This was a car journey from London to Edinburgh and back with my Dad,
sister Melanie, and Shane Neal (before they were engaged). We rented a Ford Mondeo
station wagon in London, and went on a trip to see as much as possible in five days.
I did all the driving on the trip and booked accommodations ahead of time in Bed &
Breakfasts. We meandered a bit on the journey to Edinburgh, traveling west of London
to Stonehenge, and up through the Cotswold region to Stratford, and then
to Iron Bridge, and up to the beautiful old city of Chester. Then we
drove through the Lake District, and into Scotland. When we reached Scotland,
via the motorway, we headed northeast to Edinburgh. As we drove, we noticed the
exit for Lockerbie was still blocked off (where the Pan American plane
crashed in 1988, as a result of a terrorist bomb), about five years after the
tragedy. I guess it was to prevent curiosity seekers from entering the town
from the motorway. We continued for a while and then exited the motorway
onto a scenic route that went to Edinburgh. I enjoyed driving through the
desolate, sparsely populated, countryside, with its smooth green mountains
and purple heather. I would have enjoyed driving further north to the
Scottish Highlands to see the really rugged topography that I have heard
so much about in the books and travel shows, but alas, we just didn't have enough
time for that. Maybe someday? We did make a short stop at a waterfall along the Tweed
River, which beckoned our indulgence, with a fine old stone bridge shaped in the form
of an arch, which was timeless.
We reached our B&B accommodation in Edinburgh by 5:00 p.m., as Edinburgh
traffic was less congested than had been expected. Check-in at the B&B was not as perfunctory
as normal, for the owners took extra special care to welcome us and question us about where
we came from in America, etc. After dropping our bags in the rooms, and receiving various
instructions about the lights and showers, we proceeded to walk less than a mile to central
Edinburgh to take in the atmosphere that evening. We were lucky to hit Edinburgh right
during the annual Edinburgh Film Festival, International Festival, and Fringe
Festival--all at once--which attract a lot of visitors and carnival-like performers. We
watched some jugglers, fire-eaters, street comedians, and listened to the ranting of a rather
elderly Scottish preacher, as we slowly ambled across the courtyard of the National Art Gallery.
There was quite a crowd of people standing around watching, too. We struck up a few conversations
with people, particularly with one young Scotsman who seemed to be very curious about us
and began talking to us rather enthusiastically because we were American. My Dad is a very
sociable person, and it seems like everywhere we went on this trip he became engaged in
conversations with all sorts of people, quite easily.
The next day, Dad and I toured Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Church in
the morning, and walked by the Scottish Parliament building, and parts of Edinburgh University.
The weather was very pleasant, and I would have loved to stay another day in Edinburgh, but
as fate would have it, it was time for us to move on. Melanie and Shane decided to defer
the chance to tour the castle in favor of shopping for a suitable souvenir kilt for
Shane's Scottish roots. However, they came to the predictable conclusion that kilts
were too expensive to invest in at this particular point in time, which didn't surprise
me, so they missed out on a good view of the city from the castle. What a pity!
On this trip, it was a challenge to stay on schedule with these folks, but I kept
us moving along and we had a terrific time. Here is our itinerary for the round-trip from
London to Edinburgh and back: Stonehenge, Castle Combe, Cotswold's, Stratford on Avon, Iron
Bridge, Chester, Lake District, Edinburgh, Hadrian's Wall, Durham, York, Lincoln,
Cambridge...and back to London. All-in-all, it was a great trip--just too darn fast!
Here is Melanie, Dad, and Shane with a bagpipe player at the border of Scotland and England
at what is known as the "border stone." It was a very hilly area and quite misty at the time.
|On the way back to London we visited the historic city of York, which used to
be a large Roman provincial capital. We walked on a long section of the medieval wall and
explored the city center. One of the highlights was the "shambles," which means butcher's
street, a narrow street dating back to medieval times with a lot of old buildings. We stayed in
a bed & Breakfast a couple of blocks outside of the medieval wall.||
Click here for a map of Scotland | Edinburgh