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…

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

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


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…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…

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:

 

 

 

Eating and drinking in Cullen, Scotland

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We are told that this is a local tavern, so we enter cautiously only to see a dining area. An employee greets us and quickly figures out our mission: Oh, you want the bar? Follow me…  We wind our way through the dining area and walk up a narrow staircase. I’m beginning to feel as though I’m entering a speakeasy from the prohibition era.

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Instead, we find ourselves sipping pints with a few of the local guys. We are all cautious, at first, until one of them breaks the ice: From America, eh?  You aren’t seriously going to elect Donald Trump for President? By the end of our stay they offer to buy us a round and the conversation flows freely about locations in the United States.

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Next stop, Randy inquires about store hours at Linda’s Fish & Chips. It seems that every town has the BEST award-winning fish & chips.

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Yes, we ate ALL of it… delicious!!

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Cullen is the home of Skink (Scottish word for “soup”) and The Rockpool has bragging rites for its award-winning soup.

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No visit to Cullen, Scotland is complete without trying a hot bowl of Cullen Skink. (Smoked haddock and potato soup)

I enjoyed this experience so much that I decided to make my own skink on Christmas Eve in Minnesota. Smoked haddock is expensive here, so I substituted much cheaper pollock. It was O.K. and much better the second day, but let’s just say The Rockpool Cafe doesn’t have to worry about me whisking any awards away from them!

 

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)!

The Search for Hungry Hills Farm

September 9, 2015:

Our ancestry includes proud Scottish roots through our mother whose maiden name was Sharp. The mission of this portion of our trip to Scotland was locating the farm of our ancestors.

Longmanhill, Scotland is located some three miles east of the city of Banff-McDuff in Gamrie Parish on the north coast of Scotland. From the top of Longmanhill, on a clear day, one can see out over the North Sea. This long, gently sloping hill consists of a few farms, one of which is Hungry Hills Farm. In all likelihood, this area is the ancestral home of the Sharp family dating back to the 1600’s and 1700’s. ~ Sharp Family History AddendumOctober 2001

Thanks to our determined taxi driver from Banff, our mission was accomplished!

Why did our ancestors leave such a beautiful land? Was it due to the Scottish Clearances?

Whether it was economic necessity as described by some, or ethnic cleansing, as described by others, the net result was that between 1783 and 1881 a documented 170,571 Highlanders were ejected from their traditional lands. Records are very sparse and it’s been estimated that the true total was very much greater than this. ~ tartans authority.com

These Scottish people were cleared from their homes mainly to make way for sheep, the wisdom at the time being that the sheep were more profitable than small tenant farmers. While some Highlanders left their homes
voluntarily and went abroad, most of the evictions were forced upon an unwilling population and were often carried out using the most despicable of methods. ~ yourscottishdescent.com

If anyone has an interesting link or information pertaining to this topic, please include these into the comments section of this post.  Thanks!

 

Cullen, Scotland from my view…

An attempt to locate the land of our ancestors has led us to a stay in the quaint town of Cullen, Scotland, which is composed of two distinct parts:Cullen-1110084e1) Sandwiched between the sea wall on one side and the curve of the main road on the other is the fishing village, Seatown of Cullen, a unique collection of a couple hundred stone fishermen’s cottages.

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2) The “inland” side of Cullen, sometimes referred to as “New Cullen,” stretches up a grand and impressive main street that continues from Seatown under the most easterly of the three railway viaducts.

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I’m glad the window washer has another man holding his ladder sturdy as it appears to be propped on an old stone wall. I might be inclined to own a window washing device like this, but I’d probably hit the power line and electrocute myself. Clean windows are not worth all that!

Cullen was established by 1189 on a location about half a mile inland from where you find it today, marked on maps as “Old Cullen” and close to Cullen House, which we were able to locate while following one of the walking trails near town.

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Oh-oh… whoops! (At least we didn’t pick any flowers and don’t have a dog.)

Cullen’s wealth in the 1700s was built on textiles, and thread-making; the main period of growth came with the herring boom in the 1800s.

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The impressive Cullen railroad viaduct was built in the year 1884 and is now a bicycle path.

Cullen-1110086eNew Cullen and Seatown of Cullen were built in the 1820s, the latter close to the pier built by Thomas Telford in 1819.  ~Undiscovered Scotland

Below is a slide show of our walks around Cullen, Scotland where you’ll find the most beautiful sunsets.

…still more to explore in Cullen, Scotland so stay tuned!

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.

 

Inverness, Scotland

Sunday, September 6, 2015

We head through the Fort William tunnel and hop onto a bus…  Destination?  Inverness, Scotland!whw_day9-1100533eThe word Inverness is from Scottish Gaelic language and means mouth of the River Ness. Inverness is the administrative centre for the Highland council area and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland.  ~ Wikipedia
Scotland_Inverness-1100582rInverness Castle is in the background overlooking the River Ness.

Scotland_Inverness-1100602rInteresting architecture throughout the city.

Scotland_Inverness-1100603rcrInverness Tourist Hostel  is our home for two nights. Filled to the max due to a music seminar at the university, but they provide coffee grounds, electric hot water pots and a well equipped kitchen, so life is good. (Life is not so good from 6-8 a.m. as we wait for the kitchen to be unlocked with no caffeine)
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Ivan, the hostel employee extraordinaire, is very friendly and helpful. He’s from France, studying extreme sports at the university and with his personality, I’m sure he will do well in life.

Scotland_Inverness-1100605rMeet the Outlander Girls!  Enjoyed visiting with them at the hostel and hearing of their adventures and interest in the Outlander series. They were even lucky enough to be part of the “Rob Roy” 6 a.m. serenade in the hostel lounge room. Such an interesting trio and so easy to converse with.

Culloden Moor lies nearby, and was the site of the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which ended the Jacobite Rising of 1745–1746.  Visiting the battle site sounds like a good plan to me. Tomorrow…

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: Glencoe Mountain to Kinlochleven

September 4, 2015: We pack up and leave our cozy hobbit house at Glencoe Mountain Resort to diligently start down the trail finding the air chilly, but the weather generally pleasant.WHW_Day7-1100155eSeems as though we are in the middle of nowhere and here appears The Kings House, which is thought to be one of Scotland’s oldest licensed inns, originally built in the 17th century. It is called the King’s House because British troops were lodged here following the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Coffee, please!WHW_Day7-1100195eThe challenge today will be the Devil’s Staircase which was named by General Wade’s road building soldiers who were lugging materials up and down it all day. ~ Wikipedia

WHW_Day7-1100218eIt’s a long hike with several switchbacks, but really not a terribly strenuous hike so far.

WHW_Day7-1100224We finally reach the top and the views are spectacular today with clear skies all around.

WHW_Day7-1100230ecrThe Love Rock comes out of my pocket for a little fresh air and is perched on a cairn at the top of the Devil’s Staircase.

WHW_Day7-1100288eBlackwater Hostel is named after the Blackwater Reservoir and is our home for the night after a little more than ten mile hike.  Nice drying room and kitchen with dorm type rooms containing cozy bunk beds. From a camping perspective, the name does not sound desirable to me since waste water is called black water. It’s not the case here, though.

WHW_Day7-1100293eSign on the side of the hostel warns dog owners to keep their poop in a group or the Paw Patrol will take action.

WHW_Day7-1100284eWe find ourselves at the Tail Race Inn at the end of the day to take advantage of their advertised special prices on meals. All eyes are NOT on us as Scotland is playing Georgia for the Euro 2016 soccer qualifier and local patrons are glued to the TV screen. FYI ~ Scotland lost.

Video below shows highlights from day seven. I was able to video the Grand Canyon Girls as they skipped across a stepping stone bridge. We have observed that they are like mountain goats when it comes to rock scrambling. One has hiked down and up the Grand Canyon nine times and the other has hiked the Grand Canyon five times. They are a couple of tough hikers with strong legs and determination.