Thursday, 23 September 2010

A postcard from East Kilbride

I had to laugh when the latest email from TripAdvisor landed in my inbox this week. The subject was "Top 10 Up and Coming Places to Visit".

Number 3 on the list was East Kilbride. I laughed. My sister and I became friends with some guys from this Scottish town when we attended an Iona Community Youth Camp. We visited several times and the trips weren't exactly picturesque. Highlights were: the roundabouts, the train station, the bus from Glasgow, and the park where our friend Brian worked.
Happy Days 
(Image from; © Gordon McKinlay)

15+ years later and I'm pretty sure some amazing transformation must have taken place. Apparently, the town is host to one of Europe's largest indoor shopping centres, and a 10-year redevelopment plan has been started. Perhaps I should plan another visit. We did have some lovely excursions to St Andrews, Ayr, and Glasgow, so the town would make an excellent Scottish base.

Other towns on the list include Ripon in North Yorkshire (#6), Doncaster (#9), and Lancaster (#7). I'm really pleased that the North is well represented in this list. Having lived for 21 years in Lancashire (with a 3-year spell in Leeds) I know these towns (and more) really well, and think they are definitely worth visiting.

I have always thought that Lancaster was a hidden gem, with its Castle, good shopping centre, Williamson Park, Cathedral and Priory church, and location near Morecambe Bay and the South Lakes. It is on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is fantastic to drive through (if you like living on the edge) and has amazing landscapes and countryside views.

Look, all these guys love Lancaster too! 
(Image from

I remember my parents taking me and my sister on many trips to Ripon and the surrounding area, in particular the Cathedral and Fountains Abbey. Lightwater Valley is nearby if you like thrills (we never went there though :().

My typical view of Doncaster is the sign from the A1, I'm usually half-asleep and complaining "are we only here?" Groan. But the town itself isn't too bad. Me and my husband stayed there for a wedding in a 20s style hotel near the racecourse. There's also a castle to explore nearby, something the kids should enjoy.

The full Top Ten is:

1.    Lacock, Wiltshire
2.    Portreath, Cornwall
3.    East Kilbride, Scotland
4.    Tarporley, Cheshire
5.    Colchester, Essex
6.    Ripon, North Yorkshire
7.    Lancaster, Lancashire
8.    Limerick, Ireland
9.    Doncaster, South Yorkshire
10. Dawlish, Devon

Are any of these your favourites? Do you know of another hidden gem in the UK?

Amazing views of Bowland
(Image from


  1. Oooh, I've stayed in Lacock and it's luverly. They use it to film lots of period pieces, it is that beautiful. It's near the head office of the company I used to work for so have been put up there.

    Only been to Ripon once. Was there with a choir and we sang in the Cathedral, v exciting.

    Lancaster is just down the road for me. I like bits of it but that one way system drives me mad. :)

  2. LMAO at East Kilbride! Although to be fair, I do remember a very nice woodland walk only a few minutes from Colin's house, and the shopping centre did seem pretty huge. (I think you remember more than me - where did Brian work??)

    Ripon is lovely, but we've only ever driven through on our way to Lightwater Valley (A's "favourite place"). And I have been meaning to go to Lancaster with the kids for ages.

  3. I've never been anywhere in Scotland, we must visit as I keep hearing how lovely it is. I too am glad that the north is well represented in the list, I'm a Yorkshire girl born and bred in Leeds.

  4. Hooray for the North! I'm a Northerner in exile in Bedfordshire sadly. But there are hidden gems near me, which I've blogged about (under the Bedfordshire tag).

  5. My sister lives in Colchester :-)
    It does get missed out due to it being in Essex and having a garrison, but unless you're in certain pubs any boozy squaddies are easy to avoid!

  6. Haha I now live in East Kilbride. They've extended the shopping centre, but half of it is kinda neglected. I'm sure there's been some improvement since you last visited, but the town centre is a little depressing and the swimming pool/complex has been shut for "refusbishement" for about 2 years. Everywhere else in EK is nice though :)


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