Scotland Day #9: Easing into Edinburgh

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Upon waking up to Day Nine, we found the skies no less cloudy than they were a few hours ago when we curled up in the front seats of the car.  Without saying a word, we shed a couple of layers of socks and continued driving through the countryside of Grampian, amidst school towns and flattened fields.  Our enthusiasm for driving away from the Highlands plummeted to new levels of depression as we passed the outskirts of clunky Aberdeen.  That’s when I knew that we needed a break; some sort of seaside stroll to revive the spirit of our coastal road trip.

So, we turned off at the exit for Stonehaven.  We left the car at the edge of town, by an ‘art deco pool’ that the city seems to take great pride in:

, and then strolled into town.  It was a quaint little place, with the average age of its inhabitants about 75 years old.  I particularly enjoyed all of the statues around town- of sea animals and dragons and little girls and ships:

And the harbour is always a good spot to poke your nose around in, especially with this ever-amusing low tide:

We met the local bird lady (tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag?):

, crossed through some back alleys:

, and then found the path that led to the castle about a mile outside of town.  Of course, it still being Scotland, there was no lack of scenic benches:


And, oh, the comfort of the cliffs once again.  After seeing them every day for a week, that inner-side drive from Durness to Aberdeen was painful.  It was good to have some elevation on the horizon again (even if the north sea was infinitely more appealing):


The hike was gentle and scenic, with golden fields:

, our favorite poofy flowers:

, a war memorial:

, blue skies:

, and (surprise!) poppies:

Following the birdies, we made it to Dunnottar Castle, a medieval fortress on top of the cliffs, surrounded by water on three sides:

They did that thing again, where they surprise you with a ticketing office after you walk up and down too many steps.  But, we declined and instead had a picnic on the beach underneath to the shouts of German kids throwing pebbles into the waves.  Then, a return stroll into town, a beachside promenade, and via!

We hopped over to the next town, Johnshaven:

The entire town (all five buildings) were busy remodeling walls to latin music and showcasing YES! signs:


Then, via! again.  A pit stop at a pick-your-own-fruit farm (we didn’t buy admittance into their plastic-covered fields, though we did help ourselves to cleaning out their mulberry bushes), and then an afternoon in Arbroath.  While I enjoyed the museum at the Bell Rock Signal Tower, I was a little bit disappointed that the actual Bell Rock Lighthouse was so far away that it was a mere smudge on the horizon.  Eleven miles out on sea, this is the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse… and I kind of wanted to see more than just a dot of it.  But, we came too late for boat tours, so we contented ourselves with peeking into all of the smokies nooks and ate fish and chips in the harbour:


We had kind of been hoping to find some lovely, secluded little town to stay in for the night, but we weren’t inspired by anything.  So, we decided to spend a night in Edinburgh and see what all of the hype was about.  We checked into the Original Raj Hotel, an Indian-themed house with an entertaining staff and elephant statues as guardians to the villa grounds.

We checked out the harbor (we do need to, after all, maintain this water theme) and Stockbridge, a bohemian nook northwest of New Town.  We admired the purple castle on top of the hill and got lost.  More on that (and more) next time though- Exploring Edinburgh!



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