Touring Edinburgh, Scotland

Below you’ll find a few of the images that tickled my funny bone while strolling Edinburgh, Scotland. At the very bottom of this post you will also find a short Youtube video featuring the sights of Edinburgh. My one regret is that I didn’t take a photo of our constant roommate for three nights in Smart City Hostel. Randy met his match in that this outgoing young English man out-talked him. Randy did happen to run into him in the hallway just as the young man was coming home from his night security job, so they did get a “proper” goodbye. Hope all is well…

Edinb_day3-1120104r

Hmmm… I’m not sure if we are “kick ass” enough for this hostel!  Smart City Hostel worked well for us.

Edinb_day3-1120099

Edinb_day2-1110970plcr
Edinb_day3-1120064

I also found the people taking photos of each other at tourist spots interesting…


Edinb_day3-1120066

Edinb_day3-1120070

Edinb_day3-1120073

Edinb_day3-1120076

Edinb_day3-1120058dmv

…and then you have the typical bored kids at a historically significant location ~ Edinburgh Castle.  Bored looks bored in any language.

The short video below features some of the typical tourist spots such as, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood House and Holyrood Abbey, St. Giles Cathedral, Grassmarket…

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…

Edinb_day2-1110844

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

Fife Coastal Path: Anstruther to Elie with an angel

9-14-15:   I believe there are angels among us…  ~Alabama

Yes, so many times when we may be tempted to take a wrong turn down a difficult path, someone appears to help us find our way. Today was no different.

The cold rain is drizzling down on us as we shuffle our way along the muddy path. We approach a coastal church with high tide up to the gated cemetery in front with no easy path around. The sign points to the high tide path which goes away from the coast and is quite long, but we decide that is our best option. Out of nowhere and in the rain, an older woman appears and stops us from taking our chosen path. No, that path is a muddy mess with all this rain and very long. Take these steps up and go around the front of the church, inside the cemetery and go over the stone fence. That will connect to the path directly on the other side of the church.

Anst-1110590We also find the church open for viewing and take refuge from the rain for a while. Coincidence?  I think not. Thank you, Angel lady!

Anst-1110609I believe this structure may be the remains of Lady’s Tower built for Lady Jane Anstruther in the latter part of the 18th century and was used as a bathing house for her. She was a naturist and from this point she was able to enter the bay below without being seen by the local residents of Elie. ~ longdistancewalks.org

Anst-1110663After arriving back at Anstruther, we walk uptown for a rewarding pint and supper. According to this sign there is no need for a babysitter if parents need a night out!!

Anst-1110680rThe evening views in Anstruther are spectacular as we consume our hot, crispy fish & chips. We try NOT to feed the birds as instructed!

Anst-1110688rThe evening walk after fish & chips includes a visit with this gregarious Scottish fisherman. Mackerel are the fruits of his labors today which will be sold to area restaurants.

Anst-1110707rOur B & B includes a nip of sherry for a nightcap and a decadent chocolate treat. Ah-h-h-h…  Sweet dreams as we rest our weary bones for the bus trip to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Below is a YouTube link to a short video of our adventures today.

 

 

 

Fife Coastal Path: Crail to Anstruther, Scotland

9-13-2015: We hop on a bus in St. Andrews…

Crail-1110352… and get off in the quaint village of Crail, Scotland along the East Neuk of Fife.
Crail-1110349It’s a cloudy morning and the world is slowly waking up to ready itself for the day.

Crail-1110413The path follows the East Neuk of Fife with Neuk being the old Scots word for corner. The path is well marked and follows the coast along the former Kingdom of Fife. Our views are spectacular with the sea to our left and farm country with livestock on our right.

Crail-1110473Memorial flowers lead one to speculate… what happened?

Crail-1110512Interesting plaque in Anstruther. The Dreel burn divides east and west Anstruther and the song tells how in ancient times Maggie Lauder carried King James IV over it to keep his feet dry.

Crail-1110506We enjoy a beverage with the locals at the old Dreel Tavern. Sadly, it appears as though the Dreel Tavern has become a victim of the times and is now closed for business. Click on the Fife Today link for a little info on the current status of this historic pub filled with a unique ambience and character along with an interesting clientele. Visiting with the locals always seems to make travel experiences more memorable.

Below is a short video featuring our views along the Fife Coastal Path:

 

 

 

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.

Cullen-1100800

Cullen-1100802

Cullen-1100803

Cullen-1100805

Cullen-1100806

Cullen-1100807

Cullen-1100808

Cullen-1100809

Cullen-1100810

Cullen-1100811

Cullen-1100812

Cullen-1100813

Cullen-1100814

Cullen-1100816

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.

Cullen-1110035

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.

 

Culloden Battlefield near Inverness, Scotland

Welcome to Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last major battle fought on British soil. Here, on April 16, 1746, two armies clashed in a final confrontation over the thrones of Britain. In just one hour the army of the British government under Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland crushed forever the Jacobite army under Prince Charles Edward Stuart. This is a very emotional battle for the Scottish people, as the Clans lost their right to wear their plaid colors, play the bagpipes or publicly meet as a family group. Scotland_Inverness-1100621r

The wild and atmospheric moor where the battle took place is where more than 1500 men are buried as a result of the Battle of Culloden.  Click on the link for more details of this historic event in Scottish history. The Memorial Cairn is in the background of this photo.

inv-1100656r

Inscription on the Memorial Cairn.

inv-1100669rFlag marking the start of the English line of defense.

inv-1100648r

Flag marking the start of the Jacobite line. (According to the audio tour guide)

inv-1100635r inv-1100644r inv-1100638rcrMemorial flowers and stones on family memorial sites. Andrew P. Fazes, President of the Luton Paranormal Society was filming the moor for paranormal activity while we were there. I checked the website and see nothing there from our visit that day. Hope we didn’t scare the ghosts away!

inv-1100668r inv-1100664r inv-1100661r inv-1100659r inv-1100658r inv-1100655r

Placed on either sides of the road driven through the battlefield in 1835, these headstones bear the names of the clans. Erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881, they mark where the battle dead, who amounted to over 1000, were buried by local people. They were identified by their clan badge, a plant sprig worn in their bonnet.

inv-1100675r

Old Leanach cottage:  The original farmhouse of Leanach survived the battle and has been restored several times. The roof is heather thatched, a traditional Highland craft.

Following the Battle of Culloden, the way was opened for the Highland Clearances that started some decades later, when vast numbers of Highlanders were cleared off their land by the landowners to make room for more profitable sheep. Surplus tenants were ‘cleared’ off the estates from about 1780. The first mass emigration was in 1792; known as the ‘Year of the Sheep’, when most of the cleared clansmen went to Canada and the Carolinas. Scots left their native soil to live out their lives in America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. ~ Education Scotland.gov.uk

Prince Charlie eventually made good his escape to France, but the price of his adventure for the Highlands was high.

Final destination for my Scottish ancestors? Minnesota… worked out well for me.

A Final Farewell to the West Highland Way

September 6, 2015:
whw_day9-1100519e

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: