Before I launch into our tales of bonny Scotland, it came to my attention that I missed out a very important stop on our journey north from my last blog – Hadrian’s Wall.
On our journey from Keswick to Newcastle, we were bombing along at 70mph (honest!) when we espied a sign which listed Hadrian’s Wall as being no further than a couple of miles away. I turned to Laura:
“Hadrian’s Wall, you want to?”
“Why the hell not?”
Oh autonomy thou art sweet.
So we kept our eyes open for the turning and then subsequently missed it. The roads off the A69 are tiny little things. We drove to the next turning and swerved into the road and zoomed along these very tiny drystone wall sheltered roads until we came to a T-junction with the sign in front of us which read:
< Hadrian’s wall 1 1/2 Hadrian’s wall 1 1/2>
Oh the clarity… we chose to go left and eventually, after getting a little more lost, ended up in a car park and went in search of a map.
According to said map, Hadrian’s Wall was just over the top of the hill so off we went, across the field, dodging sheep and crossing train tracks until we saw what seemed to be a tour guide and a few intrepid followers. At least, we hoped it was a tour guide, he was wearing a skirt kilt.
Upon reaching the selection of rocks that must have been the great barrier that was Hadrian’s Wall, we discovered that it was only a watchtower. A square of bricks and mortar. There was nothing else to see in our vicinity for about a mile either way so we returned to the car and chose to rename the area Hadrian’s Playpen. Wall indeed! All you had to do was walk around the square and you were invading.
Crossing the border of Scotland was oddly exciting. Here was another country, which although so close, I’d never been to.
And so we drove over the border and were greeted very shortly with a brilliantly beautiful view of the sea, some lovely hills and lots of wild heather. I was beginning to like this place already.
Despite the unusual number of speed cameras along our route the journey was incredibly cool. Lots of very pretty stuff indeed. We grew more and more excited – soon we would be in Edinburgh!
And then there we were – the city itself! After a nightmare of trying to find parking, we made our way to our hostel, which we soon found out was not only the best in Edinburgh but one of the top 5 hostels in the world – and it was so cheap too! I mean come on, this place was run by Aussies so it had to rate pretty high on the cool-o-meter already right? I think it was the little touches that made it all so great. Each room was given a theme, our was Beetles, and then each bed was named along with that theme. In our room there was the VW, Stag, and Let It Be to name a few. Laura and I were in beds Stink and Dung. Charming I’m sure. The Castle Rock hostel is right beneath Edinburgh castle and is just above an excellent little square called The Grassmarket with lots of great pubs and restaurants. If you go to Edinburgh, I couldn’t really recommend a better place to stay especially if you’re on a budget.
The Edinburgh pubs were all fantastic. Lots of regional ales for us to try – yum! Not to mention Haggis neeps and tatties (which I heartily recommend by the way people).
We set out our plan of action. Thursday was to be our Castle visiting day and Friday our Highlands adventure extraordinaire. Wednesday night, we found a cosy little jazz club and settled down with some cocktails to let the smoothness of the music make us incredibly drowsy. We retired to bed, ready for the next day – Edinburgh castle!
If there were ever a song which encapsulated our feelings this summer it’s this one. “It’s about looking at the moon and saying NO!”