After being here near Perth for six months now, the days are drawing out and even the sun is making an appearance the Dude and I are making plans for Summer. This even includes buying new bikes so I am sure the will be many a tale told from those adventures. But last weekend we decided to take a trip on the train and spent the day visiting Dundee.
Having already done a bit of research we knew that this historic city on the Firth of Tay has a lot of history and so much to offer, and that there was no way we could cram it all in on one visit. Dundee has seen much industry in its harbour and city. The manufacturing of textiles, linen and jute. Whaling and of course, ship building, notably the Antarctic research vessel of Robert Falcon Scott, RRS Discovery. This was to be our first point of call.
The twenty or so minute train ride from Perth cost us a little over £8 each return and the views are really pretty across the Tay estuary as it meets the river Earn, green fields, roe deer grazing. Things we may well have missed or not been privy to had we been in the car.
The train station is directly opposite Discovery Point but the first things we were hit with as we left the station were of the building work, cranes and how much it felt like being on a building site. The waterfront regeneration project is well underway now and includes the new V&A Museum of Design and is due to be completed in 2017.
The staff on the desk at the RRS Discovery were friendly and helpful, explaining that it is a self guided tour, there are many interactive parts to the tour and short films too. So off we ventured in the footsteps of these intrepid explorers.
Learning about the history of the ship and it’s crew (including a cat) there was lots to read and listen to but all done in a way that it could be taken in (even for someone like me who takes ages to read anything). To break up all the reading there are audio visuals too and a few hands on more interactive things if you have little ones with you.
The tales of this magnificent ships sailings and her 1901 Antarctic expedition really are fascinating. Forty nine members of crew including Ernest Shackleton, polar explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. A march that led a party of three men and twenty two dogs farthest south to latitude 82°.
We saw samples that were taken during her sea faring days of creatures and plants found.
We probably spent a good two hours looking around before actually going outside on to the Discovery. Take in as much as possible and learn about this amazing piece of history which started life in Dundee.
You may wonder why would I put a photograph of a door handle on this post but think about it, how much history is in this door and the stories it could tell (if it wasn’t a door knob, obviously). The people that have touched it etc. I have got a thing about doors anyway but that is another story altogether!
Look at the Dude’s face. Like a pig in the proverbial. Anything to do with explorers, climbers, mountains and the sea and he loves it. We have so many books about expeditions and Shackleton he was dead excited to tread in their footsteps aboard the Discovery.
After leaving the Discovery we wandered into the city centre just a short five minute walk. We found a great cafe where we ate soup and a sandwich for just £5.50 but I can’t remember the name of it, sorry!
We also found the VisitScotland iCentre in City Square (where the farmers market was on) to ask if there was Dandy/Beano trail that we could follow but sadly there isn’t. Personally, I think the city is missing a trick there. I grew up reading the Beano with Dennis the Menace up to his tricks and it provided many a chuckle! I really think D C Thompson and Dundee city should make more of this part of city history.
The next part of our planned day was to visit the McManus Galleries. This fantastic free attraction is well worth a visit for the building in it’s own right and is also in the centre of the city
With eight separate galleries within the McManus Galleries there is something for everyone. Ever wondered what the skeleton of a hump back whale looks like? Well now you can see it for yourself! This beautiful creature found itself swimming into the Firth of Tay in 1883 and to meet its end. It was harpooned but managed to escape, only to be found a week later at Stonehaven. It was recorded to be a magnificent 40 feet long and since 2011 has been on display in Dundee.
As I said the building in it’s own right is stunning too.
I found the Victoria Gallery, which holds historic oil paintings, to be fascinating. There is a painting of some highland cattle which I was completely sucked in by. So realistic, atmospheric and just beautiful. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it (I obviously did eventually!).
On the opposite end of the scale to these oil paintings we found a piece of more modern art. Recycled or up-cycled, whichever you prefer, but 200 plastic bottles now making a lovely light which would brighten up any space.
We really did enjoy our day out and will definitely be visiting Dundee again as I feel we have only just scratched the surface of this historic city. We are already looking forward to going back and maybe doing the Oor Wullie Trail later in the Summer. If you have any hidden Dundee gems you wish to share please let me know.