|The A to Z of Scottish Places: Gazetteer B|
The A to Z of Scottish Places: B
B is for...
Made famous as the backdrop to the classic comedy film Whisky Galore, Barra is the most southern of the major islands that make the chain that is the Outer Hebrides. The road that encircles Barra is only fifteen miles long but although small, the island boasts over a thousand varieties of flowers and has been referred to as the Garden of the Hebrides. There are frequent flights but as it has no airstrip, planes land on the beach at Cockle Strand. Castlebay is the island's chief port and as the name suggests there is the ruin of Kishmul Castle on an island in the bay. This dates to 1427 and belonged to the MacNeils of Barra. The peaks of Heaval and Ben Eoligarry have fine views of the surrounding area.
Adjacent to Glasgow, Bearsden has the headquarters of East Dunbartonshire council. There is evidence of roman activity in the area, and preserved portions of the Antonine Wall can be seen. The name comes from the Old English for "boar's valley" indicating good hunting at one time in the area. With a reputation as an exclusive residential district, there are many fine examples of Victorian and 20th century houses. The Glasgow Vetinary College has its base in Bearsden.
Founded in the 19th century industrial boom, Bellshill suffered several times from high unemployment in the depressions of the following century and is now largely a dormitory town. A large group of Lithuanians who were prisoners of war from the Crimea, stayed on in Scotland and for almost a hundred years had their own tight-knit community in Bellshill, publishing their own newspaper and having their own priest. "Modern Girl", pop star Sheena Easton, also came from the town.
Another Glaswegian dormitory town, expansion in the 1960s gave Bishopbriggs the reputation of being a "spam valley", a place where owners struggled to pay their mortgages and were forced to eat the cheapest food to cope. The name Bishopbriggs derives from "Bishop's fields" and not "bridges" as the name suggests. The extra 'b' has probably crept in through lazy speech over the years. The town was one of the first in the Glasgow area to have its own dedicated Sports Centre, and has recently added new retail parks at its northern end. One of the most distinctive buildings at the town cross is the almost gothic Crow Tavern.
... Loch Broom
This sea loch stretching north-west into the North Minch contains the fishing and resort town of Ullapool from which one can catch the ferry to the Isle of Lewis. Banked on each side by high hills the loch can be bright with sunshine or veiled in shadow depending on the time of day. Ullapool is a bright white-washed village constructed with almost military precision in 1788 by the Fisheries Association. The loch has seen its share of foreign ships over the years with Ullapool being a favourite liberty point for Russians working on factory ships offshore. A trip up the loch to the Summer Isles is a pleasant way to spend a summer morning or afternoon.