Arthur’s Seat… Edinburgh, Scotland

9-16-2015:

Holyrood Park is a short walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the heart of the city. It is a 640 acre Royal Park adjacent to Holyrood Palace. The highest point of Holyrood Park is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that sits 251 m above sea level giving excellent views of the city.

Edinb_day2-1110824We begin trekking up the hill and Randy quickly finds a new friend. Local citizens of Edinburgh can be found hiking in the park ready to help with directions and are a valuable travel resource.

 

Edinb_day2-1110855During the last stretch to the summit we are joined by a doctor from Japan who has been attending a medical conference in Scotland. We engage in lively conversation, taking our minds off the strenuous task at hand.

Edinb_day2-1110834We triumphantly reach the top.

Edinb_day2-1110866rThe doctor has been photographing these two Lego dolls, representing his own two children, in Scottish locations as he tours the country. It’s his way of including them in his travels and I could tell from our conversation that he truly loves and misses his family.Edinb_day2-1110869After sharing the touching Love Rock story with him, he asks to use the rock I received while camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota and poses it with his two “kids.” Click on the link, Love Rock, if you are unfamiliar with the story.

Edinb_day2-1110808Spectacular views from all around…

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We savor this escape from our current urban travel life and enjoy the tranquility of the moment.

Meet Margaret and Vera… librarians across the globe.

Cullen-1100775rA community library serves as a resource for people of all ages and interests. Meet Margaret, the friendly and helpful librarian in Cullen, Scotland. If traveling in a region, the librarian can provide a wealth of local information for its residents and visitors.

Cullen-1100776rMargaret is a caring, conscientious person having a wonderful rapport with people of all ages and we notice a good mix of personalities and ages utilizing the facilities.

Cullen-1100777crSince Cullen, Scotland is located right on the coast of the North Sea along the Firth of Moray, it is appropriate to have a historical display of fishing equipment and coordinating books.

Cullen-1100778Visiting a community library provides a fantastic opportunity to explore things to see and do in the area, current local affairs/concerns with a local historical perspective.  Thank you, Librarian Margaret of Cullen, Scotland, for your helpfulness and we appreciated your helpful advice and services.

{CF645042-DE84-457D-8EE8-34FFEF2C11ED}We’d like to extend an invitation to check out the following link and visit the Gary, South Dakota City Library. Interested in area history? Genealogy research? Want to curl up by the fire with a good book? Librarian, Vera Meyer, will go out of her way to help you feel welcome, answer any questions you may have with a variety of resources at her fingertips.  While you are at it, you may as well get to know some members of the community by working on a puzzle or play a round or two of Marbles (a popular card game)!

Rest in Peace…

We had the opportunity to visit this unique and special resting place for pets of all kinds near Cullen Harbour Hostel in Cullen, Scotland on September 8, 2015. Stevie was one of the first local residents we met along the shoreline and it seems as though everyone in town knows and loves him.

The Cullen, Scotland pet cemetery started in 1992, after a local doctor asked local resident, Stephen (Stevie) Findlay, to bury her pet Spaniel and he later decided to bury his own beloved pet nearby. I was not aware of the controversy concerning the cemetery encroaching onto neighboring grassland until stumbling upon a newspaper article (Click on the link) published September 23, 2015 in the Daily Mail: Fears over future of seafront pet cemetery…

These are “straight out of my small travel” camera images and not as artistic as those featured in the Daily Mail article linked above.

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Cullen-1100818 What a view…

Harbour Hostel in Cullen, Scotland

September 8, 2015:

We follow the directions from the Cullen, Scotland bus stop to our hostel for tonight:  Harbour HostelCullen-1100733ecrNice and roomy and we are delighted to find ourselves the lone occupants of this 16 bed hostel.

Cullen-1110031The kitchen is supplied with a stove, dishes, pots and pans, refrigerator and more…

A-h-h-h… Let’s stay two nights.

Cullen-1110186Day two finds us gaining a roommate.  Meet Bill Nickson Sr., an ex-international professional cyclist with many notable victories in his career, including the overall in the Milk Race (Britain’s most prestigious stage race) and the British National Road Race championships. He also rode and completed the Tour de France. In 1981 he started Bill Nickson Cycles in Leyland, England and his son runs the business now.  He biked into Cullen from the train station (I think, 30 miles away) and is touring the area on bicycle. What a wonderful gentleman!

Cullen-1100736ecrView of the sea from our hostel.

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Elvis’ roots are also in this region and, fate would have it, the hostel has an “old school” record player and at the top of the pile of records is Elvis’ Greatest HitsO.K., let’s stay here a third night.

 

A Final Farewell to the West Highland Way

September 6, 2015:
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Living large at No 6 Caberfeidh B & B in Fort William with a huge Scottish breakfast featuring ham, sausage, eggs, black pudding, tatties, all kinds of cereal, granola, coffee and juice. Most of our nights are in hostel type accomodations so this is a real treat.  Too bad we aren’t hiking 15 miles or more today to wear off our breakfast.

 

whw_day9-1100528eIn front of the B & B, we find the couple from Austria that have been guiding a large group of about 18 people walking the West Highland Way. They are checking into possible lodging options for their 2016 West Highland Way tour.

whw_day9-1100541eShrieks of delight fill the air as we spot the Scottish mother and son on their way to the bus station.

whw_day9-1100542eOh, wow!!  It’s the Canadian minister from the bar last night on her way to church. What an interesting person with a charming, sincere personality. Her name is Donalee Williams and she has a blog which I linked to her name.

whw_day9-1100544eManchester, England claims these two hikers who camped all along the West Highland Way and this gentleman has been observing my hiking speed along the trail. At the bar in Tyndrum, I slowly crept past their table while carrying two pints of beer, trying NOT to spill, to which he commented, “Fastest I’ve seen you walk all day!”

whw_day9-1100550eFinally… It took us longer than expected to get to the new end of the trail sculpture due to all of the bonus socializing this morning. As we continue on to the bus station, we are grateful to have another farewell session with Mike and Stacy who are going the Isle of Skye before returning to Belfast, Ireland.

whw_day9-1100533eFor us, it’s time to catch a bus to pursue new adventures and explore Inverness, Scotland.  Stay tuned…

Here is the short video of our last day in Fort William:

West Highland Way: Kinlochleven to Fort William

September 5, 2015: Kinlochleven to Fort William

WHW_Day7-1100286e While gazing over at the campers cooking their breakfasts, I do a last-minute check to see if I have everything.  Yes, I remembered to get our sandwiches out of the hostel refrigerator and pack them in my backpack. (I have been known to forget!)

whw_day8-1100312eWe start our day with Laura from Berlin. I often find myself thinking of her and hope all is going well with her life.

 

 

whw_day8-1100333eWhat a beautiful site for wild camping, overlooking the town of Kinlochleven. Beautiful weather today and hikers seem to be going at a leisurely pace as if savoring their last day of hiking.
whw_day8-1100444eJoan, AKA The Beast, is ready to tackle the last leg of the hike with Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the U.K., in the background.

whw_day8-1100474eWe are fortunate to be able to share part of this last day with Mike and Stacy (Ireland/Ukraine) as we descend into Fort William. Such a lovely pair…

whw_day8-1100493eThis is the last we see of Leon and his gang from Holland as they are staying in the campground just outside of Fort William. We notice they still have energy to play tricks.  Oh, to be so young again.

We see many runners from the Ben Nevis race walking back to their vehicles with their medals and trophies.  Apparently, I didn’t have enough energy to pull out the camera. After walking 16 miles today, I don’t think we’ll attempt Ben Nevis.

Maybe, some other time.

Mike and Stacy are going on through town to pay homage to the new end of the trail, but we are close to our check-in deadline for the B & B so we must bid them farewell.  Sad to see them go.whw_day8-1100497eWe appear to be faking glee and excitement. Maybe we are a little disappointed to not have all of our WHW friends cheering with us at the end.

Hold on.. Who is that I see chatting in the distance? No, it can’t be.  Yes, it is!!!  Mandy just happens to appear along our route.

whw_day8-1100507creLater, we meet up with Mandy and Karen at a the Grog and Gruel Pub, popular with the Ben Nevis race crowd as you can see by the race numbers in the background. The fun-loving Scottish gentlemen in these photos are our photographers tonight so that we could get some group photos. You can’t help but love the Scottish people.

whw_day8-1100508dmvWe also spend time this evening visiting with a minister from Canada on sabbatical doing research. I can’t remember her research topic…  Could an evening in the pub provide inspiration for a few sermon topics?whw_day8-1100510eCheers to the West Highland Way!
96 miles and we did the WHOLE thing! We may walk slowly, but we never walk backward.

Here is the video of our last day hiking the West Highland Way:

 

West Highland Way: Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy

September 2, 2015:

We make our way to The Green Welly Stop  in Tyndrum, Scotland to pick up snacks for the short 7 mile hike from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy.  I am quite sure that the hikers doing the long twenty-mile walk today are long gone and quite a distance down the trail.

WHW_5-1090816eSurprise! We are delighted to see Scottish friends, Thomas and Allan, just outside the shop. We get in some last-minute chatting and bid them farewell again with best wishes for the remainder of the hike. Sure going to miss those guys…

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According to Google, Tioraidh is a greeting similar to Cheerio in Gaelic. Not sure why it appears on this stone monument.

WHW_5-1090821eRandy is striking up a lively conversation with young Leon towering over him at nearly seven feet. Not surprising that he is a basketball player from Holland.
WHW_5-1090896eScottish mother/son hiking together and going for a long twenty-mile hike today.  We have quite a bit in common since they are also farmers and the mother does daycare for her grandchildren.

WHW_5-1090912eIt’s about time I bring out the Love Rock.  This rock was given to me by a woman camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota and I’ve been carrying it with me on this journey. Click on the Love Rock link for more background information on this heart touching story.
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We enjoy the company of Laura, from Germany, who has just finished her master’s degree and is celebrating by hiking the West Highland Way. I feel as though we are celebrating along with her through this experience.

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The path isn’t too bad today as this is the only rocky, hilly section with uneven footing.

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Sheep creep under the railroad.

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Someone did not watch their step and found a monster sized cow pie. (Wasn’t anyone in our group).

Much of the route today follows a military road. In the years after the 1715 Jacobite uprising the government put a huge amount of effort into building roads and bridges over the length and breadth of the Highlands. Previously, drove routes had existed to move cattle to the lowland markets. This bout of road building was intended to provide a means of moving troops quickly around the interior to suppress rebellion. Those rowdy, high-spirited clans, right? They built some 1200 miles of road and 700 bridges in the years from 1725 and 1767.  ~Undiscovered Scotland.co.ukWHW_5-1090936e

We are tickled to see our Northern Ireland/Ukrainian friends, Michael and Stacy  catching up with us as we near Bridge of Orchy.

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Bridge of Orchy Hotel looks  a little like the background of a Harry Potter movie. We eat our dinner about 2:30 p.m. in the hotel bar while we wait for our room. Since we didn’t sleep that well in the hobbit house last night, we are weary and feel like napping.

It’s time to check in and they inform us that we have been upgraded to a cottage (Our own bathroom/shower, no less!) at no extra charge. Yippee!!  It seems as though two people were in need of a room and they figured the three of us would fare better in the cottage while the couple took the smaller hotel room. Little did we know it was Michael and Stacy who decided to try to get a room instead of waiting the rest of the afternoon for the hostel to open up. (I think they felt in need of a nap, as well.) Thank you!

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From the back door of our cottage, we can easily see the Bridge of Orchy which spans over the River Orchy and dates back to 1751 .

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Our lodging is very posh, it’s cold and rainy outside, so we really want to stay inside where it’s nice and warm.

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I mix some dehydrated peanut butter powder with water, slather it on a prepackaged (doughy?) baguette and we have supper.  Yum?

Laundry is drying, we’ve had hot showers and we are sipping hot tea which means a cozy night in luxury. Z-Z-Z-Z…

Below is today’s video: