Ok, here's a sort of diary. It's a bit hurried and unedited as
there isn't much time . . .
Saturday 10th September 2011
Left home at 0920 Easy journey - M1 - M18 - A1 to Darlington
when we stopped for picnic lunch around 1230.
Found a very nice picnic area by a weir on the River Tees.
Water was golden brown, presumably from peat on the moors. A local
stopped and chatted, told us the tall chimney behind the trees
was from the old pumping house that used to pump Tees water into
Darlington - it was the first pumping house in the world.
Back on the road and into Newcastle. Saw the Angel of the North
on the way in so doubled back to have a proper look. It's quite
a beast. 200 tonnes of steel on foundations that go 30m into the
Back on the road again when Dad spotted on the map that we'd
crossed the path of Hadrian's Wall. We hadn't even considered it,
we all thought it was further north. Doubled back a bit and
headed west to where it could be seen. Drove miles along a road
that was supposed to follow the wall, but saw nothing.
Eventually found a bit with a notice on it in the middle of a
field. Went and had a look but it was bit tame really. Got a bit
bothered by some over-friendly bullocks in the field.
We stopped and phone-booked ourselves into a Travelodge in
Berwick-Upon-Tweed as time was getting on after our major detour
and we didn'want to be stuck. Returned to Newcastle and back
onto the A1 north.
Turned off towards Bamburgh to see the Farne Islands. Surprised
to find a spectacularly huge and imposing castle there high on a
hill close to the shore. Bamburgh was a really nice looking
Went south a bit along the coast until we
found a path that went all the way to the beach. Farne Islands
could be seen very clearly - they were closer to the shore than
I'd expected. Nice views.
Turned north again and went to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
Had to cross a 1/2 mile causeway that had been underwater an
hour previously to get to the island. The single road stopped
after 1 mile at a big carpark. To get further you had to walk
or get a bus (no sign of buses though). It was getting late
- about 7pm now, so we grabbed some long distance photos of the
abbey and headed off the island.
Stopped before the causeway for a sunset photo. Heard some odd
moaning/howling sounds. Thought it was probably the wind in
the poles that ran parallel to the causeway.
Then thought it must be a kennels or something on the mainland -
but even that didn't seem right. Dad recognised the sound, got
his binoculars out and found a colony of maybe 50 seals near and
on a sandbank about halfway across to the mainland.
Drove into Berwick-Upon-Tweed to hotel and booked in - £65 for 3
in a room. Quick tidy up and out to find some dinner. Into town,
found very nice Castle Inn and had very good meals for just £30
inc. 1 round of drinks. Back to hotel and in bed by 11pm -
A great day. Weather was pretty good all day, decent amount of
sun, plenty of cloud and one brief torrential downpour. Saw lots
of unplanned great things and still made good progress - did 390
miles today! Cheap and perfectly adequate lodgings and a cheap
and very nice evening out.
390 miles today: 390 miles total
Sunday 11th September 2011
Up in pretty good time and had a quick tour of
Berwick-Upon-Tweed. It's a nice historic place - once a walled
city - with lots of great old buildings and a long, high viaduct
still used by trains.
Started up towards Edinburgh. Stopped in a layby just over the
border for tea and croissants breakfast. Noticed that we could,
with binoculars, see right back to Lindisfarne and Bamburgh
Castle from the high viewing point.
Took a quick detour to see St Abbs - a well known dive site.
It was a lovely quiet little harbour with lots of dive and
fishing boats - very quaint.
Back on the road and into Edinburgh. Drove around a bit to get
our bearings and finally parked up - free on the roadside
very close to the centre! Walked right round the castle mount
and through the very nice Princes Street gardens. Walked up
to the main castle entrance for photos and it was blowing a
GALE! The attendants were looking worried as things were
starting to blow about - it was looking like it could get
dangerous, and worse is expected tomorrow. In general the
weather was lovely - sunny and warm in the low, sheltered
gardens. Nice general wander around the great historical
buildings. Stopped to watch a Samba troupe doing their thing
- very contagious rhythms! And finally back to the car a bit
footsore after 4 or 5 miles.
Headed off towards the Forth Bridge. Detoured to Queensferry,
right under the bridge for photos, and of the railway bridge too.
Got a bit wet here - one of the few times so far it's rained when
we weren't in the car - not too much though.
Over the bridge, nice views all the way, and headed north west to
enter Dundee from the Tay Bridge. Didn't stop in Dundee, went
straight through to Arbroath to start looking for somewhere to
Arbroath was interesting in a dour well-past-it's-best fishing
town sort of way. It seemed to be hanging in there though and
looked like it might survive. There was something about it I
sort of liked. Decided to push on a bit further into
Montrose was uninteresting in a dour well-past-it's-best sort of
fishing town sort of way. It was dead. We looked around for
somewhere to stay as it was getting near 7pm, but no joy.
Pushed on further looking for farm B&Bs out in the wilds. Found
one just before St Cyrus for £30 each in one room. Very friendly
and very nice room. She recommended restaurant/pub grub in St
Cyrus 2 miles down the road. We all had the Balmoral Chicken
(stuffed with haggis and served with tatties and neaps). It was
very nice, quite a posh-looking meal, and good value again
- £45 with a round of drinks.
Back to B&B around 9:30 to sort out luggage a bit, charge the
gadgets, and write diaries. Bloody laptop still playing up but
managed to get on the wifi and email the famiy. Might just be
able to make an on-line diary with a bit of luck and
fiddling and persistence.
Great day again. Edinburgh is a lovely city - so much history,
and some interesting detours. Travelled 170 miles, so good
progress again. Weather not as good - we had lots of sun in
Edinburgh but the wind is getting strong and the rain is
getting heavier and more frequent. Forecast for tomorrow is
bloody terrible. The outer reaches of Hurricane Katia are
sweeping across Scotland!
170 miles today: 560 miles total
Monday 12th September 2011
Up for an 0830 full english. Shared our table with a German family
who seemed very nice. Very good breakfast - a great B&B.
Weather's not great, wet and windy, but not as bad as forecast.
On the road and up to Dunnottar Castle. Weather brightened up again
- strong winds but mostly sunny with a spot of drizzle. Fantastic
place - loads of pics of the terrific castle. Saw seals in the bay
on both sides of the castle. Bumped into the German family a few
Carried on along the coast towards Stonehaven but the road was closed
- maybe the weather, don't know - so had to turn back and use the main
road. Headed west into The Cairngorms with the road following the wide
and fast-flowing River Dee. Stopped to see the river and watched a
Stopped again to have a look at a nice suspension footbridge.
Lovely views and a lovely road through Ballater, past Balmoral and into
Braemar. Extremely green, loads of trees and mountains and heather -
really spectacular. Had a quick look at Braemar Castle and Braemar.
Decided to venture up a 6 mile dead-end road to Allanaquioch that
looked interesting. It was fantastic again - more of the same, but
fantastic - up one side of the Dee and back down the other until
the road was closed due to an unsafe bridge. Turned around and it
was just as nice on the way back.
Back towards Balmoral but turned north up another little road before
we got there. It took us right up into the mountains where it was
really blowing a gale. We had to be very careful with the car doors
in the frequent photo stops. Saw a fantastic rainbow, very bright
and we could see it touch the ground - we seemed to get VERY close
to it - could almost see the pot of gold.
Lovely driving roads - smooth, twisty, up and down, and mostly
Came out of the north of The Cairngorms and started looking for somewhere
to stay. Sandy phoned Dad while we were looking - he's found us a cottage
for tomorrow night in Lossiemouth. Arranged to visit them late afternoon-ish.
Didn't take long to find a nice B&B in Aberlour where we have
the ground floor of a house to ourselves for £35 each.
Nice living room with TV, armchair, settee and a rocking chair ! One
huge bedroom and a huge bathroom - very nice. Friendly lady brought us
out some homemade cake for supper.
Walked up the road to the Mash Tun pub, and all had a great meal of
Pan-fried pork in pepper sauce - £41.
Another great day. Very lucky with the weather again - we've had strong
winds all day, very strong at times, lots of rain but mostly only fine
horizontal drizzle and mostly when we were in the car, and far more sun
than we expected. Drove 167 miles through terrific scenery.
167 miles today: 727 miles total