Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day 8, Edinburgh to Norway

This very Saturday morning we had to leave Edinburgh and our vacation had come to an end. Hopefully we will be back one day to explore the beauty of Scotland and Northern England. Next time we will try to spend more time in one area instead of seeing a lot in few days ;0) You can call this trip a recce trip to find out where to spend time next...
We are of to Oslo and then me fly on to Svalbard Sunday morning, after spending the night at my parents place!

Day 7, Edinburgh

For the first time on our trip, we spent two nights on the same place! Our view from the hotel-room was fantastic, overlooking Edingburgh castle. The day was spent walking around in sunshine (for the first time) looking at the city and to buy Anna a engagement ring (diamonds are a girls best friend ;0))
Edinburgh is a very old and beautifull city, situated in a facinating landscape with hills and crags and close to the sea. Especially the old parts of the city is very interesting to walk around in. We found several good pubs and restaurants for dinner and lunch. The food and the ale was delicious and we would like to come back one day.
Calton Hill

Calton Hill

West Gardens

Edinburgh Castle


Day 6, West Scotland, ENGAGED

The happy couple at Eilean Donan where we got engaged

This morning we woke up to the smell of bacon, fresh toast, tea and sausages, all cooked by our landlords. During the night an other couple had arrived from Edinburgh. She was from London and he was from Ireland. They had brought their small baby and told us about Scotland and and how much they want to travel to Iceland. They even offered their apartment in Edinburgh for us to lend it, but we already had booked a hotel.
After being well fed at breakfast we drove to Kyle of Lochals to refuel and the we drove over the bridge to the Isle of Skye and turned around in the the first round-about. Unfortunately we did not have time to spend on the island, so we continued to Eilean Donan. The tours there are only guided so we had to wait 15 min before we could enter the castle. To my great disappointment it was forbidden to take photographs inside the castle! Our tour guide had a very good knowledge of the history which was very interesting. The interior of the castle is very beautiful and I would love to own a place like this. The castle is situated overlooking three lochs (fjords) and the landscape is very scenic. After the tour we were allowed to walk around the walls. I seized the opportunity overlooking the fjord over to Isle of Skye to propose to Anna. She said YES!!! So now we are officially ENGAGED to be married on a date and place unknown to us...
Our journey continued back to Edinburgh took us through the highlands again, but before coming to Fort Williams we turned of the main road towards Pitlochry, to see something else of Scotland. This route was not as interesting as the one we took yesterday and we got our worst lunch on a small cafeteria by the road. For the first time in Scotland and the UK we did not find a cosy little pub to dine in ;0)
From Perth it started pouring down and the rest of the way we drove in complete darkness. We arrived at the airport in the evening, handed in the car and took the bus to our hotel in Edinburgh.

Today we drove 340 km. All together we have driven around 1600 km on our "speed trip" through Northern England and Scotland.
Next time we either spend longer time or travel more in Either Scotland or England ;0)
I don´t think we regret doing the trip the way we did it, now we at least know what to expect the next time..

Day 5, Stirling to West Scotland

William Wallace memorial in Stirling
This morning we started out on our journey taking us from Stirling and the lowlands to the highlands of Scotland. The weather started out with light drizzle and heavy fog, but after a short while we only had overcast weather.The aim for the day was the B&B at Balmacara Mains, close to the Isle of Skye. The route led us through the Loch Lomond National park, which was more or less a lot of trees ;0). From there the landscape changed dramatically from the lowlands to the highlands. The weather had lifted a bit so we could see the summits of most of the mountains. The ground was orange and brown due to the autumn. All very beautifull! Especially the route down to Glencoe was to my liking, with large mountains shaped by glaciers through thousand of years. Even though the weather was a bit rainy, it did not matter.

Our way led us to Fort Williams, not the most pretty town in Scotland, but the largest mountian in the UK, Ben Nevis is here and we got a clear and good view of it. We decided to wait a bit with eating lunch. Instead we drove to the Glenfinnan viaduct to see the old bridge used in amoungst the Harry Potter movies. The place was closed down for the season, so we did not get the overview which we (I) wanted. Therefore we hasted back to Fort Williams for an afternoon tea lunch with scones and all the other things belonging to this...

Scottish highlands, - Scottish weather
From Fort Williams we drove to the castle of Eilean Donan, probably the most photographed castle in Scotland, at least by me ;0) The road to Eilean Donan was quite long and parts of it was in the hours of darkness. On the way we met several Red Deer, just standing in the middle of the road and numerous eagles. Eilean Donan was closed when we arrived, but this did not matter as we were going there the next morning. Instead we got a good look at the castle in darkness, lit by flood-lights.

Anna close to Glencoe
Me close to Glencoe
Our B&B was only 10 min drive from the castle. When we arrived, the whole place looked a bit dead lying down by the coast surrounded by forest. We knocked on the door and entered and then piano music flowed towards us...suddenly an old man came and looked a bit confused. In a Scottish accent he said "you know it´s november? not many people come to these parts of Scotland this time a year", but he was very friendly and showed us our beautifull room and gave us advice on dinner places. We decided to drive 15 min over the "mountain" to Plockton for dinner at the Plockton Hotel. The staff was very cozy, the food delicious and the prices low.

All together we drove 350 km today.


Anna at a lake in Loch Lomond National park

Anna and a viaduct

Fort Williams and Ben Nevis

Todays route

Day 4, Northumberland coast

Main gate at Warckworth
The church in Warkworth
Warkworth castle
Today was the day of the castles. Philip had volountaired to show us the Northumberland coast and the many castles in this area. After a late start we drove along the coast-line  with small villages and golden white sandy beaches to our first stop, the castle of Warkworth built around the 12th. It was a sunny morning so we had the chance to see the castle and the surroundings in a good light. From Warkworth it was a short drive to Alnwick castle. This is the largest castle still in use today, by the Duke of Northumberland and also know for being the Harry Potter castle. The castle was closed down for the season so we just had to enjoy the grandeur of the walls form outside. There is also a huge garden connected to the site and a huge tree-top restaurant.
Well Philip had made us a busy schedule so we hasted northwards to Bamburgh castle. This is an old castle built on a volcanic rock overlying sedimentary rocks. It can bee seen from a great distance and is situated on the shores of a sandy beach. It was very expensive to get inside the castle, so we spent our money inviting Philip for lunch at a beautiful inn.
Alnwick castle
Anna and Philip at Bamburgh castle
Bamburgh castle seen from the Inn
Philip and I infront of Bamburgh
After lunch we drove up to Lindisfarne to try to drive over the tidewater road to the old castle/monestary which was sacked by the vikings in 793, marking the start of the viking era...Due to high tide and beginning darkness we could not wait so instead we drove up to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. It was already dark here, so it was time to say goodbye to Philip for being so helpful and kind to us. Our aim was to drive all the way to Stirling. As soon as we left Berwick the rain started, which means redused speed, visibility and a lot of accidents. Twice we had to stop and wait for a couple of hours due to accidents. Eventually we made it to our B&B in Stirling, overlooking the castle in Stirling. I went out for a walk with my camera, but as I had set it up they turned of the lights on the castle :0(
The cozy inn
Day 4

Day 3, Hadrians wall and Newcastle

Hadrians wall and a mile castle
This morning it was pouring down in Ullswater. After an early breakfast we walked down to the lake to have a look at the landscape we did not see when we drove here during the evening. I am quite amazed by how quickly it is getting dark here and how dark it is. I live in a country where we have 4 months of darkness, but the twilight period is much longer than in England and when we have some snow it will be much lighter and then we don´t have trees and things like that blocking the light ;0)
Sycamore Gap
Anna at Sycamore Gap
Today we drove over to Hadrians wall (the roman wall) to meet up with Philip (one of my facebook friends who had heard we were travelling in England). The route took us through Penrith to Alston and Haltwhistle. We met Philip on the Twice Brewed Inn, close to the wall and then we had our very own guide to walk with us on the wall and give us the story of the sites. We walked some km along the wall over to Sycamore Gap (the Robin Hood tree) and then back again to the cars on the foot of the hill, thereby seeing more of the scenery. It is very impressive that the Romans built this wall, 120 km long in only 6 years. Much of the wall has been torn down and used for other things, but it is still worth a visit. After a shandy (beer and lemonade) we drove over to Housesteads fort. It used to accomodate 800 soldiers and had all the luxury as heated floors and well working latrines. Unfortunately the site was closed down for the season (as many other places in England and Scotland) but we still had a chance to walkd around... During our stay on the wall it did not rain at all so we were quite lucky with the weather:D
Philip invited us for dinner at his favourite inn, the Sheperd and Sheperdess in Beamish. It was a very good choice. The pub was very old and kozy and had some great food. Annas friend Jonina which she had not seen in 16 years lives in Newcastle and had invited us to stay with her for the night, so she came to Beamish to join us for dinner. After a good long dinner we said goodbye to Philip and drove to Joninas place in South Shields. The distance today was 190 km.
Day 3
Hadrians wall


Day 2, The lake district

The stone bridge over to Grange
The pass from Buttermere to Keswick
Sunday was our first whole day in England. Yesterday had some occassional heavy showers of rain, but this day we did not have rain at all. We even had some sun for an hour or so ;0). First we walked around in Keswick to explore this old town and the beautifull lake situated at the outskirts of town. Then we drove south to Honnister Pass. The roads got more and more narrow and steeper, but we got a magnificent view of the lake and the mountains surrounding it. Several stops to take photographs were made, but many places it was difficult to stop due to the lack of parking and stone walls. From Honnister Pass we drove down to  Buttermere and then over an other pass to Keswick. Then the gps sent us on a de-tour to a mini stonehenge. After fooling around on a narrow country-road we made it down to Grasmere for a late lunch in this small village made of stone houses.
Great Langdale
From Grasmere we drove over to Chapel Stile to the Great Langdale. The autumn colour were everywhere. Orange leaves covering all the roads and between 5 and 10 degrees temperature.
Sheep land
I was wondering how it would be to drive around in the Lake District during high season. Now we were off season and we still met cars on this roads which seemed only large enough for one car. It would definately be nice to come back to this area and spend a few days instead of rushing through here, but we only have this much time, so instead we have the chance to see what this area has to offer. From Blea Tarn, a small lake we drove through Ambleside and down to Bowness-on-Windermere to look for Beatrix Potter. The museum was closed as we found it, but we spent some time walking around in town where we found a store with all the Beatrix Potter things :D. By now it was very dark and we had to make the final leg of the day over the pass to Ullswater  (after a small detour on the road to Kendal) to stay in an old mansion looking hotel. This hotel was overlooking Ullswater and we were only 10 guests and had to dress up for dinner and had drinks in one of the lounges. We think this was a good experience but not as cozy as a B&B.
Today we drove 120 km.
Day 2

Day 1, Edinburgh to Keswick...

Anna on the streets of Keswick
The lake in Keswick

Friday the 9th of November I flew from Svalbard to Oslo to meet Anna, who had been on vacation in Copenhagen for the last 8 days. We had to go to my parents place to sleep over, due to the lack of connections to Edinburgh. The next day we landed in Edinburgh after changing planes in Amsterdam. After picking up our car, a small one with automatic gear (making it easier to drive on the wrong side  the road) we were on our way to the Lake District in Northern England (245 km). Our aim for the day was the small town of Keswick in the middle of the district. From Carlisle we drove in darkness but at least we saw the changes in the landscape from Edinburg to Carlisle.
Our quaters for the night was a B&B in Victorian style with a very kozy couple running it. After settling in our room we went down on one of the local waterholes and had a great meal of lamb and ale...

Day 1