When we left Lancaster we first drove South by accident and learned the hard way that on the M6 Southbound there is no exit after Lancaster for 17 miles.
Another sad thing was that just about an hour or so after Lancaster somewhere between a few hills “The Bay” (the local Lancaster radio station and Andi’s favorite because they were always playing Scissor Sisters and have the coolest jingle which Passi can already imitate quite well) was gone.
We passed Carlisle and went directly for the Hadrian’s Wall. We took a nice walk along the wall, watched sheep, cows, tourists and painters and got back in the car to drive into the Borders to visit the ruined Abbey’s in Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh. On the first night we stayed in Melrose right next to the Abbey and were of course standing before closed gates in the morning because we got up too early. So there was some more sheep-watching to do to pass the time.
After Melrose we drove to Dryburgh Abbey where Sir Walter Scott is buried. It’s a very quiet place up between the hills and not so easily found. On our way north towards Edinburgh we made a short stop and a picnic (crackers, cookies, some fruit & tea) at Scott’s view. Even thought it’s “just” a scenic view point it is really beautiful up there and this picnic is one of my favorite memories of the whole trip. I did take pictures but none of them do the magnificent landscape any justice and so you must either go there yourself or imagine the lovely green hills, the river and the old woods (and sheep) that have fascinated so many others before me.
Oh and one more thing: if you stay in Melrose for a night have an “ale braised steak” at the King’s Arms. Maybe I am wrong and my memories play tricks on me but it was the best dinner I had in the whole week.
In the afternoon of the 25th we arrived in Edinburgh with no plan and no map. I could write at least 2 pages about the ensuing chaos. It only took us about one and a half hours to find a place to stay (Highstreet Hostel – we couldn’t know there would be a few Monty-python-esque lumberjacks snoring away there) and took of for a walk of the Royal Mile which ended in the Royal Mile Whiskies shop. Before going there we had already taken the standard pictures off of Princes Street (or whatsitcalled?) and been to the Scotch Heritage House (another whisky store). We had dinner at a pub with the interesting name “World’s End” which I had selected by its colorful exterior rather than anything else. We weren’t quite into the Whisky-thing yet and so declined the Glenkinchie, which I still haven’t tried, for an apple crumble as dessert. But bear with me our desserts would soon be changing.
The next morning we took the car to the ‘King’s Stables’ what a fitting name for a parking garage near the castle and visited Edinburgh castle with the Scottish crown jewels. We were there so early we had to wait for the castle to open and even then there was a line of people waiting. When we came out of the castle the line was half across the parking lot in front of the castle. After the visit to the castle we had to go back to the Whisky store to get what Rolland had already dreamed of (if he slept at all with that snoring monster next to us) the whole night: a 1977 28-year old Convalmore.
Afterwards we drove to Stirling to visit the castle there and got ourselves a quick ‘Gregg’s lunch’. The Stirling Castle is well worth a visit because there is a lot of effort being made to restore it to a more original state as the Stuart kings would have seen it. While they are renovating there is a most interesting exhibit helping the visitor explore the archaeological secrets in the castle.
Our route then went through “The Trossachs” – a nationalpark – and we stopped just short of the coast in a really nice little hotel called Falls of Lora. Since we still were not totally into the Whisky thing we quite appreciated the HUGE selection of whiskies in their bar but didn’t take advantage of it and each tried only one single malt.
The next day we would continue to Oban and I will continue my journal tomorrow.