Category: Scotland

Newport-On-Tay 

On the way home from St Andrews we stopped in Newport-On-Tay and although it is a small town and we didn’t stay long, I still enjoyed walking along the Firth of Tay and the great view over the Tay Road Bridge and Dundee.

St Andrews road trip on YouTube

St Andrews

In October 2019 there was a photography festival in St Andrews and since I’m a photographer, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to finally visit this town, which is well-known for its university. We only spent a day there and had a stroll around the town centre and along the pier. First, however, we went into the Holy Trinity Church, where the Protestant reformer John Know held his famous ‘Cleansing of the Temple’ sermon on the 4th of June 1559, which led to the ransacking of St Andrews Cathedral. There is also a castle, where Protestant reformers set up the first Protestant congregation in Scotland in the 1540s, among them John Knox as their religious leader. After being besieged by the Scottish and French army, they eventually had to give up and were exiled and punished. John Knox, however, managed to return to Scotland to finish his reformative task many years later. Overall, St Andrews has a great atmosphere and architecture, which reminds me a little of Edinburgh. 

St Andrews road trip on YouTube

We went on a road trip to St Andrews in October to visit a photography festival, but mostly ended up doing sightseeing. What do you think of my ‘St Andrews theme’?

St Andrews Cathedral

Built in 1158, the cathedral became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church and seat of the Archdiocese and Archbishop. At a length of 119 meters (390 ft), the ruins suggest that this was the largest church built in Scotland. So what happened to this once magnificent church? On the 4th of June 1559, the preacher John Knox, the central figure of the Scottish Protestant Reformation, held a sermon in the nearby Church of the Holy Trinity, which incited a riotous mob to march on the cathedral and strip its insides of its wealth. As a result of the Reformation, Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th Century and the church fell into disuse. People would carry off the stones to re-use for new houses and the cathedral quickly turned into a ruin. It is now under the care of Historic Environment Scotland, but most of it can be seen for free. 

St Andrews road trip on YouTube

Shetland September 2019 

These are some general impressions and a few of my highlights of my Shetland holiday, which I enjoyed very much. 

Shetland footage here. 

Unst, Shetland, a paradise for archaeologists

In the South of Unst we visited the Bordastubble Standing Stone, which was very close to the Underhoull Broch and Viking Longhouse. There are even more sites in the area which we didn’t get to see due to having to catch the ferry back. 

St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland

This island can be reached via a ‘tombolo’, which forms this interesting X-shape. (A ‘tombolo’ is a strip of land, often created through deposited material over time, which attaches an island to the mainland, creating a ‘tied island’.) There you find the remains of a 12th Century chapel, dedicated to St Ninian. On the 4th of July 1958 a local schoolboy by the name of Douglas Coutts discovered treasure under a slab marked with a cross on the chapel site. It turned out to be 28 pieces of Pictish silver artefacts, many of them jewellery, and the jawbone of a porpoise. This treasure was likely hidden during a Viking raid around 800 AD. The original items can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland.  

Video footage here. 

Northmavine Peninsula coastline, Shetland

After going up Ronas Hill we wanted to explore some more of the area that we could see from the top of the hill. The day was ending and we were quite tired, so we only saw a glimpse of the rock formations and sea stacks, but what we saw was very impressive, especially bathed in the light of the setting sun. The stretch between Hillswick and Tangwick is particularly beautiful, which is what you see in the first four pictures, including the peculiar pointy rocks known as ‘The Drongs’ (4th photo, also visible from the top of Ronas Hill). Then we drove over to the Eshaness area and stopped at Tangwick to watch the seals relax among the rocky shore. 

Shetland Day 5 

Our whole Shetland trip in a playlist

Ronas Hill, Shetland

This is Shetland’s highest hill. At only 450 m (1,480 ft) it doesn’t seem like much, but it turned out to be a long, challenging walk. Not only is the climate here perfect for Arctic plants, the wind was also howling like there was no tomorrow. It felt like walking on the moon in this barren landscape. There is a Neolithic chambered cairn on top of Ronas Hill, which can be entered. It actually gives some good shelter from the wind. You could probably spend the night in there if you really needed to. We got a good view across the Northmavine Peninsula, although the low sun was creating a hazy effect. Just as the rest of Shetland the landscape here is beautifully rugged with a special character. 

Shetland Day 5

My whole Shetland adventure is up on Youtube. 

On Day 5 we visit the Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick and then go hillwalking to the top of  Shetland’s highest hill, Ronas Hill. Lots of museum footage for those who like history. Enjoy!