The west and north sides of Stirling’s fortress-crowned, grey volcanic crag are deeply skirted by woods laced with paths, and where to stroll is a year-round delight, above.
Five minutes’ walk from the city’s main drag, the Back Walk, dating from 1723, winds beneath the Town Wall and round the base of the castle, offering a plethora of spectacular panoramas. Down in the woods, a felled beech has been chainsaw-sculpted into a dragon, unicorn and wolf, fronted by a gnomic Highlander.
Abutting the castle’s north side, the open and gorse-studded Gowan Hill faces the Wallace Monument, with the Ochils as the backdrop.
PRINCES STREET GARDENS, EDINBURGH
Once it was the noisome Nor’ Loch, drained in the 1760s, then a private park for the residents of Princes Street until, in 1876, the great unwashed were admitted to feast their eyes on the naked nymphs, body-painted in gold, of the Ross Fountain.
Lots of seats, grass, pigeons, squirrels, trees and shrubs, Scotch thistles, flower beds and a floral clock – though I do wish the grimly crumbling Ross Bandstand were replaced by an elegantly modern performance pod.
Britain’s oldest public space – once the site of “Scotch Washing” where women in tucked-up skirts trampled their linen in wooden tubs (an early visitor attraction) – was landscaped in 1826 and recently restored.
Among the wide green spaces there are more trees than ever, many monuments, including the greatest terracotta fountain in the universe, a large planting of decorative grasses, a reach of goose-waddled “Bonnie banks of Clyde”, and much, much more in and around Scotland’s finest public park.
UNION TERRACE GARDENS, ABERDEEN
These sunken gardens were opened along the culverted Denburn in 1877. Oil services tycoon Sir Ian Wood has offered over £85 million towards raising the site to street level and creating “a cross between the grand Italian piazza and a mini Central Park”.
On 2 March, after a referendum in which 90000 people voted it was announced that 52% had voted for the City Garden Project, moving the project to the next stage.
NESS ISLANDS, INVERNESS
A short distance as the herring gull flies from her perch atop Flora MacDonald’s statuesque head at Inverness Castle sit these pleasant islands in the stream. Across the bridges, among the trees, where wild lives are lived, planted with sculptures in wood and iron, the walkways lead to the Caledonian Canal towpath, Bught Park with its Floral Hall and gardens, and child-friendly Whin Park.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east