Visitor figures fall for top tourist attractions

Visitor figures for the UK’s top tourist attractions have been published today . Edinburgh Castle had over one million visitors in 2008 , although the total for the year represents a drop of 8% . The Falkirk Wheel weighed in with 500,829 visitors , 2.5% less than 2007 . Kelvingrove Art Gallery is Scotland’s top tourist attraction, despite a huge 35% fall in visitors last year.

The museum  was the leading attraction in Scotland with 1,445,098 visits last year,and the 13th most visited site in the UK.

However, the fall in visitors has been the pattern experienced by most of the leading tourist attractions.

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow  all fell from 2007.

The figures were released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) who maintain that new research of their membership showed that most expected to maintain or increase their visitor figures this year.

The National Museum of Scotland last year closed part of its premises for refurbishment, which may accounts for part of its 27% fall, to 614,894 visitors.

10 most popular attractions in Scotland

1 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow: 1,445,098 visitors, change from 2007 (-35.3%)
2 Edinburgh Castle: 1,128,394 (-8%)
3 National Gallery complex in Edinburgh: 842,958 (-10.3%)
4 National Museum of Scotland: 614,894 (-27%)
5 Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow: 562,595 (-18.8%)
6 The Falkirk Wheel: 500,829 (-2.5%)
7 National War Museum in Edinburgh: 474,133 (+1%)
8 Museum of Transport, Glasgow: 456,324 (-14.8%)
9 Stirling Castle: 403,778 (-8%)
10 Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness: 270, 097 (-3%)

Getting to the Falkirk Wheel is fairly easy by taxi or bus. There is a bus service from the centre  of Falkirk . Airport transfers can take visitors from Edinburgh Airport or Falkirk by taxi to the Wheel

Ben Lomond pictures – HD video of Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is beautiful at this time of year . At the moment Ben Lomond is covered in snow and barely visible . I shot this video in HD yesterday . The video will be available as a mobile download . Loch Lomond National Park is the fourth largest national park in the British Isles, with a total area of 1,865 km² (720 mi²) and a boundary that is 350 km (220 miles) long. It includes 21 Munros (including Ben Lomond, Ben Lui, Beinn Challuim, Ben More and two peaks called Ben Vorlich), 20 Corbetts, two forest parks and 57 designated special nature conservation sites.

Starting from Balloch in the lowlands, this loch starts from remote lowland landscape, to mountainous, remote Highland landscape. Ben Lomond dominates the loch, at 3,191 ft (973 m). The West Highland Way starting from Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire goes up the eastern side of the loch all the way to Fort William. Green wooded islands stud the loch as the opening ones are the Highland Boundary Fault Line, where the Highlands meet the lowlands, that goes through Conic Hill near Balmaha. Luss and Tarbet (Loch Lomond) are two pleasure ride communities in Argyll.

The loch is the largest stretch of water in the UK. The loch is part of the Loch Lomond National Park

Edinburgh Castle gets its one millionth visitor

Historic Scotland’s flagship attraction Edinburgh Castle is celebrating after welcoming its one millionth visitor through the door this year. No , they haven’t had one million visitors since January 1 . This is their financial year which ends in March .

Edinburgh Castle attracts 1.2 million visitors per year and despite the credit crunch the castle continues to attract visitors from around the world.

A £2.7 million visitor reception project was completed last year to improve visitor services and ensure visitors continue to enjoy world class service at this attraction.

Edinburgh Castle now has its own dedicated website.New markets have also been opening up – reflected by the recent introduction of souvenir guide books to the castle in Russian and Chinese.The one millionth visitors to the castle were couple, Britta Springstrow and Rene Woffeh from Germany.

Britta said they were delighted to be chosen, adding: “Edinburgh is such a beautiful place and the castle is stunning. It was really exciting to be chosen as the millionth visitor today as we were certainly not expecting it.”

Barbara Smith, Executive Manager at Edinburgh Castle, said: “The arrival of the millionth visitor is always a milestone. This year, it is particularly pleasing in the economic climate.

“The combination of iconic status, memorable image, unique treasures and a world class welcome make this a truly must-see attraction.”

There is still time to catch the special off-peak seasonal admission charges at the castle until the 28 February 2009 with adult tickets under £10.

 

The castle’s top 10 highlights

are:

1. The Crown Room and the Stone of Destiny – where the nations treasures are kept.

2. The Great Hall – which holds a fabulous display of arms and armour and the ‘key’ to the

Castle.

3. Royal Palace – rooms created in 1617 in honour of James VI.

4. St Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest building in Edinburgh, built to commemorate the mother

of David 1.

5. The Prisons of War – an atmospheric recreation of the life of prisoners at the end of the

18th Century.

6. Mons Meg – one of Europe’s oldest siege guns that fired stones weighing 150kg over

3.2k

7. The One O’Clock Gun – the famous time signal has been fired almost daily since 1861.

8. The Scottish National War Memorial – shrine to those who gave their lives in conflicts from World War 1 onwards.

9. A castle wedding . Wedding receptions can now be held in the castle

10. Panoramic views – across the capital, over the Firth of Forth and into Fife, which can be enjoyed from the castle’s walls.

Snow falls in Scotland as winter sets in

A severe weather warning has been issued for eastern parts of Scotland as heavy snow moves across the country. Snow has been falling today , mainly in short showers just enough to disrupt traffic . There was traffic chaos in Falkirk as a 2 mile tailback developed from Laurieston to Brightons . The Met Office said that eastern Scotland, especially the Borders, Angus and Aberdeenshire would have up to 15cm (6in) of snow.Driving conditions in these areas will be hazardous on Tuesday morning. However snow should be confined to higher ground and conditions would ease later.

The west of Scotland should escape the worst of the icy blast, with snow probably turning to sleet and snow.

Scottish Borders Council said that all 74 schools in the region would be closed on Tuesday as a precaution. Snow falls in Scotland did not cause the disruption seen in London and the south of England on Monday. snow pictures

The picture is of Buachaille Etive Mor 43 , 19 by 13 inch giclee print . Paper size 19 by 13 inches , image size 16 by 12 inches. Photograph by David Rankin. Printed on Velvet Fine art paper , 100% cotton rag

Scottish castles crumble under pressure of credit crunch

The National Trust for Scotland has revealed that it made a deficit of £3 million . It runs a number of well-known castles in Scotland including Culzean Castle and Falkland Palace . Culzean Castle is the Trust’s flagship property with over 200,000 vistors a year . The castle features top quality accommodation for a small number of visitors . The deficit means that the Trust is considering closing 12 of its 128 properties in Scotland . It is also looking at selling its headquarters building in Edinburgh’s New Town . Brodick Castle on Arran is not breaking even due to a slump in visitor numbers . Crathes castle in Aberdeenshire is also struggling .

Olympic team design new Forth crossing

The Forth replacement crossing will be designed by the company responsible for the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium at the Beijing Olympics 2008. Engineering firm Arup was also responsible for the world’s second longest spanning cable-stayed bridge, Stonecutter’s Bridge in Hong Kong.

Jacob was responsible for the design of the recently opened Clackmannanshire Bridge. Drivers using this bridge have complained about the lack of lights on the bridge at night .Public exhibitions for the Forth crossing are starting soon .
The Scottish government are meeting Treasury officials this month to try to work out the best way to finance this multi-million pound project . Transport Scotland is taking the Forth crossing exhibition to the public in exhibitions in 12 different venues .
Transport Scotland engineers and consultants from Jacobs Arup will be there to explain the work undertaken during 2008 to develop the strategy for the new crossing over the Forth .
The Forth Replacement Crossing strategy includes using the existing Forth Road Bridge for public transport vehicles only
The next step in the project is a Parliamentary Bill to be introduced towards the end of 2009.
John Howison, Forth crossing interim project director, said: “This is an exciting project and we and our world class consultants are delighted to be working on it to produce a lasting visual landmark for the Forth.”

“We have warmly welcomed the proposed ‘mono-tower’ design for the new bridge.”
The new bridge design is expected to have the longest central spans in the world for a multi-span cable-stayed bridge.
It will also be the only long span cable-stay bridge in the world to have central crossed cables. These provide enhanced stiffness to the bridge structure, minimising the size of the central tower and creating a slim, elegant appearance. The cables will run along the centre of the bridge.

Melville Castle Hotel redevelopment plans

A Scottish castle hotel is beating the credit crunch with news of a major expansion
Hotel owner Steven McLeod has bought Melville Castle Hotel near Edinburgh and intends to develop it into a five-star spa and event facility.

Melville Castle Hotel is due to open in March after a comprehensive refurbishment with an extra 50 staff .
However, the redevelopment doesn’t stop there and there are plans for a further 120 bedrooms, a luxury spa, a steakhouse, fine dining restaurant and meeting and event facilities for more than 500 guests.

The 33-year-old is in talks with Historic Scotland with the aim of submitting plans for the new venue within the next 18 months. The hotel is set in a 60-acre estate on the banks of the North Esk river.
The new development will create 1500 construction jobs .

Mr McLeod said: “We are facing difficult economic times but it is at times like these we have to stick together.” Guide to best hotels in Scotland

Burns Night at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling and Urquhart Castle

Burns Night is the 25th of January and Historic Scotland have announced details of a unique opportunity to celebrate Burns’ work at Edinburgh Castle.
 Burns fans can celebrate online with free Burns Night ecards .At Edinburgh Castle the Queen Anne and Redcoat cafes will be offering delightful locally-sourced haggis, neeps and tatties. Visitors will also be treated to free haggis tasters.

Stirling Castle will be providing a three-course menu of soup, haggis and desert. And between 11.00am and 1.00pm visitors will have the chance to taste free haggis bites. Copies of some of Burns’ best loved poems: Tam O’Shanter, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose and To A Mouse will also be on display around the café for visitors to enjoy.
Urquhart Castle will be offering a traditional Burns supper in addition to its normal menu. Visitors will also have the chance to sample a free tipple of Benromach whisky.

All three castles will be serving the Burns supper menu on 24 and 25 January. Edinburgh Castle will be serving from 11.00am to 3.00pm, Stirling Castle from 12.00pm to 2.30pm, Urquhart Castle from 9.30am to 4.00pm.
Historic Scotland is a government agency which looks after 345 outstanding historic properties throughout the country. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

Stirling Castle unveils new tapestry

A magnificent tapestry telling a mystical medieval tale is to be unveiled at Stirling Castle. Entitled The Unicorn is Found, it is the largest of a series of seven tapestries being hand woven for the castle and measures 11 foot high by 12 foot wide.

The tapestries project, worth £2 million and due for completion in 2013, involves the creation of new versions of a surviving medieval set belonging to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Much of the funding comes from the Quinque Foundation in the USA.

Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland head of major projects, said: “The unveiling of the new tapestry will be a landmark moment as it means we have past the half-way point in this remarkable project.

“It is the largest of the tapestries being woven and has taken years of work to complete.

“We are proud to be helping keep alive these ancient weaving skills and to be creating new versions of one of the world’s greatest surviving sets of medieval tapestries.

“It is known that a similar set of tapestries once graced the walls of the royal palace at Stirling Castle.

“This is a quite remarkable project because it allows the public to see what these kind of tapestries looked like when they were knew and we are very grateful to the Quinque Foundation for its tremendous support.”

The tapestries will eventually go on permanent display inside the castle’s royal palace which is currently being returned to how it might have looked in the mid-16th century.

Each of the first three completed tapestries measure 3.3 metres by up to 3.8 metres and the public can photograph these tapestries in the Chapel Royal. Highlights of the detail and quality weaving by the West Dean Tapestry Studio and the Stirling Castle Tapestry Studio on these three Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries

Speaking about The Unicorn is Found tapestry arriving at Stirling Castle, Stirling Castle manager,
Gillian MacDonald, said “It is truly magnificent, measuring 11 feet high, and is part of a £2 million project to recreate a series of tapestries like those which hung at the castle when it was a favourite residence of Scotland’s Renaissance kings and queens”.
Free Viewing Of The Unicorn Is Found Tapestry at Stirling Castle