architecture buildings

A Family Holiday in Scotland – Part 5 New Lanark

On one day during our week’s hoiday in the Scottish Borders, we spent time exploring the heritage site at New Lanark, a once busy place in a steeply sided valley, being reborn with a new identity. It is still a living and working village.

From the carpark we had to walk down a steep but winding path to get down to the site as it was designed and built all around the River Clyde. The view from the top though was so amazing, I just had to get down there, albeit it rather slowly.

Once down in the valley bottom the sheer immensity and solidity of the old mill buildings became apparent. In its heighday it must have been noisy, busy and unpleasant so seeing it now all cleaned up is rather strange. It is good however to see it being reborn. There is a real sense of pride here.

In its former life it was a group of 4 mills and their support buildings, homes for the employees and even “The Institute” formed by Robert Owen in 1816. All the buildings are built of a beautiful pale local sandstone and local slate for the roofs. They look so sturdy! They have now all been cleaned up and given a new lease of life, a new sense of purpose. The river that runs through the valley providing water for the factories is now a nature reserve. The whole site is home for many but also a massive tourist attraction.

On top of Mill 2 is a discovery waiting for all visitors to find, but you have to be pretty stubborn to get there, as the signage is not good at all. It is even hard to find where to start the ascent!

It is a roof garden featuring strong design in the hard surfaces and a collection of sculptures.


Inside the old mills are a few signs of their busy past, now silent.

We loved the sight of this inspiring sign, with words of Robert Owen, a philanthropic social reformer who aimed to make the lives of mill workers and their families more bearable.

allotments garden design garden photography gardens gardens open to the public kitchen gardens Land Art landscapes sculpture

A family holiday to Scotland – Part 3- Little Sparta

For a long time we have wanted to visit the garden at Little Sparta near Glasgow, so when holidaying nearby we just had to pay it a visit. Often places you have waited for with high expectations turn out to be less than you hope for but Little Sparta proved to be more than expected. Jude and I visited with our son and daughter-in-law, Jamie and Sam and our granddaughter Arabella, a twenty-month old garden and nature lover.

Little Sparta is the garden created by artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006).  It was started 50 years ago, created from the natural landscape and is described in the leaflet given to garden visitors as “a beautiful and shaded place, with trees, flower beds, running streams, bridges, ponds and paths, which lead you past more than 200 artworks many of them carved with inscriptions that will take you into the world of classical Greece and Rome, poetry and philosophy, but also the French Revolution, naval ships, armed conflict and weapons of war.”

So we arrived with expectations of surprises and originality.

We parked in the tiny carpark and followed a rough gravel track for almost half a mile up the slope to the garden entrance. We can’t remember visiting many gardens without vehicle access at least reasonably close. The walk up took us through beautiful Scottish farmland complete with sheep and cattle.


The gateway presented a warm welcome but was somewhat of a trick as it was not the actual entrance to the garden which was a short distance along the stone wall.


With every turn of a path new and very varied vistas presented themselves, close tight places and larger open landscapes.


Surprises in the form of stone sculptures and stone calligraphy add to the delight of this garden and help us understand its designer.


A real surprise was a fruit and veg patch which had the feel of a true old-fashioned allotment.





A Family Holiday in Scotland – Part 2 – strolling down the glen

Part 2 of this little series concerning our family holiday in the Scottish Borders, explores a gentle stroll down a beautiful Scottish glen. But first let’s share with you our lovely holiday cottage, a Scottish longbarn conversion, and its amazing grounds.

If the weather is sunny and there are any plants in the garden Arabella loves watering them, but usually has to water her feet first.


Come for us now for a wander around the cottage’s grounds and up its driveway, full of wildflowers, scented plants and mature native trees.


Whenever we went out for the day we began by driving down that lovely driveway which was a great way to start the day. Early on in our week Jude and I with son Jamie, daughter-in-law Sam and 18 month old granddaughter Arabella took off to visit a local glen.

So, come with us on our little walk, a slow walk at Arabella pace.


We were amazed by how many wildflowers we spotted in both quantity and numbers of different ones. Wildlife seemed to really appraciate these plants.

I think the best way to share our walk with you is via a gallery of my photographs, so please click on the first picture and then navigate using the right arrow. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoyed visiting our holiday cottage and its grounds and sharing our walk in the beautiful glen.


A family holiday in Scotland – Part 1 – Pooh Sticks in the park

Back in the summer of 2018 we spent a family holiday up in the Scottish Borders. Jude and I with our children and their spouses, Jamie and Sam, Jo and Rob and our granddaughter Arabella stayed in a beautifully converted Scottish longbarn. So here is a series of posts all about a super week.

“Pooh Sticks” is becoming a bit of a family tradition and a favourite activity wherever a stream and bridge can be found. Such an opportunity was presented to us at the beginning of our family holiday in Scotland.

A beautiful little clear stream made its way through the public park, which was at the centre of Biggar village, close to our family holiday home. This was just what we needed for our Pooh Sticks challenge fun. We have taken part in the World Pooh Sticks Championships in the past which was great fun but somewhat marred by some entrants who took it far too seriously, so we decided a family version would be far more leisurely and enjoyable.

We prepared about colourd 50 sticks (a very time consuming job!) and cut them to length. The whole group then did a serious check of the stream and bridge.


We were then ready for the off! Two at a time we each skillfully dropped a stick into the stream. Little Arabella soon grasped the rules and won a few rounds.  As we slowly worked our way through many heats contestants got knocked out and our numbers reduced until the grand final when just two contestants were left. Tensions ran high!


After we crowned Vicky the champion we celebrated with a picnic at the huge table just a few yards from the stream and its bridge. Arabella always loves a picnic and was ready and waiting even before Graham arrived with the picnic from the car.


After a picnic break and a quick game of family football with Arabella’s little plastic colourful ball it was time to explore and enjoy the playground, swings first, with Arabella calling out “Higher! Higher!”



Followed by the crows’ nest.


We spent hours in the park that day and really enjoyed family time. It was to prove a great start to a great holiday. See part 2 for the next adventure.