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    A journey around Scotland: from Gretna to Edinburgh…

     

     

    Mosaic brochures VisitScotland 2012 and three Scottish Teddy Bears 1 © 2013 Scotiana

    Mosaic brochures VisitScotland 2012 and three Scottish Teddy Bears 1 © 2013 Scotiana

    Hi everybody,

    I was about to write a few lines about our Mackintosh Trail in Roussillon for we have still many photos to share with you when my eyes fell upon the VisitScotland brochures I’ve collected during our last journey around Scotland, in September 2012, ‘Itinerary 7’ as we call it. Why not use these beautiful magazines, I said to myself, as a starting point to a virtual journey around Scotland which could lead our readers to the places we’ve visited during our last Scottish adventure? I could use the notes we’ve taken each day from August 28th to October 3rd. It would begin as a journal and then completed with pages describing in detail what we’ve seen and experienced in the beautiful Alba…

    It was quite an unforgettable journey, like the six previous ones… so let us start our virtual journey now ! Here it begins, with the first part of our 2012 Scottish adventure, from Gretna to Edinburgh… let me wish you ‘Bon voyage’ in our company 😉

     

    H.V. Morton In Scotland Again Methuen 1933

     

    I went on between hawthorn hedges until I came to an arched bridge over the little stream of Sark. At the far end of the bridge was a metal post which held a yellow disc bearing, most dramatically, one word – ‘Scotland’. I paused there. How happy I was to stand once again on the hospitable doorstep of Scotland! A few yards and I would be over the threshold. I got out and sat on Sark Bridge, watching with amazement how many people dash over the frontier without a thought. ‘Scotland’ declared the metal post; and in that word were stored up for me all kinds of new adventures and experiences. It was good to be back…

    (H.V. Morton – In Scotland Again – Methuen & Co.Ltd 1929)

    …………………………….

     

    Tuesday 28th August

    • Arrival of Janice from Montreal, at Mérignac airport, the very day of my birthday 😉 We are very happy to meet again and very enthusiastic about our new trip to Scotland. We’re eager to arrive there…
    • We leave Bordeaux at 01:00 pm and it’s the beginning of a long long drive from Bordeaux to Dunkerque. The distance is about 877 kilometers !
    • We arrive at midnight at the Hotel Kyriad, a good place to sleep and quite close to the ferry terminal.

    Wednesday 29th August

    • Early awakening in the morning, quick breakfast with a big coffee for we must be at the ferry terminal at 9 am.
    • Departure from Dunkerque at 10 am. Good crossing. The sky is blue and the sea is smooth. Tea, chocolate and blueberry muffins at the ferry cafeteria – Arrival at Folkestone at 12 am (London hour). Photos of the white cliffs of Dover.
    • Direction Broadway, the ‘Jewel  of the Cotswolds’ where we intend to pitch the tent. We have cancelled our visit to Undershaw, the house in Surrey where Conan Doyle lived and wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and to his grave at Minstead, Hampshire.
    • Our favourite campsite in Broadway is definitely closed and we finally pitch our tent in the nice Long Acres campsite at Moreton-in-Marsch. The place is very pleasant but the weather is awfully bad.
    Broadway old cottage and wisteria  © 2006 Scotiana

    Broadway old cottage and wisteria © 2006 Scotiana

    Thursday 30th August :

    • Early departure after a good breakfast in the tent. We take advantage of a sunny spell to fold up the tent and take photos of the campsite.
    • Before taking the road to the North we stop at Broadway to take a few pictures of this lovely village. The above picture dates from our 2006 visit. It was the spring season and the weather was very fine then.
    • On our road to the North we cross many picturesque English villages. Our driving through the beautiful Cotswolds conjures up memories of the past for when I was in my teens I spent unforgettable holidays in the area.
    • Long drive on the M6. It’s ugly, dull and dusty. Much traffic, especially around big towns.  No time to visit the Lake District.
    Failte gu Alba Welcome to Scotland panel © 2012 Scotiana

    Failte gu Alba Welcome to Scotland panel © 2012 Scotiana

    • At last we arrive in front of the so much expected road sign:  WELCOME TO  SCOTLAND ! FAILTE GU ALBA! A very emotional moment! Road signs for Gretna Green. But the name means departure for us since we always stop there at the end of our trip to buy our last wee ‘souvenirs’.
    • Ecclefechan: we stop there to take a few pictures of Thomas Carlyle statue. The great Scottish author is still there, sitting on his stone armchair. We’re eager to visit Carlyle’s native cottage but we must pay close attention to the very restricted opening days and hours.
    A 'Pod' in Hoddam Castle campsite © 2012 Scotiana

    A ‘Pod’ in Hoddam Castle campsite © 2012 Scotiana

    •  It’s late when we arrive at Hoddam Castle campsite.  We’ll not be obliged to pitch the tent for there is a ‘pod’ available for the night. That’s very good news for we are exhausted.

    Friday 31st August

    • After a very good night of sleep and a copious breakfast we decide to go and see the Repentance Tower before leaving Hoddam Castle.  We can see it in the distance and it doesn’t seem so far. However, the ground proves to be waterlogged and a ‘bull in field’ prevents us for reaching it at last.
    • We’re now ready to take the road.  This year, our journey begins in Dumfries & Galloway, at the foot of this old castle we love so much and that’s a very good beginning!

     

    Dumfries & Galloway VisitScotland brochure 2012

    Dumfries & Galloway VisitScotland brochure 2012

     

    • Our 2012 ‘literary trail’ begins in Ecclefechan though Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, a dear friend of Sir Walter Scott, did live for a time in Hoddam Castle.
    • Visit of Thomas Carlyle‘s native cottage where we are welcomed by the  lady in charge of this NTS property . She knows the place very well and tells us many interesting anecdotes about Carlyle. We stay a long time here, examining the many objects on display in the little museum.
    • Fortunately we’ll not have to look for a long time in the nearby churchyard to find Thomas Carlyle’s grave  for in a few minutes we’re drenched to the skin. It’s pouring rain and the perspective of pitching the tent under such a heavy rain makes us feel gloomy. Finally we decide to book two rooms at the Ecclefechan Hotel. Unforgettable welcome here, in front of a good fire and in a family atmosphere…
    The Scottish Borders VisitScotland Brochure 2012

    The Scottish Borders VisitScotland Brochure 2012

    Saturday 1st September

    • We share a delicious and copious Scottish breakfast at the Ecclefechan Hotel before setting off again. Our literary trail will lead us today to Langholm, the native town of Hugh MacDiarmid, one of the greatest Scottish poets and a leading light in the ‘Scottish Renaissance’ movement of the 20th century. MacDiarmid was also a great nationalist.
    • We drive to Langholm where we are very kindly welcomed at the Town Hall by Mrs Morrison, the lady in charge of the place.  We visit the MacDiarmid exposition with great interest and Mrs Morrison gives us precious information about the poet. Last but not least, she  reads, and with great talent, MacDiarmid’s poem ‘ Crowdie Know’ ;-). Quite unforgettable moments !
    • Thanks to the information given by Mrs Morrison we can easily find MacDiarmid’s grave in Langholm churchyard.
    MacDiarmid memorial © 2012 Scotiana

    MacDiarmid memorial © 2012 Scotiana

    • Always following our new friend’s advice we drive along a very beautiful one-way road up to MacDiarmid’s memorial which stands isolated in a wild and magnificent landscape. It would have been a pity to take another road to reach the place!
    • Having taken a number of photos of MacDiarmid quite original and moving memorial we walk up the hill, amidst purple heather, to try and know what is the huge obelisk we can see in the distance.  That’s a 2.5 km walk up and down Whita hill. The monument is dedicated to Major General John Malcolm, a soldier and diplomat who died in 1833 after good and faithful service in the quickly expanding British Empire. Masonic symbols on the monument.

     

    Hermitage Castle Scottish Borders  © 2012 Scotiana.jpg

    Hermitage Castle Scottish Borders © 2012 Scotiana.jpg

    • Beginning of our ‘castle trail’ with the visit of Hermitage Castle. The stormy weather is quite  in keeping with the gloomy atmosphere of the castle. A charming lady, in charge of the Historic Scotland (HS) property welcomes us very cheerfully. We buy our HS passes here.
    • The next step of our ‘literary trail’ is Ettrick. There, in the heart of the Scottish Borders, we are supposed to find James Hogg memorial and grave but we quickly get lost in the wild and solitary countryside. After driving around and around we stop on the side of the road, under the shade of a very old tree on which a sign reads ‘Thirlestane Cottage’. Here, a lane leads to a house which we can’t see from the road. We have to look at the map for our GPS is desperately mute. The arrival of a man at my window makes me start. He looks very inquisitive and suspicious at the beginning. No wonder!  What can we do in such a place at so late an hour and in such a bad weather? ‘What are you looking for’ he asks. ‘We want to go to Ettrick’ I say. ‘There is nothing to see in Ettrick’, the man replies”. Bad beginnings, we need to break the ice. However, once in confidence the mysterious man becomes much more communicative and quite interesting. He seems to know pretty well the life and works of James Hogg. Had we stayed longer there, I’m sure we would have learned fascinating things about the ‘Ettrick shepherd’. Anyway, many thanks to this gentleman. Now we know where to go. It must be added that this man didn’t hesitate to face bad weather to ask if he could help us. Very Scottish indeed !
    James Hogg memorial in Ettrick © 2012 Scotiana

    James Hogg memorial in Ettrick © 2012 Scotiana

    • It’s rainy, wintry and night will fall soon now. At last, we arrive in front of James Hogg’s memorial. It’s old and mossy which gives it more charm.  We walk all over’ the churchyard, amidst very ancient tombs,  in search of James Hogg’s grave. We are about to give up when we fall upon it and, a few minutes later, on the grave of Tibbie Shiel. Despite the very bad light we take many photos of the place.  The gloomy atmosphere could not have been more suitable and we would not have been so surprised to face a ghost then!
    • We now take the direction to Edinburgh. It’s high time we find a place to sleep tonight. We call Morton Hall campsite and are very happy to learn that there is a wigwam to rent and at a very good price.  We arrive at the campsite at about 9 pm where a very kind gentleman is waiting for us with the key to our wigwam :-). The legendary Scottish welcome!
    A wigwam - Edinburgh Morton Hall campsite © 2012 Scotiana

    A wigwam – Edinburgh Morton Hall campsite © 2012 Scotiana

    Here we are and for a few days of calm and peaceful holiday!  In good company as you can see in the photo below. A family of rabbits lives under the next wigwam.

    Edinburgh Morton Hall campsite rabbit family © 2012 Scotiana

    Edinburgh Morton Hall campsite rabbit family © 2012 Scotiana

    A very good beginning for ‘Itinerary 7’ ! And it’s only a beginning…

    So, don’t miss the next episode. It will lead us to Edinburgh and to the coast around North Berwick ! A bientôt.

    Mairiuna

    Other related posts from this serie:

    2. A Journey around Scotland: Roaming the New Town in Edinburgh

    3. A Journey around Scotland: A day in the Old Town of Edinburgh

    4. A Journey around Scotland: From Aberlady to Dirleton Castle

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