Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Slightly odd, maybe even worrying – St Kilda named by ‘leading travel bible’

While it’s never going to be the easiest place to get to, St Kilda is a place I tend to think of as being protected, if not subject to visitor restrictions.

It’s not very big either, and the ‘Points of Interest’ are few, meaning that any visitors (tourists) will tend to tread the same path, so the arrival of increased numbers could lead to serious damage and erosion. And, while NOBODY does it (aye, right), it would take many people collecting some little a souvenir of their visit to leave the place looking pretty poor.

I don’t pay any attention to social media, or online reviews, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware that many thousands of people do, virtually worship the people or sites that they follow, and mindlessly following any recommendation they make.

I hope this accolade doesn’t turn into a Death Note for St Kilda.

St Kilda, the remote cluster of islands lying more than 40 miles off the coast of the Outer Hebrides, have been named one of the most beautiful places in Europe by one of the world’s leading travel bibles.

Conde Nast Traveler has hailed the “unforgettable ocean views and unique ecosystem” of the Unesco World Heritage Site, which is 100 miles from mainland Scotland and was evacuated by its last permanent residents in 1930.

However an estimated 5000 visitors now flocking to the largest island each year thanks to the growing popularity of boat trips from Skye and Harris, the quickest of which still take nearly three hours.

They are drawn to an abandoned village dating back to the 19th century, its spectacular coastline, the highest sea stacks and cliffs in Britain, and Europe’s most important seabird colony.

St Kilda, which has been owned by the National Trust For Scotland since 1957, is the UK’s only dual World Heritage Site, recognised for its cultural and natural significance.

The archipelago, which lies 40 miles west of North Uist, has now been rated alongside Biarritz, in France, the Dolomites in Italy, Lapland in Finland, and the Swiss Alps by Conde Nast Traveler, which has showcased what it describes of 20 of the most breathtaking landscapes across Europe.

The travel website states: “This cliff-dotted archipelago along the western coast of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has unforgettable ocean views and a unique ecosystem.

“Visitors can encounter hoards marine life on one of the many ocean tours offered by local boating companies, while those without sea legs can also explore the area’s ancient ruins.”

St Kilda named one of ‘the most beautiful places in Europe’

Pity Conde Nast Traveller doesn’t have a proofreader checking their article.

Two absolute howlers are immediately obvious – not only did they use the wrong word hoards (stuff that’s been gathered or collected, possibly in secret) instead of hordes (a vast multitude), the didn’t notice they’d missed out the word ‘of’ after it!

Then they managed to misspell the name of the very archipelago they were featuring.

It’s name really is St Kilda *with no full stop after the St), rather than St. Kilda, which they unfortunately used.

This screen grab of their entry shows…

Conde Nast Traveller St Kilda name error

Conde Nast Traveller St Kilda name error

Probably better to go see the display in Kelvingrove, and not to any damage to the site.

Easier to get to as well.

St Kilda Goat

St Kilda

16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Stirling Castle is UK favourite heritage location for 2012

I was mildly surprised, and pleased of course, to see that Stirling Castle featured in a news item which announced that it was voted the UK’s favourite heritage location – and I did look twice to make sure that the report said UK, and not just Scotland.

Stirling Castle voted the UK’s favourite heritage attraction

I think that’s a pretty good result given the competition from some other castles, some of which are in places that are considered to be more important, and some of which are considered to be more romantic or attractive. The other candidates should be fairly obvious, but I won’t name them as I don’t want to start an argument.

Although Stirling Castle used to be a fairly frequent destination for a family trip during a nice weekend, I haven’t actually been inside the castle for many years, and even my more recent visits have really only been as far as the gates and the walls – as a sort of renewal of acquaintance every now and then. In fact, my most recent eyeballs have been from the M9, where the view is more like that seen in the pic selected below. I even spent a frustrating period doing some work for Wang Computers who had a facility in the grounds below the castle – frustrating because the schedule meant I never had time to visit or even look at the castle once, even though I had to drive through some of the grounds, work never finished until everything was closed every day.

There was one amusing incident, while we decided to grab something to eat after being up at the castle.

There’s a pretty good little fish and chip shop in the main road below the castle, just on the way into Stirling itself, and it lies at the bottom of a large tenement block. We’d parked quite close, and were settling down in the car, and attacking another excellent fish supper, and had no idea what was going on a few feet away. Call it intuition, but I decided to move the car away from the shop  – just to the other side of the street – and this only took a moment as there is a roundabout at the end of the road. As we carried on eating, I realised I had been unsettled by a lot of people running around, and that was why I moved. As we watched, still unable to see anything wrong, the sound of sirens announced the arrival of a squad of fire engines – and they promptly took over the spot where we had been parked a few minutes earlier, and we realised that there was, and had been, a fire underway in the tenement, right above where we had just been. Although we saw some smoke, despite the number of firefighters that appeared, it seems to have been a non-event – probably because they dealt with it quickly.

Funny thing was, despite all the fire engines and firefighters, and the fact there was actually a fire in the building above, the chip shop just carried on business as normal, and the customers just kept coming and going as if there was nothing happening.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle © kim traynor

Edinburgh takes title as Europe’s leading destination in 2012

Never one to be upstaged, the capital followed a few days later with its own achievement, and was voted the leading destination in Europe, and beat competition from London, Paris, and Barcelona to take the title.

Edinburgh named Europe’s Leading Destination

I don’t want to sound like too much of a killjoy, but the overpriced pile of rubbish they dumped at Holyrood for £430 million, the Edinburgh crowds, and traffic problems with their trams, I think I’ll be sticking with Stirling as my preferred destination now, and for the foreseeable future.

I like Edinburgh just fine, but it has been ruined in recent years.

09/10/2012 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business as usual at Glen Kin Centre

It’s not all bad news this week, and as we noted the closure of the Clydebuilt Museum at Braehead yesterday, we received a comment correcting and updating an earlier post we made regarding the projected closure of the Glen Kin Centre at Sandbank by Dunoon.

The Glen Kin Centre is operated by a charitable trust set up in the 1970s with the aim: “To provide for young people a centre for outdoor recreation, occupation or other leisure activities where they may apply their practical skills and find comradeship and joy, all to the improvement of their conditions of life.”

It seems the centre was indeed looking at closure a while back, but is now up and running as normal and taking bookings from interested parties.

It has just launched a new website at: where details of the location, facilities, costs, and advice for those interested may be found.

Our thanks for the updated information.

17/10/2010 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glen Kin Centre to close… ummm – Not!

Please Note: This post dates from 2008. The centre ‘s own web site was later updated with the following statement:

Our Future: After a period of uncertainty over  the future direction of the Centre and the Trust, we are glad to be able to look positively towards a much brighter future with bookings up and interest growing from both established and new clients.  We can confirm that the centre is no longer being offered for sale and we are fully committed to its future development.

See also our 2010 update: Business as usual at Glen Kin Centre

It seems the subject of closure of facilities is making more appearances than one might like, and this week saw the announcement for sale of the Glen Kin Outdoor Centre near Dunoon.

The centre dates back to 1978, when Glen Kin Farm was acquired by the Glen Kin Trust, and had the stated aim to “provide for young people a centre for outdoor recreation, occupation or other leisure activities where they may apply their practical skills and find comradeship and joy, all to the improvement of their conditions of life.” Since then, it has become a popular destination for school trips, and venue for Guide and Scout activities.

Able to sleep 24, with additional facilities for catering etc, the centre has seen a fall in numbers, with only three bookings recorded for this year. Increasing operational costs, combined with the seemingly endless onslaught of increasing Health & Safety demands, have led to reviews, and the final decision to sell.

Although the decision is sad, and has attracted negative criticism of the centre’s management – with regard to promotion, publicity and facilities – it seems that there is a general pattern developing, and those that are charged with managing such facilities are growing increasingly worried about litigation and claims made by those who attend them, with the upsurge in ambulance chasing organisations with finds to pursue them on behalf of clients, and act on a “No Win, No Fee” basis, meaning there is no reason not to raise an action, no matter how frivolous, as the only party that will suffer is the defender.

Like many such centres, it seems that Glen Kin was dependent on the goodwill of volunteers to maintain its operation, and that while improving the facilities and services offered might be covered by one-time grants, the ultimate result would be increased costs, which could prove to be unsustainable without additional resources or subsidies being available.

The trust’s chairman, Scott Bryson, said  “The aim is to sell the premises, continue the trust and set up a foundation through investment of the assets in a trust fund. The interest could provide support for travel, scholarships, courses, training, equipment and other facilities – this would enable groups and individuals to develop a wider range of skills and experience on a continuing basis.

21/03/2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


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