Discover hidden Scotland at Doors Open Days 2015

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Be warned. Your appetite to explore Scotland is about to skyrocket – and we mean it!

September in Scotland means Doors Open Days, the largest free festival dedicated to some of the country’s most architecturally and culturally outstanding and significant buildings. The festival offers you the chance to peek behind their closed doors, and discover sites in Scotland you may never have seen before.

Some open up only once a year, so this is the perfect opportunity to find out more about hidden Scotland. Normally off-limits to the public or charging an admission fee, you can explore them completely for free. They won’t cost you a penny!

There’re more than 1,000 participating venues ranging from stunning castles, fascinating museums and charming kirks to splendid gardens, parks and quirky cinemas. With exhibitions, talks, guided walks and more, there are plenty great activities to choose from to suit all ages and interests.

You’ll find it hard not to feel a sense of awe and amazement when you enter those sites, from the smallest of remains to the grandest of houses and grounds.

Be sure to mark the below dates in your diary now and check back with us every week for some regional highlights.

Read on for our recommendations for the first week, and don’t forget to share your discoveries with us using #brilliantmoments.

WK 1

Kinnaird Castle, Brechin, Angus – embark on miles of varied walks through open countryside and woodlands dotted with follies, watching rare natural species and enjoy the tremendous fishing and shooting in 800 acres of mature parkland

Portencross Castle, near West Kilbride, Ayrshire – explore this ancient monument with its beautiful, and surprisingly intact, Great Hall with original vaulted ceiling, and enjoy spectacular views from the roof

The Auld Washie / Thatched Studio, near Collessie, Fife – appreciate the many quirky features of this originally 18th century agricultural barn that has been charmingly restored into an art studio

Darvel: Private Telephone Museum, Darvel, Ayrshire – don’t miss this unique display of telephone memorabilia dating from early 1900s to the present, and housed within old bakehouse

Eden Court Theatre, Inverness – marvel at this award-winning complex that combines 19th century grandeur with 20th and 21st century sophistication

Strathmore Vintage Vehicle Club, near Glamis, Forfar – see a unique collection of historic vehicles and associated items, and get to know more about SVVC

• Angus • Ayrshire • East Fife & St Andrews (6 September only) • Highland – Badenoch & Strathspey (5 – 27 September) • Highland – In and around Inverness (5 – 27 September) • Renfrewshire •

WK 2

• Aberdeen CityCentral Fife & Kirkcaldy (13 September only)East Dunbartonshire (12 September only)East RenfrewshireHighland: Ross & CromartyHighland: SutherlandInverclydeMidlothian (12 September only)North LanarkshireSouth LanarkshireStirlingWest Lothian

WK 3

• AberdeenshireDundeeFalkirkWest Fife & Dunfermline (20 September only)Glasgow (14 – 20 September) • Highland: Caithness and NairnScottish Borders (19 September only)

WK 4

• Argyll & ButeClackmannshireEdinburghHighland: LochaberPerth & Kinross

Browse the events directory and check regularly on your local council website for new participating sites. Please note that some sites require you to book in advance. For detailed information, www.doorsopendays.org.uk.

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Aldona Krzemien

Content Editor at VisitScotland
Originally from Poland, she's now based in Edinburgh and can't imagine life without four things: travels, photography, fishing for antiques and haggis!