Actor and podcaster Nalini Chetty shares her 'best bits' of Scotland

Best Beach
Loch Morlich near Aviemore. It’s huge, sandy, and overlooked by snowcapped mountains. We go up to the Cairngorms every Easter and have done so since I was very young. That beach holds so many memories for me – from visiting as a young child, to picnicking there for my sister’s Hen do, to now being there with my little ones and their cousins. I’ve swum and kayaked in that water. The Scottish Highlands have a charm that never fails to take my breath away.

Best Building
I love a trip to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow’s West End. It’s wildly spectacular from the outside and inside it’s a quirky mixture of priceless pieces and ‘bits and pieces.’ You have Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ alongside a giant stuffed elephant known as ‘Sir Rodger.’ The Spanish Baroque architecture of the building is fairly outlandish, and I think came in for some criticism back in the day but is quite breathtaking. I recall sitting with my baby son on the floor of the huge central hall under the towering replica skeleton of a Diplodocus, listening to an organ recital and thinking what a bonkers mixture of culture and science. I also love that entry is free for everyone.

Best Street
Byres Road is fun. I love the West End of Glasgow. I studied in Bristol and lived down South for many years, but I count myself as an honorary Glaswegian since returning here to work on River City. I love the Òran Mór, the cafes and the Botanics being at one end and Kelvingrove Park the other. It never felt lonely being on maternity leave around there. Such a buzz. The Oxfam bookshop is a particular favourite.  

The National:

Best Childhood Memory
Growing up in a village, I remember being able to go out on my bike with my friends for hours at a time. We would go to each other’s houses, cycle around the fields. I don’t think I could be as free with my kids nowadays no matter where we lived. I remember summers around the age of eight or nine being filled with the geography of the fields. You knew which pavements were good for bumping up, which paths to whizz down, whose mum made the best mini-pizzas and where to go for the best paddling pool. It was so free.

Best Walk or Cycle
I live in Lenzie and at the end of our street there is a nature reserve called ‘Lenzie Moss,’ which has become an extension of our back garden. I have lost count of how many times I’ve been around it. Several hundred I’m guessing. In lockdown I was out there with my daughter in the buggy several times a day. It is a mercurial place, in snow, sun, rain, different times of day – it is transformed. It is overlooked by the Campsie Hills and the view from the open part is lovely. There are deer and heather and unusual fauna that have flourished in the protected environment. The boardwalk has just been improved and I’m ridiculously grateful for the effort that has been put into that by the Moss Association. 

Best view
I found a place in Kilsyth near where I live which is called ‘Barhill Roman Fort.’ It turns out it’s one of the highest forts on the Antonine wall. I love to walk up the woodland path through the bluebells and then you get a view of this beautiful rolling green lawn where the Roman remains are. The mixture of the soft natural landscape and the careful geometrical structure of the ruins is weirdly satisfying. The view over Kelvin valley is gorgeous. The whole spot feels quite spiritual and steeped in history.

Best Shop
My first job at 15 was in Lucas’ ice-cream parlour in Musselburgh. Musselburgh was a bit of a second home. My father owned a chemist’s shop on the high street, and I went to dance classes there. Lucas’ strawberry ice cream is, in my opinion, perfection. When I named my son Luca my mum was concerned that I’d named him after the ice-cream. I didn’t . . . but stranger things have happened. 

Best Scottish Delicacy
Macaroni pies. I had them for the buffet supper at my own wedding. My English friends were at first highly confused, then totally converted.

Best place for alone time
The Grosvenor Cinema or Glasgow Film Theatre. I love going to the cinema on my own to unwind. No debating what to see. No need to share the popcorn. Nothing to distract you. I just lose myself. The closure of the Filmhouse in Edinburgh was so terribly sad. 
It was a special place. I don’t know what I’d do without films to lose myself in. There I can be alone, but never completely alone.

Nalini Chetty will be appearing at Pitlochry Festival Theatre in A Streetcar Named Desire (June 2– September 30) and the premiere of Group Portraits in a Summer Landscape (August 25 – September 28).