Tyninghame Beach, East Lothian

Daz at Tyninghame Beach looking towards Bass Rock

Since we've moved to Scotland people seem to be obsessed with asking how awful the weather is "all the way up there"; let this blog post where I fangirl about Tyninghame Beach serve as proof that the weather is glorious in November. And no, we have not had snow, and I haven't seen any White Walkers yet. 

East Lothian is an absolute gem. I think there's so much going on in Edinburgh and with the draw of the Highlands that East Lothian gets overlooked so often. To be honest, I'm guilty of that myself. I remember being like, "what's in East Lothian?" Beautiful beaches that's what, past me, beautiful beaches. If you're visiting Edinburgh and can get around, I definitely recommend paying a visit to some of the wonderful beaches (and golf courses right next to them if that's your jam) dotted around East Lothian's coast. 

We discovered Tyninghame a few weeks ago when I spotted the St. Baldred's Cradle & Ravensheugh Sands hike on Walk Highlands (awesome website, btw). If my photos are not enough to convince you that this place is stunning, click that little link there. Go on, I'll wait...

...Doesn't it just look divine and a little exotic? As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of Tofino, so I showed Daz and we headed off. 

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Tyninghame woodland

The trail starts off in woodland and all of a sudden you find yourself on the beach. It's a strange feeling to pop out of a wood onto a windswept beach - and I think that's why it reminded me of Tofino so much. From there, you follow the trail through trees and some bizarre-looking anti-tank concrete blocks that have just been left there.

You keep going over headlands, watching the waves swell and crash into the shoreline (and inevitably watch the occasional fool risk serious injury to get a 'good photo'), and then you end up on this huge, stretch of golden sand, rocks, and pebbles overlooking Bass Rock.

It's the kind of beach you could probably spend all day playing on as a kid and never get bored. Keep an eye out for the tide times though; at high tide, you can't walk the entire beach and the fun rockpools are covered up. But even if you do end up there at high tide, it's stunning. 

We haven't actually managed to follow the trail from Walk Highlands exactly as it is yet because we keep getting distracted, and wondering "what's over there". I think that's wonderful though. We've been three times in the past few weeks and each trip has been different, whether it's the tide being low or high, or us taking a different route through the woodland, or climbing up hills.

Both of our parents have been up recently and we had to take them to show them how amazing it was. You see, being so close to the beach is something a little mind-blowing to us. Where we used to live, it was a good two and a half - three hours to the nearest beach. And it wasn't a beach like Tyninghame beach. It was Barmouth; a pretty standard beach running along a town. 

Before we moved up to Scotland, we kept talking about all the places we'd be able to visit and we're so excited to be this close to the beach. The only thing is, we love it so much we keep going back to Tyninghame Beach and haven't done much exploring elsewhere. I feel like we might have shot ourselves in the foot there because now the nights are pulling in, it limits how far we can go exploring.

Tyninghame Beach

Shadows on Tyninghame beach

Sure, we could get up earlier but I am the definition of being bad at getting in up early.

I am 100% a night owl; can't sleep early on (unless we're talking a cheeky mid-afternoon nap); will sleep through seven alarms that have woken the entire town up; and when I do wake up, I will happily stare at the ceiling for a while pondering the fact I need to get out of bed, and just not get out of bed. Just me?

The last time we visited Tyninghame beach we came across a big log cabin (it's called Ravensburgh log cabin, and you can hire it out for weddings, parties, or asking your friends to bring all their dogs so you can lie on the floor and be trampled on by puppies - that, by the way, is the best reason to hire a place out.) It really took us back to Canada. Can you imagine coming across somewhere like that after a long day hiking, going inside and lighting a nice fire, putting your feet up, and chilling with a nice hot chocolate? Doesn't that just sound like the dream? 

Ravensburgh log cabin

View over Tyninghame Beach

If you ever visit Edinburgh and you have a car (I don't think this would be the easiest place to reach from the city using public transport) make sure you pay Tyninghame beach a visit, you won't regret or forget it. 

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13 places to add to your Scottish adventure list

You didn’t think I’d be in Scotland too long before putting together a Scottish adventure list did you?

This beautiful country has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide readers (and Canada came second?! WHAT?!). I’ve visited Scotland a couple of times and it’s easy to see how it won the title. Getting to adventure around Scotland was one of the things we were most excited for when we were moving.

While this list is in no way final (because we keep seeing more amazing places on Instagram and Pinterest), here are 13 places (plus a bonus) on our Scottish Adventure list. Incidentally, this is perhaps a list of 13 awesome travel photographers to follow on Instagram.

13 places that need to be on your Scottish adventure list

Ben More, Crianlarich

 

The North Face

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Daz spotted Ben More on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and it looks stunning. It’s not too far from Edinburgh so hopefully we can get this one ticked off before the days draw in. Having done some research into the hike, it looks like it’s incredibly unrelenting and is going to make me feel very unfit. Alas, the view from the top looks spectacular.

 

Isle of Skye

What list of awesome Scottish places to visit would be complete without mentioning the Isle of Skye? With it’s faerie pools, dramatic green landscape, moody weather, waterfalls, and the enchanting Man of Storr, it is everything we’re looking for in a place to visit.

There are so many stunning looking places on Skye we want to visit that I think this will turn into a few days of adventuring. That and the weather is so famously unpredictable that we might get one dry day out of four or five. Maybe?

 

John O’Groats

 

Pretty cool sea stacks #nc500 #visitscotland #coast #scotland

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I couldn’t care less about the whole tacky white sign thing, what I do want to see is the geographical (not political, ooh) end of the UK. There’s something weirdly exciting about looking out into the sea and knowing you’re stood at the end of a country.

 

Loch Ness

Loch Ness as seen from a tour boat

When you think about Scotland, one of the first places you think about is Loch Ness. Steeped in mystery and mythology, the dark loch is just somewhere you have to visit. I visited Loch Ness a couple of years ago, and sure it’s not the most beautiful loch in Scotland, but when you see it you can understand where the stories of a monster came from. Daz hasn’t visited yet so I definitely need to take him.

 

Eilean Donan Castle

One of the most visited castles in Scotland, Eilean Donan castle looks like it’s right out of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. It’s on the main route to the Isle of Skye so exploring this castle would be the perfect thing to do on the way there or back.

 

Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh

 

The very photogenic Victoria Street, or Diagon Alley if you will ⚡️

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It is well known that J K Rowling worked on the series while living in, and being inspired by, Edinburgh. For any other Harry Potter adventurers, I came across this self-guided Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh which looks fantastic. Just walking around Edinburgh, it’s so easy to see how the Harry Potter universe came to life.

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

I learned to snowboard as part of Duke of Edinburgh though I didn’t actually make it onto a mountain, and Daz last went skiing on a holiday a few years ago. There is no way we’re living this close to a place we can go skiing and snowboarding and not doing it. I think I’ll stick to the bunny slopes though, once I’ve got over my fear of ski lifts; they just don’t look safe, what if I get tangled up in myself and fall flat on my face getting off? Serious fear.

 

Edinburgh’s underground


I only learned about Edinburgh’s underground a couple of months ago. Some part of the city you see today were built on top of existing parts, turning the original streets into tunnels and vaults. Mercat offer tours into the vaults which looks really interesting. It is marketed it as being haunted but I hope the ghost stuff isn’t too over the top.

 

Astronomy nights at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh & Calton Hill

 

Amazing photo of the stars by @kyleeeeliang ✨

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Both of us love space stuff and have wanted to visit an observatory for months, and now we have one right on our doorstep. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh runs public astronomy evenings every Friday throughout the year for just a fiver! We’re definitely going to get in on that as soon as we can.

On top of that, the observatory sits on top of Calton Hill, right in the city centre. We have heard that it’s supposed to provide better views over the city than Arthur’s Seat, so I guess we’ll find out if there’s any truth to that too. As another matter of interest, a fellow student told me that the Postgraduate levels in the main university library also provide amazing views over Edinburgh; so, if you’re a student get in that library and stare out the window! I mean, study.

 

Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail & Jacobite Express

 

📸 are proud to present our Scotland love of the day! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 🏅ARTIST @connormollison 🌍LOCATION Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• We need you and your pics to show the beauty of Scotland to the world! Join us and be part of it! Tag us #scotlandshots or #scotshots ☝️ No stolen or web pics! Please visit the artist’s gallery and show them some love 💙 Photo selected by @nichbrand #glenfinnan #glenfinnanviaduct #harrypotterbridge #highlands #visitscotland #thisisscotland #unlimitedscotland #ukpotd #scotlandsites #hubs_united #brilliantbritain #lovegreatbritain #omgb #topukphoto #bestukpics #instabritain #vivocelticworld #photosofbritain #igersuk #beautifulscotland #britains_talent #highlandcollective #liveuk #uk #visituk #hiddenscotland

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As two huge Harry Potter fans, visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct is high up our list. There’s a hike around the viaduct that takes a couple of hours, and hopefully we’ll manage to spot the Jacobite Express crossing the bridge. You can actually hop aboard the Jacobite Express and cross the viaduct pretending you’re en route to Hogwarts. I came across a blog post on Dangerous Business about her experience riding the train, and I am seriously hyped up to do it. That would be really fun to do when some of our Harry Potter loving friends and family visit.

 

Ben Nevis

 

#bennevis #highlands #scotland #mountains #landscape #valley

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As the highest mountain in the UK, a hike up Ben Nevis is probably the most adventurous thing on this list. With an estimated return hike time of 7 – 9 hours, this is probably one we’re going to have to leave until next summer to make sure we have plenty of daylight and (hopefully) better weather.

 

Coire Gabhail

Glencoe is one of my favourite places in Scotland, and Core Gabhail (also called the Lost Valley) is a hidden valley in Glencoe:

  • Visiting Glencoe – good
  • Hidden valleys – good
  • Custard – good (just a little Friends reference for you)

According to Walking Highlands the walk is 2 or 3 hours long, which gives us plenty of time to explore Glencoe some more.

If you’re interesting in visited Glencoe I cannot stress the importance of getting there early, or trying to go on a weekday if you can. During peak season, it is horrendously busy and you’ll struggle to find a parking space, and you might find a coach considerately blocking you in when you try to get out. The good news is that most of the visitors don’t stray too far from the road so the trails aren’t going to be jampacked and ruin your Scottish adventure.

 

Ben Lomond

 

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Loch Lomond is often said to be one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland, so what better way to take it in than from the summit of a mountain? Seeing photos that look down to the islands on the loch really reminds me of Canada and the islands around Tofino.

With an estimated hike time of 4.5 – 5.5 hours, we might just be able to fit this one in before winter comes.

 

Bonus: Faroe Islands


No, I didn’t skip geography classes. The Faroe Islands are not part of Scotland at all but you can get direct flights to the Danish owned islands direct from Edinburgh. I keep seeing the Faroe Islands popping up all over Instagram at the moment and we’d like to go before it gets too touristy and the accomodation situation goes tits up and ends up like Iceland; in which it costs you a kidney to stay anywhere.

 

Traveling sustainably in Scotland

We all know that it is more environmentally friendly to travel by public transport. Traveline Scotland’s website has a great journey planner that will help you figure out how to get anywhere in Scotland using public transport. They also offer a carbon calculator to show you the CO2 emissions of your journey – which is pretty fun, and scary.

If you’re visiting Edinburgh as part of your trip public transport is the easiest way to get in, out, and around the city. With a single bus ticket costing £1.60, it is probably also the cheapest (again, depending on your circumstances) when you consider the extortionate costs of parking in the city.

Sometimes, public transport isn’t practical, so here are three tips if you need a car for your Scottish adventure:

  • Hire / use an electric or small car
  • Carpool; if you and your adventure buddies can fit in one car, get comfy with each other
  • Find out how many of these eco-driving tips you’re already doing, and what you can start doing

Where is on your adventure list at the moment?

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Mwnt Beach, Cardigan

Mwnt beach has featured very close to the top of my ‘favourite places’ in the world list for years.

Last week, I was talking to an American couple who had been traveling around the UK for a few weeks and were headed to Wales next. They hadn’t got any solid plans yet and made the mistake of asking me for recommendations. I barely need an invitation to wax lyrical about Mwnt at the best of times, so I think they were a bit taken aback and soon regretted asking. I hope they went and saw it for themselves because it is such a wonderful place. I hope they went and tell all their friends about this beautiful little beach some crazy lady in their hotel told them about.

I first went there over ten years ago when my Nan took me, my sister, and my cousin on holiday. We stayed in a little cottage just up the road from the beach, and we would spend the day in the sea, building sand fortresses with moats and my cousin had an odd habit of collecting jellyfish in a bucket…There’s a hill on one side of the beach, which we used to climb up every night to call our parents. (If they thought they were escaping us by sending us on holiday, they were wrong. Not even rubbish O2 signal on a Welsh beach is going to stop me annoying my Mum.)

The second year my Nan took us away, I think she was expecting to go somewhere else but we loved the place so much we badgered her to go back. I’ve been back a handful of times since then, the last time being with Daz last summer. I would love to pop back before we head up to Edinburgh but it’s looking very unlikely at the moment.

For me, visiting Mwnt beach is almost like a pilgrimage. A lot has happened since my first trip there over a decade ago; I’ve passed exams, I’ve made friends, I’ve lost friends, I’ve had arguments, I’ve mustered the courage to stand up to people, I’ve quit uni, I’ve finished uni, I’ve worried a lot, but I’m still here.

Do you have anywhere like that in your life?

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View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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View from the top of the Wrekin

In the Midlands, we have this saying "going around the Wrekin" which we use when someone is doing something a really long way, or if someone is rambling and taking forever to get to the point. It's based on a hill in Shropshire, called the wrekin, which provides amazing 360 views across the area.

Last Wednesday, the weather was looking pretty good and we decided it seemed almost criminal to stay indoors, especially now that my dissertation is done and I don't need to spend all day staring at a screen. We've recently been joking that we need to practice climbing hills and mountains because of all the hikes we want to do in Canada, so the Wrekin seemed like a good place to start.

This way or that way sign post
The summit of The Wrekin
View from the top of the wrekin
Don't get me wrong, at 407 metres high it is hardly Snowdon but I felt so incredibly unfit. My state of fitness (or rather absolute unfitness) is not a joke now; if I want to tackle some Canadian mountains I need to do some exercise because Daz says he won't be giving me a piggyback.

The climb up is fairly steep and took my breath away pretty quickly indeed. In about five minutes I was wishing I could transport into the bodies of all the happy excited looking dogs that were running up the hill.

The view from the top was well worth it though. I have always felt there is something really calming about being up a hill, a mountain, or even a building, and enjoying the view around you. Everything seems literally and figuratively small. Interestingly, there are also a lot of Pokemon up the wrekin so, y'know...Pokenerds, go! (Yes I am still playing it.)

The view over Shropshire from the top of the Wrekin

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The view from the Wrekin

The top of the Wrekin

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I'm trying out a different style for the format of blog posts, doing away with the sidebar and trying out different styles with the images. I've seen it on a couple of blogs recently and it's a style I really like in posts which have a lot of photos; what do you think though? You're my readers, do you like it? Is it a pain to find the copy amongst all the images?

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Beach house overlooking Llangrannog beach

When you think about Welsh beaches, you probably think of Aberystwyth or Barmouth, but let me stop you there; because you want to be pointing yourself towards Llangrannog.

I love Llangrannog; it’s fun to try and say (go on, I promise it’s fun), the beach is stunning, the town is charming, the views are amazing, and there are delicious treats to be had.

Prepare yourself for a lot of fangirling about a beach, because you’re gonna be packing your bucket and spade by the time I’m done with you.

 

The beach is beautiful & has caves

Nestled in a little cove, with hills either side of it, Llangrannog beach is my idea of the perfect beach. It’s fairly small, there’s a decent amount of sand for making sandcastles in (very important), and it has a little cave you can go and explore.

It’s not a huge cave but how often do you get the chance to wander into a cave?

Also, at low tide you can walk around the rocks on the right hand side of the beach to get to another little cove. At high tide, you can follow the coastal path over and down to it, but do be careful because the handrails are pretty dodgy – as Daz discovered when he put his hand on one and it just kinda flopped about and wasn’t attached to anything on the other end.

Llangrannog beach

 

The town is adorable

If you’re looking for an “Instagram worthy” seaside town, Llangrannog has got you covered with is multi-coloured buildings.

It’s a fairly small town and has everything you’d need for a day at the seaside, though I do recommend getting there early or avoiding busy periods if you want to park right by the beach because the car park is quite small, and the narrow roads are easier to navigate when there’s less traffic.

Llangrannog beach

 

Perfect for swimming, surfing, or body boarding

I can’t tell you how many days and hours I must have spent here body boarding when I was a kid. The waves are perfect for it, the sea is nice and clear, there’s no rubbish floating about it in (always nice), and it’s not as cold as it looks if you’ve got a wetsuit on.

Llangrannog beach

 

The views

Since it’s nestled between two hills, there are amazing views to be seen either side of the beach. The Cardigan Coastal Path runs right through Llagrannog, so if you fancy a spot of walking while taking in breathtaking views, you just can’t go wrong here.

View over Llangrannog beach

 

ICE CREAM

No trip to the seaside is complete without an unhealthy amount of ice cream. Caffi Patio is right on the edge of the beach and has a delicious selection of ice cream.

 

It’s beautiful

Did I already mention Llangrannog beach is beautiful? Oh, I did? Well it deserves another mention, because look:

Stormy skies over Llangrannog beach

Where’s your favourite beach?

 

Why you need to visit Llangrannog

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Mwnt beach

For me, Mwnt is the very definition of a ‘hidden gem’. Just a few miles up the coast from Cardigan, this secluded lil’ beach is the perfect place to relax and try to spot bottlenose dolphins and seals.

Mwnt will always hold a special place in my heart because my Nan used to take me, my sister, and cousin every summer when we were younger. The three of us would spend the whole week in the sea and loved it. On reflection, I’m not sure how my Nan kept herself occupied all day, because all we wanted to do was play in the sea.

In the summer, Daz and I spent a couple of days in Mwnt, St. Dogmael’s and Cardigan, and I was reminded all over again why this is one of my favourite parts of the world, and it was so much fun to show it to Daz.

The beach can be fairly busy in the height of summer, but in the week during the rest of the year it’s peaceful and you feel like you’ve got the whole coast to yourself.

I’ma let the photos do the rest of the talking and convince you that you need to visit Mwnt – because you really do.

Mwnt beach

Waves on Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

View from the top of Foel y Mwnt

View over Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

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