Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Scotland’s largest city and the UK’s third largest (once known as ‘the second city of the empire’), Glasgow has many fine art galleries and museums but one of the most popular is undoubtedly Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which houses one of Europe’s great art collections. It is also one of the top three free-to-enter visitor attractions in Scotland and one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom outside of London. It could be considered to be the Scottish Smithsonian. opened in 1901 and reopened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in July 2006 after a three-year closure for major renovations, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was an immediate success with the public with 2.23 million visitors to this impressive red sandstone building in the following year.

With everything from art to animals, in over 8000 exhibits in 22 state of the art galleries, its natural history displays, its cultural and historically important artefacts (Kelvingrove has one of the top three collections of arms and armour in the world) and its collections of art representing many different schools, Kelvingrove contains an impressive range of internationally significant displays.

The museum houses Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross and there are separate galleries devoted to Dutch artists including work by Rembrandt; French artistes with Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and one of the few female impressionists Mary Cassatt. The Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists have their own galleries and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style gallery includes many important works. There are also a number of temporary displays and exhibits which change over time so you never really know what you’re going to see on your next visit.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum also has its own beehive. Always a popular exhibit, the Kelvingrove beehive allows you to look deep inside the hive and see its structure in detail and watch the bees being, well, busy little bees!

There are persistent rumours that the museum is home to Scotland’s only fossilised Haggis. That may simply be a folk myth but it’s worth keeping your eyes open just in case it’s lurking somewhere amongst the other exhibits. And don’t just wander around a bit and look at the exhibits, take some time to examine the building itself. It’s a magnificent edifice in its own right and well worth the reported £28m it cost for the renovations.

The proud possessor of a Gold Award from Visit Scotland’s Green Tourism scheme Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located on Argyle Street, in Kelvingrove Park in the West End of the city near the main campus of the University of Glasgow. The park site also includes Kelvingrove Skatepark.

The museum is easy to get to and is fully accessible to the disabled – even to the extent of providing wheelchairs for visitors to use (subject to availability). There is a Glasgow museums gift shop, a restaurant and a cafe (feel free to bring your own sandwiches) and guide dogs are welcome. Admission is free (donations are appreciated).

PS: Don’t forget to say ‘hello’ to Sir Roger as you pass through the West Court!

Check out the Kelvingrove Museum Website:

Watch A Video About The Kelvingrove

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh’s crowning glory the many sights and experiences Edinburgh has to offer its visitors Edinburgh Castle is surely the crowning glory. This magnificent edifice perches nearly 300 feet above the city on the ancient volcanic plug of Castle Rock, an extinct volcano which dominates Scotland’s capital and makes the castle visible for many miles away.

Because of its strategic position Castle Rock has been occupied since 900bc and, when the Romans first came this way in about AD80, they found that the local Votadini people had the well-established fort of ‘Din Eidyn’ looking balefully down at them – and the Romans wisely left it alone!

Since then the castle has been rebuilt, expanded, fortified and altered. It has been bombarded, besieged, captured and recaptured (it is the most besieged castle in Britain). It has been a fortress, a barracks, a prison, a hospital, a royal residence, a museum and a treasury. Crown Jewels of Scotland, known as ‘The Honours of Scotland’ (the oldest crown jewels in the UK) are housed in the castle and are made from gold that was mined in Scotland. The Stone of Destiny, sitting upon which monarchs of both Scotland and England have been crowned for centuries is also there.

Within its walls is the oldest building in Edinburgh – St Margaret’s Chapel – which still hosts weddings and christenings to this day. Every day at one o’clock precisely (excepting Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) a cannon is fired from the Mills Mount Battery – originally a time signal for ships in the River Forth but nowadays just one of the many traditions associated with the castle.

Still a military garrison, Edinburgh Castle is now a world-famous visitor attraction and an iconic part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. It houses Scotland’s National War Museum and, of course, it is host to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, that magnificent spectacle of military skill which takes place every August on the castle Esplanade. The first tattoo took place in 1949 and attracted about 100,000 spectators in total. The last time the tattoo was held was 2019 (the 2020 event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic) when 220,000 people watched the various live events and many, many more watched it on television. The 2021 event is expected to happen as normal.

Edinburgh Castle is a large and complex place and it houses so much of interest: the Lang Stairs, The Portcullis Gate, The Half Moon Battery, The Argyll Battery, The Mills Mount Battery, the huge cannon of Mons Meg, The Great Hall, The Argyll Tower, Foog’s Gate, the Castle Vaults and the two small museums of the Royal Scots Regiment and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. A full day is needed to do this place justice!

As you wander through the castle keep in mind that you are treading in the footsteps of kings and queens, princes and princesses, rebels and saints, writers and poets, and rogues (including the architect who restored the Great Hall – and then refused to hand over the keys!).

Edinburgh Castle offers guided tours by castle stewards or you may choose to follow the audio guide at your own pace. Whichever you choose you can’t fail to be impressed – witnessing or indeed being a central character in much of Scotland’s history it could be said that, in many ways, the history of the castle is the history of Scotland.

Read more about Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle on YouTube:

Inveraray Jail: A Model Prison

Inveraray Jail: model prison? the head of the long, thin sea loch of Loch Fyne on Scotland’s west coast is the town of Inveraray where, amongst other interesting sights, you will find what was once the model prison of its day – Inveraray Jail. Consisting of two prisons (the Old Prison, which was completed in 1820, and the New Prison, completed in 1848) Inveraray Jail, which is now a living museum and a listed building, was in use as a prison up until August 1889. Originally the building also included the courthouse (which continued to sit until 1954) as well as the prison and was used to house convicted felons, untried prisoners, debtors and the insane.

In the early 1980s the two-story building which has three-foot thick walls was extensively renovated by the Scottish Government and in May 1989, almost a hundred years after the last prisoners departed, Inveraray Jail (now in private hands) opened to the public. The jail attracts visitors from all over the world and is one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.

On your tour of the jail you will find an exhibition of instruments of ‘torture and punishment’ some of which you can try out for yourself such as the thumbscrews (don’t tighten them too far!) and the whipping table (used on boys as an alternative to sending them to prison) but do try to avoid the branding irons or having your ears nailed to a post! will see the cramped cells within which prisoners both lived and worked and were only allowed out for one hour a day for exercise or to use the wc.

As well as touring the jail and seeing what life was like for both guards and inmates, Inveraray Jail also hosts a series of exhibitions which illustrate how crime was dealt with and punishment meted out in Scotland 200 years ago. Live actors take the part of guards and prisoners introducing you to life behind bars. In the courthouse you will find a very convincing scene of a trial in full flow with participants represented by mannequins in appropriate dress – judge, lawyers, prisoners, witnesses, guards and members of the jury with the proceedings being broadcast over an audio system. Visitors can take a seat beside the jury and follow the trial to its conclusion. Just make sure that the person sitting next to you is not a mannequin before striking up a conversation! can even try your hand at being a prisoner – speak nicely (or perhaps rudely!) to one of the guards and they will be only too happy to lock you in a cell for a while so that you can live the authentic experience of being an inmate of what was, in its day, a state-of-the-art prison. Hopefully they won’t flog you as well but while you are serving your sentence you could try out the hard wooden bed or, if you are lucky, the hammock but don’t worry, you probably won’t be jailed for too long and at least you won’t be told to make your own clothes as real prisoners had to do or work at picking oakum or making fishing nets or turning the crank wheel.

Some of the prisoners incarcerated in Inveraray Jail were locked up for trivial offences like theft of a turnip and not all the inmates were adults – children were also held in prison. Given the anguish and injustice of prison life in those days it’s hardly surprising that Inveraray Jail has the reputation of being one of the most haunted places in Scotland. Paranormal investigators have combed through the jail and have come across some rather disturbing incidents as have members of staff and many visitors to the jail – feelings of a spooky presence, of feeling unwell, ghostly images caught on camera, indistinct voices and eerie footsteps both heard and recorded and even physical contact from an unseen entity. Not every visitor to Inveraray Jail has an otherworldly experience but, if you are scared of ghosts, then you might want to avoid Cell 10!

Learn more about Inveraray Jail here


YouTube video:

Visit Queen Elizabeth’s Favourite Ship – Britannia to Edinburgh? No vacation trip to Scotland’s capital city would be complete without a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia, one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions. Launched in 1953 Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia (her proper name) was a much-loved favourite of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the British royal family for over 40 years and during her lifetime was probably the most famous ship in the world.

In April 1954, carrying a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne, Britannia sailed on her maiden voyage from Portsmouth to Malta and thence to Tobruk in North Africa where Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, boarded her for the first of many voyages. Since then she has carried the Queen and members of the Royal Family on almost 1000 official voyages to virtually all of the worlds’ seas and oceans. her launch to her decommissioning in 1997 she travelled more than a million nautical miles on the high seas and during her career she was the scene of many official receptions and state visits to countries all over the world. She played host to many VIPs and heads of state, including several Presidents of the United States of America. In her role as a floating ambassador for Great Britain she helped to generate many billions of pounds in trade deals and was also used by the royal family as a holiday cruise ship. In 1981 when Prince Charles married the then Lady Diana Spencer they spent their honeymoon aboard her.

Built at the famous John Brown’s Shipyard on the River Clyde in Scotland, this veritable floating palace is now an award-winning visitor attraction and events venue permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith, in Edinburgh. Receiving more than 300,000 visitors a year she is a fascinating glimpse into royal life and an important historical resource and museum piece. your visit you will be able to explore the bridge, the state apartments, the crew’s quarters and the engine room. Highlights of the tour through the five decks include the sun lounge, the Queen’s bedroom, the state dining room and drawing rooms, the Royal Marines’ barracks and the sick bay. majority of items on view are the originals (on loan from the Royal Collection and other contributors) including furniture, paintings and photographs from when Britannia was in royal service.

The route you will follow is fully accessible with lifts and ramps to aid your progress from one fascinating exhibit to another and there is no hurry to complete your visit. Tours are neither guided nor timed – you are free to go at your own pace and admire your glimpse into royal life at your leisure. An audio handset is provided to assist your tour. Allow at least two hours and another hour or so if you wish to visit the gift shop or the Royal Deck Tea Room (highly recommended)

A tour of Britannia is surely one of the highlights of any vacation to Scotland’s capital city and shouldn’t be missed. You are welcome to take as many photographs as you wish although the rule is ‘look but don’t touch!’. And until you can go there, check out this YouTube Video.