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The innovative sculpture park near Edinburgh is reopening for summer, marking its second decade with new commissions and an art and music festival

‘You imagine what you desire,” reads an arty light sculpture in the grounds of Jupiter Artland. It’s my first visit to this privately owned sculpture park five miles west of Edinburgh and I’m feeling rather overwhelmed – Jupiter is a destination that challenges easy definitions. It has more than 100 acres of fields and woods, with views across rolling countryside to the Pentland hills, and dozens of permanent installations. Several of these artworks incorporate small buildings, islands or terraced slopes.

On a hilltop stands a huge, nebulous, humanoid steel sculpture by Anthony Gormley. From it I can see as far as the Forth Bridges. There’s also a terrifying caged hole by Anish Kapoor called Suck, but my favourite work is Stone Coppice by Andy Goldsworthy, where quarried boulders nest in the branches of growing coppiced trees. Wandering through another part of the estate, I see Goldsworthy has fixed harvested branches from the coppicing upright inside a stone-walled shed to create a linked work, Coppice Room.

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21 April 1969 We found them grazing disconsolately on the edge of the forest, a 1000 feet below their usual habitat

The Cairngorms
Even the reindeer seemed to find the arctic conditions trying in the Cairngorms the other day for we found them grazing disconsolately on the edge of the forest – a thousand feet lower down the mountain than their usual habitat. Higher up, on the skiing slopes, we were battling with ice, mist, blizzards and bitingly cold winds – all at the same time. In retrospect we might enjoy the ordeal but at the time the reindeer seemed the sensible ones. And yet, a few days earlier atop a Lake District fell, we had been skiing in warm sunshine with not enough breeze to ripple the pools among the rocks and clear-cut views to the Scottish border and beyond.

Related: Country diary: Cairngorm, Highlands: Reindeer are perfect for the high life

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With the nation blinded by Brexit, it’s easy to lose sight of how varied, fascinating and often beautiful these islands are. So we asked 50 writers to celebrate what’s great about the UK

A short sail across the Firth of Clyde on a red-funnelled Caledonian MacBrayne ferry takes me to the wonderful sight of the Isle of Arran, cutting through the water, with Goatfell to the right and Holy Isle just in view off the picturesque village of Lamlash. These are the coordinates of joy, no matter the weather. It’s a place of family holidays, parties, friendship and, for me, creativity. I love to travel the wonderful “String” road – climbing high out of Brodick, over the moors and down into the fertile valley and the beach at Blackwaterfoot, blasting music into the blue cloud-blown sky – eat at the Drift Inn in Lamlash, and walk through the historic gardens at Brodick Castle. I first stayed on the island when I was not two years old and, according to my parents, in the bedroom of the B&B I ripped the wallpaper off the wall beside my cot, much to the landlady’s fury. That was before we had a car, and I was carted around the island on a bike. I go to Arran whenever I can. It was the setting for my first novel, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle and on 1 September I’ll be at the Clamjamfry – the arts and music festival named for the Scottish word for a rabble. I’ll speak about eight pieces of art that have inspired me, and I’ll choose them all from the island, chief among them Craigie Aitchison’s luminous and intense paintings of Holy Isle, a place he loved.
Kirsty Wark, Newsnight presenter and Landmark Trust ambassador. Her new novel, The House by the Loch (Two Roads, £16.99), is out on 13 June

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From Cornish boutique rooms to a west Highlands bunkhouse we sift for value among arrivals on the hotel and hostel scene

On the coast in Marazion by St Michael’s Mount, the boutique Mount Haven hotel has been extensively refurbished and reopens on 7 April. An additional bedroom brings the total to 20, while the new restaurant and terrace have sweeping ocean views – the perfect backdrop to modern, seafood-rich cuisine. It’s on the South West Coast Path, so ideal for walkers, and there’s plenty for art lovers too, with the galleries of Newlyn and St Ives nearby. Rooms range from the “Snug” category to spacious “Blissful Bay” – and there’s a treatment room for massages and facials.
• Doubles from £100 B&B, mounthaven.co.uk

Related: 50 of the best hotels and B&Bs in the UK

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Staffin, Isle of Skye: The white dust of industry once cloaked house and roadside here

Contrary to some reports, the Isle of Skye is not full and closed to visitors. Indeed, outside a few localities where tourists gather and throng, much of it is empty, its wide acres visited only by an occasional bird of prey. One of these – a kestrel – swirls above me, barely noticed by the handful of tourists strolling along the footpath from Flodigarry on the north-eastern coast of the Trotternish peninsula. Like my son Angus and me, they will not reach the snow-cloaked basalt pillars of the Quiraing a mile or so away. The days are too short and air too sharp and cold to venture far.

In the past, those who journeyed this route would have been crofters, going to the moor for peats for their fires or, as they still do today, to round up sheep. Folklore has it that they might even have carried a caman or shinty stick in this direction: the hidden plateau of A’ Chuith-Raing, the “round fold” that gave the Quiraing its name, being an ideal pitch.

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From Bath to Belfast, these destinations are all compact enough for a short break yet packed with culture, shopping and great food

Lovely at any time of year, Cambridge is at its prettiest in spring. Daffodils and crocuses cover The Backs – the riverside land behind the colleges – and cherry blossom fills the parks. Many of the colleges have beautiful gardens (evening song at Christ’s College and King’s chapels adds charm) – and don’t miss the 40-acre Botanic Garden.

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‘Going for a run’ is exhilarating when forests and mountains are the backdrop. Two trail runners pick six stunning routes for beginners from their new book

There’s no doubt that running as a pastime is booming; big city marathons report record numbers of entries – London received over 250,000 applications for its 40,000 places in 2018 – and Parkrun interest has soared, from 13 runners in 2004 to over three million globally today. But the focus has always been parks and pavements, with off-road running dominated by cross-country and fell races. Now, more of us are venturing into fields, forests, moors and mountains in search of a wilder kind of running.

Trail running allows you to experience the thrill of running through spectacular landscapes without the need for tricky navigation, and you don’t need to be an expert runner. Here are six routes that are great for beginners – all you need are running shoes and you’re off.

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Bothies, free to use by anyone out in remote parts of the UK, are more popular than ever. But they’re maintained by veteran volunteers and need younger blood if they are to survive for future generations

The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) is a charity made up of volunteers who maintain more than 100 remote shelters across England, Wales and Scotland. It was founded in 1965 by Bernard Heath after he spotted a remark in the visitor book at the Backhill of the Bush bothy in Galloway Forest park, suggesting the setting up of a club to save a growing number of deserted farm buildings from ruin.

Plaque on the door of a bothy maintained by the MBA

This bothy, the Lookout on the Isle of Skye, is a former coastguard station that was operational until the 1970s

The Glendhu bothy (on the left), in the far north-west of Scotland, is one of 83 Scottish shelters

Reaching a bothy requires some determination – which has meant they have become the preserve of hill walkers and rock climbers

(Above left) Any luxuries must be carried in, as in the case of this visitor to Glendhu, who brought his own cooking pot when he stopped overnight on his way north to Cape Wrath. The Instagram factor of bothies such as the Eagle’s Nest (right) on the Isle of Lewis has attracted many more visitors, bringing record numbers of visitors to remote parts of Scotland

Top, Cuillin Horseshoe, Isle of Skye; bottom, a cyclist approaches the bothy at Kearvaig Bay in Cape Wrath

Clockwise from top left: in 2017, the MBA spent £80,000 on maintenance across the properties in its care. All the materials for the work party at Glendhu Bothy have to be carried in; with no access to power tools; and it’s veteran volunteers like Robert Barton who do the lion’s share of the work

The unforgiving weather in the far north of Scotland takes its toll on the buildings

Peter, an MBA volunteer, boats the work party and materials in to Glendhu

Clockwise from top left: Building materials rest on the front of the building as volunteers start work at Glendhu Bothy; while volunteer Robbie repairs a skylight, he is kept in place with a harness counterweighted with a bag of rocks; a fully stocked fireplace at the end the end of the working day

Candles flicker and illuminate the bothy as volunteers eat and socialise at the Glendhu Bothy work party

In 2015, a storm ripped off the roof of Strabeg Bothy in Sutherland. The building was only saved by the quick actions of the MBA volunteers

A young German volunteer sweeps the bothy at the end of a successful work party at Glendhu Bothy

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Visits to the wilds of Scotland by the burgeoning Chinese middle class are up six-fold in the past decade – and there’s no sign the numbers are letting up

The vast, wild landscapes of the Scottish Highlands have long lured tourists, but now a visit is becoming something of a status symbol among China’s growing number of middle-class or wealthy families. In 2017, of the 337,000 visitors from China who travelled to the UK, 62,000 went to Scotland, an almost sixfold increase since 2009, according to VisitScotland. Edinburgh is now the second most-visited city in the UK by Chinese tourists, after London, and last summer direct flights began between the Scottish capital and Beijing.

Tour operators offering Chinese travellers packages to the Highlands advertise the area simply as “Utopia”. “Taking the road north, time stops here,” says one for the Isle of Skye. Others promote the chance to visit locations seen in the Harry Potter films: “Relive the magic of your childhood.”

Related: Deal to double flights between UK and China takes off

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Authors, travel and nature writers pick routes in the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Scenic Areas that take on a special aura in winter

Start Chace End
Finish North Hill
Distance/time 9.3 miles/5 hours
Refuel The Red Lion, Malvern

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