Visitor figures fall for top tourist attractions

Visitor figures for the UK’s top tourist attractions have been published today . Edinburgh Castle had over one million visitors in 2008 , although the total for the year represents a drop of 8% . The Falkirk Wheel weighed in with 500,829 visitors , 2.5% less than 2007 . Kelvingrove Art Gallery is Scotland’s top tourist attraction, despite a huge 35% fall in visitors last year.

The museum  was the leading attraction in Scotland with 1,445,098 visits last year,and the 13th most visited site in the UK.

However, the fall in visitors has been the pattern experienced by most of the leading tourist attractions.

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow  all fell from 2007.

The figures were released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) who maintain that new research of their membership showed that most expected to maintain or increase their visitor figures this year.

The National Museum of Scotland last year closed part of its premises for refurbishment, which may accounts for part of its 27% fall, to 614,894 visitors.

10 most popular attractions in Scotland

1 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow: 1,445,098 visitors, change from 2007 (-35.3%)
2 Edinburgh Castle: 1,128,394 (-8%)
3 National Gallery complex in Edinburgh: 842,958 (-10.3%)
4 National Museum of Scotland: 614,894 (-27%)
5 Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow: 562,595 (-18.8%)
6 The Falkirk Wheel: 500,829 (-2.5%)
7 National War Museum in Edinburgh: 474,133 (+1%)
8 Museum of Transport, Glasgow: 456,324 (-14.8%)
9 Stirling Castle: 403,778 (-8%)
10 Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness: 270, 097 (-3%)

Getting to the Falkirk Wheel is fairly easy by taxi or bus. There is a bus service from the centre  of Falkirk . Airport transfers can take visitors from Edinburgh Airport or Falkirk by taxi to the Wheel

Top ten Scottish castles ecards

Scotland has hundreds of castles old and new ,  some in ruins , some refurbished and inhabited  . I have compiled a list of my top ten castles , now available as free ecards . I have been taking pictures of castles for over 10 years and each one offers a unique challenge .  I have published a new set of castle wallpapers which can be downloaded to your mobile . These castles  are in no particular order

1 Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan is an old favourite . It in a spectacular setting in the middle of 3 lochs and surrounded by mountains . Eilean Donan Castle is one
of the most photographed castles in Scotland , if not the
world . It is on a small island in the middle of 3 lochs .
On a clear day you can see the Isle of Skye in the distance
. The original castle was built in 1220 . It was destroyed
by 3 English frigates in the 18th century and totally
rebuilt in the 1920s by the Macraes . Send a free Eilean Donan Castle ecard

2 Stirling Castle
Stirling is on a rocky crag overlooking the town with great views to the Wallace Monument and Ben Lomond  . Stirling was a vital crossing point during the Wars of Independence . William Wallace , Braveheart , won the battle of Stirling Bridge at the foot of the castle.
Send a free Stirlng Castle ecard

3 Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle is perched on a spectacular rocky crag on the east coast of Scotland 4 miles from Stonehaven . In olden days the castle was impregnable because of the sheer cliffs on each side . Send a free Dunnotar Castle ecard

4 Urquhart Castle
Urquhart is on the shore of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland . The Grant Tower is the only part of the castle which is not completely in ruins . If you’re lucky you might see the Loch Ness monster as she swims up the loch for a snack around lunch time . Send a free Urquhart Castle ecard

5 Linlithgow Palace
Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots . The fountain has been totally refurbished

6 Blackness Castle
Blackness Castle is long and narrow because of the shape of the rock on which it is situated and it is sometimes called ‘ the ship that never sailed ‘ . It guards the bay at Blackness and is only a few miles from Linlithgow Palace . Send a freeBlackness Castle ecard

7 Blair Castle
Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl and his own private army

8 Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfriess is an unusual triangular shape

9 Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell is high on the hillside near Dollar and it has spectacular views over the Forth Valley

10 Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle dominates the Edinburgh city skyline with views over the
whole of the city . The one o’clock gun is fired every day
to wake up sleepy tourists
Send a free Edinburgh Castle ecard

The castle wallpapers can be downloaded to your mobile

Edinburgh Castle gets its one millionth visitor

Historic Scotland’s flagship attraction Edinburgh Castle is celebrating after welcoming its one millionth visitor through the door this year. No , they haven’t had one million visitors since January 1 . This is their financial year which ends in March .

Edinburgh Castle attracts 1.2 million visitors per year and despite the credit crunch the castle continues to attract visitors from around the world.

A £2.7 million visitor reception project was completed last year to improve visitor services and ensure visitors continue to enjoy world class service at this attraction.

Edinburgh Castle now has its own dedicated website.New markets have also been opening up – reflected by the recent introduction of souvenir guide books to the castle in Russian and Chinese.The one millionth visitors to the castle were couple, Britta Springstrow and Rene Woffeh from Germany.

Britta said they were delighted to be chosen, adding: “Edinburgh is such a beautiful place and the castle is stunning. It was really exciting to be chosen as the millionth visitor today as we were certainly not expecting it.”

Barbara Smith, Executive Manager at Edinburgh Castle, said: “The arrival of the millionth visitor is always a milestone. This year, it is particularly pleasing in the economic climate.

“The combination of iconic status, memorable image, unique treasures and a world class welcome make this a truly must-see attraction.”

There is still time to catch the special off-peak seasonal admission charges at the castle until the 28 February 2009 with adult tickets under £10.


The castle’s top 10 highlights


1. The Crown Room and the Stone of Destiny – where the nations treasures are kept.

2. The Great Hall – which holds a fabulous display of arms and armour and the ‘key’ to the


3. Royal Palace – rooms created in 1617 in honour of James VI.

4. St Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest building in Edinburgh, built to commemorate the mother

of David 1.

5. The Prisons of War – an atmospheric recreation of the life of prisoners at the end of the

18th Century.

6. Mons Meg – one of Europe’s oldest siege guns that fired stones weighing 150kg over


7. The One O’Clock Gun – the famous time signal has been fired almost daily since 1861.

8. The Scottish National War Memorial – shrine to those who gave their lives in conflicts from World War 1 onwards.

9. A castle wedding . Wedding receptions can now be held in the castle

10. Panoramic views – across the capital, over the Firth of Forth and into Fife, which can be enjoyed from the castle’s walls.

Burns Night at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling and Urquhart Castle

Burns Night is the 25th of January and Historic Scotland have announced details of a unique opportunity to celebrate Burns’ work at Edinburgh Castle.
 Burns fans can celebrate online with free Burns Night ecards .At Edinburgh Castle the Queen Anne and Redcoat cafes will be offering delightful locally-sourced haggis, neeps and tatties. Visitors will also be treated to free haggis tasters.

Stirling Castle will be providing a three-course menu of soup, haggis and desert. And between 11.00am and 1.00pm visitors will have the chance to taste free haggis bites. Copies of some of Burns’ best loved poems: Tam O’Shanter, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose and To A Mouse will also be on display around the café for visitors to enjoy.
Urquhart Castle will be offering a traditional Burns supper in addition to its normal menu. Visitors will also have the chance to sample a free tipple of Benromach whisky.

All three castles will be serving the Burns supper menu on 24 and 25 January. Edinburgh Castle will be serving from 11.00am to 3.00pm, Stirling Castle from 12.00pm to 2.30pm, Urquhart Castle from 9.30am to 4.00pm.
Historic Scotland is a government agency which looks after 345 outstanding historic properties throughout the country. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

Edinburgh Castle pictures

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most popular visitor attraction,” Dr Murray said. “More than 1 million visitors are drawn each year by its spectacular location and history. They can see the Crown Jewels, the One O’Clock Gun and the Stone of Destiny as well as the Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, and Mons Meg. “This new exhibition will explore more of the castle’s complex story, with links to Scots-born John Paul Jones – renowned in America as founder of the US Navy  and in Britain for capturing one of the Royal Navy’s warships – and the turbulence of revolutionary Europe at the end of the 1700s.”Edinburgh Castle is a world-class attraction and today’s well-traveled tourists have high expectations.”The vaults at Edinburgh Castle were constructed around 1500 and later used as soldiers’ barrack-rooms and a bakehouse. However they were used for many years as prisons of war from the 1750s into the early 1800s. Graffiti carved into prison doors reveal the names and sentiments of many of the men there, and some of them etched crude drawings of their vessels. One drawing shows a gallows and noose, with the inscription Lord Nord (North) – the British Prime Minister at the time of the American War of Independence. Another shows a ship flying what appears to be the stars and stripes: one of the earliest known depictions of the American flag.