We are organising all of the following activities as part of the Conference fee (if you are bringing a partner, they are welcome to come to the civic reception and organ recital – just the banquet and ceilidh requires an extra ticket – purchase when you register):
- Civic Reception in the City Chambers. This is a beautiful Victorian building, Glasgow’s “town hall”, built when Glasgow was “second city of empire” – based on its huge ship-building wealth.
- Organ recital in Glasgow University Chapel, by the University organist, Kevin Bowyer (see kevinbowyer.net)
- Ceilidh – after the conference dinner, an evening of traditional music and dance with a twist!
Informally, I am also organising the following trip:
- Ride on the “Harry Potter Train”. Sounds like a tourist gimmick – but this is actually one of the great railway journeys in the world. It’ll be on Friday 15th, involving a 5.20am start on the West Highland Line, running alongside lochs, through glens, over Rannoch Moor to Fort William, and then the Harry Potter train itself, pulled by an old steam locomotive, from Fort William out to Mallaig via the Glenfinnan viaduct and spectacular views of the Small Isles as the train runs alongside the White Sands of Morar. Returning to Glasgow at around 9.00pm. Cost of the rail ticket is around £70 – but it is one of the great railway journeys of the world. If this interests you, please contact Quintin (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as you can, so that we can get a sense of numbers for a group booking.
Other things to do:
- The Edinburgh Arts Festival is on during the Conference, running throughout August. One of the largest arts festivals in the world. This is a 50 minute train ride from Glasgow.
- Stirling and Edinburgh Castles are short train rides away from Glasgow
- The railways – up both the West and East sides of the country – will take you to some spectacular walking routes, if you are a serious walker
- Stay at the home of golf – St Andrews, beyond Edinburgh on the East Coast. It’s a beautiful wee city too, home to the oldest university in Scotland, founded in 1411 (just beating Glasgow, which was founded in 1451)
Hiring a car is probably the best way to pack in great chunks of fantastic scenery.
- The Road to the Isles has been rated as one of the top 3 drives in the world (ok, by a UK magazine!) – starts on the Great Western Road, just by our hotels, runs past Loch Lomond, up across Rannoch Moor and down Glencoe to Fort William, then north, nearing the southern tip of Loch Ness, before veering to the West to run down Glen Shiel with the Five Sisters of Kintail looking on – down to Loch Alsh, Eilean Donan Castle (used in so many movies) and then across to the Isle of Skye. It’s a spectacular driving road, for you petrolheads. Around 4-5 hours to get to Skye.
- Alternatively, head north through the Cairngorms and Inverness, on to Ullapool and to Sutherland and the top of Scotland – Sutherland so called because to the Norse invaders it was to their south, of course. Around 20 miles from the top, a four-mile walk takes you to Sandwood Bay – an idyllic and deserted golden beach.
- Ardnamurchan is another other-worldly spot – the most westerly part of the mainland. Ancient oak forests, fabulous views, clear blue water in the lochs, very remote.
Driving from Glasgow to the top of Scotland takes around 6 hours – so in a whistlestop tour of 3-4 days, you’ll see a lot of great countryside – and if you can extend that to a week, you’ll be able to pack in a load of activities too.
Consider also an island-hopping tour – could be done by foot or by car – e.g. train from Glasgow to Oban on the west coast, then ferries and buses to the islands of Mull, Skye, Harris, Lewis , the Uists and so on. These are remote, other-worldly places. On Lewis and Harris, you will find neolithic standing stones that really do inspire awe – Callanish is the prime example. Or you could take a 40-mile speedboat ride out to St Kilda, a now uninhabited archipelago of towering cliffs and remote sea stacks, but which used to be home to a community of around 250 who lived on seabirds and fish alone. The old Main Street of traditional black houses, mostly now ruined, a few renovated, gives a sense of a remarkable lost way of life. If you go there, you’ll never stop talking about it, and always want to go back.
- Scottish railways – Scotrail – http://scotrail.co.uk
- Scottish coach service – Scottish Citylink – http://www.citylink.co.uk
- Use http://www.travelinescotland.com to work out your route by public transport. Note that the rail fares given are the most expensive, walk-up tickets. You will get them cheaper even if you book 2 or 3 days before
- http://www.welcometoscotland.com and http://www.visitscotland.com are both one-stop-shop sites for finding places to go, accommodation (hotels, B+Bs, camping etc)