Crawick Multiverse, Dumfries & Galloway, which will host special tours on 4 September
Scotland is full of surprises – whether you’re visiting for the first time or holiday here every chance you get, you’re never far away from an exciting new discovery. In the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, the annual Doors Open Days gives visitors the key to some the country’s best-kept secrets, offering access to places that are often closed to the public.
Organised by the Scottish Civic Trust, this month-long festival sees hundreds of architectural gems, fascinating museums, historic sites and other hidden treasures open their doors to the public on Saturdays and Sundays throughout September, with different regions revealing some of their finest buildings each weekend. You’ll also find expert tours, guided walks, exhibitions and other activities on offer, all completely free. Please note, booking in advance is recommended for many of the guided tours.
Here are a few highlights to look forward to:
Weekend One: 3 – 4 September
Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire © Ayrshire & Arran Tourism
- Auchinleck House is a restored mansion house dating back to the 13th century, with ruins of a castle and the ‘Old House’ still standing within the estate. The mansion is a category A-listed building, nowadays used mostly for holiday lets.
- Wander through Dundonald Castle (pictured), an impressive 14th century fortified tower house, with fascinating features such as the upper hall and a gloomy prison. It was built for Robert II, founder of the Stewart Dynasty and King of Scots from 1371.
- The majestic House of Dun looms above the Montrose Basin, a home built by the Erskine family. It’s one of the most exciting National Trust properties, and this is your chance to come inside!
- The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and is home to several impressive academic buildings waiting to be explored, including the Parliament Hall, Senate Room and the King James Library.
- Admire the ornate interiors at Paisley Abbey, with its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate designs. The Town Hall, Central Library, several churches and other buildings in the town are opening their doors too. You can even go inside Paisley’s working fire station!
Weekend Two: 10 – 11 September
Wemyss Bay Station. Courtesy of the Scottish Civic Trust
- Visit the beautifully restored village of New Lanark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which tells the fascinating story of the cotton mill village founded in the 18th century.
- Admire another architectural delight, the Wemyss Bay Station in Inverclyde. Designed by James Miller in 1903 for the Caledonian Railway, this special weekend will showcase an exhibition of photographs, drawings and archives relating to the construction and history of the station, which was known for taking people from Glasgow ‘doon the watter’ to the Isle of Bute.
- Fancy a night at the flicks? The Waterfront Cinema at Greenock is a local, independent cinema showing all the recent blockbusters. Go behind-the-scenes of the projection room to see how it all works.
Weekend Three: 17 -18 September
Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow. Courtesy of the Scottish Civic Trust.
- Go on a fabulous tour of Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre and hear all about the vibrant history of its Gorbals home.
- In Turriff, the Auld Post Office Museum will take you back in time with thousands of age-old artefacts, photos, furniture and books.
- Spend a day like a lady or laird at Bowhill House in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, an A-listed building and one of the residences of the 10th Duke of Buccleuch.
Weekend Four: 24 – 25 September
Fergusson Gallery, Perth
- Leith’s important shipping history can be discovered at the Custom House, an impressive building once used to oversee the payment of duty for importing and exporting goods through the Port of Leith.
- Just down the road, Edinburgh Printmakers on Union Street was originally a washhouse for the local community. It’s now one of the city’s busiest print studios.
- The quiet Perthshire hamlet of Fortingall is perhaps most famous for its ancient Yew Tree, which has stood in the fascinating Forkingall Kirkyard for centuries. There is a walking tour starting from here on Sunday 25.
- The Fergusson Gallery in Perth, which displays a beautiful selection of artworks from JD Morris and his lifelong partner Margaret Morris, will host a special tour of the art store – booking essential!
- Did you know the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is remotely monitored from 84 George Street, Edinburgh? Climb up the 115 steps to the light room at the top of the lighthouse, which is considered to be Scotland’s most southerly point.
Of course, there are many more amazing places opening their doors across Scotland, with events taking place during the whole month of September. Please always check the Doors Open Days website for further details and always check dates before you visit.
Have you been busy unlocking some of Scotland’s secrets? Don’t forget to share your discoveries in September using #DODSCOT.