Good Saturday to you,
Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, being written on a warm May afternoon probably some time before it gets posted. Today we’re going to do something a bit different. The pandemic has made many of us more aware of many things but particularly in Scotland which local authority we live in has become very important for what we can do on a daily basis. To that end I’ve written a list of the 32 council areas in Scotland and a place I associate with each one of them. I have been to 30 out of 32, with Shetland and the area covered by the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar the only ones to have eluded me so far. Shetland makes me think of Mousa Broch and the Western Isles of Calanais, though as I say I haven’t been to either one, yet. Glasgow won’t be on this list because I live here. I went by population so after Glasgow comes…
Edinburgh, which makes me think of Calton Hill, a place I made a point of visiting almost as soon as I got to the capital a few weeks ago. From Calton Hill it is possible to see much of Edinburgh plus over to Fife and East Lothian. It has inspired many adventures over the years as well as being a place to stand, think, ponder and gather myself depending on the day.
Sadly it isn’t possible to see Cellardyke from Calton Hill. I’ve long said that I might like to retire to Cellardyke, maybe the East Neuk of Fife more generally. It has a handsome harbour plus views to East Lothian and the Isle of May.
North Lanarkshire is home to Summerlee, an industrial museum which covers a whole swathe of that area’s past. The last time I was there they had a decent exhibition about Albion Rovers.
South Lanarkshire, meanwhile, has New Lanark, which I visited for the first time a couple of years ago in a hay fever haze. The Falls of Clyde are gorgeous.
Aberdeenshire makes me think of Dunnottar Castle, ruined and rugged on a cliff. Stunning on a good day, woebegone in the fog.
Arisaig comes to mind when I think of the Highland Council area. I was there a couple of autumns ago with incredible sunsets and views to the islands.
Aberdeen brings to mind Marischal College, a massive granite complex now the headquarters of Aberdeen City Council. It’s grey, imposing and intimidating, like much of that city.
West Lothian brings to mind the bings that dominate the landscape in those parts, an area changed by industry.
A place in Renfrewshire that I visited for the first time recently was Lochwinnoch, with Castle Semple and the bird sanctuary. On a sunny day, there are few places finer.
The Falkirk Wheel is a wonder of the modern age, using Archimedean principles to lift boats between canals.
Perth and Kinross is a big authority. Near the bottom of it is Loch Leven Castle, in the middle of a loch and rich with history related to Mary, Queen of Scots. I got sunburnt there once.
I have a history of castle-related mishaps. A screw fell out of my glasses at Caerlaverock Castle and the staff tried to help me find it before finding one from an old pair of sunglasses they had lying around. Caerlaverock Castle is what I imagine a proper castle to look like and it is one of the finest places in Dumfries and Galloway.
V and A Dundee has an excellent permanent display about Scottish Design and it’s building is a fine example of global design too.
North Ayrshire has Cumbrae, an island which I walked around quite recently. It is peaceful with views for miles around, to Arran, Bute and the mainland itself, only a few minutes across the water.
East Ayrshire was the hardest of the 32 to come up with something for. I came up with the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock, which in normal times has decent exhibitions as well as a fine museum collection.
Arbroath Abbey is the pick for Angus and is a symbol of that county. The Declaration of Arbroath was written there but just now all I could think of it is the big abbey window being lit up for the benefit of passing mariners before the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse.
Dryburgh Abbey is my favourite of the Scottish Borders’ abbeys, sat by the Tweed with another fine rose window.
Culzean Castle, in South Ayrshire, has big windows that look out on a good day towards Northern Ireland, the Ailsa Craig and the sea. The surrounding country park is a beautiful place to be in all weathers.
East Dunbartonshire brings to mind Mugdock Country Park and the reservoirs which supply much of Glasgow’s drinking water. Mugdock is a stunning place.
East Lothian was a hard one since I grew up there. My pick was Seton Collegiate Church, by a main road but very, very peaceful.
Moray’s selection was another church managed by Historic Environment Scotland, Elgin Cathedral, which has a particularly fine chapter house.
Nearly there now and East Renfrewshire makes me think of Greenbank Garden, peaceful and intricately designed.
Stirling Castle is the obvious pick for the Stirling Council area since it dominates the landscape and much of the area’s history. I was there recently and it remains my favourite big castle in the land.
Crichton Castle is a hidden gem in the Midlothian countryside. It sits above a valley in midst of rolling countryside. The courtyard is dominated by an Italian diamond facade.
Bowling Harbour is one of my favourite places in West Dunbartonshire, where the Forth and Clyde Canal joins the Clyde. There’s a harbour and sculptures. Even passing by on the train, with a boat submerged in the muddy harbour, soothes the mind.
Another very soothing place is Iona Abbey, at the western end of Argyll and Bute. The cloisters are worth spending a good deal of time in.
Newark Castle sits right next to a shipyard in Inverclyde and has another pretty good perspective over the Clyde.
Alloa Tower is in Clackmannanshire and has a really interesting history. I went before the football a few years ago.
Last but not least is Orkney, which brings to mind the Ring of Brodgar. I remember walking around them and not being sure how to respond so I hugged one of them. Not sure why.
Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 28th August 2021. Thanks for reading. Normal service should be resumed next week. Until then, tioraidh an-drasta.