historic castles and stunning natural beauty but the less energetic have started a new craze , swapping Munros for the new sport of castle bagging.Touring the country and visiting the most castles in a weekend has become a popular pastime for recession hit Brits.
Historic Scotland has noticed an increase in the number of visitors to their properties who say they are on a mission to bag the most castles they can. Edinburgh Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in the whole of the UK They have realised around 20 visitors a month are making the most of Scotland’s multiplicity of strongholds and travelling around to visit them as a day out or weekend away. One family even managed to visit 20 properties in just seven days. In today’s credit crunch Britain one in five people are choosing to holiday at home – staycations as some people say – and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage. Historic Scotland is taking advantage of the situation and offering six months free on their family membership when you buy 12 months. Families will pay just £6.16 a month to get free access to more than 70 properties across Scotland and can bag as many castles as they like. To celebrate the Make Your Own History campaign they are challenging families to take up the new craze in a search to find the country’s most cultured family. Barbara Smith, executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “We have noticed an increase in visitors who say they are trying to visit as many castles as possible. It seems to have become a bit of a sport to see who can “bag” the most. “Historic Scotland looks after more than 60 castles across the country so there’s plenty to choose from. It’s a great way in the current climate for families to spend quality time together and get out and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage for themselves. “The hard part is choosing which castles to visit and how much time to spend there as there is so much to see and do. We’d love to find the family who have bagged the most of our castles to date.” I have drawn up a list of the top ten castles in Scotland . You can debate this list in our castles forum Elaine and Alistair Greig are possible contenders after notching up 39 castles around Scotland. The enthusiasts enjoy spending time with their children Ewan, seven, and Eilidh, five, touring Scotland’s keeps.
Elaine said: “I’ve loved visiting castles ever since I was a little girl and my children love it now too. Their favourite pastime at the weekend is a visit to Edinburgh Castle. They can run around for hours at a time and let their imagination go wild. “It’s a great way to spend time together as a family. We often take a picnic with us when we go for the day. We are spoilt for choice in Scotland with the number of beautiful historic properties we have and they are perfect for families to explore. “All young children love the history behind castles and the people who live there like knights and kings and every property has its own unique story.” And foreign tourists are getting in on the act with one German family visiting 35 sites in 10 days and a Spanish couple managing 37 in 14 days. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the new trend is slightly less strenuous than Munro bagging but still a great way to spend a day out enjoying Scotland’s natural beauty.
David Gibson, Chief Officer for The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s castles and mountains are inextricably linked though their history and beauty and are both set in wonderful scenic landscapes that are great to explore. Like munro-bagging, castle bagging carries a health warning – it can be seriously addictive.” Historic Scotland will reward the family who can bag the most castles in a weekend. The winning family will be reimbursed for entry. For more information on Historic Scotland and the full terms and conditions of the membership offer visit www.6monthsfree.co.uk
Fuji has a wide range of digital cameras from compacts to bridge cameras . The Fuji S9600 is one of the best bridge cameras ever made . Instead of reinventing the hugely successful Fuji S9500, the S9600 sees the introduction instead of some carefully-chosen improvements. Improving LCD size, image sharpness and low light autofocus, the new camera acts as a definite upgrade to its predecessor. The camera has a very impressive zoom lens; covering the crucial 28-300mm range, and crafted from the highest standard Fujinon optics, this is a built-in lens that has been engineered to work perfectly with the camera’s sensor technology. And the sensor technology is just as advanced – a nine million effective pixel Super CCD and Real Photo Processor combination that not only delivers on detail, but also the major image quality milestones: colour, low noise, dynamic range and sensitivity. The wide angle end is ideal for landscapes . Middle of the range focal lengths ( 100 to 150 mm ) can be used for portraits . The telephoto end is perfect for sports . People that use the S9600 will not miss many shots. There is no annoying wait as a motor extends the lens (it is already in position), and the autofocus locks on to subjects with a speed that will make you think twice as to whether this really is not a DSLR. With its use of manual zoom ring, dials and buttons for important functions, the S9600 is designed for photographers who do not want their camera to get in the way of their photography. The S9600 design allows you to do many things that you can’t with a digital SLR. For instance, using the 2-inch LCD to compose your image, rather than having to lift the camera to cover your eye.The LCD has a double hinge which allows you to change the angle of it to suit you depending on the angle you want to hold the camera at . You can hold the camera at waist level or ground level if you want a low angle . If you are shooting close-ups you can set the LCD screen at any angle between vertical and horizontal ie a full 90 degrees to play with . Using the zoom to reach virtually any of the major focal lengths, rather than having to change lenses and possibly see harmful dust enter the camera, not to mention missing the shot. Also, the mirror-free design allows you to enjoy the added functionality of a movie mode, which is something that SLRs cannot offer.
The lens is fixed to the camera – not only will the interior of the camera be protected from dust and the elements, but you also have an incredible zoom range at your disposal.It’s easy to zoom from one end of the zoom to the other with one movement . Fujinon optics have an enviable reputation within the photography industry for their clarity and quality, and the lens on the S9600 lives up to the name. The 13 elements include one hybrid aspherical element; one glass moulded aspherical element, as well as ED glass. Furthermore, photography enthusiasts will like the manual twist barrel zoom control, as well as the manual focusing ring, both giving pinpoint control. One of the more visible improvements on the S9600 is the large 2-inch LCD monitor, mounted on a tiltable axis on the back of the camera. Possessing an extremely detailed display of 235,000 pixels, it enables you to check focus and get an immediate idea of image sharpness. Unlike an SLR, you will find yourself able to shoot above your head and from the floor, unlocking amazing shooting potential. This camera is about a lot more than just nine million pixels. Super CCD technology has long been associated with class-leading performance in top-end digital cameras. Unlike generic image sensors, this system is developed and manufactured entirely in-house, and is performance only available from Fujifilm. Compared to the S9500, the S9600 sees refinements in the area of image sharpness, delivering a bitingly crisp rendition of reality. Furthermore, the impressive ISO range of 100-1600 means that you will get great, blur-free results in all light, not just daylight. Because of its incredible potential in low light conditions, the S9600’s auto focus has been further improved, enabling it to find focus more quickly in dim conditions. Fuji S9600