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Issue 34 - Gary O'Brien

Scotland Magazine Issue 34
August 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Gary O'Brien

In the final instalment of Celebrity Scotland, Christopher Fisher speaks to Scottish actor Gray O'Brien, best known for playing Billy Davies in Scotland's leading soap River City and his cameo appearance in film The Queen

Gray talks about his Scottish roots Do you find with your filming commitments, you don’t get very much time to enjoy Scotland?

“Yep. We are very lucky, because for River City we have a disused whisky warehouse which is four miles from Loch Lomond. Often we have lunch there. It has to be known for me to jump in the car and go off as you are positioned at the start of Loch Lomond.” With more viewers tuning into River City through satellite channels, do you think it puts Glasgow on the map for you?

“From my point of view, I wouldn’t say it is a great advert because let’s face it, it’s a look at real life in a dramatic sense and what people get up to. It’s not glamorous. Shows such as Monarch Of The Glen, 2000 Acres Of Skye are the glamour shows and the picture postcards that people want to visit. I don’t think people would want to visit Shieldinch. I’m not saying they shouldn’t because they can do a tour, I’ve just done a little film they can see when they go in. But it’s not a good advert for Glasgow”

Tell us about your favourite Scottish places.
“My favourite place in the whole world? I think, my first trip was when I was 15, so it must be Glen Etive which is between Glen Coe and Bridge of Orchy.

“It’s a great place. I often go on my own and I love to camp – I’ve always loved that. And for some reason I always go back to the same place.

“On Glen Etive there are more midges than anywhere I know in the world. I’ve tried every sort of cream but they eat through absolutely everything. Often you end up cutting your trip shorter. I have to say, for a peaceful, quiet place, I’ve never been anywhere like it. It’s a great way to clear your head; it’s my only tranquil place.

“As a dad, my favourite family place is the Isle of Arran, especially Auchrannie. It’s a family hotel, there’s a spa. Arran’s great because it’s a little adventure – you get a boat ride over. I have been going there since I was 15, too. Up Corrie and camping up Goatfell. It’s a nice place to go, Connor loves it, especially for the boat and you do feel like you have gone away somewhere.

“We like castles too; we like going up to Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, The Wallace Monument. If you buy a ticket with Historic Scotland for the whole year you can get into all these places for as many times as you like.”

Gray’s Scotland

Glen Etive is perfect for being in the heart of climbing country; two favourites are the nearby Ben Starav and Glen Coe mountain ranges. The stunning scenery draws visitors to the area; in fact its distinct beauty makes you think that you are somewhere far away from Scotland.

Magical and serene Loch Etive is very much centre-stage; this is a retreat like nowhere else

Scotland’s most Southerly island is perfect for family trips, as Gray said.

The island is likened to ‘Scotland in miniature’ and has lots of things to see and do. The perfect place to stay is at the Auchrannie Resort where you can choose between the spacious Auchrannie House Hotel with its traditional charm and sweeping views, or the Auchrannie Spa with its restful facilities and luxury accommodation. Whatever you choose, a superb holiday can be had here: don’t forget to visit one of Scotland’s most breathtaking beauty spots at Glenashdale Falls and, for mums and dads, the Isle of Arran Distillery is worth visiting for a tantalising tipple!

Auchrannie Resort:

Historic Scotland preserves over 500 historical years from across the country. Gray’s suggestion is a good one; becoming a member can unlock many secrets from yesterday’s Scotland. For just £37, an adult ticket will give you access to 70 properties. Highlights include the awe-inspiring Urquhart Castle, extraordinary Elgin Cathedral and elegant Dunfermline Abbey.

Historic Scotland: