautiful border country.
It may not sound like there's much to see here, but I really like this road over the top. It winds its way through the barren Cheviot Hills giving spectacular views on a good day, but literally no visibility on a bad one. Worthwhile photo-stops along the way include Kielder Reservoir and the small historic town of Jedburgh. If you wish to take in Hadrian’s Wall, you will need to take a short detour just north of Newcastle, head towards Hexham and follow the Brown Signs. Housesteads, the most impressive roman archeological site, is about 30 minutes from Hexham.
Route 3. Hadrian’s Wall and the West. Turn west of Newcastle on the A1(M) and follow the Brown Signs for Hadrian’s Wall. Take the B6318 (old Roman road) to Carlisle, then north into Scotland.
The best route for Hadrian’s Wall, this one works its way from Newcastle in the east to Carlisle in the west before you head north into Scotland. Once you have located the prominent brown historic trail signs west of Newcastle on the A1 after crossing the river Tyne, you are directed very efficiently on a route that takes in all the major sights, the best being Housesteads. More information about Hadrian’s Wall at this web site. Hadrians Wall. The whole route along the B6318 is only about 60 miles and ends at Carlisle. At this point you must take your pick of heading west through the western lowlands towards Dumfries, and the Solway Firth, or north on the fast moving M74, that will have you on the outskirts of Glasgow in little over an hour on a good day, and the southern edge of the western highlands at Loch Lomond in about half an hour after that. Take the road over the Erskine Bridge (£1 Toll) if that is your ultimate destination.
Durham, United Kingdom