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

Top ten Scottish castles ecards

Scotland has hundreds of castles old and new ,  some in ruins , some refurbished and inhabited  . I have compiled a list of my top ten castles , now available as free ecards . I have been taking pictures of castles for over 10 years and each one offers a unique challenge .  I have published a new set of castle wallpapers which can be downloaded to your mobile . These castles  are in no particular order

1 Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan is an old favourite . It in a spectacular setting in the middle of 3 lochs and surrounded by mountains . Eilean Donan Castle is one
of the most photographed castles in Scotland , if not the
world . It is on a small island in the middle of 3 lochs .
On a clear day you can see the Isle of Skye in the distance
. The original castle was built in 1220 . It was destroyed
by 3 English frigates in the 18th century and totally
rebuilt in the 1920s by the Macraes . Send a free Eilean Donan Castle ecard

2 Stirling Castle
Stirling is on a rocky crag overlooking the town with great views to the Wallace Monument and Ben Lomond  . Stirling was a vital crossing point during the Wars of Independence . William Wallace , Braveheart , won the battle of Stirling Bridge at the foot of the castle.
Send a free Stirlng Castle ecard

3 Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle is perched on a spectacular rocky crag on the east coast of Scotland 4 miles from Stonehaven . In olden days the castle was impregnable because of the sheer cliffs on each side . Send a free Dunnotar Castle ecard

4 Urquhart Castle
Urquhart is on the shore of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland . The Grant Tower is the only part of the castle which is not completely in ruins . If you’re lucky you might see the Loch Ness monster as she swims up the loch for a snack around lunch time . Send a free Urquhart Castle ecard

5 Linlithgow Palace
Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots . The fountain has been totally refurbished

6 Blackness Castle
Blackness Castle is long and narrow because of the shape of the rock on which it is situated and it is sometimes called ‘ the ship that never sailed ‘ . It guards the bay at Blackness and is only a few miles from Linlithgow Palace . Send a freeBlackness Castle ecard

7 Blair Castle
Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl and his own private army

8 Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfriess is an unusual triangular shape

9 Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell is high on the hillside near Dollar and it has spectacular views over the Forth Valley

10 Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle dominates the Edinburgh city skyline with views over the
whole of the city . The one o’clock gun is fired every day
to wake up sleepy tourists
Send a free Edinburgh Castle ecard

free Scottish Christmas cards

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