A trip to the Countryside. Pitlochry

Pitlochry
Nature in Pitlochry

Edinburgh is a great place for both city lovers and those of us who love being amongst nature. The area has plenty to offer nature lovers on the outskirts of the city but sometimes, it’s nice to see other places too and Scotland has plenty to give in that respect. Being nice and central, Edinburgh and surrounding areas make it easy for us to travel to the parts that may seem far away.

Along the banks of the River Tummel

One of those places in Pitlochry. A beautiful small town in Perthshire, surrounded by the most awesome green landscapes and lying on the River Tummel with a small population of approximately 3000 people.

Woodland walks just a stone’s throw from the town centre of Pitlochry.

Although Pitlochry seems small, there is a surprisingly active community there and endless things to keep you busy and interested. For example, in the winter you can visit The Enchanted Forest which promises us a dazzling sensory experience of sound and light in the midst of a beguiling forest setting.

Wonderful play parks for the kids to let off steam.

With dazzling visuals and innovative design set against an original music score explore the stunning autumn woodland setting of Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. Using the forest as a natural backdrop, you will experience a lighting show that is, quite simply, out of this world.
The Enchanted Forest is renowned to be Scotland’s premier sound and light experience.

pitlochry.org
The hydro electric dam where you can see salmon jump the salmon ladder and visit the wonderful visitors centre.

Pitlochry is geared up for visitors all year round with plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to camping sites to small guest houses, there’s definitely something to suit you should you choose to stay for more than one day. That being said, if you travel there from anywhere in the central belt, you can easily spend a day and return to base by nightfall.

Some of the lovely goods available to purchase at the Festival Theatre’s gift shop.

Spending a day there is so enjoyable. The peaceful feeling of being somewhere with a slower pace of life, surrounded by nature and with such fresh air you can’t help but feel rejuvenated cannot be equalled for relaxation. You can go to all the spa days you like but nothing will be as therapeutic as being in a place of such natural beauty.

Nature’s bounty.

The sparkling water of the River Tummel flows from the hills and as you walk along the banks you will come to bridges that take you to the other side where the theatre sits with its gift shop and eatery and further along you can walk over the dam that provides the hydro electric power to the area. So you see, the River Tummel is not just a pretty face, it earns its keep by providing power and many, many exciting leisure activities such as white water rafting.

Unrivalled scenery.

As if this wasn’t enough, the town centre of Pitlochry is full of all kinds of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can eat anything from traditional Scottish fare to a takeaway kebab. Be you a meat eater or a vegetarian, a high class diner or looking for something more down to earth, Pitlochry has it ready for you.

The local wildlife?

Don’t take our word for it, though. Go yourself and find out. There are many ways to get to Pitlochry and whichever one you choose, we hope you have as great a day as we did. Car, bus or train. You choose.

The Helix, Falkirk

Relax at The Helix

The Helix, Falkirk.

Beautiful greenery in The Helix

The Helix Park in Falkirk is a fairly new park for the area. For many years the land on which it is now situated was a bit of a no-go area for humans unless you had good wellies on. The idea was born in 2003 to develop an eco park, link communities that had nothing but road networks  between them and this site, with its 350 hectares of land was the perfect place. Sitting on the border between Falkirk and Grangemouth with close proximity to both town centres, with easy access from the nearby motorway, it has proven to be a very popular place to spend the day with both locals and visitors flocking to it, especially on the nice sunny days in the summer.

Wetlands have been preserved and maintained for the wildlife to enjoy and build their habitats in.

Many organisations were involved in the planning and development of The Helix and in 2007, the project was  awarded twenty five million pounds in grant funding from The Big Lottery. Fast forward to 14th September 2013 and The Helix celebrated its opening day with many people in attendance. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and on any given day, you can see walkers, families at play, cyclists, skaters and all kinds of people enjoying the great outdoors there.

There are many beautiful walkways at The Helix and all are wheelchair user friendly.

The area has two car parks. A free car park near the play park area and a car park that takes a small fee nearer the back where The Kelpies are. There is also sometimes a chance to park your car at Falkirk stadium, from which you can then walk in a few minutes to one of the many entrances to the park.

Free car parking at The Helix

The Helix is essentially in two parts seamlessly lying together. The Helix North and The Helix South. The Helix North is the greener part with long path networks meandering through woodlands and along The River Carron and these paths give access to the area from surrounding communities such as Carron, Grangemouth and Langlees, Bainsford.

The Lake at The Helix. In summer you can enjoy pedalos and kayaking or just sit at the cafe and enjoy the peace and beauty

The Helix South has Over 12km (7.5 miles) of new and upgraded paths. These paths provide connections between Grangemouth, Beancross, Polmont, Lower Braes, Laurieston and Westquarter. They also improve links to the Falkirk Stadium and link to Helix Park, The Kelpies Hub and Helix North.

Some of the wonderful apparatus available to children at The Helix

If you have children The Helix is like a dream destination for them. A fantastic park and boating pond takes centre stage and the apparatus is all constructed with natural materials which encourage young adventurers to explore safely. They can run, climb, balance, spin, jump and all in a very natural environment. While they’re having the time of their life, there is a cafe where you can enjoy some simple foods and get a coffee. At the side of the cafe, there are free toilet facilities so you don’t need to worry about accidents. In the summer months there are also water activities such as kayaking and padalos. There really is something for everyone. Keep up to date with activities at The Helix by pressing the link.

One of the many visitors to The Helix

The Helix park is very accessible, if you’re coming from out-with the area, here’s how to get here. We Falkirk people hope to see you at The Helix soon.

Arthur’s Seat, the view that can’t be beat.

Arthur’s Seat.

Climb to the very top of Arthur's Seat and this will tell you everything you're looking at.
Climb to the very top of Arthur’s Seat and this will tell you everything you’re looking at.

If you visit Edinburgh, you will surely have heard the name Arthur’s Seat. A famous landmark, visited by tourists and locals alike and a great view point to see all around Edinburgh, if you manage it all the way to the top. It lies East of the city centre, approximately 1 mile from Edinburgh Castle and is 250.5 metres in height.

Arthur's Seat showing the famous skyline of the extinct volcano.
Arthur’s Seat – The famous skyline showing off the extinct volcano.

As well as being a popular site to visit for walking and hiking, Arthur’s Seat is also a site of special scientific interest, being important for its geology, various species of plants and animals and also their habitats. Indeed, if you have an interest in volcanoes and how they change the landscape, you should definitely visit and do a bit of research on Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding areas.

History on Arthur’s Seat

In history, Arthur’s Seat was used as a hill fort. Indeed, Hill fort defences are visible round the main massif of Arthur’s Seat at Dunsapie Hill and above Samson’s Rib.

You’re never alone on Arthur’s Seat. The view towards Calton Hill and the City from the foot of the hill behind Holyrood Park.

As you walk up the hill, the first thing that strikes you is how many people are visiting this area. Very easy to get to, with Holyrood Park just below, the Scottish Parliament building, Dynamic earth and The Palace of Holyrood House are also very near, public transport regularly passes this area. As well as this, there are car parking spaces at the Holyrood Park side. You are never alone while walking up Arthur’s Seat, there’s always someone to nod hello to as you pass.

A view of the loch and part of the city from a mid-point view.

The climb from the Holyrood Palace side is fairly easy up until the higher points, where it becomes rocky and not for those who aren’t sure footed, however, even if you only manage to go partway up, you can still be stunned by the lovely views of Edinburgh.

Looking over to Portobello.

If you’re a budding writer or film maker, Arthur’s Seat is inspiring, being the focal point of many famous book and films such as The Underground City by Jules Verne and One Day by David Nicholls.

As we said, you’re never alone on Arthur’s Seat.

Whoever you are, if you are coming to Scotland and you have the ability to use your legs, Arthur’s Seat should be on your go to list. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be able to take photographs to impress your friends.

Callendar Park; a Jewel in the Crown of Scotland.

Callendar Park in Falkirk.

The swans of Callendar Park Loch.
Some of the many inhabitants of Callendar Park loch.

Having spent some of my formative years in the Falkirk area, Callendar Park has a special place in my heart. As a child, a trip to Callendar park was quite an event. A picnic would be prepared, we would make sure that the bag was packed with all the food and, if we had pocket money, we knew we would be able to buy an ice-cream cone from the kiosk that still stands there today. Back then, some 45 or so years ago, there was more for children in the park than there is today. I remember the play park there for its merry-go-round and just across from the kiosk, there were rectangular trampolines set into the ground. You could bounce to your heart’s content and the only thing you had to worry about was someone ‘stealing’ your trampoline while you nipped away for a minute.

Callendar House in the Winter Sunshine.
A February Afternoon at Callendar House

We used to have a go on the rowing boats and row around the beautiful, scenic lake there for 20 minutes or so then go and find a place on the grass to eat our much awaited picnic. Now there are swan pedalos instead of rowing boats and the trampolines are long gone, consigned to the memories of people like me.  However, time moves on and the park has stood the test of time. The play park has been modernised and, a sign of the health and safety times, it has a huge fence around it to prevent dogs from coming in where the children play and, of course, the equipment there is much different from 45 year ago. Although there are no trampolines,  in the summer months a bouncy castle is sometimes in situ and parents can pay for young children to have a bounce under supervision. The crazy golf is popular with families and there is also a 9 hole, 3 par golf course  for the enthusiasts who are not satisfied with 10 minutes on the crazy golf.

Fun at Callendar Park.
Having Fun at Callendar Park in the Winter.

The park is home to the beautiful  600 years old mansion, Callendar House which throughout the ages has hosted many famous people including Mary, Queen of Scots and Oliver Cromwell. Today it is a tourist attraction, like so many historical buildings but the difference is, it is free to enter and wander around its rooms and corridors which host exhibitions of various kinds and a lovely tea room that overlooks the gardens to the rear through huge sash windows. You can even have a taste of what it was like to be a scullery maid in the basement kitchen which retains its original features and kitchen utensils. If you’re lucky, the ‘cook’ in full period costume will allow you to taste a biscuit just like the ones they used to cook there long ago.

Pugs at Callendar Park
Pugs in the Park

The best thing about Callendar park, though, is its beauty. With lots of walking and bike paths, the natural beauty of the mature woodlands can be enjoyed for days at a time and if you’re coming by car there are many free car parking spaces in public areas.

Callendar Park High Flats
Callendar Park High Flats – the New in Harmony with the Old.

While you’re wandering through the grounds and woodlands of Callendar Estate, you will understand just how much this park and its surroundings means to the area. At most times of the day and into the evening,  you will see people walking, jogging, cycling and horse riding and you will mostly be greeted with a nod or a hello. Dogs are welcome too and they bring their own kind of social scene, with dog owners standing around and chatting about their furry loved one as their dogs play together.

Walking in Callendar Park
There are many walkways in Callendar Park, Falkirk. Enjoy them in Winter or summer.

There’s nothing like trees and nature to bring out the best in folk and in this era of technology and being stuck at a desk, a natural area that is free to all and easy to access, is just what the doctor ordered.

The Beautiful Trees of Callendar Park
The Beautiful Trees of Callendar Park in Winter

Don’t make a trip to Falkirk and Central Scotland area without keeping a day free to spend at Callendar Park. There’s always something going on.

Callendar House, back gardens.
A beautiful place to spend the day.

Callendar Park looks forward to welcoming you. How to get to Callendar Park.