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 North to Scotland
by


Professor Arnie Greenberg

We had been in London for the Wimbledon tennis matches and headed north in our rented Ford. We stopped to see the sites at Cambridge, which proved fruitful and we even enjoyed our first ‘high tea’ with clotted cream and scones. This is a must if you are in the British Isles just as Hagis doused in scotch is a must in Scotland or punting on the river at Cambridge.

Our journey took us through York via Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds.

York Minster in the center of the city.
York Minster in the center of the city.

We stayed just outside Sheffield in a B & B and what I saw was a far cry from what was once an industrial community. It had seen its better day.   

But York was something else. Built around a great cathedral, this University center was once one of the governmental cities of the Romans who controlled this part of Britain.

 A stop near Newcastle would allow us to drive close to Hadrian’s wall.

Built over a six-year period, the wall was 73 miles long stretching from Newcastle to Carlisle.  The purpose was to separate the Romans from the Barbarians to the north. It was effective and it also offered gainful employment to the skilled craftsmen of the region who helped build it.

One of the original sign posts 
One of the original sign posts 
Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall

 

At the end of the stay we returned to Edinburgh. The city was immediately fascinating but I wasn’t ready for the place that we were to stay in. It is recognized historical site of some importance and owned, in part, by a friend.

White horse Close today 
White horse Close today 
In 1950
In 1950

At the foot of the Canongate or the Historic or Royal Mile, across from the new Scottish Parliament and close to Holyrood house you can look through an entrance way into a square of medieval buildings. As described by Sir Walter Scott in “Waverly” the White Horse Close which once served as stables and a terminus for stagecoaches.

Royle Mile
Royal Mile

It gets its name from Queen Mary’s white horse. It is pure history and we were fortunate enough to join the long ranks of famous people who stayed there. You cannot imagine the feeling of history in the air and walls. It was an experience I would never forget.  This was once the arrival and departure point for the London Stagecoach.

I found it exciting to sit on the stairs of the apartment and watch groups of tourists arrive to take pictures. The area and a nearby village was famous when Bonnie Prince Charlie invaded Britain and after some early success was defeated at Culloden in 1746. We did get to that battlefield that was certainly a site where history was made.

Along the Royal Mile are many closes and today it is a popular tourist site with museums, pubs and other interesting old buildings including Canongate Tolbooth ( formerly a town hall and prison. Now a museum) and Canongate Church.

Atop the city is Edinburgh Castle, popular with tourists watching the changing of the guard. If one can imagine this as the acropolis of the city we understand why this Scottish cultural center is often referred to as ‘ Athens of the North.”

A short day trip from Edinburgh could be a reward. Drive out to nearby Rosslyn Chapel, used in The De Vinci Code, which was certainly bending the truth of history. But the building itself is worthy of any author’s use. It is a must see site with beautiful carved pillars.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Founded in 1446 by William St. Clair, the last Prince of Orkney and Knight of the Order of St. James, the man was growing older and reflected on his life. He wanted to pay his dues to God and so he devoted forty years to the project, only seven miles from Edinburgh. It is a “dizzying riot of cultures, orthodox Christians and older pagan images from Christ to winged serpents gnawing at the tree of life.

We drove north-east from Edinburgh as we had an appointment with friends at St Andrews. There, with help of our friend in his pre WWII car, we took a ride to St Andrews Golf Course where we walked around part of the famous links course, bought some souvenir towels and took pictures on that 18th fairway stone bridge that is so famous. Just being there was a thrill but golf would not be possible.

St Andrews Golf Course
St Andrews Golf Course

All too soon it was soon time to move on. We headed north through Perth and later arrived at charming Inverness at the bottom of the Moray Firth and the northern entrance to Loch Ness. Our stop on Loch Ness was a disappointment as Nessie seemed shy to show herself, but we did have a wonderful dinner overlooking the water.

The Highland Capital, city of Inverness, our final stop, was worth the wait.  It’s the city of castles, golf and whiskey, not necessarily in that order. This is the end of the Great Glen Way, a 73-mile footpath to Fort William in the southeast.

 The main sites are the castle said by some that the play Macbeth was set in this 11ty century castle. Some say they have seen Duncan’s ghost walking along the River Ness.

The city is a great sporting site as witnessed by the Highland Games and it is close enough to visit the Culloden battle site, which is a moving reminder of the carnage of April 1746.

Some of the old buildings boast that beautiful Scottish red stone. It was a joy to spend a few days with friends on the edge of the river.

Other sites not to be missed are the cathedral and the Eden Court Theatre where the annual Inverness Tattoo takes place.

Inverness Castle     
Inverness Castle     
City view
City view

You can’t go wrong. There are wonderful crafts, B & Bs, and great restaurants serving international cuisine. Inverness is a long way to or from London. But the trip is well worth it no matter which route you take. All you need is a good map and plenty of time.

I highly recommend it as one of the most gentle trips you can take.

The only downside was the cost. Traveling in the British Isles means paying in British Pounds. Gas, food and B & B’s are costly. With the exchange rates not in North America’s favor it can be expensive.

Email Arnie Greenberg at: Ultours1@gmail.com
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http://www.top-travel-ideas.com

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