The Stair Arms Hotel Review

Just a half hour drive outside of Edinburgh city centre, in the small village of Pathhead, is one of the most charming Scottish hotels I’ve ever had the luxury of staying in.

My sister and I, were invited along to The Stair Arms Hotel after work last Friday for a girly overnight trip. Situated along the main road, the hotel has a very cosy, country feel to it which makes for the most idyllic and peaceful setting. The ideal stop for passing travelers and locals.

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Family run, The Stair Arms has recently been refurbished, staying true to its Scottish heritage in the capital with chic tartans and grand chandeliers, the rooms have a real luxurious feel to them. Upon arrival we were greeted with the roaring warmth from the log fire and the friendliest staff, who just couldn’t do enough for us.

Once checked in, we quickly threw our bags into the room and headed straight down for dinner.

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The food in particular was outstanding. The menu was bursting with creative and elegant dishes, using only fresh local ingredients. The home made bread rolls and dip in particular were a highlight and there was a whole other menu just for vegetarians and vegans – which did not disappoint.

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The cauliflower steak with mushroom potatoes, carmalised onions and carrot puree was heavenly and the mac n’ cheese with vine tomatoes and garlic bread was the perfect hearty, comfort food. We decided to share the chocolate brownie sundae for dessert – only because we brought our entire weight combined in snacks for a Halloween movie night in.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The interiors are nothing short of fabulous – traditional meets modern. The Stair Arms have a range of rooms available, all very spacious and cosy. Check out the next day is at 11 am, perfect for those who enjoy a long lie.

Packed up, we headed down for a glorious traditional scottish breaky (vege options available also) and a wander around the grounds, a peaceful awakening to our day.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The Stair Arms also cater for weddings and with the experience of their wedding coordinators, can cater to any type of wedding.

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Inchconnachan, Loch Lomond

More commonly known as Wallaby island, Inchconnachan is situated amongst the larger islands in the middle of Loch Lomond. Having visited last year, I was keen to go back and explore some more. And of course, see the wallabies again.

The wallabies were first brought to Inchconnachan in the 1940’s after the second World War, by one of the most eccentric and admired aristocrats of the 20th century, Lady Arran Colquhoun. She was also a celebrated power boater, and earned herself the nickname “the fastest granny on water” after reaching 103 mph on Lake Windermere in the 1980’s.

Scotland has been absolutely glorious these past few days so I grabbed my best gal gang (and Stuart) and headed up to Loch Lomond for some paddle boarding. We set off from Luss pier and headed straight for the famous island.

We paddled round to the west side of Inchconnachan called The Narrows, a waterway between the site and Inchtavannach island, to escape some of the wind. This is where you’ll find Lady Arran’s bungalow which has long been deserted.

Inchconnachan Island

There’s definitely an eerie feel to the place. Approaching it, we felt that we were at the part in the horror film where everyone was shouting ‘GO BACK!’ but we survived to tell the tale. Head inside and you’ll find the most amazing map of Loch Lomond, which has been painted on what appears to be the living room wall.

Inchconnachan House

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After exploring the bungalow, we hiked to the top of the island in search of the wallabies. The views at the top are gorgeous, the perfect spot for a girlie catch up.

Inchconnachan Hill

Inchconnachan Island Views

After battering through bushes and branches, we eventually caught a glimpse of the wallabies. It’s incredible to see these Australian natives bouncing around in Scotland and easy to understand why most people think you’re crazy when you talk about them living on an island… in Loch Lomond.

Lady Arran was a quirky character with a love of exotic animals. She once owned a backyard menagerie that included creatures like wallabies, llamas, and pigs. It was only after the second World War, she moved her beloved wallabies to her holiday home on Inchconnachan.

Wallabies Inchconnachan Island

Wallaby Island, Loch Lomond

We spent the afternoon in total bliss, after a quick snack break we paddled through The Narrows and headed over towards Inchmoan.

Inchconnachan Beach

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Determined to get a cute group picture… I’m not sure we succeeded.

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Loch Lomond SUP

There’s something pretty special about having the beach all to yourself, you’re only a short paddle or boat trip from some beautiful, secluded beaches, the perfect summer camping spot.

Loch Lomond

Paddle Board Yoga

Inchmoan, Loch Lomond

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

I also got to test out the new MOAI board, which is a total dream to paddle on. Although, wetsuit season is well and truly over! Absolutely roasting in them, we headed in for a quick dip before heading back.

Inchmoan Island

Loch Lomond is a home from home for me, I’ll never tire of exploring the same islands or paddling the same routes, there’s just something instantly calming and freeing about being on the Loch.

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Images: SUP Glasgow

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Bracklinn Falls

After last weekends adventure with Glasglow Girls Club, Jen decided she couldn’t get enough of me and invited me along on another trip with Excelsior Adventures. This time to Bracklinn Falls. Having seen pictures of the stunning waterfalls, I jumped at the chance to finally go and see them.

Bracklinn Falls is a great, easy walk just north of Callander, in Scotland. Crossing through varied woodland to the Bracklinn bridge with views of the falls and gorge below, it is absolutely breath taking. The wonder of this gorge is that the stones are continually on the move.

Nicely propelled by caffeine and some T-Swift we headed off from our meeting point at George Square, Glasgow. Kudos to Jen who makes driving a mini-bus through narrow country lanes look completely effortless.

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Be sure to get there nice and early as it’s a popular tourist spot and was already super busy when we got there around 11 am.

Crossing over the bridge, turn left to continue the 5.25 km circuit. Following the path upwards through a bit of steep climb (but not too difficult) will lead you out to stunning views of Ben Ledi, Stuc a’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich.

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We had the circuit all to ourselves on Saturday morning so Theo got the run of the place whilst we all enjoyed a good girlie catch up.

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Further along the path, we came to the Scout Pool just below a second bridge which passes over the Keltie Water.

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A little further along, we passed the sweetest wishing well and of course stopped to make a wish. The circuit took us around 2 hours to complete, with plenty of breaks along the way. The Bracklinn Falls circuit is perfect for all ages with stunning views at every turn, it’s great to enjoy the luxury of being able to fully switch off and enjoy the world’s natural beauty.

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Breeze SUP Wear

This week I teamed up with UK based eco-friendly clothing brand Breeze Sup Wear for a chat. I had the pleasure of trying out a few pieces and also caught up with Adrian (one of the founders) about Breeze and the brand’s ethical qualities.

Tell me about Breeze, how did you start out?

Myself and Matt, my business partner, have been best friends since we met back in 2006. Matt owns a stand up paddle board company so we are quite often out on the water together. In 2017 on one of our summer paddles, Matt raised the idea of starting a SUP clothing company.

The more we spoke about the idea the more we realised that there wasn’t a brand out there which concentrated on eco-friendly SUP specific clothing and so we thought we were on to something. I had dabbled in clothing design in the past and Matt had the expertise about the demands of the sport so we decided to start Breeze.

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Tell me more about the team…

Me and Matt own the company. We also have some great ambassadors working with us to promote Breeze.

Matt uses his vast knowledge and experience of SUP to gauge what kind of items SUP users need and then does market research to find out if there is a demand for it. I am responsible for all aspects of the clothing; from designing them, to sourcing fabrics and suppliers, and making sure that they are the best quality and of course eco-friendly.

Was being eco-friendly part of your initial concept or did it develop later in the design process?

Whether you’re in the ocean or a loch, you’re passionate about being in beautiful places and so you’re gonna want to look after those places. It didn’t make sense to make products out of stuff that damages the environment. Being eco-friendly was part of our ethos right from the start but it has developed as we have moved along. We have to think about everything, from making sure our packaging is made from recycled materials, our tags and business cards are made from recycled card and we have to ask for our clothing not to be delivered in bags.

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Can you explain what being eco-friendly really means and why it’s important?

To me, it means living with intent, which is the intent to be Earth friendly. We all have a responsibility to make sure that the only footprints we leave on this earth can be washed away by the sea. We need to protect our oceans by keeping them clear of plastic, using recycled products and upcycling old things to prevent waste and conserving energy to make sure that we can use sustainable sources instead of robbing the Earth of its precious materials.

If everyone just changes one thing about their life to make it more eco-friendly then we are moving forward. Anything we can do to conserve energy and prevent air and water pollution is fantastic!

Would you agree there’s a lack of awareness?

People have been slow on the up-take. There’s a massive drive behind it now though, especially in young people. For the first time, the younger generation are leading the way with this kind of stuff. I don’t know whether it’s down to social media but they do care more about the world. They are the driving it forward now and it’s up to them to embarrass the older generations who are stuck in their ways. I don’t think you can escape it, it’s great!

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What is the manufacturing process for recycling clothes?

Our hoodies, for example, are 70% pre-consumer recycled cotton and 30% post consumer. What they do is get all the scrap waste that is produced when making clothes and mix it with other recycled clothing, then chop it all up really finely. After that, the fibers are so small that they can be reused. Check out their video with Salvage here.

How important is style as a factor when making the clothes?

Paddle Boarding (especially in Scotland) is all about warmth, people are far more fashion conscious in warmer climates. I don’t want to be influenced by other brands, I’m confident in my own designs. Style is important but to me it’s not about keeping up with current trends, it’s about designing things that will match their use, I also want the designs to be unisex. I try to keep the designs simple. Having said that, I do have some wacky designs for leggings.

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Do you guys have any plans for expansion (into warmer weather clothing, wet suits, etc.)

We hope to increase our leggings range this year and also have some board shorts for men coming out for the summer. We have started trying to source poncho towels and caps. Wet suits would be great but there are already so many out there that are now being made out of eco materials that we could never catch up, we will let the big companies have that share of the market. We will continue to focus on bringing out quality eco-friendly products and who knows what direction that will take us in.

What’s your most popular product?

Hats and sunglasses, I often joke that we should have just gone in to the hats and sunglasses market as it would have been a lot easier. Our hoodies are very popular too and we expect our new recycled leggings to fly off the shelves.

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Go Ape, Aberfoyle

Not being one for heights, I had successfully managed to avoid visiting Go Ape until now…

Last weekend I was invited down to Go Ape’s Aberfoyle site for a Tree Top Adventure with a friend. With high speed zips, free-fall Tarzan swings and daring crossings, a Tree Top Adventure sounded like my worst nightmare. However, after doing a little research, I learned that over half of Brits are ‘very afraid‘ and ‘pretty nervous‘ around heights. Feeling slightly more at ease that I wasn’t alone – I decided to go for it. 

Scotland is currently having one of the most beautiful Autumns I’ve ever seen, we got so lucky with the weather and had a dry, crisp day with the sun splitting through the trees. We were booked in for an 11 o’clock slot at the Aberfoyle site (about an hour outside of Glasgow) so were up and off early for a fun, girly day out. 

What to Expect

On arrival, you are given some safety rules to read through, which is pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on the course. Then you are given a safety briefing by a tribe member who ensures your harness is fitted correctly, shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires and that you are fully comfortable doing so. 

Next, you’re off! A spectacular 426m zip line through the trees drops you at the first landing station where the route begins. 

Go Ape

Go Ape Zipline

Pumped with adrenaline you make your way round five different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each. You’ll find plenty of tribe members wandering down below you, should you need some encouragement or a little reassurance before taking the step out onto a wobbly ledge.

Go Ape - Tree Top Adventure

There are some bits of the course that are optional, should you want to take an easier route – although everyone is encouraged to do the dreaded Tarzan swing! One of the most feared obstacles, solely for the reason that you’ve got to hurl yourself off a platform suspended 30 feet in the air and then clamber up a cargo net back onto the platform on the opposite side. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have to admit, it was one of the best bits and so, so much fun. 

Go Ape Sky Park

And finally, after many Tarzan fails, hysterical laughing fits and a very muddy bum later, you are presented with a certificate of awesomeness. 

Go Ape Certificate

I would highly recommend Go Ape and can’t wait to go back. If you’re like me and a bit of a wimp around heights, I would say to just go for it. I felt so safe and secure the whole time I was up there; the staff were brilliant and so re-assuring when you have a bit of a panic and just want to hug the nearest tree for a minute. 

The groups were also spaced out really well, I didn’t feel like I was holding anyone up going at a granny pace over the obstacles or when we stopped to take a few (shakey) pictures. You also don’t need to be super fit to take part – we went for a fun day out and had a blast. 

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What to Wear

  • Closed toe shoes (Trainers are perfect)
  • Trousers/ leggings – that you don’t mind getting muddy
  • Jacket/ Jumper with pockets – you’re not allowed any bags on the course so if you want to bring your phone/ camera etc. they must be in a zipped pocket.
  • Waterproofs (if there’s rain forecast)
  • Gloves
  • Bobbles 

It’s also worth noting, if you want to go along but prefer your feet firmly on the ground, there’s lots more to do. You can go walking/ biking and even try segwaying. Plus, Ben A’an and Ben Venue are just next door if you fancy a slightly more challenging walk. And after all your adventures – cake at the on-site cafe! 

This year, Go Ape is encouraging Scots to think twice about traditional stocking staples and consider the gift of an unforgettable experience this Christmas. They are offering the chance to gift an experience with bundles available in denominations of £30. Vouchers are delivered instantly, making it the perfect option for the last-minute shopper (guilty).

Available here: https://goape.co.uk/giftvouchers?utm_campaign=influencers&utm_medium=social&utm_source=bloggers&utm_content=giftvouchers

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Jobes Sport Review – 10.6 ft. Surf SUP

It’s been just over 3 months since I purchased my first SUP board from Jobe Sports and I absolutely love it. It is perfect for me and I use it almost weekly for solo paddling.

I researched lots of companies and different sized boards for a while before deciding upon this one – I was looking for an inflatable light weight board with good stability as I wanted to be able to travel with it but my biggest challenge was deciding which size. A lot of people recommended the 12 ft. but I just felt that it was a tad too big for me so opted for the 10.6 ft as this promised ‘great stability, easily maneuverable and ideal for solo touring’.  It does all of that and more… once you master the wobbling part.

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The Pro’s

  • Stability – I was very surprised by the rigidity of the board when inflated, it handles really well on the water but I wouldn’t recommend more than one person on the board at a time.
  • Lightweight – These boards can look really heavy and clunky but they’re so light and easy to carry. The strap handle in the middle of the board allows for easy and comfortable lifting.
  • Speed – I wasn’t expecting to go anywhere fast on this little board but I was so wrong. The board is streamlined and cuts through waves with the pointer bow brilliantly – I’ve even managed to surf some of the smaller waves with it.
  • Appearance – At the moment, it is only available in the one colour but I really love the design on the surf 10.6 ft. boards. I think it looks clean and smart (plus, it matches my wet-suit).
  • Pump it up – Thumbs up for the high pressure dual action pump. The gauged pump is a life saver, I wouldn’t know when the board was pumped up enough otherwise -the manual details exactly how much air to pump in as well.
  • The Paddle – The adjustable paddle is super lightweight, has great durability and is really comfortable to hold.

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The Cons

  • I only have one and it’s a small one – there’s no cross guard so I can’t secure any bags or anything onto the board with me.

Aside from the cross guard, I genuinely have no improvements to suggest towards this board. It’s really quick to inflate and deflate, lightweight and easy to maneuver in the water and easy to pack down. If you’re buying for one – it’s perfect!

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What’s Included?

  • 10.6 ft. Surf SUP
  • Waterproof Carrying Bag
  • Pump (with nozzles and pressure gauge)
  • 1 x Aluminium Adjustable Paddle
  • Ankle Leash
  • 3 x Detachable Fins
  • Repair Kit

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Ben Donich

Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…

We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.

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We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!

Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.

The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.

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The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.

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We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.

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My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.

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Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty! 

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The Dockyard Social

This week I headed over to The Dockyard Social, a new street food and bar hub near Finnieston. They’ve just won Best Street Food at The Scotsman Food and Drinks Awards 2018, so I couldn’t resist trying some delicious food and cocktails. I also had a chat with The Dockyard Social’s founder, Kyle Steel, about their venue, their traders and what’s next.

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So, tell me about The Dockyard.

For me, it’s all about creating a really social space where you can bring your dog, your family and you don’t need to worry about any kind of preconception. We had a mummy bloggers event on earlier where there were forty mums and dads with their kids; we had Wonder Woman and Cinderella, it was amazing!

As the day goes on, it transcends into a more hipster, cool kid kind of vibe – not that mums and dads aren’t cool, I have 3 kids myself. But you can see the demographic shifting a little bit. People generally stay here for around 4 or 5 hours.

I can see why, it took me an hour to pick something to eat, there’s so many options to choose from. It’s a really cool venue, did you guys have a lot of refurbishing to do?

It took us two to three months. We tried to use as much as possible from the building; the blue metalwork you see around the place was here originally. The initial footprint of the building was one of the biggest Glaswegian shipbuilders back in the day, about a hundred years ago now. We really wanted to tie that in, hence ‘The Dockyard’.

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How do traders get a place in The Dockyard?

When we started off, we were inundated with enquiries, we tried to mix it up between established and some brand new traders. ‘Fujisan‘ were our very first trader, they had only been going for six weeks, we were their second event. And then we had ‘FatBoys‘ he came in and it was his first ever big event, he did about 900 covers in four days.

We really want to help them get on the scene and start making a name for themselves. We get loads of traders getting in touch and because just now, we’re only open every second week, we are trying to mix it up so it’s always fresh. We see about 3,000 people over the weekend, so you want to keep it new and give the traders a chance to push themselves but also not get bogged down by being in here for 8-10 weeks, or it can get a bit stale.

How long are you guys here for? Please say forever.

Well, we’ve got a 10-year lease, full license application in just now, all going well – touch wood – it’ll be granted early December. The street food side of things will be running Thursday to Sunday with each day targeting a different group. Thursdays will be very student heavy and then Friday to Sunday is open to all ages. And there is a training school Monday to Friday every week.

Coffee Cocktails

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Will we be seeing more new traders then?

Absolutely! Going forward, we may give them three or four week stints, we have 12 pitches but it’ll always be something new.

I am so excited to try the Bubble Waffles! They look incredible.

They are hugely popular, everyone always comes in asking for them.

Bubble Wrap Waffle

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Tell me more about the traders then. I’m vegetarian for example, is there a lot of choice?

We’re really passionate about providing equal opportunities for dietary requirements. Ally who owns ‘Paleo Kitchen’, for example, is one of the nicest guys in the world who focuses predominantly on the caveman diet. So, no refined carbs, coeliac friendly, a lot of vegan dishes – loads of opportunities.  All of our traders will be able to accommodate you whether you’re vegetarian, vegan etc. We just really want everyone to feel welcome at The Dockyard and really create a community hub.

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Smokey Trotters

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What would you say the traders gain from being here?

We’re all about providing a platform for food street traders and chefs who maybe want to take a step towards doing their own thing. But where we really differentiate ourselves from other operators is that,while we’ve got 12 different food street traders, we run 2 of them so our revenue comes from the bar, ticket sales and our 2 food stalls. The other 10 are up and coming businesses.

We’re just here to provide a cool vibe and location for them to really apply their trade and give them an opportunity to show what they do. We spent four years doing Section33, so we were doing pop ups in old abandoned buildings helping raise funds for the homeless and gained a really strong following from foodies and their loyal regulars. It’s now transitioned to this and it’s actually been a year since we signed the lease on the building.

Bangkok Street Food

Food stands

What was the idea behind The Dockyard Social, what inspired you?

I think life is short, life is an absolute gift. The more we can do to help people the better. I’ve got three young kids and if I can help inspire them to help people when they’re older – they can look back and say ‘Well, Daddy did it”. I just think that’s a butterfly effect that spreads out exponentially. It’s all about uniting people and that old analogy of ‘People Make Glasgow’. We just want to do it on a bigger scale.

How are you planning to help people?

When we get our full license, I really want to put in 2 big initiatives. Teaching families who are currently relying on food banks how to cook free of charge. I keep hearing that a lot of families who reply on these food banks don’t know how to cook nutritious food and I want to help change that.

Section33 came about because my granny told me not to! “Kyle, you need to get a trade, be a plumber or a plasterer…” I wanted to prove to my gran that hospitality isn’t to look down upon others, it can really help people who are in sticky situations. Once we get the full license I’m going to put on a monthly local pensioners tea dance where they can come in for free and we’ll provide tea, coffee, cake etc. We want to hear their stories. I would give anything to have 5 more minutes with my gran.

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Big Buns

What’s next for you guys?

Our main ambition? We’ve got 10,000 square feet here, with another 4000 behind the scenes where we’re building a training school to help homeless people, the long term unemployed and kids that have come through care. We get them into the training school, and the street food traders will help train them. Then once they’ve done their basic training they’ll come out and they’ll do six weeks on pizza, 6 weeks on Thai and so on, so that after six months they’re ready to go and get a bigger job or maybe start their own brand – that’s the dream!

We’ve got loads of funding coming in from the training side of things from the government and then we’ll look at doing probably Edinburgh next. And then maybe move South, perhaps. It’s all just really cool. But we’re working on keeping engagement fresh, word of mouth is the biggest driver for us.

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Images by: Fraser Craig

Editing: Harry Smith

 

Honeymoon Bridge

I woke up on Sunday hangover free and full of good intentions, Scotland’s weather forecast, however, did not…

The plan was to climb a Munro, just past Arrochar, but driving up there, realised the Scottish weather was going to get the better of me, it was blowing a hooley with low clouds and drizzly rain so instead opted for a ‘short walk with a view point‘.

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Honeymoon Bridge has become a well known spot for it’s car parking facilities, lunch spot, remote picturesque views but more famously a car crash in the 1950’s.

Starting off at the rear of the car park, heading up through some forestry, along a beaten road you soon emerge to see views over looking the loch, and over to Ben Lomond.

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It was a fairly busy route with lots of families and puppers to ‘aww‘ and play with. After taking in the view, you’re back through some more eerie forestry. There are quite a few path options along the way, I followed the route up and off path which became pretty steep and boggy after a while.

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How creepy does this bit look?!

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Having not been hiking in a while, this one definitely loosened the hips. It reminded me a lot of Dun Na Cuaiche – perfect for beginners. Once you’re up and out, the views are gorgeous! You have the option to continue climbing up but I’d had enough of being mauled by ticks.

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I think this is a great little route for a Sunday stroll, especially that you’re protected in amoung the trees when the weathers rubbish, luckily by the time I reached the top the rain had gone off for a little bit – perfect photo opp.

Plus, there’s plenty of great restaurants near-by for some hot food and a drink when you’re finished!

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Glasgow’s Tontine Lanes

I’m lucky to work in among these secret lanes so it was so much fun to watch them being transformed into an array of Scottish pop up stalls with food and drink, art exhibits, live music and my personal favourite, crazy golf.

In case you haven’t heard, the secret lane, tucked away in the Merchant City between Bell Street and the Trongate has lain empty for several years, but before that it was a vibrant food and culture hub, made popular during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This year, however, it was back for the European Championships 2018.

The talk of the lane was of course, King Putt’s Crazy Golf. The super fun course was made entirely from waste materials sourced from across City Council and Glasgow Life departments. There were also a few famous faces competing such as Tom Daley.

Lunch times suddenly became extremely competitive in my office ha-ha, with a few of us there every. single. day! 

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Photo Credit: King Putt’s

The best part, the lanes were totally free. The staff were made up entirely of volunteers as well and couldn’t have been lovelier. Speaking with the King Putt’s crew they said;

“…it’s popularity exceeded our expectations. We had a huge number of visitors over the 10 days – possibly in the region of 7500. The feedback we received was extremely positive and it seemed to have been popular with all age groups and families.

King Putt’s may be back some time in the near future – stay tuned!

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After a few rounds, we headed over to The Birdcage’s pop up restaurant, where you can grab a quick, tasty meal. They managed to completely transform a really run-down looking warehouse into an urban, chic little dining area.

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This specialty Chicken restaurant’s menu includes everything from coriander, chilli and lime chicken wings, to pulled chicken bao buns, to jerked spatchcock chicken and even fried chicken feet. Each to their own…

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My new favourite!

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I opted for one of the veggie dishes – BBQ pineapple stuffed with Hawaiian rice, chilli, sesame & soya and it was delicious. No complaints and I would definitely have it again.

If you didn’t manage to get down this year, I would highly recommend going next year, especially at night where you can listen to some of the guest DJ’s and bands.

Give these guys a follow!
@Kingputts

Keep up to date with my latest adventures – @abonnietravelersinsideguide 

Note: Not Sponsored

Birthday Celebrations at Stobo Castle

I had the most lovely birthday weekend ever – thank you so much to everyone for all your kind wishes!

This year I decided to invite the girls round for some home-made sangria and prosecco (and lots of it). I love hosting parties and decorating the house, laying out all the crisps and nibbles and decorating the drinks with fruit and fancy umbrellas. I really wish I had taken some pics of them all, they were so cute. Afterwards, we headed down to my local, Angels, for some more prosecco and gin. It was such a fun night!

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Queue the hangover from the fiery depths of satin’s lair…

I woke up on the Sunday to find out that I was being whisked off to the spa of dreams – Stobo Castle. The ultimate hangover cure!

I have been a few times before and can honestly say hands down, it’s my favourite spa that I have ever been to.

Nestled in among the scenic Scottish borders, about an hour and a half from Glasgow, city centre. The luxury spa is set in an old, rustic castle with beautiful architecture and history.

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Once checked in, we headed to the Courtyard Lounge for some much needed lunch and refreshments. We were told that the courtyard had previously been converted from stables, this explains the horse statue at the back of the room.

The courtyard itself, was such a lovely place to chill out, with so many places to sit and relax it would be easy to spend all day there reading a book, drinking coffee or if you’re waiting on a treatment… or two!

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I kept hearing lots of screams and giggles coming from the Ladies court yard toilets. Ha-ha, girls you have to check them out!

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The piazza-style bar and coffee shop hosts a wide selection of hot and cold lunch options and amazing cakes. I opted for the soup and sandwich option along with my favourite green tea – Flora Tea. I always order this, it looks so pretty but it tastes even better and it’s super healthy.

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Lily Fairy‘ – Jasmine: Calming, good for the digestive system and kidneys
Lily: Helps to ease and give restful sleep, good for the liver and eyes

Although we didn’t book in for any treatments it was really nice to wrap up in robes and relax by the pool and enjoy the use of all the facilities. It’s impossible to not feel relaxed here – with a wide range of saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, 25 metre pool and relaxation room, it’s just spa heaven.

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The relaxation room was definitely a favourite, the room is so tranquil and calming (minus the fellow snoring guests who also felt the same way).

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Our room was a ‘Standard Room’ over-looking the pool area and just across from the new cocktail lounge which offers over 30 different cocktails – Ideal!

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Side Note: If you’re a fellow gin lover, you have to try the ‘Gold Gin 999.9’ – Our waiter recommended it and it’s now my new fav. It’s mixed with juniper, tangerine, violets and a few other ingredients, it smells and tastes incredible! 

The room was really spacious, elegantly decorated with quirky Scottish touches and our bathroom was huge, with a large shower and bath along with a selection of beautiful Molton Brown products. The bed was so comfortable and everything was so clean, zero complaints! (Excuse our messy room).

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The food was also incredible – so good I forgot to get pictures ha-ha! Breakfast had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee.

Lunch and dinner are both a three course menu. (Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in the comfort of your robes and slippers whereas, dinner is slightly more formal wear).

Before lunch on Monday afternoon, we wandered down to the beautiful Japanese Water Gardens, located about a five minute walk from the castle entrance.

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Designed to promote a zen-like calm, it is absolutely stunning. With beautiful towering trees and picturesque bridges leading you to the gorgeous water fall, you’ll feel completely calm and relaxed.

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My only criticism (and it’s a small one), was how busy the hotel was – the pool and saunas were exceptionally busy making it a little less relaxing at some points.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Scotland.

Note: Not Sponsored 

 

Surfing in Scotland

Road Trip…

This weekend, I headed to the west coast of Scotland for some surfing, still being a bit of a newbie, I decided to book a lesson which was scheduled for the Sunday morning so me and my friend headed up late Saturday afternoon and camped on the beach… how romantic?!

It’s around a 3 hour drive to the west coast but totally worth it, even the drive up alone is insane. It’s near enough a straight road from Glasgow city centre, along the A82 onto the A83. It is well worth a trip if you ever get the chance, the beaches are so beautiful and the locals are so, so friendly and welcoming.

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My poor, little car just about managed the journey, I am one of those people living in the 1900’s who doesn’t have an AUX cable… I know, I know, okay! So we piled all our ‘NOW…’ and ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’ CD’s into the car (CD’s ha-ha I can’t believe I’m writing that) tent, sleeping bags, galore and headed off.

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We did stop off in Dumbarton and Helensburgh en route, on the hunt for a disposable BBQ but it seemed everyone else had the same idea and every shop was completely sold out!

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Instead we opted for a take away pizza on the beach with some beers, which I thought, was 10 times better. It was still light at 11:30 pm with the pros still out catching waves until near enough midnight. I could have easily said I was in Bali or somewhere super exotic and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

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Spot the Glaswegians…

I absolutely LOVE camping, especially on a gorgeous beach, however, I did not take into account how small a 2 man tent actually is, on top of the glorious 30 degree heat (I promise, I’m not complaining) but waking up in the morning was definitely not a pretty sight… to say the least. #sweatfest. Laaavely.

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Once we were up and ready, we headed into the local town, roughly a 10 minute drive from the beach and got some much needed coffee and then headed back for our lesson. There are loads of companies all around Scotland, that offer surf lessons so get in touch if you’re looking to try it.

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We had perfect conditions for learning with clean waves, we occasionally got caught in the rip tide and had to fight our way back up the beach but it was so much fun.

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It was just a perfect weekend all round. The weather was incredible, the beach was filled with sunbathers and surfers – a lil’ seal even made an appearance a few times when we were out, how cute?! And I even managed to stand up and catch a few good waves.

Kayaking in Loch Lomond

Summer 2018 is well and truly underway with Scotland having a massive heatwave this week! Who needs Ibiza when you’re living in 30° heat?!

Typical Brit moaning about the weather but I swapped my hiking boots for my wet-suit last weekend and headed out onto the loch. It was just waaay too hot for a hike.

I headed up to Inverbeg, where my family have a little place over-looking the loch. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was sooo warm and the water was calm but super busy. Great minds…
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I hadn’t been out kayaking in a while and have always been really keen to explore some of the beaches surrounding Inverbeg and Rowardennan. I definitely wasn’t the first, as I found remnants of BBQ’s and campsites at a few.

I also wasn’t the only one out on the loch – it was filled with jet-skiis, boats, water-skiers and a few fellow kayaks. I even passed a couple who totally had the right idea… the girl, sunbathing, enjoying life with a bottle of wine whilst her boyfriend rowed his lil’ heart out, ha-ha. Yes please!

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My sister and I, have a 2 person kayak and whilst it’s good for bringing lunch/ bags etc. It’s so tiring and heavy after a while, we don’t ever get very far in it ha-ha so I had managed to borrow my neighbours – a single kayak with detachable comfy seat! It was super lightweight and easy to maneuver.

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I was also pleasantly surprised at the lack of litter on the beaches – I know this is something that the park are cracking down on as it’s becoming a big issue but I am proud to report I found little to none.

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There are lots of companies up in Loch Lomond, that offer kayak hire and water sport sessions so I have linked a few below that I felt offered good value for money. As with most water sports, being able to swim is a must and always ensure under 12’s are accompanied by an adult.

1. Loch Lomond Leisure – offer 1 – 3 people kayak hire from 1 hour to long term. They also offer group guided tours. Wet suits are not included with most packages but can be purchased for £2.00 – bargain! They also have a wide range of other activities from water skiing to banana boat rides as well. I am BUZZING to try some of these out.

2. Loch Lomond Wakeboard – offer 1 – 2 people kayak hire also, from 1 hour to long term (Wet suits are included in all packages). These guys also offer other water activities such as wake board and water-skiing lessons so I will definitely be checking that out as well.

 

Ben Vane

This was, hands down, the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed. Ben Vane, is described as only just reaching munro status at 915 metres. So, if like naïve, little me, you think this will be a nice, easy stroll – you are very much mistaken.

Ben Vane is one of the Arrochar Alps, standing slightly separate from the other mountains. Located on the A82, near Inveruglas, approximately an hour outside of Glasgow. It’s described as a ‘steep, rocky, little mountain’. That word ‘steep’ should be in CAPS, bold and underlined!

I read it takes around 4-6 hours up and down (it took me just over 5) so headed off around 9:30 am and reached the Inveruglas Visitor Centre where I was able to park. There’s also a small café, restroom facilities and gorgeous views over-looking the loch if you just fancy a day trip. When I got there, it was super busy with tourists, I got chatting to a family who had traveled over from India and said that they were just over-whelmed at Scotland’s beauty. T’awww!

I struggled to find the starting point for Ben Vane and first, ended up along the path of ‘An Ceann Mòr’ where this beautiful structure was created, part of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project – it reveals the panoramic views over the banks of Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.

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I soon came across a group of girls who looked like they were going hiking as well – I asked them if they knew where the starting point was and they also, were confused. We soon realised that there were also about another 10 people trying to find it, all of us using the same website. Walk Highlands sort your directions out, eventually someone was able to steer us in the right direction and we headed off. For the record, you want to cross the road from the car park over to the Scottish Hydro Power station and walk past it.

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Keeping to the right – you will soon come across some blue arrows, after about a kilometre, turn right onto a gated tarmac road leading under the railway.

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You will soon come across a large electric substation on your left, where the slopes of Ben Vorlich should come into view on the right and Ben Vane ahead. (I didn’t know this until later…)

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Already the views behind me were stunning! It was such a gorgeous day in Scotland with 19 degrees of glorious sunshine! Amazing – guess who ended up getting burnt?!

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Had any of us been paying attention, we would have known that we were supposed to turn left at this bridge with the sign saying ‘Glen Loin’ but to be fair it should have also had a sign labelled ‘BEN VANE‘ seeing as that. was. it. right. there! … Instead we walked a good 20 minutes past this and wondered why we had lost the other 10 people following us.

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We then came across this bridge and realised we had made a mistake somewhere, thankfully, a Scottish Power van drove past us and offered us a lift back to Ben Vane, we found out that we were on our way to Ben Vorlich. Massive shout out to Scottish Power haha!

After finally getting to the right hill, it didn’t take long before the steep climb began. Basically, straight away.

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The initial path is a little unclear and boggy but it soon turns into a clear, stone path the rest of the way up. I think the hardest bit about Ben Vane (besides how steep it is) is the amount of false summits. I counted about 5 – it was horrible haha.

After the first few false summits, I started to realise how big this munro actually was.

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The top bit you can see there isn’t even the top. A few of the girls I started off with had decided to stop and call it a day while the rest of them went on, with me. I was actually so glad that they were there as there were some tricky climbing and scrambling parts.

The views were totally worth the steep climb in the end ha-ha and it did make me think about what that family had said earlier, we really do take these views for granted.

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Ben Vane Summit

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You’re best to re-trace your steps back down the path, and as always I would recommend a good pair of walking boots, especially with a good grip for this one.