Latest Tourism Related News

 

Glasgow 2014 - George Square

Cabers ready for world record tossing bid in Inverness

BBC article published on Wednesday 10th September 2014

Two hundred cabers have been made in preparation for a simultaneous caber tossing world record attempt in Inverness on Friday. The bid will be made during the Masters World Championships in the city’s Bught Park.

Dubbed the Tomatin Toss, the games’ competitors and others will seek to break a record set in Canada. Fifty two cabers were tossed at Canada’s Fergus Ontario Highland Games.

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Dumfries and Galloway tourism funds aim to promote region

BBC article published on Monday 8th September 2014

Almost a quarter of a million pounds of Dumfries and Galloway Council funding is set to be released to the national tourism agency VisitScotland. Councillors are being asked to agree the cash package covering the final phase of a three-year funding deal. The cash is to finance a programme of promotional activity to market Dumfries and Galloway to potential visitors.

According to recent figures, tourism is worth more than £290m to the region’s economy. It has been estimated that visitor income helps to sustain – directly and indirectly – almost 7,000 jobs.

To help develop the industry locally, the council entered a three-year funding agreement in 2012 with VisitScotland to promote the region through a variety of seasonal marketing campaigns. The deal is worth £240,000 – subject to an annual review process.

In a report to councillors, officials said they were satisfied that VisitScotland had met all the performance targets for the past 12 months and were recommending the release of the final year’s funding package.

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Road closures for Forth Road Bridge celebrations

BBC article published on Monday 8th September 2014

There will be road closures and parking restrictions ahead of the finale event for the Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday celebrations. On Saturday southbound traffic will be restricted to a single lane from 19:00 for the torchlight procession across the bridge.

The bridge will then close completely between 22:00 and 22:30 for fireworks to be launched from the structure. South Queensferry High Street will be shut to traffic from 14:00 on Saturday. Local parking within South Queensferry will be suspended from noon. North Queensferry residents and businesses will be allowed access, but not via Ferryhill Road.

Road closures are expected to be lifted at 17:00 on Sunday.

Celebrations to mark the bridge’s milestone birthday culminate on Saturday when thousands of torch-bearers will form a kilometre-long “river of fire” on the bridge. There will then be a huge bridge party in South Queensferry with live music headlined by Scottish rockers Big Country and guests Bwani Junction.

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Scottish fact of the week: The Devil’s Beef Tub

Scotsman article published on Friday 5th September 2014

The Devil’s Beef Tub is one of the south of Scotland’s most striking landmarks. Situated five miles north of the border town of Moffat, this cavernous landscape hollow is nestled between the peaks of Annanhead Hill, Peat Hill, Great Knowe and Ercistane Hill – while the waters of the Annan River flow through its valleys.

Sir Walter Scott captured the location and appearance of the Beef Tub in his novel ‘The Red Gauntlet’ as he wrote: “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.”

Known today as a site of tranquillity and stunning scenery frequented by walkers, runner and paragliders, the Devil’s Beeftub is equally renowned as a place drenched in intriguing history. The landmark’s unusual name is derived from its use as the hiding place for cattle stolen by the notorious Border Reivers, otherwise known as the Johnstone clan, who were commonly referred to by their enemies as ‘devils’.

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Galloway Forest Park hosts experimental music and art event

BBC article published on Friday 5th September 2014

The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park is set to play host to 24 hours of experimental music and art. The event, which has been named Sanctuary, will include sound and light installations designed to “stimulate the senses”. An on-site radio station will also broadcast previously unheard music from a diverse range of artists.

This new work can only be heard at the site and the sound files will be destroyed afterwards. Hundreds of art and music enthusiasts are expected to spend the night in the forest on 27 and 28 September.

Among the attractions on offer will be a 100ft neon light sculpture by Robbie Coleman, called Enclosure. The event, which will take place around Murray’s Monument miles from the nearest town, is a collaboration between artists Mr Coleman, Jo Hodges and Stuart Mclean.

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Big Burns Supper: Appeal for acts to take part in 2015

BBC article published on Thursday 4th September 2014

Acts are being invited to show an interest in being part of the fourth edition of the Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries next year. The 2015 edition promises to be “bigger than ever” and will run from 23 to 31 January.

Festival director Graham Main said the organisers were looking for acts of “every size, shape and art form” to take part. They are particularly keen to attract traditional and classical musicians.

The Big Burns Supper has grown in size since its first edition and now attracts thousands of people to Dumfries. Mr Main said they wanted to get a wide range of new acts for the 2015 programme.

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‘Sheepdog Olympics’ taking place in Tain

BBC article published on Wednesday 3rd September 2014

Scotland is hosting the World Sheepdog Trials for the first time. The competition, which runs until Saturday, is being held at Tain in Easter Ross.

Described as the “sheepdog Olympics”, it involves about 240 competitors from 23 nations, including Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa and USA.

The event is being supported by Homecoming Scotland 2014, and has been organised by the International Sheep Dog Society and its Scottish members.

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Penicuik House to become major Scottish attraction

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 3rd September 2014

It is one of Scotland’s forgotten architectural treasures, which for more than a century lay crumbling and neglected in the grounds of a vast country estate. Now the painstakingly restored mansion house is set to become the nation’s newest visitor attraction – after a campaign stretching over three decades and a £7.4 million transformation.

Penicuik House, in Midlothian, dates back to the 1760s and is revered in architectural and conservation circles because of its Italian “Palladian” design, said to be among the best of its kind in scotland, and its setting at the heart of the carefully-designed landscape. It was also a major gathering place for leading figures in the Scottish Englightenment movement in the 18th century and is renowned as one of the major architectural achievements of the era.

But the building, which has been in the same family for almost four centuries, was almost almost destroyed by a devastating fire in 1899 was and threatened with demolition until a rescue plan was finally agreed nearly a decade ago. Now the restored landmark – which council officials wanted knocked down because of the amount of loose masonry and unstable stonework – is on the verge of being opened up to the public for the first time.

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Stirling to host first Scottish Paranormal Festival

BBC article published on Tuesday 2nd September 2014

The first ever Scottish Paranormal Festival is to be held in Stirling. The four-day festival will feature events about ghosts, UFOs and aliens, and speakers including academics, enthusiasts and declared sceptics. Events will be held at venues across the city from 30 October to 2 November, including the Scottish Paranormal Film Festival at the Tolbooth.

Hands-on workshops will include vigils with ghost hunters and sky-watching at the UFO “hotspot” of Bonnybridge. Festival founder and director Peter Broughan said it was “very exciting” to be launching “a diverse and entertaining programme of events”.

He added: The festival will be the biggest, most eclectic and most significant of its kind in the UK, and with Stirling being a city so steeped in history I am sure it will be the ideal location for us.”

Among the special guests lined up for the event are the Navajo Rangers from the USA, a pair of national park rangers who claim their work in Native America territories has led to them experiencing many strange phenomena.

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Bygone Borderlands

The Southern Reporter article published on Monday 1st September 2014

Bygone Borderlands is returning for the second year and the event is expected to attract more than the 1,400 visitors it did last year. This year’s event will be held on September 6-7, at The Haining, in Selkirk. The free event, which will be open from 10am-4pm on both days, is very much a community-led weekend, presenting local history from both sides of the border.

Last year, the 500th commemoration of the Battle of Flodden, was hugely busy with dozens of events taking place across the borders. This year the Bygone Borderlands event will be reflecting on last year’s commemoration of the Battle of Flodden, and inspiration has been taken from the themes of memory and remembrance.

The event is being hosted by the Heritage Hub and the Scottish Border Archives, in partnership with the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum and Berwick-upon-Tweed Record Office, as well as groups from Northumberland, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

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Lochaber’s World War Two commando role recalled with trail

BBC article published on Saturday 30th August 2014

A new tourist trail recalling the training of commandos during World War Two in Lochaber has been officially opened. Lochaber Archaeological Society has led the project to create the route and interpretation panels at eight locations on it. It starts at Spean Bridge Station where soldiers arrived to begin their training.

Lochaber’s commando role is also recalled in a statue near Spean Bridge. The soldiers were based at nearby Achnacarry Castle, the ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan Cameron. The castle, about 15 miles (24km) north east of Fort William, was used to train elite commandos from Britain and the US as well as France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium from 1942 to 1945.

Glen Mallie and South Loch Arkaig were also among areas of Lochaber where soldiers were trained in commando warfare. The interpretation panels have a barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone to provide more information and highlight where the other panels are located.

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Programme for the Mod’s biggest fringe announced

BBC article published on Friday 29th August 2014

The programme for the biggest fringe event in the Royal National Mod’s 122-year history has been announced. The showcase of Gaelic language, song and arts will be held in Inverness for the first time since 1997. Organised by An Comunn Gaidhealach, the festival will take place from 10 to 18 October and will include Gaelic songs and drama as well as Highland dancing.

There will also be a torchlight procession and music by acts Skipinnish, Skerryvore and Gria. Street theatre, shinty and a concert to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One will also be held. Competitors and spectators are expected from the USA, Australia and Canada.

About 12 pubs, Urquhart Castle, Fort George and Culloden Battlefield’s visitor centre will host fringe events.

The programme was launched at Inverness’ Eden Court.

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Wigtown Book Festival to set sail on Solway Firth

Scotsman article published on Thursday 28th August 2014

It is best known these days as a historic market town whose fortunes have been transformed since being celebrated as a magnet for literature lovers. Now the heyday of Wigtown, which once sat at the heart of a network of trading routes across land and sea, is to be commemorated at its annual book festival.

A flotilla of boats will set sail across the Solway Firth as part of the celebration of Wigtown’s 18th and 19th-century heritage. The Trading Journeys event, which will also include a procession of horses and carts, a travelling foundry and bell-ringing, is a special commission by the Wigtown Book Festival as part of wider expansion plans.

A pop-up cinema is to be created in the historic County Buildings to echo Wigtown’s former Rex picturehouse, and Galloway Forest Park will host a 24-hour site-specific event featuring music, sound effects and art.  This year’s book festival, which runs from 26 September to 5 October, will host a major celebration of Lowland culture, including several events dedicated to ­Dumfries-shire author 
S R Crockett, who shot to fame in late 19th-century Scotland but has since been largely forgotten.

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Dumfries and Galloway tourism number levels ‘much better’

BBC article published on Wednesday 27th August 2014

A tourism chief in south west Scotland has said accommodation providers and visitor attractions have reported an upturn in trade this summer. Gordon Mann, who chairs Destination Dumfries and Galloway, said levels were “much better” than in recent years.

Tourism has been estimated to be worth about £287m to the local economy and supports about 7,000 jobs. Mr Mann said the increase had to be seen in context of low tourist figures and spending in previous years.

“By and large the visitor numbers are looking much better,” he said. “We have even had people talking about 15% or even in some cases 20% increases. That sounds great but remember we are coming from a very low base.”

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Ski slope to open in Scottish borders

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 27th August 2014

In December 2006 an in-depth article appeared in this newspaper looking at the future prospects of the Scottish ski industry. The picture it painted was not a rosy one. Two climate scientists were quoted as saying the snow would definitely be gone from Scotland’s hills in 80 years’ time thanks to global warming, and one of their colleagues suggested it could disappear in as little as 20.

One bombshell statistic made even those estimates sound conservative: the number of skiable days at Nevis Range, Glencoe and the Lecht had halved since the turn of the millennium. Anyone reading must have wondered if Scotland’s ski resorts would be able to stagger on past 2010, let alone 2026.

A couple of years after that story appeared, it seemed a ski centre was on the verge of closing down for good. In March 2009, Glencoe’s then-owners put the resort up for sale and, for month after month as the clock slowly ticked down to the following winter, no buyer was forthcoming. When, in the October, Falkirk businessman Andy Meldrum finally stepped in to keep the lifts running, many must have felt it was only a temporary stay of execution.

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Edinburgh Fringe ticket sales up 12%

BBC article published on Monday 25th August 2014

The Edinburgh Fringe has broken the two million ticket barrier for the first time in its 67-year history. The festival, which is drawing to a close on Monday night, said it issued an estimated 2.18 million tickets across 299 venues over 25 days. That is a 12% increase on the same point last year, which was itself a record. The three-week Fringe saw 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in venues across Scotland’s capital city,

Kath Mainland, the chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s wonderful that after 67 years the Fringe remains the ultimate destination for audiences to embrace the arts.

“With over 2,183,591 tickets issued and many thousands seeing over 706 free shows it seems there is still a huge cultural appetite amongst audiences in Edinburgh and much further afield.

“In a year that places Scotland on the world stage, the Fringe has once again responded by being the greatest explosion of arts and entertainment on the planet.”

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36 Hours in Glasgow

New York Times article published on Sunday 24th August 2014

Since 2008, the year Glasgow gained Unesco status as a “city of music,” this reinvented industrial centre in western Scotland has solidified its reputation as a night-life and cultural hub. On any given night, you can wander through the West End near the university or later in the centre’s Merchant City, and find lounges pulsing with electronica, pubs with traditional Gaelic music, sleek restaurants, dive bars and fringe theatres, a melting pot for every taste.

This year — referendum for Scottish independence aside — Glasgow is stepping further into the spotlight. A few weeks ago, the Commonwealth Games drew thousands of athletes and visitors; next month the Ryder Cup comes to the Gleneagles resort in Perthshire, northeast of town.

The vibrant student life that radiates from the gorgeous campus of the centuries-old University of Glasgow, the rich collections of art in the city museums, the concentration of small shops and vintage treasure troves, and unexpected leafy enclaves are only a few of the city’s charms. But ultimately it’s the openhearted, hospitable and occasionally irreverent people who live here that create such a welcoming city.

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Labour founder Ramsay MacDonald’s home set to open

Scotsman article published on Sunday 24th August 2014

Visitors will get a rare glimpse into the private life of Scottish-born former Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald when his family home is opened to the public next month. MacDonald, known in the north of Scotland as the Lossiemouth Lad, had a chequered political career but went on to be the first Labour leader to enter No 10 Downing Street.

Now his family home in Moray, called The Hillocks, is being opened to the public by his granddaughter, Iona Kielhorn, who still lives there. Built for MacDonald’s growing family in 1909, it was always treated by him as a haven from metropolitan politics.

It was also the place he would work late at night, by the light of a green-shaded oil lamp, forming his first Labour administration in 1924. The Hillocks is still home to many interesting artefacts from his days in power, including furniture from No 10 and some letters from the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader, and Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

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Swimming: Glasgow to stage 2018 European Championships

BBC article published on Friday 22nd August 2014

Glasgow has been named as the host city of the 2018 European Championships. It will be the first time Scotland has staged the championships, which include swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and open-water competitions.

And the success of this year’s Commonwealth Games was a major factor in Glasgow’s successful bid. “Organising that event at such a high level is a kind of guarantee for us for 2018,” said European Aquatics Federation president Paolo Barelli.

“Everyone had the chance to watch the outstanding success of the Commonwealth Games.”

Berlin is currently hosting the 32nd European Championships, while London will stage the 2016 event.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Sport Shona Robison said: “This is a hugely important event, which will give us the opportunity to further the profile of swimming in Scotland.

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Glasgow to keep its Games ‘Big G’ at new city location

BBC article published on Friday 22nd August 2014

One of the iconic symbols of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is to become a permanent feature in the city. The Big G in George Square will be dismantled on Monday before undergoing work to strengthen and weatherproof it. It will then be moved to a long-term new home at another, as yet to be decided, location in the city.

Glasgow City Council also said it was looking into new homes for 25 statues of the Games mascot, Clyde, to ensure they remain on show to the public. Council leader Gordon Matheson said: “Our city came alive during the Games and the Big G was the standout backdrop to the city’s celebrations.

“It was featured by the media in nearly all of their Games reporting; it went viral on social media and it was the must-have selfie for residents, visitors and athletes.”

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Huge mural painted in Edinburgh city centre

BBC article published on Friday 22nd August 2014

The scene of the hanging of Maggie Dickson in 1724 is being painted onto a giant 32ft double-sided canvas in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.

Edinburgh-born Chris Rutterford’s ‘live studio’ will continue throughout August.

Maggie Dickson was sentenced to hang over the death of her newborn baby but was freed after surviving the noose.

Mr Rutterford is seeking volunteers to be included as faces in the crowd.

The completed mural will feature the gallows on one side and a traditional horse market on the other as the Grassmarket has been used for both over the centuries.

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Ryder Cup 2014: Golf fans to get interactive chips

Scotsman article published on Friday 22nd August 2014

Electronic radio tagging of spectators is set to make next month’s Ryder Cup tournament in Scotland one of the most technologically advanced golfing events of all time. Wristbands fitted with a tiny chip will allow fans to instantly share their experiences of the biennial clash between Europe and the US with friends and family across the globe.

Spectators at Gleneagles will receive a special radio frequency identification (RFID) wristband along with their tickets. This not only gives entry to the site, it will let wearers to take part in interactive activities around the course and share their movements instantly via social media.

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World tourists pay Scotland a visit in record year

Scotsman article published on Thursday 21st August 2014

Tourism chiefs are confident of a record-breaking summer for Scotland as it was revealed that last year saw the highest number of visitors for seven years. Overseas holiday visits rose by 16.5 per cent in the summer of 2013, with more than £500 million spent by visitors north of the Border, according to new VisitBritain research.

The economic impact of spending at hotels, tourist attractions and businesses takes many months to calculate but key Fringe venues have already hailed this summer’s arts extravaganza as the biggest ever.

In Glasgow, hoteliers have said revenue during July is likely to show year-on-year growth of between 200 to 300 per cent on the back of the Glasgow Games.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The summer of 2013 was a particularly strong season for Scotland.

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Tapestry to be housed at Borders Railway station

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 20th August 2014

Steam trains and a home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland to maximise the tourist potential of the Borders Railway were announced today by Alex Salmond. The First Minister also revealed the line would open on 6 September 2015.

He said steam trains would operate from that month, and would be followed by a “significant expansion” when a visitor centre for the tapestry opens in the new Tweedbank station at the end of the line in 2016. The 143-metre-long (480ft) artwork is the world’s longest embroidered tapestry, which tells the story of Scotland in 160 panels from the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 to the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Mr Salmond said a feasibility study led by Scottish Enterprise would examine how the 35-mile railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, south of Galashiels, could transform the region’s tourist potential.

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Job with a view: Volunteers repair Cairngorms path

BBC article published on Wednesday 20th August 2014

Volunteers are upgrading a path in Glenmore Forest Park in the Cairngorms near Aviemore. Eight people are working on the popular route on Meall a Bhaucaille, just north of Glenmore Lodge.

The path has become eroded and requires repairs and improvements. Cairngorm Outdoor Access Trust (Coat) and Forestry Commission Scotland are leading the project.

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Outlander ‘star’ castle omitted by tourist map

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 20th August 2014

Scottish tourism chiefs have snubbed the main historic location used for fantasy TV show Outlander in their new official guide for fans around the world. Doune Castle, in Perthshire, was closed twice over the past 12 months to accommodate filming and has already featured prominently in footage and stills released to promote the show. Despite its starring role in the programme, there is no mention of the castle in VisitScotland’s official “Outlander map”.

There is also no mention of Outlander  on Historic Scotland’s website and its page devoted to Doune Castle instead refers to the role for the attraction in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, released almost 40 years ago. The snub comes despite Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland trumpeting the roles for a string of their flagship sites in the lavish TV series.

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Gretna Green: The bit of Scotland where English people go to get married

BBC article published on Tuesday 19th August 2014

Gretna Green has been a hotspot for tying the knot since the 18th Century. But why do people still choose to walk down its many aisles?

The Scottish village of Gretna Green – population 2,700 – hosts almost two weddings per person per year. The estimated 5,000 marriages that take place every year seem extraordinary if you consider that a mere 3,000 weddings took place across the entire county of neighbouring Cumbria – population 500,000 – in 2011. Gretna’s status as the ultimate wedding destination comes from its position just north of the Scottish border.

In 1754, an English law stopped couples under 21 marrying without their parents’ permission. But in Scotland it was permitted for girls from the age of 12, and for boys aged 14 or older. Moreover, anyone in Scotland could marry a couple by “declaration”.

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Team Scotland athletes to parade through Glasgow

BBC article published on Friday 15th August 2014

The athletes who helped Team Scotland to a best ever medal haul at the 2014 Commonwealth Games will parade through host city Glasgow later. Seven vehicles will carry members of the 310-strong team from Kelvingrove Art Gallery to a finale in front of 5,000 people in George Square. Along the way, the parade will take in Sauchiehall Street and Argyle Street.

Scotland came fourth in the medal table with 53 medals, winning 19 gold, 16 silver and 19 bronze. Before the Glasgow 2014, the best ever Commonwealth Games total for Scotland was 33 medals.

The athletes’ parade is due to start at Kelvingrove Art Gallery at 16:15 before setting off along Sauchiehall Street.

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Tourist agencies ‘need to work with smaller firms’

Scotsman article published on Thursday 14th August 2014

Government-funded tourism agencies need to work more closely with smaller firms, according to a business body. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said small firms that identify themselves as tourism businesses – such as restaurants, bistros, activity centres and bus, coach and taxi firms – should seek extra help to grow their businesses.

Scotland aims to grow annual visitor spending by £1 billion, from £4.5 billion to £5.5 billion, by 2020 and the FSB says that smaller businesses are key to meeting this target. The FSB surveyed more than 500 businesses, 30 Scottish councils and a range of other public bodies over 12 months for the report, entitled Eating, Sleeping, Shopping, Doing – Small Businesses and the National Tourism Strategy.

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said “If Scotland wants to boost tourism spending we must tap the potential of our smaller tourism businesses. Their diversity should be regarded as a strength – not an inconvenience.”

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Worldwide response to Orkney Italian Chapel thefts

Scotsman article published on Thursday 14th August 2014

An appeal for information following the theft of religious artefacts from the famous Italian Chapel in Orkney has attracted a world-wide response. Members of the public have now helped reduce the timeline of when the thieves struck and stole three hand-carved plaques depicting the story of Christ’s journey to the cross. The theft from the iconic building, which was built by Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War, sparked outrage.

Initially, the chapel custodians were only able to say the artefacts vanished some time between 29 July and Tuesday this week. However, a police appeal for members of the public to send photos from visits to the chapel has helped detectives to reduce the timeline to some time within a period of three days last week.

Inspector Derek Robb said: “Police in Orkney would like to thank everyone who has come forward with information and photographs surrounding the theft from the Italian Chapel.

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Forth Road Bridge at 50: Torch bearers to pay £25

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 13th August 2014

Torch bearers taking part in next month’s 50th birthday party for the Forth Road Bridge will have to pay £25 each, organisers announced today. A total of 2,014 tickets for torch bearers, who will join a procession across the bridge on Saturday, 13 September to create a half-mile long “river of fire”, go on sale on Friday.

The event, which also includes a fireworks display, will be the finale to the Forth Bridges Festival, and also a “signature” event in the Year of Homecoming Scotland 2014. The party in South Queensferry includes music from Big Country, and Bwani Junction, who performed last year at the top of one of the bridge’s 520ft (156m) high towers, along with a giant outdoor ceilidh – the “Forth Fling”.

Tickets for the party only cost £15. All tickets include booking fees of £1.50-£2 per ticket, and there will be 2,500 party-only tickets available. The event is being staged by Unique Events, which runs Edinburgh’s Hogmany celebrations, and funded by Homecoming Scotland and Edinburgh and Fife councils.

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Five famous Wallaces

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 13th August 2014

The Wallace Clan have played a pivotal role in the rich tapestry of Scotland’s clan history, which at its strongest, recalls stories of families uniting to protect their homes, and their freedom, by fending off their common foes. The Wallace name has come to be known as synonymous with this legend and from their first recorded existence in twelfth century Scotland, the clan have laid claim to a status as one of our nation’s most powerful  and influential families. Here is our list of top 5 historical Wallace sons:

1. Richard Wallace

Richard Wallace is the founder father of the Wallace Clan. Documented in the history books as Richard Wallensis of Riccarton, the name Wallace was derived from his surname ‘Wallensis’, the generic Latin term for the ancient Britons who originated from Strathclyde, Brittany and Flanders. The first record of Richard Wallace is his signature on an 1163 AD charter at Paisley Abbey where he was granted control of vast amounts of Strathclyde land. His territorial claim rapidly expanded, south to Craigie and North to Eldersie, as did the power and influence of his clan.

2. William Wallace

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Five of the most haunted castles in Scotland

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 12th August 2014

Scotland has often been declared as one of the most haunted countries on earth and as host to around 2000 castles with histories which stretch back more than 900 years, it’s little wonder that these eerie abodes have come to be associated with supernatural happenings and ghostly apparitions. You have been duly warned, but for those who like to feel the fear and do it anyway, we have selected our top five haunted Scottish castles. 

1. Meggernie Castle

Perthshire’s Meggernie Castle is inhabited by a rather flirtatious ghost. Believed to have been the wife of a Menzies Clan chief, the resident white lady is not only happy to show herself to staff and visitors, but has also been known to kiss sleeping men. It is therefore hardly a surprise that her amorous ways are said to have been the cause for her demise when her jealous husband murdered her in an uncontrollable rage before cutting her body in half in order to dispose of it. The bottom half of her ghostly presence patrols the lower floors and grounds of the castle, while her top half lingers upstairs – her preferred spot for teasing Meggernie’s male guests.

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Glencoe resort set to build dry ski slope

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 12th August 2014

The oldest winter sports resort in Scotland is planning to offer all-year-round skiing with proposal for a dry slope. The £250,000 project, at Glencoe mountain resort in Lochaber, would not only offer enthusiasts the opportunity to take to the hills when there is no snow, but also on winter days when it is too windy to operate high in the mountain.

Glencoe enjoyed huge amounts of snow last season, recording fresh falls for 73 straight days to the end of February. But high winds and snow drifts caused the resort a headache, especially when the lifts were buried under several feet of snow.

The resort’s management has now lodged plans with Highland Council for the dry ski slope. Managing director Andy Meldrum said: “This would enable us to offer skiing all year round. The dry slope would be for all the days when we can’t run the tows further up the hill because it’s too stormy and in the summer we would expect it to be used mainly by children wanting to go tubing.”

The slope would be able to accommodate around 40 to 50 people at a time.

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Thousands to attend Glasgow piping festival

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 12th August 2014

Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to one of the world’s biggest piping festivals which opens today. Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival features more than 150 events over seven days, including performances and competitions which will take place around the city.

Around 50,000 spectators and 8,000 musicians from around the world are expected to attend. Musicians from as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada are among the 26 countries taking part, as well as pipers from Scotland, France and Spain.

Events today include the Masters Solo Piping competition at the National Piping Centre and music from France in the Music of the Nations series. The festival hub is at the National Piping Centre but this year there will also be an event space in Candleriggs in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Performances will take place there while there will also be a street food festival.

The festival runs from August 11 – 17 and culminates in the World Pipe Band Championships.

Click here to read the full article.

‘Favourable’ prospects for Glorious Twelfth grouse season

BBC article published on Tuesday 12th August 2014

The prospects for this year’s grouse shooting season, which has just begun, are said to be “unusually favourable”. Landowners and gamekeepers across Scotland are reporting that the mild spring and warm summer have resulted in high grouse numbers.

But conservationists are using the start of the season to highlight the illegal persecution of birds of prey. They have claimed sporting estates and politicians could do more to end the practice.

Tim Baynes of the landowners’ organisation, Scottish Land and Estates, said: “We got a nice dry spring, then no horrible weather through the hatching period in May. “Everyone is optimistic for a very good season.”

Click here to read the full article.

Year of Homecoming 2014 visitor numbers praised

Scotsman article published on Thursday 7th August 2014

Hundreds of thousands of visitors have taken part in events being held across the country to mark Homecoming 2014.

Scotland’s national tourism agency VisitScotland revealed more than 894,311 people have attended funded events, including the Celtic Connections festival and Tartan Day celebrations, held between January and May. Bosses said some of the celebrations enjoyed record-breaking attendances.

The Year of Homecoming 2014 is a 12-month programme of events running alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. It includes a re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn, a Big Burns Supper and an array of food and drink events and festivals across Scotland. Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Electric Glen have already been held, welcoming their biggest crowds to date – with 110,176, 41,806 and 27,008 visitors respectively.

Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Closing ceremony marks Games end

BBC article published on Monday 4th August 2014

The 2014 Commonwealth Games has formally closed with a spectacular ceremony at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Kylie Minogue, Lulu, Deacon Blue and more than 2,000 performers brought the curtain down on what has been praised as the “best Games ever”.

Team England topped the medals table with 174, while Scotland ended up with a record 53.

Comedian Des Clarke opened the show promising to say “cheerio with the biggest party in Scotland’s history”. Lulu, wearing a tartan scarf, then performed a rousing rendition of her first hit Shout on a huge shooting star-shaped stage in the centre of the pitch.

The athletes who took part in the Games emerged from almost 700 tents dotted throughout the stadium to a thunderous Glasgow welcome from the 40,000-strong crowd.

Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014 dubbed ‘the best Games ever’

Scotsman article published on Monday 4th August 2014

Glasgow bade farewell to the Commonwealth Games carnival last night with a party of its own inimitable making to celebrate what was hailed as “the best Games ever”. In a show that refused to let the formalities of the occasion dampen the city’s desire to put on one last knees up, Kylie Minogue, Deacon Blue and Dougie MacLean were among a host of performers who brought the curtain down on Glasgow 2014.

After 11 days of sporting highs and lows, and an unprecedented charity tie-up that raised £5 million for Unicef, Prince Edward declared the Games closed, with a streak of fireworks in the night sky above Hampden Park signalling the end. Prince Imran of Malaysia, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, described Glasgow as “pure dead brilliant” and the “best Games ever” to wild applause, as First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron looked on.

Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Commonwealth Games in pictures

BBC article published on Sunday 3rd August 2014

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are done and dusted. For 11 days athletes in the city produced magical sporting memories. There were highs, lows and the moments that anyone who watched the Games will never forget. Here are is a selection of key moments from Glasgow 2014.

Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Praise heaped on ‘best Games ever’

BBC article published on Sunday 3rd August 2014

The people of Glasgow, as well as volunteers, crowds and athletes, have drawn widespread praise after a “fantastic” Commonwealth Games.

Team Scotland’s boss said Scottish athletes had exceeded expectations and “galvanised the country”. There was also praise from First Minister Alex Salmond for those who had helped to deliver the “best and friendliest Commonwealth Games ever”. Their comments came as Games organisers prepared for Sunday’s closing ceremony. Mr Salmond said tens of thousands of visitors had been made to feel at home during the Commonwealth Games, with Scotland extending “the warmest of welcomes”. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Mr Salmond said everything about the Games had been a huge credit to the city and to Scotland. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: City set for end of Commonwealth Games

BBC article published on Sunday 3rd August 2014

Kylie Minogue, Lulu, Deacon Blue and more than 2,000 performers will bring the curtain down on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later.

A crowd of 40,000 people will watch the 90-minute closing ceremony begin at 21:00 BST inside Hampden Stadium, with millions more watching on TV. Organisers have promised “a night out not to be missed”. It will come at the end of a successful Games for Team Scotland. By Saturday evening it had won 52 medals. During the ceremony, Glasgow will officially pass on the host city mantle to Australia’s Gold Coast for 2018. Hampden, which hosted the athletics during the Games, will be transformed with more than 160 tonnes of staging, 3,000 props and 454 flags. Click here to read the full article.

Quirky stories from Glasgow 2014

BBC article published on Sunday 3rd August 2014 It’s been described as the golden Games for Scotland, with the home team exceeding most people’s medal tally expectations. However, forget who won what for a moment. Glasgow 2014 has also provided a fair share of quirky non-sporting stories. From noxious weeds to miniature transit vans – here’s ten for starters. 1) The Games mascot – lucky to be alive The cheeky thistle mascot for Glasgow 2014 has been a best-seller. Two sizes of the soft toy have sold out, with more than 46,000 purchased since the beginning of July. But the cheer leader “weed” has raised a smile among the Australian delegation for all the wrong reasons. Janice Crosswhite, wife the Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO, told BBC 5 Live, she usually killed thistles when she sees them. “I’m not so happy about the thistle because on our farm in Australia, the Scottish thistle is a noxious weed and I have to kill them,” she said. “You don’t let your cattle eat them because it’s not good for them. “So I’m always spraying them, standing on them, and digging them out. “And then you come here and we’re buying it as a toy for our grandchildren!” Click here to read the full article.

Jacobites set for battle over Cumbria housing plan

Scotsman article published on Sunday 3rd August 2014 Graves of those who fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie and whose deaths were immortalised in the Scottish song The Bonnie Bank Of Loch Lomond could end up stranded in the middle of a roundabout on a housing development, campaigners have claimed. The Scottish Jacobite Party (SJP) has argued that building a roundabout on the land where 12 Jacobite soldiers are buried would amount to the desecration of war graves. Landowner Jim Lowther, son of the late Earl of Lonsdale and brother of the 8th Earl of Londsale, is holding a public consultation on plans to develop the area at Clifton in Cumbria. A map of how the pastoral land where the graves are would look with houses, roads and a roundabout has been produced. The Battle of Clifton on 18 December 1745 – the last Jacobite battle on English soil – saw Charles Edward Stuart the Young Pretender’s supporters fight the Duke of Cumberland’s men following their retreat from Derby. But after their defeat at Clifton, around a dozen Jacobites were hanged on the infamous Rebels’ Tree and buried underneath it. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow tourism is ‘Games winner’

BBC article published on Saturday 2nd August 2014

Glasgow’s tourism industry will be one of the big winners of the Commonwealth Games, according to VisitScotland. The tourism body said hotels and restaurants had reported some of their busiest days on record in recent days.

It said many businesses expected the “Games effect” to bring more tourists to the city. A recent survey suggested up to 100,000 visitors would stay on after the Games to see more of Scotland. Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Glasgow has delivered one of the best-ever Commonwealth Games. “But while the sport draws to an end, the party is set to continue with some visitors extending their stay to enjoy the many amazing things that Glasgow, Edinburgh and the rest of the country has to offer. “Over the past 10 days, there has been an incredible buzz in Glasgow – the city is packed, the venues are exceptional and the hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes are enjoying one of their busiest-ever summers. “But it’s the people that will help ensure Glasgow benefits long after the Games end. Click here to read the full article.

Commonwealth Games: Glasgow to enjoy tourism boost

Scotsman article published on Friday 1st August 2014 Glasgow’s tourism industry will be one of the big winners of the Commonwealth Games, according to VisitScotland. The tourism body said hotels and restaurants have had some of their busiest days on record in recent days, with many businesses expecting the “Games effect” to bring more visitors to the city. Some visitors to the Games have also reported a desire to extend their stay in Glasgow or return again in future. VisitScotland said a recent survey has also revealed that up to 100,000 spectators are combining their Glasgow experience with a longer trip around Scotland. Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Glasgow has delivered one of the best-ever Commonwealth Games. But while the sport draws to an end, the party is set to continue with some visitors extending their stay to enjoy the many amazing things that Glasgow, Edinburgh and the rest of the country has to offer. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Fringe: Biggest arts festival in the world begins

BBC article published on Friday 1st August 2014

Thousands of performers from across the world are in Edinburgh for the start of the world’s biggest arts festival. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will see more than 3,000 shows staged across almost 300 venues.

The event is facing competition for audiences over the weekend from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. But fringe organisers said the international sporting event seemed to be having little impact on the box office. Several new venues will feature in the August extravaganza, to accommodate the biggest line-up the festival has seen. A new responsive ticketing method has also been introduced to let visitors create their own calendar of events. Click here to read the full article.

Exhibition charting Scots in World War I opens

Scotsman article published on Friday 1st August 2014 A major new exhibition charting the roles played by Scots in the First World War effort will be unveiled by the National Galleries of Scotland today. Images of some of the most important figures in the conflict will sit alongside portraits of some of its most high-profile opponents in the show at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Rarely-seen images of ordinary men and women and the way their lives were touched by the war will be going on display, along with contemporary photographs taken at the site of the Somme battlefield in France. The contribution of writers, musicians, poets and painters to the war effort is being celebrated in the exhibition, which opens to the public on Monday to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh cuts price  of Christmas after flood of complaints

Scotsman article published on Friday 1st August 2014 The organisers of Edinburgh’s Christmas events are to reduce ticket prices in the wake of stinging criticism over the cost of last year’s festivities. Despite impressive attendance figures over both the Christmas and Hogmanay festivals last year, they will offer enhanced family activities and improved ticket offers for Edinburgh residents this year. The contractor has committed to offering “a more affordable programme of attractions” for 2014-15 while it is understood that there are also plans to extend the reach of the event. Last year’s offering was criticised for the high cost of food and drink and the prices of attractions – for example the cost of riding the Santa Train was said to be more expensive per mile than travelling on the Orient Express. Click here to read the full article.

In pictures: 10 things you need to know about Glasgow’s Duke of Wellington statue and his cone

Scotland Now article published on Thursday 31st July 2014 Duke of Wellington Statue in Glasgow with its new golden cone As the Duke was given a golden cone to celebrate Scotland’s medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, we tell you 10 things you didn’t know about the statue. Glasgow’s Duke of Wellington statue has been given a Commonwealth Games makeover and the city hasn’t stopped talking about it.

The monument to Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, had its trademark orange and white cone replaced with a golden one by our sister paper the Daily Record, to pay homage to Team Scotland’s record breaking medal haul at the Games. It has become a popular attraction over the years with many tourists snapping pictures of the statue, which sits in Glasgow’s Royal Exchange Square. Here, we pay tribute to the Category A-listed monument by revealing 10 things you didn’t know about the Duke of Wellington and his cone: 1:  In 2011, the Lonely Planet guide included the monument to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in its list of the “top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth”, along with the Washington National Cathedral, USA, and the Rocky Balboa statue in Žitište, Serbia. Click here to read the full article.

Galloway Forest Park investment provides ‘great boost’

BBC article published on Thursday 31st July 2014

A multi-million pound investment in the Galloway Forest Park’s new visitor centres has been described as a “great boost for the local economy” by the environment minister. Forestry Commission Scotland has invested £4.5m in three sites. It has built a brand new centre at Kirroughtree and upgraded facilities at Clatteringshaws and Glentrool.

Paul Wheelhouse said the park was a “beacon for tourists” and the visitor centres a “major draw”. He said: “It is currently estimated that Galloway Forest Park brings in around £11m to the local economy. “With the opening of the new centres, we can expect this boost to the local economy to grow over the next few years.” Click here to read the full article.

National park path upgrade work in line for £3m grant

BBC article published on Thursday 31st July 2014

More than 120km of paths across Scotland’s national parks are set to be renovated thanks to a £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Eroded pathways in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are to be restored and upgraded as part of the People and the Mountains project.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced initial support for a grant of £3.28m. A total of 41 paths have been identified as being at risk of erosion due to rainfall and heavy use. Both national park authorities are part of the project, alongside groups including the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust. Click here to read the full article.

More than 1,000 performers at Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh

BBC article published on Monday 28th July 2014

More than 1,000 performers including 35 Zulu warriors, 40 fiddlers and 45 steel drummers are to take part in this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The programme will mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines and the centenary of World War One. More than 97% of tickets have been sold for the 24-performance, three-week run on the Castle Esplanade. About 220,000 visitors will see the show over the three weeks. The 2014 theme is Our Home, Friends and Family. Click here to read the full article.

40% of tourists ‘take shortbread and haggis home’

Scotsman article published on Friday 25th July 2014 Visitors to Scotland have been showing a taste for typical produce like shortbread and haggis, with four in ten of them buying food or drink to take home, figures have shown.  The VisitBritain study found that overseas visitors are more likely to purchase food and drink in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, with 40 per cent doing so last year, ahead of the north-east of England, which came in second place with 32 per cent. Staff from VisitScotland information centres reported that the most popular food and drink items for overseas tourists currently include whisky (including whisky fudge), Edinburgh rock, shortbread, tablet, Irn-Bru, Scottish honey, jam and marmalade, Stornoway black pudding and tinned haggis. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Commonwealth Games begin at Celtic Park

BBC article published on Thursday 24th July 2014

Tartan-clad performers, spinning oversized Tunnock’s tea cakes and a giant kilt were among the highlights at a feel-good Commonwealth Games 2014 opening ceremony on Wednesday night.

The Queen officially opened the games before a 40,000-strong crowd in Glasgow’s Celtic Park with millions more expected to watch on television. Thousands of athletes from 71 nations and territories took part. They entered the stadium after the live show, which had a cast of around 2,000. The Queen declared the Games open by reading her own message from inside the Commonwealth baton. TV viewing figures across the UK peaked at 9.42m with an average of 7.6m viewers watching the ceremony. That compared to a peak of 27.3m for the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Adventurer Mark Beaumont landed on the city’s river Clyde in a seaplane carrying the baton to Celtic Park, having tracked its progress across the Commonwealth on a 288-day journey spanning almost 120,000 miles. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: City set for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

BBC article published on Wednesday 23rd July 2014

The Queen will formally open the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later, in front of a 40,000 crowd at Celtic Park. Organisers said a global TV audience of up to a billion people was expected to watch the event from 21:00 BST. More than 4,500 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will parade during the curtain-raiser.

About 2,000 cast members will perform in a ceremony that organisers have promised “will surprise, delight and be uniquely Glaswegian and Scottish”. The Games will feature 17 sports in 11 days of competition, which begins on Thursday. The closing ceremony takes place at Hampden Stadium, which has been transformed into an athletics venue, on 3 August. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Getting to the Games

BBC article published on Tuesday 22nd July 2014

“Are you Games Ready?” ask the overhead digital signs on the main motorways into Glasgow – host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Organisers have been putting huge effort into encouraging people to plan their journeys – with the event billed as a “public transport Games”.

All those with tickets for the sporting events will be able to travel for free on trains, buses and the city subway network. However, up to half of the one million ticket holders have still to make or finalise plans for travelling to their events, according to research for Glasgow 2014. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow Science Centre tower reopens

BBC article published on Saturday 19th July 2014

Glasgow Science Centre tower has reopened to the public after an almost four-year hiatus. The problem-plagued £10m structure has been closed for more than 80% of its life since opening in 2001.

A £1.8m revamp has seen repairs completed to the thrust bearing and replacement lifts installed. Journalists were given access to the 127m (416ft) rotating tower on Friday ahead of public visits, costing £4.95, to the 105-metre high viewing cabin. Click here to read the full article.

Peebles to host mountain biking summit

BBC article published on Friday 18th July 2014

A conference for hundreds of mountain biking experts from around the world is to be held in the Scottish Borders later this year.

The full programme for proceedings is being unveiled at Peebles Hydro. It will host the event – which aims to generate more than £250,000 for the economy – from 11 to 13 November. Among the speakers will be Commonwealth Games cyclist Grant Ferguson and Swiss rider Hans Rey, known as the “world’s foremost adventure rider”.

As well as speeches and workshops, the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference will also include a number of field visits throughout Scotland. They will travel to the Scottish Mountain Bike Centre at Glentress, the World Cup trail at Fort William and the Commonwealth Games trail at Cathkin Braes in Glasgow.

Among the topics on the agenda will be the on-going development of mountain biking tourism. Click here to read the full article.

Great Tapestry of Scotland returns to Parliament

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 1st July 2014 The Scottish public will be invited to make their own indelible imprint on history as the Great Tapestry of Scotland returns to the Parliament building once more. The embroidered tapestry depicts 12,000 years of Scottish history and is the longest of its kind in the world, measuring in at a mammoth 143 metres upon its 2013 completion. Now it’s set to get a little bit bigger as part of the Parliament building’s 15th anniversary celebrations with a new “People’s Panel” set to be added. Designed by Andrew Crummy it took 1,000 volunteers stitching for 50,000 hours to create the initial piece of art, and now everyone is welcomed to contribute in the new chapter regardless of experience with experts on hand to guide novices through the process. Those selected will be done so purely on a first come-first serve basis at selected times between July 1 and September 13. Click here to read the full article.

Scotland’s community galas: Queens for the day

Scotsman article published on Monday 30th June 2014 At the stroke of seven on a bright June morning, sunlight bouncing off the buttons of their cheerful scarlet jackets, the Linlithgow Reed Band begin to play Crimond, the old Scottish musical setting of the 23rd Psalm, and several of the dozens of men and women who have assembled to hear this, as they do each year, begin quietly to weep. “Oh, it’s emotional,” says one old man afterwards, dabbing his eyes with a paper hankie. “I think of my wife that I’ve lost and the friends that I’ve lost.” This is the Marches, the annual festival which has taken place in the town for hundreds of years. The people of Linlithgow, who are pleased to call themselves Black Bitches after an ancient legend involving a loyal hound, have a great passion for the Marches – named for the practice of riding out to inspect the March Stones which marked the boundary of the town land. It is a thronging celebration of kinship and belonging, home and heart, a grand, noisy occasion fuelled by long draughts of pride and a few whisky chasers, and at the very start of it is this moment of reflection when locals think of those dear to them, now gone, who loved and shared days like this. The Lord may be their shepherd, but what Linlithgow folk celebrate is their joy at being part of a flock. Click here to read the full article.

UK government bids to overturn US haggis ban

BBC article published on Monday 30th June 2014

The UK government is making a fresh bid to overturn a decades-long US import ban on traditional Scottish haggis. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will raise the issue with senior officials from the Obama administration this week. Scottish producers had asked Mr Paterson to take action when he visited the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh earlier this month.

Haggis imports have been outlawed in the US since 1971. The ban was put in place because the country’s food standards agency prohibits sheep lungs – one of the key ingredients of haggis – in food products. The US visit comes as Scotch Beef is set to make a return to menus in America for the first time in almost 20 years. Click here to read the full article.

Thousands turn out for Bannockburn Live battle event

BBC article published on Sunday 29th June 2014

Thousands of people have turned out for a weekend of re-enactments and historical re-creations at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Hundreds of actors are recreating the 1314 battle three times a day throughout Bannockburn Live. The event is being held at the site of the decisive conflict, where Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II.

Musicians and comedians are performing over two days, with more than 40 clans gathering for the occasion. A number of attractions and events are on hand in addition to the “brutally realistic” battle re-creations choreographed by Clanranald, who worked on Hollywood blockbusters including Gladiator and Robin Hood. Visitors get to see weapons and armour being forged by a blacksmith, and see men treated in hospital as they are carried off the battlefield. The 10,000 tickets for the Saturday events sold out, with large crowds expected again for Sunday. Click here to read the full article.

Highland Games: ‘Part of our heritage and culture’

BBC article published on Saturday 28th June 2014

It is Highland Games season with communities across Scotland holding their annual gatherings. Many imagine their origins lie in a Victorian view of Scotland, but their roots go much further back, and enthusiasts say they are a window on Scottish culture, exported across the world.

“It’s part of my heritage, it’s part of my culture,” says one woman of her local Highland Games. Traditionally Highland Games include pipers, dancers and of course the heavy events like tossing the caber. While there is much that is similar across the games, villages and towns hold their own particular versions. The picturesque village of Ceres in Fife holds its gathering this weekend on the traditional site of the Bow Butts or the green in the centre of the community. The village is celebrating a significant anniversary this year. “The Highland Games in Ceres are the present example of a market or a fair or a celebration which has been held at midsummer every year since 1314,” says the games’ president, Brian Henry. Click here to read the full article.

Stirling set for Bannockburn commemoration weekend

Scotsman article published on Friday 27th June 2014 Stirling is gearing up for thousands of visitors as it prepares to host a weekend of piping, parades, the Red Arrows and the 700th anniversary of one of Scotland’s most famous historic battles. The countdown has begun to Armed Forces Day, a celebration of Britain’s servicemen and women taking place in the city tomorrow. Crowds will be entertained by aerobatics from the world-famous Red Arrows, a parachute display and demonstrations by Typhoon and Tornado jets. The annual celebration is being held in Scotland for a second time, on the same weekend Stirling marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. The two-day Bannockburn Live event will feature a re-enactment of the legendary clash which saw Robert the Bruce defeat the English army led by Edward II in 1314. Click here to read the full article.

Mother’s letter to soldier son in WWI exhibit

Scotsman article published on Friday 27th June 2014 A small batch of letters written by a mother in Aberdeen to her son serving on the front line in the First World War is among the items to be displayed at Edinburgh’s National Library of Scotland as part of its centenary exhibition marking the First World War. The letters have remained unopened since the day they were posted because George Buchanan Smith never lived to be able to read them. The Gordon Highlander was among the 60,000 British soldiers who died in the Battle of Loos in September 1915 and his letters were subsequently returned to the family marked “killed in action.” This is just one of many remarkable, but largely forgotten, stories told in a major exhibition at NLS that marks the centenary of the outbreak of the war by looking at what happened through the eyes of the people who experienced it. Behind the Lines: Personal Stories from the First World War runs from 27 June to Armistice Day, 11 November 2014 at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Entry is free. Click here to read the full article.

New Glasgow to Edinburgh canoe trail opens

Scotsman article published on Friday 27th June 2014 Canoeists will be able to paddle between Edinburgh and Glasgow with the launch today of a 57-mile Scottish Canals trail by public health minister Michael Matheson. The Falkirk Wheel boat lift between the Union and Forth & Clyde canals carried canoes for the first time since it was opened in 2012 to mark the opening of the £130,000 route. It includes 30 dedicated canal access point for canoeists, including at Speirs Wharf, just north of Glasgow city centre, Edinburgh Quay at Fountainbridge,  Auchinstarry Marina near Kirkintilloch, and Ratho. The trail comes a month after the opening of the Pinkston Watersports Centre near Speirs Wharf, which includes a white water course, in a disused basin at the end of the Glasgow branch of the Forth & Clyde Canal. Scottish Canals said it would take two to four days to complete the trail, with details such as distances and safety advice included in a new guide. Click here to read the full article.

Revamp of Gleneagles transport links completed

Scotsman article published on Thursday 26th June 2014 A £7.4 million revamp of Gleneagles station and surrounding road network has been completed ahead of the upcoming Ryder Cup. A total of £3.5 million has been spent of refurbishing Gleneagles Station and the construction of a new £3.9 million link road connecting the station to the nearby A9. Gleneagles Railway Station buildings have been overhauled  with new lifts installed, new waiting rooms, toilet facilities and the installation of WIFI. The new link road gives safer access to the A9 north and south. The station car park has also been upgraded, providing around 100 spaces as well as cycle racks and a bus turning area. Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP said: “As we look forward to welcoming hundreds of thousands of golf fans to Gleneagles in September – and with millions more watching on television – these road and rail enhancements will help deliver the best possible travel experience for those attending this renowned event. Click here to read the full article.

25 things to do on the Scottish islands for families

Scotsman article published on Thursday 26th June 2014 Alongside providing solace for adults, Scotland’s islands are also ideal for taking the kids on an action-packed holiday. Here we look at some ideas for those taking a family trip to Scotland’s west coast islands this summer. All activities listed can be reached by CalMac ferry although some may require further onward travel. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Old Calton Cemetery

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 25th June 2014 Old Calton Cemetery is located on Calton Hill, to the north-east of the city centre. The burial ground was opened in 1718, and is the resting place of several notable Edinburgh people, including philosopher David Hume, publisher William Blackwood and clergyman Dr Robert Candlish. It is also the site of the Political Martyrs’ Monument, an obelisk erected to the memory of a number of political reformers. The burial ground was altered following the construction of Waterloo Place in 1819, which divided the graveyard into two sections. Click here to read the full article.

Events mark 700th anniversary of Battle of Bannockburn

BBC article published on Tuesday 24th June 2014

Events are being held to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. The 1314 battle, fought on 23 and 24 June, saw Robert the Bruce defeat the forces of Edward II. Events including a wreath-laying, an exhibition and guided walks around the battlefield, will lead up to a full-scale re-enactment of the conflict at Bannockburn Live at the weekend. Clans are to travel from across Scotland and the UK to mark the event.

The battle in 1314 formed a key moment in the Scottish wars of independence, when Edward II marched north in a bid to lift a siege of Stirling Castle. Despite being heavily outnumbered, Robert’s forces triumphed in the two-day battle and forced Edward’s armies to retreat with heavy losses. The victory sealed Scotland’s political independence and confirmed Robert’s kingship, although it would take another 14 years of fighting and negotiation before the English throne recognised Robert as the rightful king of an independent Scotland. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow unveils bike hire scheme at 31 city locations

BBC article published on Tuesday 24th June 2014

A £600,000 initiative to offer 400 bikes for hire at 31 locations across Glasgow has been launched. The Mass Automated Cycle Hire (Mach) scheme is also running at six temporary sites at Commonwealth Games venues.

Bike hire is on a membership or casual basis. Casual hire costs £1 per half hour capped at £10 for up to 24 hours. Each bike has a four-digit code chain lock, a saddle with a theft protection device and GPS fitted to assist in locating any stolen cycles. Annual membership costs £60 with hire free for the first 30 minutes and £1 an hour capped at £5 for up to 24 hours. Customers are able to register online as a member or as a casual, or by telephone. Click here to read the full article.

Wild land map published for Scotland

BBC article published on Monday 23rd June 2014

Scottish Natural Heritage has published its final version of a map showing where Scotland’s wild land is. The 42 areas include large parts of the Cairngorms and Wester Ross and also places in Argyll, the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and south of Scotland. In total, the areas cover 19.5% of Scotland and the new map replaces one published last year.

The John Muir Trust and Ramblers Scotland said wild land would now better be protected from wind farms. The map has been produced to support the Scottish government’s new National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy. SNH said the map identified the most extensive areas of the “highest wildness in Scotland” that were considered nationally important. It was prepared after a seven-week public consultation at the end of last year and detailed analysis of new data. Click here to read the full article.

Royal Highland Show will get fixed June berth

Scotsman article published on Monday 23rd June 2014 It was almost undiluted good news from the Royal Highland Show yesterday as the round-up of the four days of activity revealed a trouble-free show, excellent weather, increased visitor numbers and little in the way of traffic problems, writes Brian Henderson. Stephen Hutt, chief executive of the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland, said last night that the show had enjoyed an “exceptional” four days with attendance reaching 178,800, up more than 8,000 on 2013. This year’s show was moved forward a week to allow school visits to go ahead during term-time, and Hutt confirmed that the society is to fix the show’s position in the calendar as starting its run on the third Thursday in June – this year’s position – for the next ten years. “This gives a degree of certainty to exhibitors and stand-holders alike and makes sure that schools will be able to visit,” he said. Click here to read the full article.

Kelpies attract 15,000 visitors in first two months

BBC article published on Monday 23rd June 2014

More than 15,000 people have toured the Kelpies sculptures in the two months since they opened. In addition to the official tours, Falkirk Community Trust estimated 150,000 people had visited the site just to see the 98ft-tall (30m) horse heads.

The Kelpies were created by artist Andy Scott as part of the £43m Helix parkland project near Falkirk. The £5m sculptures opened to the public on 21 April. People have travelled from Australia, the USA and throughout the UK to tour the Kelpies, which were inspired by the tradition of working horses on Scotland’s canal network. Click here to read the full article.

Flag-raising marks start of Armed Forces Day events

BBC article published on Monday 23rd June 2014

Armed Forces Day celebrations have got under way with flag-raising ceremonies across the country. A week of celebrations will be topped off by a national event led from Stirling on Saturday. Armed Forces Day flags have been raised in hundreds of locations around the UK, many of which are holding local events to show their support.

Thousands of veterans and serving members of the armed forces will march through Stirling to launch the event. The flag-raising at Stirling Castle was attended by representatives from the Army, Navy and Air Force, and Veterans Scotland. The free event in Stirling on Saturday features a display by the Red Arrows, Royal Marines fast-roping from Sea King helicopters, pipe bands, a parachute display by the Army’s Red Devils, an artillery gun salute and troops staging a ground assault, complete with casualty evacuations. Click here to read the full article.

International ceilidhs to celebrate Glasgow 2014

Scotsman article published on Friday 20th June 2014 A massive ceilidh is to be held across the world as part of the cultural celebration of the Commonwealth Games. Dances will take place in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and the US throughout Saturday, with each country performing its own take on a traditional Scottish ceilidh. It has been organised by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) as part of the Glasgow 2014 cultural programme and the Get Scotland Dancing project. The first dance will be held in Auckland, New Zealand, at 7:30pm local time, and the international ceilidhs will travel west, with dances reaching Scotland 13 hours later and ending in Hawaii 24 hours after the first ceilidh call. James Allenby, project manager at Get Scotland Dancing, said: “The world will join hands to celebrate Scottish dance and culture. We hope the dedicated Scottish country dance enthusiasts around the world enjoy the Commonwealth ceilidh and that a new generation of dancers will be inspired to try this fun and social dance.” Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Arthur’s Seat

Scotsman article published on Thursday 19th June 2014 Edinburgh Video Guide’s Rury Mason profiles the capital’s awe-inspiring peak Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat, situated right at the heart of Edinburgh, is one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. It is the highest point of a group of hills that sprawl across Holyrood Park, standing at around 822 ft tall at its peak. It is easily accessible via numerous locations, though one of the hill’s most popular walkways is situated near Dunsapie Loch. Many hillwalkers also attempt the ascent via several pathways that face the Scottish Parliament. Arthur’s Seat’s decidedly benign slopes and cliff faces conceal a rather interesting past – one that started about 350 million years ago. Click here to read the full article.

Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland launched at Glentress

BBC article published on Wednesday 18th June 2014

A “world class national centre of excellence and innovation” for Scottish mountain biking has been launched at Glentress in the Borders. The £300,000 Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland will help businesses with product development projects, testing and launch events.

The site near Peebles already enjoys a worldwide reputation in the sport. Earlier this year it helped to host a round of the Enduro World Series which brought 600 elite riders to the area. In its first two years the centre aims to:

  • Help businesses launch five new products or services
  • Push forward three development projects
  • Support 25 business start-ups.

It is hoped that within five years it will generate an additional £1.5m in turnover. Click here to read the full article.

Royal Yacht Britannia is favourite attraction

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 17th June 2014 The Royal Yacht Britannia has  been named as the top-rated landmark attraction for visitors in the UK. TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, will today  announce that the yacht which served the Royal Family for more than 44 years topped the Travellers’ Choice awards for attractions in the UK, based on the quality and quantity of reviews posted over a 12-month period. Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia beat the Houses of Parliament which were named second and Edinburgh Castle which came tenth in the UK rankings. It was also named among the winning landmarks in Europe. In the top parks category, Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens and Holyrood Park came in third and fourth place in the UK and 12th and 17th in Europe respectively. St James’s Park in London took the UK parks top spot and was named among the 25 best parks in the world, also claiming ninth in Europe. Click here to read the full article.

Museum unveils new Commonwealth war exhibition

Scotsman article published on Monday 16th June 2014 A new exhibition this summer at the National Museum of Scotland tells the stories of the Scottish diaspora and the war experiences of Commonwealth nations during the First World War.   Common Cause: Commonwealth Scots and the Great War coincides with the Commonwealth Games and the Year of Homecoming as well as the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The exhibiton will show how objects can reflect plural identities and profound war experiences, from the Victoria Cross presented to an Ulster Scot who fought for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to the springbok ‘Nancy’, mascot of the 4th South African infantry (also known as the South African Scottish). Click here to read the full article.

Six reasons to visit the Royal Highland Show 2014

Scotsman article published on Friday 13th June 2014 As Scotland’s foremost agricultural mecca, the Royal Highland Show is a firm favourite with farmers, foodies and lovers of the outdoors. In its 174th year, coinciding with this year’s Commonwealth Games and Homecoming, the rural extravaganza will be bigger than ever. If you want to navigate this vast four-day event, then look no further than this guide. When and where: 19th-22nd June – Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh. RHS 2014 tickets: adults £25.00, concession £20.00, children 15 or under go free. Show Dance tickets: £15.00 – £20.00. Click here to read the full article.

25 things to do on and around the Scottish Islands

Scotsman article published on Friday 13th June 2014 Booking a package holiday to the sun is easy and quick but this could be the year that you discover what is on your doorstep? As our list below proves there’s plenty to be discovered on the natural gems that are Scotland’s islands. The article was produced in partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne whose ferries service many of the islands listed . Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Calton Hill

Scotsman article published on Thursday 12th June 2014 Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh’s most picturesque locations – and that’s saying something. Edinburgh Video Guide’s Rury Mason demonstrates why. Situated just to the east of Princes Street and up a steep set of steps opposite St Andrew’s House, Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic locales. Among several notable monuments, visitors will find the National Monument (a half-completed replica of the Parthenon in Greece), and the Dugald Stewart Monument – perhaps one of Edinburgh’s most photographed objects. Calton Hill is also home to the annual Beltane Fire Festival in late April, and the Dussehra Hindu Festival in October. Click here to read the full article.

Expanding Edinburgh Fringe breaks 3,000-shows mark

Scotsman article published on Friday 6th June 2014 The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has now almost doubled in size over the past decade, with more than 3,000 shows to be staged this summer. The biggest ever expansion of what has long been the world’s biggest celebration of the arts was unveiled yesterday, including an additional 322 shows staged across the city compared to the 2013 event. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Canongate Kirk

Scotsman article published on Thursday 5th June 2014 The Canongate Kirk’s links to some of Scotland’s most famous writers and royals are explored in Rury Mason’s latest video guide. Up until the 1970s, the Canongate Kirk was a rough diamond. The lower part of the Royal Mile where the kirk is situated was run down and falling slowly into neglect. Despite its long history and its links to some of Scotland’s most famous literary figures, the Canongate Kirk, founded in 1688, was at one time threatened with closure. But the Kirk has regained much of its historic lustre, and in 2011 hosted the wedding of Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of the Queen. The grave of poet Robert Fergusson is located at the kirk, as is a statue, located at the building’s entrance. Click here to read the full article.

National Museum of Scotland gets £4.85m lottery grant for new galleries

BBC article published on Tuesday 3rd June 2014

The National Museum of Scotland is to receive a £4.85m lottery grant to help create 10 new galleries. The galleries – due to open in 2016 – will house collections of Science & Technology and Art & Design.

More than £10m has now been secured for the £14.1m project. This includes £900,000 from the Scottish government to renew the roof of the west wing of the Victorian building, where some of the new galleries will be located. A fundraising campaign is under way to raise the remainder from private sources. Museum bosses said the latest grant would help showcase more than 3,500 objects and “explore the excitement and impact of scientific discovery and invention”. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Royal Mile

Scotsman article published on Thursday 29th May 2014 The latest instalment from Edinburgh Video Guide looks at the history of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the main artery of the city’s Old Town, and how it has evolved to this day. The thoroughfare, as the name suggests, is approximately one Scots mile long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The streets which make up the Royal Mile are (west to east) Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand. The Royal Mile is the busiest tourist street in the Old Town, rivalled only by Princes Street in the New Town. Click here to read the full article.

CalMac fare price reductions to be extended

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 28th May 2014 Ferry fare reductions are be extended to the rest of the CalMac network, including the busy routes to Mull, Bute and Cumbrae, in October 2015, transport minister Keith Brown announced today. The extension of the “road equivalent tariff” (RET) scheme to the remaining 14 routes will see passengers and drivers of cars, vans and coaches receiving “significant fare reductions”, Mr Brown said. However, ticket prices will not be announced for several months, and the minister said work was required on how to deal with the expected increase in the number of people wanting to travel when the fares are cut. The scheme was launched on routes to the Western Isles and Coll and Tiree in 2008 to bring fares in to line with the cost of road travel. Islay, Colonsay and Gigha were added in 2012, with Arran to follow suit in October. The minister had previously said the scheme would cover all CalMac routes by March 2016. Click here to read the full article.

Photographer revisits 19th Century merchant’s images

BBC article published on Wednesday 28th May 2014 A new book by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) celebrates the landscape photography of Dunfermline merchant Erskine Beveridge. He travelled across Scotland, taking images, between 1880 and 1919. While writing and researching the book, Wanderings with a Camera in Scotland, Lesley Ferguson also took contemporary photographs of many of Mr Beveridge’s scenes. Click here to read the full article.

‘Movie map’ highlights film locations around Edinburgh

BBC article published on Tuesday 27th May 2014

A map will allow film fans to visit the Edinburgh locations used in Hollywood blockbusters. The “movie map” features 32 locations around the city which were used in 21 cinema releases.

The map has been designed to appeal to movie fans and those interested in the “behind the scenes” aspect of film. It also includes a film events diary, detailing the many festivals, workshops and events taking place in the city during the year. Some of the films which feature on the map include last year’s Sunshine on Leith, The Da Vinci Code, Trainspotting and Chariots of Fire. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Video Guide: Scott Monument

Scotsman article published on Thursday 22nd May 2014 The latest in our series from Rury Mason at Edinburgh Video Guide looks at the history of the city’s Scott Monument and takes in the sweeping views of the city from its peak.  D0minating the Edinburgh skyline, the Scott Monument is perhaps the world’s greatest memorial to a writer, with stunning views from its upper reaches lending further credence to that claim. Following the death of world-renowned Scots poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott in September 1832, calls to erect a major public monument in his hometown of Edinburgh were echoed up and down the country. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 line-up details revealed

Scotsman article published on Monday 19th May 2014 Stars of Neighbours, The Thick Of It, Dad’s Army, Hi-De-Hi, Doctor Who and the Sex Pistols have joined the line-up for the ­Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Scotsman can reveal. Other Fringe shows will be inspired by legendary crooner Andy Williams, pop queen Kate Bush, silent screen icon Charlie Chaplin and award-winning TV crime drama Breaking Bad. The festival has revealed details of more than 2,400 shows ahead of the official programme launch next month. More tickets than before have gone on sale early in a bid to raise exposure for the event and boost revenues. Olivia Poulet, who played spin doctor Emma Messenger alongside Peter Capaldi in Armando Iannucci’s hit comedy The Thick Of It, will be appearing at the Assembly Hall in a revival of acclaimed writer Mark Ravenhill’s play Product, a satire on Hollywood. Click here to read the full article.

Battle of Hornshole re-enacted in Hawick

BBC article published on Thursday 15th May 2014

Hundreds of children from Hawick and the surrounding area have gathered to re-enact the Battle of Hornshole which marks its 500th anniversary this year. It came ahead of the common riding season in the Scottish Borders which starts in the town on 6 June. In 1514 a group of Hawick youths defeated an English raiding party and captured their standard at Hornshole.

About 1,800 children dressed in period costume to recreate the famous conflict. The re-enactment included a fight sequence involving 22 boys from Hawick High School, representatives of the common riding, battle re-enactors and a stunt team. Children attending also took part by singing Teribus, the Hawick song, and dancing the Hawicka – a specially commissioned dance created for the occasion. Click here to read the full article.

Arran Brewery among bidders for Bladnoch Distillery

BBC article published on Thursday 8th May 2014

An Ayrshire beer maker has confirmed it is among the bidders to buy Scotland’s most southerly whisky distillery at Bladnoch from administrators. Arran Brewery said its investment partners had agreed to support their efforts to purchase the facility.

A spokesman said it hoped to find out “in the next few weeks” if its attempt to buy the site would be taken forward. Administrators said the deadline to bid for the site passed on Friday and there had been “significant interest”. A spokesman for Ernst and Young said it was now working through the first round of applications before moving on to a second phase. The company which owned the Bladnoch Distillery – which dates back nearly 200 years – went into liquidation earlier this year. Click here to read the full article.

Scotland enjoys 10% rise in overseas tourists

Scotsman article published on Thursday 8th May 2014 Scotland’s tourism industry was boosted last year by a 10 per cent increase in the number of overseas visits and a 20 per cent rise in spending, new figures have shown. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that overseas visits rose from just over 2.2 million in 2012 to just over 2.4 million in 2013. Spending by tourists from overseas was also up, rising from £1.4 billion in 2012 to almost £1.7 billion in 2013. Figures from the Great Britain Tourism Survey show a decline in domestic visits, down 4.9 per cent in 2013, with spending also down slightly by 0.1 per cent. Mike Cantlay, chairman of tourism agency VisitScotland, said the results were “very encouraging”. “The growth in our international markets is superb, in both visits and expenditure, and illustrates increasing confidence within global markets,” he said. Click here to read the full article.

The man who created The Kelpies

BBC article published on Tuesday 6th May 2014

For the past eight years, Glaswegian sculptor Andy Scott has been working on the biggest project of his life. The Kelpies are two 30m-tall horse heads made of steel, now standing alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal near Falkirk.

They started off as a drawing on his Dutch girlfriend’s kitchen table in Amsterdam and after eight “tortuous” years they are finally built and open to the public. The £5m Kelpies are the centrepiece of the 740-acre Helix Park, which has been built on reclaimed scrubland between Falkirk and Grangemouth and they are already becoming one of Scotland’s most photographed landmarks. Scott hopes they can become Scotland’s answer to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North which stands 20m (66ft) high on a hill above Gateshead. Click here to read the full article.

Highlands told to look at glass-roofed trains

Scotsman article published on Sunday 4th May 2014 Glass-roofed trains to give tourists a better view of Scotland’s scenery and wildlife have been proposed by the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys presenter Michael Portillo. The former Conservative transport minister said coaches with windows extending to the roof should run on the “Far North Line”, from Inverness to Wick and Thurso. The call came as the Scottish Government revealed it had received “very exciting proposals” for planned “scenic trains” among bids for the ScotRail franchise from next year. Campaigners said glass-roofed trains would also  enhance other routes, such as the Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig line, which has twice been voted the world’s most scenic. Portillo told RAIL magazine: “If companies got together, there are an awful lot of places in Britain where glass-roofed trains could be popular. “When you’re in Switzerland, and a glass-roofed train comes into the platform, you know you’re in for a treat.” Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh tram starting date revealed as 31 May

BBC article published on Friday 2nd May 2014

Edinburgh’s new trams will carry their first paying passengers on Saturday 31 May. The first service will leave the Gyle shopping centre, bound for the city centre, at 05:00.

The controversial project has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing £776m. Transport for Edinburgh, which oversees the capital’s tram and bus services, ran a test of the system using volunteers in March. It follows six years of building work and problems, including a long-running dispute between the council and its contractor. Click here to read the full article.

National Museum of Scotland set for overhaul

Scotsman article published on Thursday 24th April 2014 Work is set to begin within months on a multi-million-pound overhaul of one of Scotland’s busiest visitor attractions – just three years after a previous  revamp. More than £15 million worth of improvements to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh are planned over the next few years, which will create at least 12 new galleries. The exhibition spaces will be spread over three areas of the museum and will showcase international art and design over the centuries, science and technology exhibits, and treasures from Egypt and the Far East. The work, expected to be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Scottish Government, will be carried out in two main phases, with all 12 expected to be unveiled by 2019. The new galleries will be home to around 4,000 exhibits, most of which will not have been on display previously and are currently held behind closed doors in storage facilities in Granton on the city’s waterfront. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: Traffic clampdown for Commonwealth Games

BBC article published on Thursday 24th April 2014

Major restrictions on traffic and parking are to be introduced in Glasgow during the summer Commonwealth Games. Organiser Glasgow 2014 has released details of the traffic plan designed to protect local people and businesses and help athletes move around.

A series of maps has been produced showing how restrictions apply at venues around the city. Spectators are being encouraged to walk, cycle and use public transport to minimise disruption. George Vincent, project management and design manager, said: “Glasgow will be open for business throughout the Games, but it won’t be business as usual. “Now is the right time to plan ahead and find out how you might be affected. “If you live or work near a venue, we are putting in place measures to keep your community moving and help make sure you can enjoy being at the very heart of Glasgow’s biggest ever celebration.” Click here to read the full article.

John Muir Way: Walking route ‘will generate £40m’

Scotsman article published on Monday 21st April 2014 A new walking route officially opened yesterday to commemorate Scots-born environmentalist John Muir is expected to generate around £40 million over the next five years for communities along its way, said Alex Salmond. Muir, born in Dunbar in 1838 before emigrating to the US at the age of 11, was an early advocate of the preservation of the wilderness and was considered by Americans to be the “Father of the National Parks” in his adopted homeland. Three years in the making, the 134-mile John Muir Way spans the breadth of central Scotland from Helensburgh on the west coast, passing Loch Lomond, Falkirk, Linlithgow, Edinburgh and North Berwick, before reaching Dunbar. The First Minister declared the route open in Dunbar yesterday as a flare was sent up from a RNLI lifeboat, with ramblers, runners, cyclists, flag-bearers and street performers blazing a trail through the first section of the path. “John Muir was a remarkable Scot – a man whose passion for nature and the outdoors left an incredible environmental legacy that resonates to this day,” Mr Salmond said. Click here to read the full article.

Loch Ness monster ‘found’ on satellite map image

Scotsman article published on Saturday 19th April 2014 Even the Loch Ness Monster cannot escape computer giant Apple – satellite images from the firm’s mapping app appear to show a creature in the loch. Two amateur Nessie hunters made the “discovery” on images from different satellites looking down at the Earth. Images of the location, just south of Dores, were visible on some iPads and iPhones with the map app, according to Peter Thain from Northumberland and Andy Dixon of County Durham. Mr Dixon said: “It was purely by accident that I came across the image. I was trawling through satellite transmissions of different parts of the country and I thought I would try Loch Ness. “I could see something big under the water and I saved it to my phone. My first thought was that it was the monster, and I contacted Gary Campbell of the Official Loch Ness Monster Club. “I was a believer in Nessie before this but I had never been there. Now I am so excited, I can’t wait to get up north and pay a visit – with a camera of course. Click here to read the full article.

Highland clans hold celebration events in Inverness

BBC article published on Saturday 19th April 2014 A groups of Highland clans are to hold an anniversary celebration in Inverness this weekend. The Association of Highland Clans Society (AHCS) will also help mark this year’s Homecoming Festival. Representatives from Jacobite groups across the world are expected on Saturday 19 April at the Drumossie Hotel. As part of the event, Highland Council will detail their plans for the “Highland Coming”. The Association of Highland Clans and Societies, which came into being a year ago at an eve of Culloden Commemoration event at the Highland Archive Centre, now represents some 24 clans from the northern and western Highlands. Most of its member clans will be represented at this years Battle of Culloden Commemoration Service organised by the Gaelic Society of Inverness. Click here to read the full article.

Kelpie sculptures lit up for pyrotechnic launch event

BBC article published on Thursday 17th April 2014

Scotland’s biggest art installation has been lit up as part of a spectacular launch event. At the first of two night-time events, artist Andy Scott’s 300-tonne, 30m high Kelpie horse heads were brought to life by a light, sound and pyrotechnic display.

It was staged by Groupe F, a pyrotechnic outfit which lit up the Eiffel Tower at the Millennium. The Kelpies, near Falkirk, officially open to the public on Monday. The massive steel sculptures are part of the Helix, a £43m redevelopment of about 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth. They are being launched at a two-night arts event called HOME, which also celebrates the opening of the John Muir Way, a new national pathway stretching across the central belt. Click here to read the full article.

More than 50 Scottish beaches given ‘excellent’ rating

BBC article published on Tuesday 15th April 2014 More than 50 Scottish beaches have been commended for their water quality. A report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) rated 54 of 95 beaches in Scotland as having “excellent” quality water – 12 more than the previous year. The figure – for 2013- was the highest number of Scottish beaches to meet the standard in 27 years. All of Scotland’s beaches tested met at least the minimum standard required by the agency. MCS Scotland programme manager, Calum Duncan, said he hoped the latest figures would be a boost to Scottish tourism after several previously wet summers which led to a drop in bathing water quality. Click here to read the full article.

Expo and trips boost region

Southern Reporter article published on Monday 14th April 2014

Tourism businesses from across the region showcased the very best the Borders has to offer at this year’s VisitScotland expo – the national tourism organisation’s flagship travel trade event. Over 250 Scottish tourism businesses exhibited to hundreds of tour operators from all over the world at VisitScotland expo, which took place in Glasgow earlier this month. Now in its 35th year, the event provides a fantastic opportunity for face-to-face meetings with those who organise group trips to Scotland. Scottish Borders Group Travel Itineraries, Borders Food & Drink Network, Bowhill House and Country Estate, Abbotsford, Scottish Borders Area Tourism Partnership, Gunsgreen House, Floors Castle, Homecoming Scottish Borders and Traquair House all attended the business-to-business event. Click here to read the full article.

Scottish isles rated as National Geographic ‘tour of a lifetime’

BBC article published on Friday 11th April 2014

A guided holiday of Scottish islands has been listed among a world travel magazine’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime. Wilderness Walking: The Outer Hebrides and Skye is the only UK entry on National Geographic Traveler’s suggested tours to take in 2014. The six-day Scottish holiday starts in Inverness and takes in Harris, Skye and Scalpay.

Also listed were a wolf-watching break in Montana and a tour of African landscapes linked to Nelson Mandela. Holidays in Iceland, Alaska, the Amazon and Antarctica have also been included. Paul Easto, managing director of the walking holiday’s operator Wilderness Scotland, and VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay have welcomed the Scottish tour’s inclusion. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow 2014: ‘Unprecedented’ chance for tourism

Scotsman article published on Thursday 10th April 2014 The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will offer an “unprecedented opportunity” for tourism, attracting thousands of new visitors to the city and Scotland, Games officials said. A fifth (20 per cent) of people who have tickets for the Games have never visited Glasgow, while more than half (54 per cent) know little or nothing about the city, a new study conducted by Glasgow 2014 found. However many plan to stay a few nights in the city, with nearly half (46 per cent) planning a short break of two to four nights and almost one in three (28 per cent) intending to stay five nights or more. One in 10 intend to combine their visit to Glasgow with a longer trip to Scotland to explore other parts of the country. The study of almost 10,000 spectators asked them about their travel, accommodation and visitor plans. Click here to read the full article.

The Kelpies horse head sculptures lit up for sneak peek

BBC article published on Tuesday 8th April 2014

A massive art installation at Falkirk has been lit up for the first time. The Kelpies, two towering statues of horse heads, will open to the public after a night-time launch event. A lighting test has provided a sneak peek of the two 300 tonne, 30m (100ft) tall sculptures in their prime.

Thousands are expected to attend the launch of artist Andy Scott’s creations, which will feature light, sound and flames in a pyrotechnic spectacle next week. The launch takes place on 17 and 18 April, and members of the public will have the chance to tour the structures from the following Monday. The completion of the £5m sculptures just off the M9 motorway is a key milestone in the £43m Helix project, which is transforming 865 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth. It is hoped the redevelopment will attract 350,000 visitors a year, bringing in £1.5m of extra tourism revenue. Click here to read the full article.

Study rediscovers pilgrims’ paths to Whithorn

BBC article published on Monday 7th April 2014

Routes and paths taken by medieval pilgrims to Scotland’s “cradle of Christianity” have been rediscovered and mapped out in a new study. Whithorn, in Dumfries and Galloway, is home to the earliest recorded Christian community in Scotland, and also contains a shrine to St Ninian.

The study used Ordnance Survey data to highlight the locations of several places of historical significance. It is hoped that the routes will bring more visitors and pilgrims to the area. Dr Valentina Bold, director of the Solway Centre at the Glasgow University Dumfries Campus, said that the newly rediscovered routes would help fill out the back story of the area and add to its appeal for modern-day pilgrims. She said: “I think what it adds is something to the story of the pilgrims who visited the area. It also allows the modern would-be pilgrim to map out their own route. There are some wonderful, still active, sites. “The pilgrim can pick out sites which they feel will be special to them and develop their own journey.” Click here to read the full article.

‘Tartan 10k’ kicks off Scottish week in New York

BBC article published on Saturday 5th April 2014

A week of Scottish-themed events in New York has begun with a “tartan” 10km race. First Minister Alex Salmond, who has travelled to the city to take part in a number of the week’s events, started the race.

The 11th annual Scotland Run took place in New York’s Central Park. Many runners took part wearing kilts, while pipers played Scottish music along much of the course. The Scotland Run is organised by the New York Road Runners group. Chief Executive Mary Wittenberg said: “This is one of our most festive runs and people really get into the Scottish spirit, dressing up in kilts and painting their faces. “It’s a fun and memorable day, and we thank the Scottish government for its continued support.” Click here to read the full article.

Wallace and Bruce letters on show at Stirling Castle

BBC article published on Friday 4th April 2014

Rare medieval letters concerning Robert the Bruce and William Wallace are to go on display together for the first time. The 700-year-old letters, including one from King Philip IV of France, depict the men’s different paths in securing the Scottish crown. Two letters dated nine years apart demonstrate the involvement of the French king with Wallace and Bruce in the fate of the monarchy.

The exhibition opens at Stirling Castle on 3 May and will run until June. The letter from King Philip IV is penned to his agents in Rome, commanding them to ask Pope Boniface VIII to support Wallace. It was written in 1300 and was discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s. It is currently on loan to the National Records of Scotland from the National Archives in London. The document is being displayed alongside a letter to King Philip dated nine years later, which was written by Scottish barons attending the first parliament following Robert the Bruce’s seizure of the throne in 1306. Historians consider their declaration of support for Bruce to be an important moment in the recognition of his crown. Click here to read the full article.

What’s in a Scottish place name?

BBC article published on Thursday 3rd April 2014 From Ecclefechan to Puddledub, some of Scotland’s place names are just as memorable as its landmarks. A new Glasgow University project is exploring how some of these places got their famous names. Scotland’s Place Names aims to provide schoolchildren with an online resource on Scotland’s cultural and linguistic history. It explains which languages various place names are from, what they might mean and the history that is attached to them. The data behind the project is taken from the University’s Scottish Toponymy in Transition (STIT) research, which is exploring the history of Scottish place names in Clackmannanshire, Kinross-shire and Menteith. Chief researcher Dr Simon Taylor said: “Scotland is a country where many different languages have been spoken over the last 1,500 years, and its place names reflect this rich and varied history. “What we are doing is giving teachers the tools to explore Scotland’s rich heritage.” Click here to read the full article.

Stirling Armed Forces Day events unveiled

Scotsman article published on Thursday 3rd April 2014 Spectacular Red Arrows routines and a dramatic Royal Marine rescue exercise are set to compete with celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, after the plans for Stirling’s Armed Forces Day event were revealed. Classic wartime aircraft including a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, modern-day Tornado and Typhoon fighters, and the Royal Navy’s Sea King search and rescue helicopters will be among the star attractions at the free event, which will be staged in the shadow of Stirling Castle on the weekend of 28 – 29 June. The event takes place on the same weekend as the two-day Bannockburn Live event to commemorate the battle’s 700th anniversary. Thousands of people are expected to line a route from the historic landmark to a vast display field at Kings Park for a parade of military bands, serving personnel and around 1500 veterans from conflicts as far back as the Second World War. Up to 50,000 people – more than twice the total capacity of Bannockburn Live – are expected to descend on Stirling for the UK’s main Armed Forces Day event. Click here to read the full article.

NTS seeks £50m to safeguard Scotland’s treasures

Scotsman article published on Monday 31st March 2014 The National Trust for Scotland has warned it will need to raise almost £50 million extra over the next decade to keep its vast array of properties and land across the country up to scratch.  Scotland’s biggest conservation charity, which is responsible for some of the nation’s best-known landmarks, beauty spots and historic sites, will need to generate at least £4.6m a year on average for the next ten years. That represents more than a third of what it already spends, £11.6m. This is largely funded by its 320,000-strong membership and private donors. Kenneth Calman, the organisation’s chairman, has warned NTS will have some “harsh truths to grapple with” over the next few years because of the “enormous” sums of cash involved in maintaining its estate, which includes more than 1,500 sites, properties and buildings. However, the charity’s trustees are said to have described the prospect of raising the cash as “challenging, but do-able”. Click here to read the full article.

Skiing in Scotland until end of April ‘possible’

BBC article published on Monday 31st March 2014

Skiing and snowboarding could continue in Scotland until the end of April because of heavy snowfalls. Nevis Range said it was having its best winter since 2010 when the ski tows at CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore, were opened at midsummer for the first time.

Marian Austin, managing director at Nevis Range, said the resort near Fort William had experienced record snowfalls. Nevis Range, CairnGorm and Glencoe have depths of up to 16ft (5m). Ms Austin said: “It is amazing cover for this time of year.” In June 2010, more than 100 skiers took advantage of ski tows when they were opened at CairnGorm Mountain. Previously at that time of year people were able to ski in the Cairngorms, however, they had to trek to where the snow was. Click here to read the full article.

Melrose Abbey hosts final Hawick missal performance

BBC article published on Friday 28th March 2014

The third in a trilogy of special performances inspired by the discovery of a 12th Century missal fragment is to take place at Melrose Abbey. The historic document was discovered in Hawick in 2009.

Previous performances have been held at Jedburgh Abbey and Kelso Abbey and featured works by composers Sean Doherty and Michael Nyman. The last event is on 5 April – ahead of Palm Sunday – and will use music composed by Grayston Ives. The Hawick Missal Fragment was once part of a missal – a book which contained the texts and chants for a Mass. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Fragments is a unique and ground breaking project, and Fragments of Red is particularly poignant because it will be performed ahead of Palm Sunday, for which the original piece of medieval music was composed. “Grayston Ives is renowned in the world of choral music, and the first performance of his unique interpretation of the music from the Hawick missal fragment promises to be breathtaking.” Click here to read the full article.

From Russia with love: Russians sign up for Bond tour

BBC article published on Thursday 27th March 2014 Russian holiday operators are to be given a guided tour of Scottish places connected to James Bond. Russia has been the inspiration for famous 007 villains such as Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love and Alan Cumming’s Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye. Many of the stories have also been set during the Cold War and the later collapse of the Soviet Union. VisitScotland will take the tour operators to sites in the Highlands, Argyll and central Scotland. The familiarisation trip will form part of the tourism body’s Expo, a travel trade show at Glasgow’s SECC on 2 and 3 April. Representatives from holiday operators from the USA, Canada, Japan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Denmark and Germany will also be taken on the guided tour. Click here to read the full article.

Downton and Bond fuel rise in Scottish visitors

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 26th March 2014 James Bond, Lego, Downton Abbey and Mary, Queen of Scots have been hailed for boosting Scottish tourism in 2013. They have been credited with fuelling bookings at visitor 
attractions, which brought in 32 million people last year. The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions has reported an increase of 200,000 visitors, with the National Museum of Scotland – which hosted the biggest-ever exhibition devoted to Mary, Queen of Scots – the busiest in the country, with 
1.76 million visitors. Among the best-performing sites were Paisley Museum, which saw its numbers increase by 70 per cent thanks to a Lego exhibition. Click here to read the full article.

Glenkiln Sculpture Park

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 25th March 2014 Overlooking the clear blue waters of a nearby reservoir, Glenkiln Sculpture Park is an open air museum located in a beautiful part of Scotland. Established in 1951 by Sir William Keswick, the park was the result of Sir William’s desire to exhibit sculptures in a natural setting. Until recently, a total of six artworks were located at the park in Shawhead, near Dumfries. Four pieces by renowned English sculptor Henry Moore, including Standing Figure (1950), King and Queen (1952–53), Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross (1955–56) and Two Piece Reclining Figure No.1, can be found at the site. Click here to read the full article.

St Andrew Square Garden to become Fringe venue

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 25th March 2014 One Edinburgh’s finest Georgian squares will be transformed into a major Fringe arena for the first time to coincide with the arrival of trams in the city centre. Competition for festival-goers between the New Town and the south side of the capital is to be dramatically stepped up over plans to stage dozens of shows in St Andrew Square Garden. Three separate performance areas will be created in the area, which is also home to the Jenners and Harvey Nichols department stores, and will have its own tram stop. It will become home to one of the most popular Fringe venues, the Famous Spiegeltent, an intimate yurt-style tent and a world-music stage around its towering monument, with the site expected to be open until at least midnight. Click here to read the full article.

Plans announced for public transport to 2014 Ryder Cup

BBC article published on Monday 24th March 2014

New public transport plans have been announced ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Three park and ride facilities for spectators are to be set up around the region, while local roads and train services will be affected. Meetings will take place in Kinross, Auchterarder, Stirling and Perth to explain the plans to local communities.

The biennial golf tournament between Europe and the US takes place at the Perthshire course in September. Local authorities have drawn up plans considering approaches to Gleneagles from the north, west and east. They include three park and ride facilities to ferry ticket-holders to the tournament and back at Perth, Balado and Stirling. Click here to read the full article.

Ryder Cup 2014: Gleneagles will be car-free zone

Scotsman article published on Monday 24th March 2014 Spectators at this year’s Ryder Cup will arrive at Gleneagles either by bus or train after the Perthshire venue was designated as a car-free zone for ticket-paying customers in the transport plan for the event. The majority of the 45,000 fans per day due to attend golf’s biggest team tournament will use three park and ride facilities – at Balado on the outskirts of Kinross, Perth’s McDiarmid Park and Castleview in Stirling. Click here to read the full article.

Scotsman Travel: 6 days out within 90 minutes of Edinburgh

Scotsman article published on Saturday 22nd March 2014

Scotland’s capital is full of interesting places and exciting things to do, but there are plenty of places nearby that you shouldn’t neglect. Here are six great locations to visit within an hour-and-a-half of leaving Edinburgh.

Click here to read the full article.

Line-up announced for Bannockburn anniversary event

BBC article published on Wednesday 19th March 2014

The 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn will be marked this summer with a large-scale re-enactment of the legendary clash. More than 300 battle performers will be joined by musicians, artists and comedians at the Bannockburn Live festival in June.

Concerns were raised about the event after it was cut from three days to two amid worries over ticket sales. But tourism bosses insisted the weekend will be “an amazing experience”. Bannockburn Live will be held at the site of the historic battlefield, near Stirling, on 28 and 29 June. Julie Fowlis, Dougie MacLean, Karine Polwart and Rachel Sermanni will be among the musicians appearing at the event, which will also feature a massive re-enactment of the 1314 battle by more than 300 warriors and camp followers. Click here to read the full article.

Musicians sign up for Bannockburn celebrations

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 19th March 2014 A string of Scotland’s leading musicians have agreed to take part in the troubled celebrations to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Julie Fowlis, the Gaelic songstress who won worldwide fame after appearance on the soundtrack of Disney-Pixar film Brave, and veteran musician Dougie MacLean, best known for his epic anthem Caledonia, will top the bill of entertainment at the two-day event in June. Other star attractions include Roddy Woomble, frontman of indie favourites Idlewild, Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire, who recently won a week-long residency on Craig Ferguson’s US chat show, Celtic supergroup Treacherous Orchestra, multi award-winning folk singer Karine Polwart and Rachel Sermanni, the new face and voice of RBS’s latest campaign. More than 300 performers are lined up to appear at recreations of medieval encampments and the battle itself, while almost 40 different clan organisations are expected at the event at the end of June. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh International Festival programme launched

BBC article published on Tuesday 18th March 2014 This year’s Edinburgh International Festival will celebrate 20 years of democracy in South Africa. A ballet world premiere, a play and a live installation will mark two decades since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. The festival will also commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War One with a theatre production by Flemish director Luk Perceval. Jonathan Mills will direct the annual showcase for the eighth and last time. Work celebrating democracy in South Africa opens with the world premiere of a new ballet Inala. Composer Ella Spira has collaborated with the group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo who will be creating the soundscape for dancers from Rambert and The Royal Ballet, choreographed by Mark Baldwin. Click here to read the full article.

Commonwealth Games: Scotland’s Queen’s Baton Relay route announced

BBC article published on Monday 17th March 2014

The route of the Scottish leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay, which leads up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has been revealed. The baton is currently in the Caribbean as it tours 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. It will arrive in Edinburgh on Saturday 14 June and will visit all parts of Scotland over the next 40 days.

The baton arrives in Glasgow just before the games start on 23 July. Hundreds of villages, towns and cities have been named on the Queen’s Baton Relay route through Scotland. The baton will travel across all 32 local authority areas before it reaches Glasgow on Sunday 20 July. Up to 4,000 baton bearers will take part in the Scottish relay, with an average of 100 people carrying the baton daily. Click here to read the full article.

Former Nestlé factory to become whisky wonderland

Edinburgh Evening article published on Monday 17th March 2014 A former Nestlé factory is being transformed into a ­whisky wonderland – for a taste test with a difference.  Amber nectar enthusiasts are set to flock to the Leith venue to savour high-quality drams whose distinctive flavour will be mimicked by evocative visuals and a tailor-made soundscape. Dubbed Create:Eat:Whisky,  the experience is aiming to sweep away the cobwebs of traditional sampling events by matching scents, sounds and sights with the unique flavour of the spirit. For example peat whiskies could be served in a smoke-filled dome, scored with woodland sounds and dark projections beamed on to the walls. Bite-size nibbles that compliment the whisky profiles will also be served. Click here to read the full article.

Homecoming 2014: Whisky Stramash set for return

Scotsman article published on Friday 14th March 2014 A two-day whisky festival promising lovers of Scotland’s national drink new ways to enjoy a dram will return to Edinburgh in May as part of the nation’s Homecoming celebrations. Whisky Stramash, which will form part of Homecoming Scotland’s Whisky Month, will take place in the capital’s Surgeon’s Hall in the historic Old Town area. Established brands including The Dalmore, Isle of Jura, Dewars and Glenfiddich, as well as a range of smaller independents, are all set to showcase their whiskies. The Whisky Stramash says it aims to showcase new ways of presenting whisky to the public, with molecular mixology stations and “immersive and interactive” experiences. Since the event’s launch two years ago, over 4,000 whisky aficionados have sampled the Stramash’s innovative whiskies. This year’s event will take place on the 24th and 25th of May. Click here to read the full article.

VisitScotland praises fund’s global success

Herald article published on Thursday 13th March 2014 A fund set up two years ago to help bring international conferences to Scotland has attracted 46 events expected to generate more than £100 million in delegate spend between now and 2021. VisitScotland said the impact made by its Conference Bid Fund, which has helped secure events in sectors such as food and drink, education, life sciences and renewable energy, has been hailed as a vote of confidence in Scotland’s university research, as well as its status as a tourist destination. It also highlighted the impact local authorities can make by supporting conference bids, with the delegate spend projected between now and 2021 spinning out of £936,000 of local investment.

Neil Brownlee, head of business tourism at VisitScotland, said Scotland is winning conference business from international, not for profit organisations, which can choose to host their events in cities anywhere in the world. Describing business tourism as a “bridge between tourism and inward investment”, he said: “It’s a very important statement on behalf of VisitScotland and the Scottish Government that we in Scotland, along with our academics and our world class universities, are all working together to bring these very influential delegates to our country.”

Click here to read the full article.

Tudor and Stuart fashion on show in Edinburgh

Scotsman article published on Thursday 13th March 2014 A number of artworks never previously displayed in Scotland will go on show as part of a new exhibition documenting the opulent fashions of the Tudor and Stuart elite. Paintings, drawings and jewellery from the Royal Collection will be displayed alongside rare pieces of clothing from the 16th and 17th centuries in the show at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Gallery. At the heart of the exhibition will be portraits of three generations of Scottish kings and queens – James V (1512-42), his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), and her son James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566-1625). Anna Reynolds, the Royal Collection Trust’s curator of paintings, said: “Portraits of the 16th and 17th centuries show that this was a time when luxurious clothing and extravagant jewels were hugely important components of court life – and the Stuarts were at the forefront of this fashionable world.” Click here to read the full article.

Audio tour record for Royal Yacht Britannia

BBC article published on Wednesday 12th March 2014

The Royal Yacht Britannia now has the world’s most translated audio tour, according to officials at the Edinburgh visitor attraction. Tours of the Leith-berthed ship are now available in 27 different languages.

Brazilian, Portuguese, Turkish, Thai, Cantonese and Punjabi were all added this year to the list of languages on offer, in response to customer demand. Britannia sailed the oceans for nearly 44 years, travelling more than a million nautical miles. The vessel called in at more than 600 ports in 135 countries. Click here to read the full article.

Big-budget drama Outlander films in Scotland

BBC article published on Wednesday 12th March 2014

For the past six months a multi-million pound US TV series has been filming in Scotland, but there is still no word on when it will be shown in the UK. Outlander has been filming across various locations, including a one-month stint at Doune Castle.

The drama’s production is expected to last 38 weeks at a cost of more than £50m. It has been described as Scotland’s answer to Game of Thrones, the hit series from the US HBO network that has boosted the industry in Northern Ireland where it is mainly filmed. Based on a series of novels from American author Diana Gabaldon, Outlander follows the story of Claire Randell, a nurse from 1946 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. Click here to read the full article.

Star of Caledonia: Landmark benefit ‘worth £16m’ claim

BBC article published on Wednesday 12th March 2014

Research has claimed the Star of Caledonia public artwork to mark the Scotland-England border at Gretna could be worth £16m in its first year alone. It is hoped construction on the project will begin next year.

Later this month, Dumfries and Galloway Council is to decide whether to match £1m support already secured from Creative Scotland. The cost of the landmark, designed by Charles Jencks and Cecil Balmond, has been estimated at £4.8m. An external assessment of its impact was carried out by BOP Consulting on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council and public art development company Wide Open. Click here to read the full article.

Scotsman walk of the week: Walk of the week: John Muir Country Park, Dunbar

Scotsman article published on Sunday 9th March 2014 A century ago this year one of Scotland’s greatest sons died on the other side of the Atlantic. John Muir left Dunbar with his family for North America when he was only 11 but he had already developed a love for the outdoors. Once he grew up his achievements in promoting the environment were immense and he is known as the founding father of the US National Parks. Next month a festival to commemorate him will be held in Scotland when the extended John Muir Way will be officially opened, stretching 134 miles from Dunbar to Helensburgh. This walk takes in part of the route, a beautiful beach and the country park named in his honour. Keep an eye out for the tide on this walk and don’t try to wade into the sea at any point; as explained there are plenty of options even if the water is all the way in. Click here to read the full article.

Over 70k expected at first Scottish Whisky Month

Scotsman article published on Monday 3rd March 2014 More than 70,000 people are expected to attend events the length and breadth of the country as part of Scotland’s first ever national celebration of malt whisky. Some 19 different events will be staged as part of the inaugural Whisky Month, which is billed as one of the centrepieces of the country’s second Year of Homecoming initiative. One-off festivals, initiatives and themed events will be promoted alongside some of the industry’s long-established favourites in the likes of Islay and Speyside. Among the venues taking part will be The Arches nightclub in Glasgow, the Eden Brewery in St Andrews, the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Gordon Castle in Moray, and the home of Loch Fyne Oysters in Argyll. Click here to read the full article.

Free ferry tickets to increase visitors to Scottish islands

BBC article published on Friday 28th February 2014

Thousands of free ferry tickets are being given away to encourage more people to visit Scotland’s islands. The Year of Homecoming will see 8,000 tickets given away and there will be free trips to places such as Orkney and Shetland. Visitors will also be able to visit Lewis and Harris, which were named the top islands in Europe by travel website TripAdvisor.

The ferry tickets will be given away through online ballots during March. Scottish islands secured six of the places in TripAdvisor’s list of top 10 isles around Britain, with Lewis and Harris in first place and Orkney’s mainland, Mull, Skye, Arran and Islay included in the selection. The free ticket scheme is a partnership between VisitScotland, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and Serco NorthLink Ferries. Click here to read the full article.

Inverness Homecoming leads lucrative arts bonanza

Scotsman article published on Friday 28th February 2014 Inverness is set for a multi-million pound boost to its economy under plans to stage the biggest-ever celebration of Highland culture this year. The city is gearing up for an extended influx of visitors for a bumper two-month calendar of events including a huge Highland Games event, the city’s biggest clan gathering ever and the Royal National Mod. Scotland’s shinty showpiece, celebrations to mark the 150th year of the city’s historic Northern Meeting Park, and a street theatre festival will also be held under the banner of the Highland Homecoming, part of the £6 million nationwide campaign to capitalise on the staging of the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games this year. Click here to read the full article.

National Curling Centre to be built in Stirling

BBC article published on Friday 28th February 2014

A multi-million pound Scottish National Curling Centre is to be created. An initial investment of £2.25m will be cross-funded by Sportscotland and Stirling Council to develop the facilities at Stirling Sports Village.

Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford had previously called on the government to build a curling centre in the town. The announcement comes after Team GB’s curling teams won two medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Team GB’s curling team, predominantly made up of Scottish athletes, proved to be one of the biggest success stories at the Sochi Winter Olympics with the men’s and women’s teams winning a silver and bronze medal respectively. Click here to read the full article.

Scotsman walk of the week: River Tweed, Coldstream

Scotsman article published on Sunday 16th February 2014 The River Tweed is a world-renowned course of water. The salmon which are found in its pools are among the most sought after, anywhere. However, on a sunny day at this time of the year thoughts of being next to a global attraction are probably going to be far from the mind. Across the water is England, and despite the Border also attracting attention across the world ahead of this year’s independence referendum, thoughts are still likely to turn towards the tranquillity and beauty of this countryside. Click here to read the full article.

Scots around the world celebrate heritage in tapestry

Scotsman article published on Saturday 15th February 2014 Whisky, haggis, the poetry of Burns; Scotland’s cultural exports are well known, but Scotland has long exported people too. They went not only to the likes of the US, Canada and New Zealand but to all corners of the globe, from Sweden to Argentina. Some of those communities have been hard at work stitching panels which will go to make up the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry. The project is supported by this year’s Homecoming Scotland. The tapestry will be premiered in Prestonpans at the end of May during the Three Harbours Arts Festival, but panels are now beginning to arrive from all over the world for assembling. Click here to read the full article.

Portrait of woman who inspired ‘Belle’ to be shown

Scotsman article published on Friday 14th February 2014 A stunning 18th Century portrait of the mixed race daughter of a slave and her aristocratic cousin, which inspired a new British film, is to go on public display at the ancestral home of one of Scotland’s premier Earls later this year. The painting depicts Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Lindsay, a British Navy admiral an enslaved African known as Maria Belle, together with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. The portrait was painted in 1779 by Johann Zoffany when the two cousins were staying together at the London home of the first Earl of Mansfield who was the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and the uncle of Sir John Lindsay. The painting inspired the recent release of the British-made movie “Belle” starring English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the title role, Tom Wilkinson and Miranda Richardson. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh to host Royal Family fashion exhibition

Scotsman article published on Friday 14th February 2014 Edinburgh is to play host to a major fashion exhibition exploring the tastes of Britain’s Royal Family from almost 500 years ago. While the Duchess of Cambridge is the modern-day draw for royal style watchers, the show at the Palace of Holyroodhouse will turn the focus to the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. The sartorial extravagance of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Charles I and Charles II will be explored through extensive displays of clothing, accessories and jewellery, as well as paintings and drawings. The exhibition, which opens next month and will run until mid-July, will look at how central fashion was to life in the royal courts and how laws were enforced to dictate the fabrics, colours and types of garment that could be worn at each level of society. Clothes and the way they were worn conveyed messages about wealth, age, social position, marital status and even  religion. Click here to read the full article.

Fuel pipeline may force T in the Park to new site

Scotsman article published on Friday 14th February 2014 Scotland’s biggest music festival may have to move to a new site due to long-standing health and safety fears over a fuel pipeline running below its current home. T in the Park’s organisers are looking for an alternative base for the event following repeated protests over the use of Balado Park, in Kinross-shire, due to the risk of thousands being killed by an explosion. They have told council chiefs, who grant an annual licence for the event, that they are seeking to use the existing site for only one more year. The possibility of a relocation emerged just days before the launch of this year’s event, which is celebrating its 20th birthday. It was originally staged at Strathclyde Country Park, in Hamilton, and has been at Balado since 1997. Click here to read the full article.

Glacial hints: A brief guide to sluffs and roller balls

BBC article published on Thursday 13th February 2014 Visitors to Scotland’s mountains this winter are encountering sluffs, rime ice and roller balls. But what are they? Click here to read the full article.

Tourism boost for Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 12th February 2014 The number of visitors to the Outer Hebrides has risen by more than a quarter over the past six years, a study reveals. More than 218,000 people visited the Western Isles between October 2012 and September 2013, the Islands Visitor Survey found. The total represents an increase of 27 per cent over the past six years. In total, 425,000 people visited the islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides, providing a £100 million boost to local economies. The study also found that threequarters of those exploring the islands intended to return within the next five years for a break. It found around 80 per cent of visitors stated they were “very satisfied” with their visit. Around 40 per cent of visitors now share their trip experiences online, with almost a third uploading photos of their visit to social media sites. Orkney had 142,816 visitors, compared to 141,974 in a 2008-09 survey, spending over £31m. And Shetland saw 64,655 people travel to the islands, compared to 60,000 who visited in 2006, with a total spend of £16m. Click here to read the full article.

Bannockburn battle recreated in 3D

BBC article published on Friday 31st January 2014

A game that will allow visitors to the new Battle of Bannockburn centre to lead a medieval army in 3D has been unveiled. The Battle Game will see visitors given control of soldiers from the armies of Robert the Bruce and Edward II, who fought in 1314.

The attraction, which has been created by the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, opens on 1 March. The 700th anniversary of the battle will be marked on 23 and 24 June. Each visit to the centre will culminate in the Battle Game, where visitors will be allocated an army division which appears on a massive 3D map of the Stirling landscape, giving a birds-eye view of the battle. Click here to read the full article.

Scottish ski resorts report snowfall increase

Scotsman article published on Friday 31st January 2014 Scotland’s ski resorts increase in snowfall has provided a massive boost to their winter season. The Scottish mountains in the Highlands are comparing favourably with many in Europe, Scandinavia, the US and Canada. While the rest of Britain talks of floods and mild temperatures, the Scottish ski centres are reporting heavy snowfall, leading staff having to dig out ski lifts and even huts and cabins. At Glencoe Mountain Resort, Nevis Range and Cairngorm Mountain it has been snowing almost non-stop since December. Staff at Glencoe report more snow than they’ve seen for at least 15 years. Glenshee also already had excellent snow cover at high level and, in just the last seven days, has had an amazing dump which has also filled in lower level runs and features. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow to host Radio One’s Big Weekend

Scotsman article published on Friday 31st January 2014 Glasgow’s year in the limelight has received another massive boost after the BBC confirmed the city will host Britain’s biggest free music event. Top names in pop, rock and dance will perform on Glasgow Green for Radio 1’s flagship “Big Weekend” show. Approximately 60,000 fans are expected over the course of the three-day event, to be staged over the May bank holiday. Glasgow was named just two months after it emerged the city would also be hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards for the first time in November – exactly ten years after it was held in Edinburgh. Executives at the BBC said the “Big Weekend” was being brought north to “celebrate” the city hosting the Commonwealth Games in the summer. A total of 50,000 tickets will be available for the main performances on the Saturday and Sunday, 24 and 25 May, with 10,000 up for grabs for the dance event on the Friday night Click here to read the full article.

Whithorn Trust secures Heritage Lottery Fund support

BBC article published on Thursday 30th January 2014

An organisation promoting the heritage and archaeology of Whithorn has secured a grant which will allow it to reopen its visitor centre and museum. The Whithorn Trust – which runs the site – said last year it could be forced to close due to a lack of funds. It has now secured a £39,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Trust treasurer Margaret Turner said the site, celebrating the town’s role as the “cradle of Scottish Christianity”, would reopen on 1 April. The traditional date for St Ninian establishing his church, Candida Casa, at Whithorn is 397 AD. He is generally credited as the first Christian missionary to Scotland, responsible for converting many Celts. The visitor centre and museum chart the history of the town. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow approves William Wallace monument

Scotsman article published on Thursday 30th January 2014 Glasgow has finally approved the city’s first monument to William Wallace following a four-year battle. The stone plinth with a medieval helmet will be placed in the garden of the city’s oldest building to commemorate a famous victory over the English. The Society of William Wallace has been trying to get a memorial to the Battle of the Bell o’ the Brae since 2010 and has had several previous designs rejected. Wallace is said to have routed an English force in the city in 1297. The two metre-high sandstone monument is set to be in place by May this year in the grounds of the 500-year-old  Provand’s Lordship near Glasgow Cathedral. Click here to read the full article.

Celebrations over Creative Scotland £9.4m handouts

Edinburgh Evening News article published on Wednesday 29th January 2014 Two neglected buildings on top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill are to be transformed into new art galleries after Creative Scotland announced a £900,000 grant for the project. The Collective Gallery has ambitious plans to develop the City Observatory buildings over the next two years. And the Fruitmarket gallery in Market Street is receiving £1.4 million towards a major refurbishment and extension. The money is part of the annual round of funding for capital projects by the national arts body totalling nearly £10 million. The Collective Gallery has already shut its base in Cockburn Street and relocated to the Calton Hill site, where it hopes to expand its work. The first step was to move into the City Dome on the north side of the Observatory, a five-metre squared space which will house the gallery’s more established programme. Click here to read the full article.

Celebrations over Creative Scotland £9.4m handouts

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 29th January 2014 Signature arts projects across Scotland are to share in a windfall worth almost £9.5 million. Refurbishment, restoration and new-build projects have effectively been given the green light by the national arts funding body, Creative Scotland. The annual round of funding for capital projects has seen grants of up to £1.5m allocated to allow work to begin on large-scale projects, with £9.4m ring fenced. A long-awaited overhaul of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, the transformation of a historic Catholic seminary and architectural gem in Argyll into a new arts centre, and a revamp of Aberdeen’s historic Music Hall are scheduled. Click here to read the full article.

Forth Bridge Experience images released

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 29th January 2014 Piano recitals and wedding receptions could be held in a visitor centre beneath the Forth Bridge, Network Rail revealed today as it launched consultation on the plans. The firm is seeking views on its £15 million scheme, revealed by Scotland on Sunday two years ago, which includes a viewing platform on top of the north end of the 375ft-high bridge. Catwalk climbs will also be offered from a reception centre at the south side of the bridge, which could be developed into end-to-end walks. Network Rail hopes at least part of the project, estimated to attract 360,000 people annually, will be completed by next year’s 125th anniversary of the bridge’s opening. The new images of the proposals come days after the rail crossing’s bid for World Heritage Site status was lodged. Click here to read the full article.

Up Helly Aa fire festival lights up Shetland

BBC article published on Tuesday 28th January 2014 Shetland’s spectacular annual Up Helly Aa fire festival has been held. Up Helly Aa is a famous event that celebrates Shetland’s Viking heritage, culminating in the dramatic burning of a replica Viking galley. It features a band of latter-day Viking warriors known as the Jarl Squad, and draws visitors from around the world. The Vikings traditionally spend much of the day making public appearances. Click here to read the full article.

Homecoming 2014: More sailings to boost Orkney

Scotsman article published on Monday 27th January 2014 Orkney is set for an economic boost with additional sailings being put into operation over the summer to encourage more people to take part in Year of Homecoming events on the islands. The announcement of extra lunchtime sailings in May and September and an extension of the concessionary travel scheme for islanders by Transport Minister Keith Brown has been welcomed by Orkney Islands Council. Councillor James Stockan, chair of the authority’s development and infrastructure committee, said: “Councillors and council officers have been working hard to secure these local demand-led improvements, and as a result, not only have we secured them, but we have also strengthened our relationship with the minister, which is important as we look to negotiations for the next contract period. Click here to read the full article.

Dumfries marks Burns Night with lantern procession

Scotsman article published on Sunday 26th January 2014 Crowds gathered in the town where Robert Burns spent the final years of his life to celebrate the poet with a procession lit up by 1,000 lanterns. Thousands of people gathered in Dumfries for the Burns Night event which also saw performers, dancers and musicians take to the streets. The homecoming carnival was the centrepiece of the Big Burns Supper, a three-day festival celebrating the best of Scottish culture. More than 30 groups and organisations took part in the parade, accompanied by floats and huge puppets. Graham Main, Big Burns Supper director, said: “What blew me away was seeing so many people coming out to support the arts. Click here to read the full article.

Hopetoun House snowdrops never fail to impress

Scotsman article published on Sunday 26th January 2014 The annual Snowdrop Walk round the 150-acre grounds at Hopetoun House near South Queensferry could easily be termed a Snowdrop Safari. Not only does the walk include a chance to see the drifts and clumps of snowdrops scattered throughout this 300-year-old, tree-filled landscape, it also offers an opportunity to spot wildlife, such as the estate’s famous herd of red deer. Also, while enjoying some of the views at the house, just ten miles north of Edinburgh, you might spot a buzzard or a pair of sparrowhawks overhead. Click here to read the full article.

Forth Bridge lodges World Heritage Site bid

Scotsman article published on Friday 24th January 2014 A bid to establish one of Scotland’s most iconic structures as an international tourist attraction will be lodged today. The Forth Bridge, which has loomed over the Firth of Forth since it opened in 1890, will become an official World Heritage Site within the next 18 months if the application, backed by both Westminster and Holyrood governments, proves successful. It is the only site chosen from an 11-strong shortlist across the UK – and was considered the most likely to be accepted for an elite list of attractions, which already includes Egypt’s pyramids, the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of China. Among the other bids were the Lake District, Charles Darwin’s “landscape laboratory” in London, and the historic Chatham Dockyard and related defences in Kent. Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Forth Bridge is an iconic symbol of technical creativity and engineering 
excellence. Click here to read the full article.

Digital characters ready to do battle at brand new Bannockburn centre

STV article published on Friday 24th January 2014 Six people that volunteered to be transformed into 3D historical characters have came face-to-face with their digital counterpart at the brand new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre. The centre, which will open on March 1, will bring a ground-breaking new experience to the site of the historic battle in time for its 700th anniversary. The new centre is the only place in the UK where cutting-edge 3D technology and medieval armies meet, and the first heritage attraction in the world to use motion capture technology featuring live, authentic fight choreography to immerse visitors in a realistic medieval battle. David McAllister, Battle of Bannockburn project director, National Trust for Scotland said: “Using this amazing new technology, we are able to give visitors an unrivalled opportunity to interact with and understand the variety of people who found themselves swept up in the historic events of 1314. Click here to read the full article.

Racers gather in Aviemore for annual husky rally

Scotsman article published on Thursday 23rd January 2014 More than 1000 sled dogs are gathering for the famous Siberian Husky Club dog race taking place in the Cairngorms this weekend. The race on Saturday and Sunday will be the 31th anniversary of the event, which began with only a few teams in the 1980s. Every year since 1984, mushers from across the UK have gathered in the forests around Aviemore for the biggest event in the British sled dog racing calendar – The Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain Aviemore Sled Dog Rally. The race is run on forest trails around Loch Morlich, in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains. From an original of only 12 teams, the race is now the largest event of its kind in the UK, with over 1,000 sled dogs and 250 mushers. Click here to read the full article.

Burrell Collection £15m world tour approved

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 22nd January 2014 One of Scotland’s most significant art collections will be able to go on tour for the first time after MSPs last night approved legislation allowing it to leave the country. The Burrell Collection in Glasgow is expected to attract widespread interest from exhibitors across the world after decades-old restrictions preventing overseas loans were lifted. The Glasgow-based collection, renowned for the quality of its Chinese art and extensive array of European tapestries, will go on tour while the museum’s building is being refurbished. Those behind the contentious move said the opportunity to exhibit the art abroad represented a “new chapter” in the Burrell’s history and would enhance its “international reputation”. Although the legislation was passed unanimously, doubts have been expressed over whether the projected multi-million pound revenues from overseas tours were realistic. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow Film Festival unveils 2014 programme

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 22nd January 2014 Glasgow Film Festival will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with its largest ever programme including big-name premieres, cross-overs with the city’s music and art scenes, and one-off screenings in a host of unique locations. Hotly-anticipated new films with Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Toni Colette, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Caine, Emily Watson and Tom Hardy have been confirmed for the 10-day event, which is expected to attract more than 40,000 film fans for the first time. More venues than ever before are being deployed across the city, including Kelvingrove art gallery, the city’s Central Station, a former glue factory set to be transformed into a giant amusement arcade, and the Glasgow Film Theatre, which will be staging a spectacular Frankenstein-themed fancy dress bash at Kelvingrove to mark its own 40th birthday. Click here to read the full article.

Edinburgh tourism numbers up following campaign

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 22nd January 2014 The number of visitors to the Scottish capital has increased significantly following a new drive to promote the city’s assets and enhance the visitor experience. The total number of visitors in 2012 was up 11 per cent compared to two years before, with total spending rising by 16 per cent. The average spend also increased to £321.46 per person, up four per cent on 2010, and there was also a four per cent rise during the key winter months. Yearly figures are drawn from a variety of sources and take almost a year to calculate, but tourism chiefs said that the indications were that 2013 had seen further growth in terms of spending and visitor numbers. Click here to read the full article.

Big Burns Supper: Aim to feed 5,000 Haggis meals

BBC article published on Tuesday 21st January 2014

The Big Burns Supper festival is hoping to see 5,000 people tuck into a haggis meal over its three days in Dumfries. The event runs from Friday to Sunday with a wide range of concerts, comedy and community activities planned.

As part of a drive to get more people enjoying Burns Suppers, a special mascot – Hamish the Haggis – has been touring schools. Director Graham Main said Burns Night was all about “great food, good company and lots of fun”. During the festival, Hamish the Haggis will host an “interactive family show” including a children’s Burns Supper. Click here to read the full article.

Speyside whisky to be a Scottish tourist icon

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 21st January 2014 Ambitious plans were announced today to develop the tourist potential of Speyside’s booming whisky industry to secure the same iconic status as the Champagne region of France. Moray’s parliamentarians, Angus Robertson MP and Richard Lochhead MSP, have invited the new chief executives of drinks giants Diageo and Chivas Brothers to meetings in the heartland of Scotland’s malt whisky producing region to discuss plans for a co-ordinated drive to transform Speyside into a worldwide tourist destination. More than half of the Scotch whisky distilleries owned by Diageo and Chivas Brothers are located in Moray, and the single-malt whiskies produced in Speyside are the key ingredients for many of Scotland’s most popular blended whiskies. Click here to read the full article.

City centre to be transformed into a Field of Light

Published by Edinburgh Spotlight on Tuesday 21st January 2014 Field of Light, by British artist Bruce Munro, will be exhibited within Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square, Edinburgh from 3 February to 27 April 2014. More information can be Edinburgh Spotlight’s website.

Scots climbers warned against wearing cotton

BBC article published on Monday 20 January 2014 Climbers and hillwalkers are being warned they are more at risk of freezing to death if they wear cotton clothing. The stark message comes from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, which has over 12,000 members. Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with the MCofS, advises that wearing cotton clothing can significantly increase the risk of developing hypothermia. When cotton clothing gets wet, whether through rain, snow-melt or perspiration, it provides no insulation and quickly cools the skin. Outdoor clothing manufacturers produce their garments from either man-made synthetic fabrics or wool, which ‘wick’ moisture away from the skin and retain warmth even when wet or damp. The onset of hypothermia usually has several causes, and inappropriate clothing is only one factor which may contribute to the problem. Eating adequate and appropriate food is also important. Click here to read the full article.

Lost Rabbie Burns manuscripts set for exhibition

Scotsman article published on Sunday 19th January 2014 Without them, we might never have truly understood our greatest poet. A new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland will showcase the Glenriddell Manuscripts, a rare collection of Robert Burns’s work written in his hand that was lost for more than 50 years. The display, which opens next week in time for Burns Night this Saturday, will celebrate the centenary of the two volumes, which include Tam o’ Shanter and Holy Willie’s Prayer, being repatriated to Scotland. Believed to be worth at least £3 million, the volumes have been ranked as the most important piece of “Burnsiana” in existence, and are rarely available to be shown to the public. Gerard Carruthers, co-director of the centre for Robert Burns studies, said: “They are certainly in the top two or three manuscript collections of Burns’ work. Arguably they are the most important and the most famous.” Click here to read the full article.

Scotland enjoys 8% rise in overseas visitors

Scotsman article published on Friday 17th January 2014 Scottish tourism chiefs have welcomed official statistics showing that the number of overseas visitors to Scotland is on the rise. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of overseas visitors who came to Scotland between January and September last year had increased by 7.9 per cent when compared with the same period in 2012. Over the same period, overseas spend rose to £1,380 million, up from £1,161m for the same period in 2012, a rise 18.8 per cent. The rise in foreign tourists was accompanied by a slight increase in the number of domestic visits, which went up by 1.3 per cent. Click here to read the full article.

Celtic Connections 2014: Benedetti makes debut

Scotsman article published on Friday 17th January 2014 Violinist Nicola Benedetti has kicked off the 21st Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow with her debut appearance at the event. The 26-year-old was the star attraction at the event as she unveiled a host of material from a new Scottish-themed album due for release later this year. She performed alongside Gaelic songstress Julie Fowlis and a host of other leading traditional musicians from Scotland and overseas at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Before performing, she admitted to the 2000-strong audience that she had a dose of stage fright beforehand. She said: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my entire life. I was standing backstage a minute ago saying ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” Click here to read the full article.

Mingary Castle secret passages discovered

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 15th January 2014 Secret passages that were sealed up around 500 years ago have been discovered during restoration work at a ruined castle on the most westerly point on the British mainland.  A room, which is high enough to stand up in, was also uncovered during an archaeological dig at Mingary Castle, near Kilchoan, Ardnamuchan. It is believed they were filled in to make the walls more robust following the invention of cannons. The 13th century castle has not been occupied for more than 150 years. But its owner, Donald Houston, has been granted permission to turn the ruin into a residential property, through the Mingary Preservation Trust, and work is now under way to restore it to its former glory at a cost of around £2 million. Click here to read the full article.

Alex Salmond opens salmon fishing season on Tay

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 15th January 2014 First Minister Alex Salmond today announced plans for a major  review of Scotland’s wild fisheries as he was given the honour of casting the first fly to open the  salmon fishing season on the River Tay. He revealed that he had commissioned Andrew Thin, the outgoing chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, to chair an independent review of the management of salmon and freshwater fisheries to ensure they are “robust, sustainable and fit for purpose in the 21st Century.” The aim of the review will be to manage, conserve and develop salmon fisheries on Scotland’s rivers and costal netting stations to maximise the sustainable benefit for  Scotland as a whole, particularly in boosting the economy of rural areas. The review will also be charged with developing and promoting a “modern, evidence-based management system” for wild fisheries, capable of responding to a changing environment. Click here to read the full article.

Celtic Connections 2014: The Highlights

Scotsman article published on Saturday 11th January 2014 What’s must-see at this year’s Celtic Connections? Jim Gilchrist chooses his highlights. OPENING CONCERT WITH NICOLA BENEDETTI & FRIENDS 16 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL Celtic Connections goes classical, at least so far as the presence of the Scottish virtuoso violinist is concerned. She’s joined in a new work by maestros from the traditional camp – fiddler Aly Bain, accordionist Phil Cunningham and Gaelic song ambassador Julie Fowlis. Click here to read the full article.

Storm raises chance of aurora borealis over Scotland

BBC article published on Thursday 9th January 2014

The chances of seeing the aurora borealis over Scotland during the next few nights are good, according to space weather forecasters. Activity on the Sun is expected to cause a geomagnetic storm, increasing the likelihood of the Northern Lights, the British Geological Survey said.

Stargazers have already seen the aurora from northern Scotland this week. Karen Munro was among amateur astronomers to see it over Caithness at about 23:30 on Tuesday. She and fellow members of Caithness Astronomy Group captured images of the “lights” from the Achavanich standing stones. BGS space weather forecasters said a fast coronal mass ejection (CME) was observed leaving the Sun on Tuesday. Click here to read the full article.

VisitScotland launches campaign for Homecoming Scotland 2014

BBC article published on Wednesday 8th January 2014

A new marketing campaign has been launched to encourage “local” interest in Homecoming Scotland 2014 events. It will be aimed at people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. VisitScotland is backing a £500,000 campaign, which includes TV advertising, press, radio, digital and promotional activity.

At its launch, VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said 2014 would be a “truly amazing year”. Revealing the television advert at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, tourism minister Fergus Ewing said the Homecoming events were a “huge opportunity”. He added: “We have already seen Lonely Planet name Scotland as one of the three top countries in the world to visit in 2014. CNN recently listed Edinburgh as a top ten city to visit this winter. Click here to read the full article.

New VisitScotland Homecoming advert launched

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 8th January 2014 Tourism chiefs have unveiled a £500,000 television advert to persuade Scots to holiday at home this summer which will spearhead the second “Homecoming” campaign.  The “Doorsteps” promotional video – the second Homecoming film to be released in the space of a week – is aimed at encouraging people to take in some of the 430 events which are being promoted through the campaign. It includes footage from the Wickerman music festival in Dumfriesshire, the Islay Festival of Malt and Music, the Edinburgh Fringe, Lochearnhead Highland Games, and the Return to the Ridings event in the Borders. It will be shown in Scotland during Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Midsomer Murders. The advert, created by Leith, one of Scotland’s leading agencies, is expected to be seen by around five million viewers by the end of January alone. It will be shown across Scotland, as well as in the north of England and Northern Ireland. Click here to read the full article.

Video: The natural beauty of Arthur’s Seat

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 8th January 2014 Arthur’s Seat, situated right at the heart of Edinburgh, is one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. It is the highest point of a group of hills that sprawl across Holyrood Park, standing at around 822 ft tall at its peak. It is easily accessible via numerous locations, though one of the hill’s most popular walkways is situated near Dunsapie Loch. Many hillwalkers also attempt the ascent via several pathways that face the Scottish Parliament. Arthur’s Seat’s decidedly benign slopes and cliff faces conceal a rather interesting past – one that starts about 350 million years ago. Like the rock that props up Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat was once an active volcano. Its more recent history has seen it forge connections with King Arthur, hence the name. A poem dating back to Iron Age settlers in the region refers to an ‘Athur’-like warrior. Arthur’s Seat has also featured heavily in literature throughout the ages – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jules Verne’s The Underground City being two of the most famous examples. Click here to read the full article.

Glasgow named one of world’s top tourist spots

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 8th January 2014 It is gearing up to host one of the world’s biggest sporting celebrations and one of the most high-profile events in the global music industry. Now Glasgow’s profile has been given a fresh boost after it was named one of the top tourism destinations on the planet in 2014. Experts at Rough Guides, one of the world’s leading travel publishers, have rated Glasgow alongside carnival capital Rio, which will help stage football’s World Cup extravaganza this summer, as a must-visit destination. The travel industry bible’s new cities guide also features culture capitals in Sweden, the Netherlands, Bosnia and France, as well as Liverpool, which was previously crowned European capital of culture in 2008. Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games this summer and the advent of the £125 million SSE Hydro arena, were both cited by Rough Guides as evidence of the city’s growing status as a “cultural powerhouse”. Click here to read the full article.

Battle over Culloden housing development plan

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 8th January 2014 A controversial housing development next to the historic Culloden battlefield has been given the go-ahead, prompting fury from campaigners fearing the effect on the site. The 16-home scheme, within 400 metres of the historic location, was rejected by Highland Council last year. But a Scottish Government reporter has upheld an appeal by the developers, Inverness Properties. The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which manages the battlefield and runs the visitor centre which attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe each year, fears the development will impact on the site, claiming it will damage the setting on Drumossie Moor and set back archaeological research. Culloden battlefield was the location of the last pitched battle fought on British soil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, and his Jacobite Army were defeated by government forces on 16 April 1746, ending his claim to the British throne – and claiming more than 2,000 lives. Click here to read the full article.

Fife’s The Big Tent music festival cancelled

Scotsman article published on Tuesday 7th January 2014 Scotland’s biggest eco-festival has been permanently shelved, organisers said yesterday. The Big Tent Festival was Fife’s largest festival, eventually drawing more than 11,000 people to the Falkland estate after being launched in 2006. But this year’s event has been cancelled and it will not return in the foreseeable future. Organisers said it had become increasingly difficult to stage the event – billed as “Scotland’s greenest festival” – and raise enough funding, due to its scale and popularity. The Proclaimers, Rosanne Cash, King Creosote and Aberfeldy were among acts to appear at the event, usually staged the last weekend in July. But the event had been postponed while a major review was carried out, with organisers admitting they had “almost become victims of our own  success”. Click here to read the full article.

14 Places to walk in Edinburgh in 2014

Published by Edinburgh Spotlight on Tuesday 7th January 2014 Suggestions of places to go for a walk in Edinburgh during 2014 on Edinburgh Spotlight’s website.

Dates for Edinburgh’s 2014 Festivals

Published by Edinburgh Spotlight on Monday 6th January 2014 Dates for Edinburgh’s 2014 Festivals can be found on Edinburgh Spotlight’s website.

Top 10 Cities

Published by Rough Guides on Monday 6th January 2014 Glasgow is named as a Top 10 city to visit in 2014 by Rough Guides.

Lost Edinburgh: The City Walls

Scotsman article published on Monday 6th January 2014 Until the 18th century, the boundary of Edinburgh was defined by the city walls. It is believed that Edinburgh has been protected by walled defences since the city was founded, but evidence suggests the town’s first proper defensive wall was constructed during the late middle ages. It was known as the King’s Wall and enclosed a small portion of the current city centre, running east from the Castle rock above the Grassmarket towards roughly where Blackfriars Street is today. The King’s Wall, the natural fortifications of the Castle Rock and the Nor’ Loch – an artificial body of water to the north of the town, ensured that Edinburgh was well protected from the threat of invasion on a number of occasions. Remnants of the King’s Wall are thought to stand today in Tweeddale Court between the High Street and the Cowgate. Click here to read the full article.

Shallow grave bones linked to Burke and Hare

Scotsman article published on Monday 6th January 2014 Bodies found buried in a shallow grave behind an upmarket townhouse are believed to be among the final victims of the callous body snatchers made infamous by Burke and Hare. Five skeletons found in an Edinburgh garden have been dated directly to the period in which the theft and sale of cadavers was rife, Scotland on Sunday has learned. Experts have said the four adults and one child may well have been victims of the “resurrectionists” who plied their trade in selling recently dead bodies to medical schools. The discovery by construction workers was made in September 2012 in a garden to the rear of a large townhouse on Grove Street in the Haymarket area of the capital, which was undergoing renovation. Click here to read the full article. A further article published in the Daily Mail on Monday 6th January 2014 can be found here.

Great Scott! Celebrating 200 years of Sir Walter Scott

STV article published on Sunday 5th January 2014 His name is immortalised in stone as well as paper, yet how many of us have actually read Sir Walter Scott? He is the only author in Britain to have a railway station named after him and his writing became a leap-point for Scottish tourism as we know it. His descriptions of Scotland as a romanticised land, filled with sweeping misted hills and flame-haired folk brought tourists in their droves. So why is it that this famous Scottish author, whose books have sold in their millions across the globe, now appears to be consigned to dusty shelves? “I think, like many people, I thought that Scott’s books were a bit dusty, a bit old and probably a bit too heavy to be enjoyable,” said historian Eleanor Harris. “But I started reading a few of his books and now I know why they took the world by storm. It has been 200 years since Walter Scott wrote his first book and he deserves to be given another chance.” Eleanor, 35, is now on a mission to get more Scots reading the works of this great novelist, starting with the very first book Scott wrote – Waverley. Click here to read the full article.

Scotland eyes £100m prize as host of Ryder Cup

Scotsman article published on Saturday 4th January 2014 Times have changed since the event was last here, says Martin Dempster. When the Ryder Cup was last staged in Scotland – at Muirfield in 1973 – it was only really big in terms of the players taking part. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper and Lee Trevino were in the winning United States line-up, while the Great Britain & Ireland team included Tony Jacklin and Scots Bernard Gallacher and Brian Barnes. There were no big crowds lining the fairways of the East Lothian links. No giant merchandise tent with its tills ringing merrily. Media interest was minimal. The contest carried bragging rights, which belonged almost exclusively to the Americans, but not much else. Times have changed. The modern Ryder Cup is a different animal as the Home of Golf will discover when the 2014 match is staged on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles from 26-28 September. Click here to read the full article.

John Napier to tax modern minds 400 years on

Scotsman article published on Friday 3rd January 2014 He is regarded as one of Scotland’s greatest ever scientists – a brilliant mathematician, physicist and astronomer credited with inventing logarithms, the decimal point and one of the first mechanical calculators. Now the first major exhibition to be dedicated to John Napier will reveal the full story behind the enigmatic figure, widely seen as the first Scot to have made a major contribution to scientific learning. It will explore his upbringing as a member of the nobility in Scotland’s capital, his dropping-out from full-time education and teenage travels around Europe, as well as his deep interest in religion and reputed secret dabblings in alchemy and the occult. The National Museum of  Scotland in Edinburgh has revealed plans to celebrate the life and legacy of the “Laird of Merchiston” to celebrate a landmark anniversary of a ground breaking work which paved the way for a host of developments in mathematics, science and engineering. Click here to read the full article.

Transport team set up for Scottish events in 2014

Scotsman article published on Wednesday 1st January 2014 Scotland faces its biggest ever transport challenge this year with six major events that are expected to collectively attract more than a million spectators. A special Scottish Government team has been formed to mastermind travel for the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Armed Forces Day, and anniversaries for the Battle of Bannockburn, First World War and Forth Road Bridge. With control of transport largely devolved to Scotland, ministers will be anxious to avoid any significant problems in the run-up to the independence referendum on 18 September – a month after the Games. They want to ensure the country’s transport system “makes a full contribution to the success of each event and enhances our nation’s worldwide reputation”. Plans include minimising roadworks and making the Games “car-free”. The sporting extravaganza in Glasgow from 23 July will involve up to 600,000 extra journeys a day as 100,000 spectators travel between venues. Nearly half will be travelling to Scotland for the Games, staying as far afield as Ayrshire, Loch Lomond and Edinburgh. Click here to read the full article. For tourism related news in 2013 see Latest Tourism Related News – 2013 FacebookFollow us on TwitterTripAdvisor

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