Once a tiny fishing village, the Italian Riviera town of Portofino is now a magnet for celebrity sun-seekers. How to get there? By yacht, dahling! Yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z anchored o these pretty shores for Bey’s 33rd birthday in September last year. They were spotted strolling the cobbled streets hand in hand, Bey in a floral print bikini and sarong with foil tattoos. The pair even inadvertently gatecrashed a wedding after walking into a local church.
Flanked by olive trees and a jewel-toned ocean, Portofino sprawls up a mountainside dotted with castles and villas. As yachts float below, the promontory and piazza are alive with chic cafés serving up the tastiest seafood. Portofino is discreetly A-list despite being a long-standing celebrity favourite: Denzel Washington celebrated his 27th wedding anniversary here, and fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh shot Emily Blunt, Adriana Lima and Cate Blanchett on this patch of Mediterranean paradise.
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The loch is well hidden among conifer woodlands with Dagger Island covered in Scots pine and looking like something out of Arthur Ransome. Near the west end of the circuit, a board lists ducks galore, coot, moorhen, greylag, swan and other birds. Exit across a minor road to Lochside car park.
From the entrance of the car park take the Balvormie footpath/forest track up through the trees to eventually reach the big Balvormie surfaced car park beside another minor road (play area off right). Cross it; there’s a pond, left, and right, a sign for Cockleroy. You reach yet another minor road and the Cockleroy car park.
From the far end of the car park (noticeboard) a path/track leads up a dark tree tunnel so there is a sharp contrast when you suddenly come out to the breezy open hillside beyond (gate/stile). A steep five-minute ascent lands you on the summit of Cockleroy with its view indicator, trig point and 360-degree panorama which rates among the best in the Lowlands – from Bass Rock to Goat Fell is not bad for 278m (912ft) in the middle of the Lowlands. The wide saddle of the Cauldstane Slap in the Pentlands, the rock fin of Binny Craig, the crouching lion shape of Arthur’s Seat, the hunky stump of the Bass Rock, all lie to the east.