From the moment I got my itinerary I knew was going to bring back some great boyhood memories, with activities like Go Karting and rifle shooting lined up and I was not wrong! I was also pleasantly surprise by the amount of local activities and fantastic sights in and around Falkirk.
Along with the rest of the Scotlanders I had been invited to Falkirk for a weekend. The purpose of the weekend was to explore the town and nearby area with its activities, walks and other historic sites.
My first visit was to the outdoor centre in Bancock, about 20 min from the centre of Falkirk. They offer a whole host of activities, for young and old. My activity was Air Rifle shooting, this I had not done since I was a young lad back in Denmark. With all the talks and news of the danger of guns, both real firearm and air guns, I have had my reservations with guns, but under the safe and secure environment at Cloybank, I did feel that this really can be enjoyed safely and actually a very calming sport too! I quickly realised what a competitive sport it is too!
John Penman, the owner of Cloybank, grew up as a small boy on the farm on which Cloybank is located and bought the farm and land from his parents after it had laid derelict for 15 years. He started Cloybank seven years ago and now has a busy sites, working with many school and adult groups alike. The onsite activities include, trout and fly fishing, golf and air rifle shooting.
Next year John and his team will be hosting the UKAHFT (United Kingdom Association of Hunter Field Target) championship, which will be the first time this is hosted on their site. The facilities and activities are therefore being expanded across the site.
Despite spending over an hour trying to perfect my shot, and getting assistance from the regular shooters, with things like little pillows to rest the riffle on, they and John still easily outdid my shooting performance. At least I know that I am needing to practice more, another good reason to return to visit John and rest of the team at Cloybank. To find out more about their activities you should either visit their website on http://www.cloybank.net/ or follow the on Twitter @Cloybank Facebook and the other popular site run by one of the regular’s @AirgunGurus
Callendar House and Park
After finishing up at Cloybank, I made my way into the centre of Falkirk for a bite of lunch. I decided to pay a visit to Callendar House. This grand house lies within the wonderful and peaceful surroundings of the Callendar Park Woodlands in the centre of Falkirk and is truly a hidden gem within the city. The house is free and open to visitors with year round exhibitions and historic rooms, showing what life was once like in such grand lifestyles. To add to the history around the house, as the Romans build a wall through it, there is different activities within the house which will appeal to the children visiting, just in case the large garden walks and play area is not enough to fill their appetite for activities and games
I enjoyed a traditional soup and sandwich, (a rather large portion too) in their tea room which overlooks their beautiful back garden. Beautiful panelled walls and large rugs covers much of the floors, but despite this they welcome all including walkers, families, children and larger groups alike.
I would diffidently recommend anyone who is visiting Falkirk to make sure they pay a visit to Callendar House. To read more about the house and park, visit the Falkirk Community Trust website www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org
Polmonthill Snowsports Centre
To finish off my first afternoon in Falkirk, I visited the Polmonthill Snowsports centre for a spot of Snowboarding. This was my very first time trying out any snowsport, having never even been on skies in the past. Being from Denmark, a lot has to do with the rather flat countryside found at home!
A very big thank you to Rebecca for welcoming me and a great thanks to David and James for literally holding me upright while trying not to fall over!! When I first arrived I was impressed to see the youngsters whizzing down the slope with some speed, I was therefore to say the least a little nervous about embarrassing myself in front of the staff and the very talented kids.
The experience of first standing on what felt like one large foot, was very surreal and pretty hard to control, not that I by any means became an expert after David and James trying hard to teach me for over an hour. I have to say that I did feel a lot more confident. I think I am having to try out snowboarding again and especially after seeing series like the ‘Mountain’ on TV about the life in the Cairngorms, being able to take the sport further would really be great and its such a fantastic way to enjoy the Scottish outdoors, maybe one day!
To plan your visit or to read more about the activities available at Polmonthill Snowsports centre, visit their website
Behind the Wall Restaurant, Falkirk
On Saturday evening we had dinner in the rather trendy and really nice Behind The Wall Restaurant in the centre of Falkirk. This seems to be the hub of the city on a Saturday evening. It was a really great experience and the team were fantastic and when your fancy a burger, you are in for a treat! http://www.behindthewall.co.uk/
Hippedrome Cinema, Bo’ness
We finished our evening with going to Bo’ness to the Hippodrome cinema to watch the fairly recent film Mac Beth of Shakespeare. This is one of the oldest purpose build cinemas in Scotland and is recently beautifully restored to it’s former glory. The cinema offers many Scottish films and have also in the past streamed live Operas from London according to locals I have spoken to, which sounds like a really nice way of using these beautiful facilities and to keep locals and visitors entertained.
On route back to our hotel, we paid another quick visit to the Kelpies, any excuse really, not that we need one!
After checking out of our hotel we made our way to the Falkirk Wheel. Always a pleasure visiting and I only made my first visit to the famous Wheel about 5 or 6 years ago. I was as taken aback then as I am now, by this giant pieces of great Scottish Engineering. This time was my first time sailing on the canal and going up this magnificent mode of transport really was a remarkable experience. Even more so knowing that this the only one of it’s kind in the world and that we are the home to it in Scotland! To read further and plan a visit, have a look at their website http://www.falkirk-wheel.com/
After our morning on the Union Canal by the Falkirk Wheel, we went to the Corbie Inn, which is a small Free House in the village of Bo’ness. A big thank you to Gail Fairholm for looking after us and making sure we had a hearty lunch and a warm welcome
Kinneil Brew Hoose,
After our lunch we made a brief visit, literally through the backdoor of Corbie Inn, to the house behind the Inn where the small craft brewer Kinneil Brew Hoose is located. We got a good insight into how Stuart Simpson and his colleagues produce their brew for local and international customers alike. With their location close both to the John Muir Way and also a stone throw from the Kinneil Railway. To try out their brew either visit Corbie Inn or check out their website http://www.kinneilbrew.co.uk/
My final activity before making the journey home was a few hours at the indoor Xtreme Karting in Falkirk.
As you come through the entrance to the hall, you get an instant feel of the petrol fumes and you hear the loud roars of the engines whizzing by at some considerable speeds. I was met by Rachel and Alan who were managing the desk and Alan is the site manager.
I had got a slot booked in to try out this great indoor activity. Go Karting was something I had not done for a very long time and I was worried about being too tall, that I would be impossible for me to enjoy, I was wrong! After going over the general safety talks and making sure I was aware of when to respect the flags for slower speeds or come to a stop.
I have to say the moment I sat down in the Kart for the first time, it felt good and very familiar! I had been told that the track was usually completed in between 25 and 30 seconds. This straight away gave me a bit of a challenge, here was me thinking I was not competitive, oh I am indeed! The first drive around the track really gave me a huge sense of the adrenaline flowing and it only got better for every round I completed. I managed two different rounds, but could happily have done many more. As an indoor activity available, this is really an exciting option, for individuals or smaller groups alike. Xtreme Karting Falkirk
A big thank you to Visit Falkirk http://www.visitfalkirk.com/ for hosting us and putting together a great weekend in Falkirk. Also a special thanks to Falkirk Community Trust http://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/, they are doing a great amount of work locally to preserve facilities and better the life’s of the locals and visitors to Falkirk.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed and please note all views are my own and any questions you may regarding this or any other of my visits around Scotland, please feel free to get in touch directly or via the Scotlanders email on firstname.lastname@example.org