Exploring the UK: Devils Pulpit, Finnich Glen, Glasgow, Scotland


We had one last morning in Scotland before having to catch our ferry over to Ireland. Needing to fill the time, I did a google and realised we wasn't too far from Finnich Glen aka Devil's Pulpit. Thanks to the underlying red sandstone, the water flowing through this gorge looks red, giving it the sinister name. 




I'd recommend arriving early morning as parking is very difficult. There isn't a carpark and you'll have to fight it out over a few spaces on the side of the road. It can get pretty chaotic! Tucked away in a forest, the gorge is a short walk from the car parking spaces. Wear sensible shoes and ones you don't mind getting muddy. Keep an eye on where you're walking as the gorge is pretty steep so it could be easy to lose your footing and fall over the edge. It's not a place I'd recommend taking children or visiting with people with mobility issues. Keep walking around the gorge until you get to a pair of stone stairs with a rope handrail attached to the side.


The steps will be very slippery thanks to the traffic up and down. Don't let go of the rope and tread extremely carefully. The stairs are narrow and only really allow for one-way traffic so always make sure to look down to see if anyone is coming. Keep in mind your feet probably will get a little damp. Despite all these warnings it's absolutely fab. It really does feel like an adventure! It was one of my favourite sights we visited during our trip. 


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Exploring the UK: Loch Katrine, Trossachs, Scottish Highlands


Back in September we decided to stop for a few days in Scotland to help break up our gigantic road trip to Ireland. We wanted some fresh air but didn't want to drive too far north. So the most logical answer was to venture just past Glasgow and arrive at Loch Katrine. Pretty close to the border but far enough in the countryside to feel like you were a million miles away from home. It was absolutely glorious and one of the most beautiful places I've visited in the UK. 



Loch Katrine is situated in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The freshwater loch has served the city of Glasgow for the past 150 years. If you're a fan of Outlander (something we're not!) then you'll recognise the scenery from season two as it's where Brianna and Roger have a picnic together. Following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, its home to an historic steamship you can board for a trip up and down the loch. We chose to veto this option and decided to do our sightseeing by foot.

We were so incredibly lucky with the weather. It was pretty cold but such beautiful blue skies and sunshine. It made walking around the loch a dream. We parked the car in the main carpark, picked up a drink from the kiosk and took to our feet. The rangers are pretty helpful and pointed us in the right direction to find a map. There are numerous suggestion of walks in the leaflet depending on how much time you want to spend in the area. We still had other sights we wanted to squeeze in so we chose the two hour walk. We didn't end up completing it but still had a leisurely stroll for just over an hour. It was pretty empty so seemed even more magical because we had it to ourselves. I'd recommend scheduling in at least half a day to really enjoy the scenery. 



It was nearing lunchtime and we were getting hungry so we stopped for a bite to eat in the cafe over looking the loch. It was pretty pricy for a bog-standard fizzy drink, soup and sandwich but it was worth it for the view as we sat on the balcony wrapped up in a scarf and hat. Sometimes you've just got to pay up eh?


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Three of the best beaches to visit on the Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland

I've mentioned the Causeway Coast many times on this blog so you'll have to deal with yet another post waxing lyrical about it's beauty. This time I'm going to talk about the beaches. Even in the pouring rain the beaches are gorgeous, but if you manage to catch them on a sunny day then they are absolutely stunning. You could be almost anywhere in the world with the bright, blue sea and beautiful white sand. It'll be hard to comprehend that you're only across the water in Ireland. 



White Park Bay

This one is my ultimate favourite and I make sure I visit every time we head over to Ireland, even if it's just to stand at the view point and gaze out across the Atlantic Ocean. This year we managed to time it perfectly so we went beach hopping on a truly gloriously sunny day. Despite the car park being pretty full the beach was almost empty. We just had to contend with a few dog walkers and families playing. it is also so spotless and the sand is pure white. Located not too far from Ballycastle, be sure to stop for a bite to eat at Bothy for some pizza. They also do a takeaway if you fancy eating it with the sand between your toes. It is quite a trek down to the beach so this may not be one to attempt if you have mobility issues. Keep in mind there isn't any toilet facilities. 





Portrush

Out of all the Causeway seaside towns Portrush is my favourite. It has a typically seaside town feel but still seems to retain its charm. There's some great coffee shops and the town centre is nice to wander. If you love amusements then you'll enjoy the nostalgia of Barry's. The beach isn't that spectacular but it's a fun place to chill and watch the world go by. We like grabbing a treat and a sweet treat from Babushka before sitting on a beach to people watch. Take a stroll up Ramore Head for stunning views across Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. On a clear day you'll be able to see for miles. 




Whiterocks Beach

Within walking distance from Portrush is Whiterocks. Famous for it's impressive limestone rocks, this beach is a bit more rugged-looking than the rest. You'll still be greeted with the gorgeous white sand and crystal blue sea though! It's well-known amongst surfers so you may be lucky to have some entertainment for the day. The proud owner of a Blue Flag Award, Whiterocks is very popular so it'll probably be the busiest beach you'll come across. 

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Exploring Ireland: Monea Castle, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland


We did the drive from Derry to Dublin back in July and passed through a few places in Northern Ireland we had yet to visit. We stopped off halfway at Enniskillen for some lunch. After a quick search on Tripadviser to see what was nearby, we stumbled across Monea Castle and decided to give it a whirl. As with so many attractions in Northern Ireland, the castle was deserted and we luckily had it all to ourselves.




Dated back to 1618,  it became the residence of the governor of Enniskillen in 1688. The castle was gutted by a fire in the 1700 and abandoned, that is the ruin you see today. It is free to enter and to be honest there isn't too much to do. But on a dry day, its a little gem to walk around and explore. There really is something special about having a ruin all to yourself. It feels as if you are on a secret that no one else knows about. I wouldn't go out of way to visit it but it's well worth a stop over on a road trip. I imagine it would be lovely in the summer sunshine with a picnic! It's not too far from the Fermanagh Lakes so would be good to combine the two.



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Exploring Ireland: Giant's Causeway, Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland



The UNESCO world heritage site of the Giant's Causeway has been named the fourth greatest natural wonder in the U.K.  It's been on my list for years to visit and despite venturing over to Ireland quite a few times I'd never quite made it. We usually visit my boyfriends family and other things always seem to get seen first. Plus there's just so much beauty in this part of the world that it's so difficult to know what should be your first priority! However, this time I knew I had to finally make it as Hannah's house was a mere walk away so there was no excuse. 





They say the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns are the result of an ancient volcanic explosion. But really the columns were actually built by a giant... Irish giant Fionn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Bonandonner. Having bravely accepted the challenge, Fionn started building a causeway across the North Channel so they could both meet for a fight. But Fionn starts to panic when he realises just how much bigger Bonandonner is than him so his wife Ooonagh disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him into a cradle. When Bonandonner sees the size of the "baby" he reckons his father must be absolutely huge so he flees back to Scotland, destroying the causeway so that he can't be followed.

Despite the insane crowds, the Causeway is such a peaceful place. There's just something about being with Mother Nature, seeing all the beauty and hearing the waves crashing against the rocks. It's such a beautiful place. Ireland really does know how to blow you away. I could have spent hours mesmerised by the Atlantic Ocean but alas we had a schedule to keep too. 

I'd recommend visiting as early as you can to avoid the crowds. You do have to pay around £13 to visit the visitors centre and park in the car park but actually entry to the Causeway is free.



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A foodie trip to Cardiff

A few weeks ago we took a road trip down to Cardiff to celebrate Gem and Martyn's wedding. We stayed the night at Hannah and Steve's in south London before heading across the country. Wales is a good three hours away from us, so as with taking any type of road trip it's essential to make sure your car is up to the challenge. No one ever likes breaking down hours from home! Make sure you keep your car up to date and in good shape by getting it regularly checked. Use companies such as Ossett Tyre House offer car servicing in Dewsbury if you need a little help. 

Despite visiting for the weekend, we probably only had a full day in Cardiff so decided to do what we do best. Eat, eat and eat some more. Take a look at all the places we stuffed our faces in and take some notes for when you make a trip to the Welsh capital. You don't want to miss out!




Brød
I knew as soon as it was decided we week sharing a house with Hannah and Steve, a Scandi-inspired trip to somewhere would be involved. This time it was a breakfast trip to the Danish bakery Brød. This cosy coffee shop offers an incredible selection of pastries and cakes alongside delicious savoury options which include meatball paninis, loaves of bread and mini pizzas. The cafe has a great atmosphere and the staff are very friendly, more than willing to to talk you through the menu. It's a little way out of the city centre but it's well worth the trip.




Got Beef
This small but perfectly formed burger restaurant features an open kitchen where you can see the chefs work their magic. It's not the best burger in the world - so spoilt in London - but it's a good solid choice.  I opted for the Soprano. A tasty concoction consisting of a juicy beef patty, smoked streaky bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, spicy jalepeno mayo and chunks of chorizo sausage. As you can imagine, it went down a treat!




The Potted Pig
Gem's wedding wasn't until 5 so we wanted a good substantial meal to keep us going - and stop us from becoming lightweights when we started on the prosecco. The roasts at The Potted Pig had come highly recommended. I'm not a huge roast dinner fan - take my British passport away immediately - but this one was amazing. Located in a former bank vault underneath the city, they offer an amazing set menu on a Sunday which includes two courses for £15. The pork belly was heavenly and I'm still dreaming about the cauliflower cheese now.

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Four places to visit in the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I still can't quite believe they're in the UK. And that it took so long for me to finally visit! Make sure you don't wait as long as I did as trust me, you're missing out. We're lucky to have friends living up there who knew all the best places to take us. If you're planning a trip to the east coast, here are four places you should definitely add to your intinerary. 



1. Golspie
This little town is famous for being the home of the beautiful Dunrobin Castle, a fairytale chateau-style castle build an incredible 700 years ago. Make sure you spend an hour or so taking in the walled gardens and catching the fun falcon show. Once you've enjoyed the castle, it's time to refuel with some cake at a little tea room in the high street before heading out to explore the waterfalls. The city girl in me had no idea that scenes like this existed in the UK. I don't get out to the countryside much! The Big Burn is an easy 2.5km walk through lush, green woodlands. Pack sensible shoes and wander until your heart's content.



2. Tarbat Ness
This lighthouse is the perfect places to watch the sun go down. Climb over the rocks and you're greeted with the amazing sight of seals splashing about in the water below - this was by far a highlight of my trip. If you visit during the summer, you'll find the seals soaking up the rays on the rocks themselves.



3. Loch Ness
Probably the most famous loch in Scotland, Loch Ness is the largest one in the UK thanks to the sheer volume of water. It's around 45 minutes from Inverness and makes a great day trip. We explored the Loch with an hour long boat ride with Jacobite Cruises who helped to set the scene. It was fascinating to listen to the folklore and history of the area. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, even on a gloomy day.



4. Glenmorangie Distillery
No trip to Scotland is complete with squeezing in a trip to a whisky distillery. Book yourself into the fascinating tour and learn about the history of this famous whisky. You'll be able to try a sample at the end. Even if you're not a whisky fan it's still worth doing because it really is such an interesting process and the guides are so enthusiastic.

Have you been to the Highlands before? Anywhere I should add to my list? I'm definitely planning on heading back soon!
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