The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 4, Hadrian’s Wall to Edinborough

Monday, May 4 - Day 90 - Hadrian’s Wall to Edinburgh

We both slept very well on comfortable beds, warm covers and with the window open letting in cold, fresh air. The comforter was perfect.

Breakfast is cooked to order; the classic English breakfast but we pass on the broiled "tortured" tomatoes and baked beans! We visit with an English couple from Portsmouth who are here for a family event, a 70th birthday and they make 70 sound so old!

This is a one night stand so we pack up and head out toward the Vindolanda Roman Fort and Museum. It is not far from the B&B and we find it easily, down a one lane road with passing areas. It is cold and trying to rain but we walk over most of the fort area and get a good feel for how it must have looked. This is an extensive, privately funded, archeological dig that has been going on in earnest since 1996. There was some work done on the site as far back as the 1920s however. We visit with one of the volunteers and she tells us the small pool that is partially filled with water from the recent rains was dugout and cleared in the last two weeks. She says they think is was a ceremonial pool and are very pleased that it seems to be holding the rain water.  We then drive to the museum to look at the amazing stuff they have pulled out of the dig. There are many well preserved shoes of many different styles as well as all the other things of life two thousand years ago on the frontier of the Roman Empire. We wish we had more time, it is very interesting to see and well worth the visit and cost of $21USD.

From here we move on through the small roads of the area, stopping to look at a lime kiln that was used during the 18th and 19th centuries to burn limestone to make lime to put in the fields to reduce the soil’s acidity.

Carolyn wants to see "The Border Abbeys" and the first of them is in Jedburgh. Before touring the abbey ruin, we have lunch at Carter’s Rest for $33USD. An expensive soup and sandwich (plus a beer). Food in the UK is costly and the taste doesn't really justify the cost in most places! Jedburgh Abbey dates to the 1100's and was destroyed over several wars and raids and now is just an impressive ruin. It is right in the middle of the town with very little ground around it but even so, the abbey walls and the foundations of the other building are well defined.

On to Dryburgh Abbey. There is not much left of this ruin, but it is the setting that makes it. It is out in the country surrounded on three sides by a river. The final side is closed by a Victorian era hotel. So the Abby has lots of grounds with trees and flowers and it makes for a very beautiful setting. It is easy to see why Field Marshall Douglas Haig, Commander of British Forces in WWI and poet author, Sir Walter Scott requested to be buried here. Of course, they both had family ties to the area also.  The country side is beautiful!

Now to Melrose Abbey. This abbey is also in the middle of town, but has some land around it so you can really see its size. It is the most ornate of the ruins and interesting to see. We can just imagine them in their glory before the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. There is a stone in the Abbey grounds to mark the spot where Robert Bruce's heart is supposed to be buried.

Our final stop of the day was to be at Rosslyn Chapel, made famous in "The DiVenci Code," but we arrive too late to see it today. It is a little East of Edinburgh so we will come back tomorrow.

We do not know our way around Edinburgh so we drive right through the heart of the city at 5PM to get to our hotel on the waterfront in Leith. Traffic is heavy, slow and tedious but we finally make it to the Holiday Inn Express where we will stay for two nights. It is nothing special but it is well located near the Royal Yacht Britannia and we learn about the ring road we should have taken instead of driving right through town.

At the recommendation of the clerk we try The King’s Wark, whatever that is, for dinner. We are hungry for fish and chips and that is one of their specialties. It is a Monday Bank Holiday so we have no trouble finding parking near the restaurant and do have fish and chips and two drinks before heading back to the hotel. Before we call it quits for the night, we drive around the dock area which is being revitalized with new loft type apartments and places to eat. Back at the hotel by 9:00PM it is still quite light outside but the drapes are pulled and soon even Jack and Taz are asleep in their chair.

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