Back at Dublin Airport we flew Ryan Air again, this time to Glasgow with just our carry-on bags. The four tickets cost us a total of €248.75/$424.41 NZD and the one hour flight was two hours late departing this time. Once in Glasgow we took the Glasgow Airport Express, Service 500 into the city. We purchased our tickets via the First Bus app (they are slightly cheaper this way, rather than purchasing them on the bus) and tickets cost us a total of £16/$29.85 NZD. This was a fantastic service, it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except Christmas Day) and the bus was very comfortable with lots of room for luggage, had USB charging ports and free 4G Wi-Fi. We travelled almost to the end of the route into the city, got off at the Dundas Street stop and then walked to our hotel, Holiday Inn Express Glasgow City Centre Riverside (read our review here). The following morning we walked to the Queen Street Train Station and took a train just a few stops to Croy, these one-way tickets cost us £13.20/$24.63 NZD.
Still on the British Pounds and we had no problem getting to grips with Scotland. A lovely family we had connected with on Instagram (@scottishfamilytravelling) had offered us their home for a few nights as they were to be away on a short holiday while we were going to be in Glasgow. It was a shame they weren’t there during our stay as we would have liked to have spent more time with them but we did manage to catch up for a couple of hours before they left. We were so humbled by their generous hospitality, thank you so much Cheryl, Joe, Tyler, Carys and Mason.
- Broadwood Loch – We had pretty constant showers during our first few days so we just explored the local area of Cumbernauld where we were staying and this lake was super close and lovely to walk around and the boys found a playgound as well.
- Glasgow Street Art – We headed back into the city by train to explore while searching for street art. We find this a fun activity when exploring a new city, it keeps us entertained while walking and sometimes you end up off the beaten track a little. We usually just Google to find street art maps or locations and use it as a bit of a guide while we wander, sometimes you find them, sometimes you don’t and sometimes you find new ones.
- Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail 2019 – This was Scotland’s first ever national public art trail, it’s aim was to unite the country as it raised awareness and vital funds for Scotland’s children’s hospital charities. It ran for 11 weeks from 17th June – 30th August 2019 and saw these colourful sculptures dotted around a few Scottish cities, we also saw a few in Edinburgh. We had never heard of this character but found out he appeared in the Sunday Post for over 80 years ago and has become a much loved part of Scottish Heritage. After the event was finished the sculptures were auctioned to raise money for the project’s respective charities.
From the Croy Train Station we took a quick 30 minute train trip to Edinburgh with the total cost being £25/$46.65 NZD. We love train travel and this was a very comfortable trip. From the Haymarket Station it was an easy 800m walk to our Airbnb apartment (read our review here). During our stay in Edinburgh we hired a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car so we could easily get to a couple of places a little further afield from the city. The 24 hour rental cost us £37.07/$69.17 NZD and we collected and returned the car from Edinburgh Airport with ease.
- The Kelpies – These are two incredible 30 metre high steel horse head sculptures located near Falkirk, about 40 kms from Edinburgh. The name reflects the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses. The Kelpies are situated in Helix Park and the website has good information, including parking locations and costs at different times of the year. We managed to find a space in a free car park just before Helix Park and walked in to see the Kelpies. The visitor’s centre had a few activities for the kids and information about about them. You can of course pay to take a tour and visit inside the horse sculptures but this wasn’t something we did. The Falkirk Wheel is also in this area but no one in the family seemed overly interested to visit it, so we continued on.
- Castle Campbell – My Mum’s maiden name is Campbell so we decided to visit Castle Campbell near the small village of Dollar. This was a 30 km drive from The Kelpies and about 56 kms back to Edinburgh. It was interesting to learn more about Clan Campbell, historically one of the largest and most powerful of the Highland clans. The tower house was built back in the 1400’s and is one of Scotland’s best preserved. We explored the remains while the boys did an activity sheet provided at the ticket office. Our total cost was £19.10/$35.64 NZD which is probably a bit expensive for what you see but it is a historic place so the money should be going to the up-keep of the property. Our picnic in the garden was rained out but they did have an indoor seating area where we finished up.
- Arthur’s Seat – Back in Edinburgh we did a short, sharp climb up Arthur’s Seat. This is an extinct volcano which is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park, and at 250m in height it gave us stunning 360° views of Edinburgh. Queen’s Drive is a one way road that loops the bottom of Holyrood Park and there are lots of places to park along the way and you can see the track marks from many climbers before that will take you up to the peak.
- Gorgie City Farm – The boys and I discovered this little farm while out walking in our neighbour (Logan was glued to the Cricket World Cup final, which didn’t turn out the best…). Such a great concept, it was free entry and we had a good look around at the different animals. It looks like they run a few different activities during the day but none of the times coincided with our visit. You can also pay £5 for a closer encounter with some of the smaller animals in their ‘cuddle corner. A huge ceramic cow accepted donations and there were also fresh vegetables and eggs you could purchase.
We really enjoyed Scotland and only had time for a wee taste of this interesting country, could have easily stayed for longer and explored further but it was time to head back to London and then the European mainland.Average Daily Spend for 8 nights – $146.16 NZD ($83.84 under budget per day).