Wednesday 27 April
Hoots Mon and it’s off North towards Bonnie Wee Scotland !
We set off just after 8.00 and arrive around 2.15 after a coffee stop & a fuel stop which having negotiated at least 3 major roadworks I didn’t think was too bad. ( don’t you just love those Orange cones Possums ! )
The camp site is a very nice Caravan Club site to the North of Edinburgh city very near to the banks of the Firth of Forth. It’s a very neat spacious site with pretty good shower blocks and has cost me £67 for 3 nights with electricity which seems about right. The staff are really friendly and have given us all the options for our trip into Edinburgh City tomorrow. ( Including the Naff weather forecast ! )
Having settled in and had a well earned cuppa, we venture out for a spell. We meander down to the promenade along the river bank and walk about a mile and a half until we come to the small village of Cramond, which had a small Roman fort here in AD 142. On the way I was “Pugged” on the beach which means I was very nicely set upon by a cute Pug dog who decided I was much more interesting than his owner. ( No surprise there then ! ). There is a small island off the coast here called strangely enough Cramond Island, with a causeway across the Estuary, but at the time we pass it wasn’t uncovered so instead we decide to give the Cramond Inn a whirl ( who would have thought it ! ). This is also rather weird as it is a Samuel Smiths pub and sells only Samuel Smiths beer with one type of Red wine and one type of White wine. ( choices ladies ! choices ! ) Samuel Smiths for those who don’t know, is a beer made at Tadcaster in Yorkshire which is quite a distance from Edinburgh and I’m sure there are a lot of Scottish brewery’s a lot nearer !. The pub was apparently a favourite haunt of the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson who’s inspiration for his book Treasure Island was reputedly to have been Cramond Island although I think it’s a jolly sight too cold here for Man Friday ! ( He must have liked a drop of Sam Smiths too ! )
We decide to eat here as it is quite a way to get to the next nearest pub which is a Toby Inn that usually serves fairly average fayre. We both plump for a pulled pork and cider pie which sounds really scrumptious and had us salivating in anticipation. Unfortunately they fell well and truly into the very average Fayre akin to the previous mentioned pub. Never mind, we have had a nice walk mostly in sunshine however with the occasional hail & snow flutter thrown in for good measure. As my friend Simon says “I love April ! ”
On our return we just manage to keep ahead of the rain which seems to be following the hills around the estuary and get back to “Cis” fairly dry just before it gets a lot heavier for a few minutes before reverting back to cloudy with the odd peekaboo of blue sky. We chill here for the rest of the evening and relax ready for tomorrow’s onslaught.
Thursday 28 April
I started off the day with a brisk cycle to the Forth of Firth rail & road bridges at South Queensferry leaving Mrs Snoozy snuggled up in a warm pit whilst I had a solo adventure in the freezing, frosty but very sunny and bright start to the day. There are two national cycle routes along here the no.76 which goes through the Dalmenny Golf Course and along the river bank. This was a little bumpy in parts but had beautiful views of the Estuary. The other is the no. 1 which returned me to Cramond alongside the main road on a dedicated tarmaced cycle track.not very pretty but a lot quicker route.
Having done my exercise for the day we caught the minibus from the campsite into Edinburgh. This costs £6 return which is more than the bus but it does it door to door. By this time the weather had changed to very dark clouds with a promise of heavy rain later. We thought the minibus option would be far better than getting drenched if it was raining when we returned on the bus with a 15 minute walk back to the site.
We started our tour of Edinburgh with a walk up Princes Street to the tourist information centre where we bought our tickets for the open top bus and the castle. ( Hey Tourists, Welcome to Edinburgh ! ). Having jumped on the bus and whilst I sat outside in the light but persistent rain with camera at the ready to snap those immortal photos, Jane stopped inside keeping dry and warm.( Wimp ! ) Having done the circuit and seen the tourist sights ably explained by our guide,we got off on George Street. Here we refreshed ourselves firstly at The Hard Rock Cafe and then proceeded to one of the two Wetherspoons on that street where we had a quick bite to eat.
So having been fed,watered and feeling just about thawed out by now, we had a wander up to the Castle just in time for a brief guided tour. Being up at the top of the castle which is atop part of the rock thrown out from the now extinct Volcano which has given Edinburgh its familiar natural skyline, it was pretty windy and definitely chilly. We ventured inside some of the buildings to warm up again and saw the Scottish Crown Jewels and The Stone of Destiny which is always underneath the throne when there has been a Royal Coronation in the UK for several hundred years.
Moving down from the Castle we wandered down the Royal Mile. Outside the western door of St Giles Cathedral is a cobblestone heart set into the paving that marks the site of the 15th-century Tolbooth. The Tolbooth served variously as a meeting place for parliament and the town council before becoming law courts and, finally, a notorious prison and place of execution. Immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian, the Tolbooth was demolished in the 19th century. Passers-by traditionally spit on the heart for good luck (don’t stand downwind!).
Moving on from the Heart, we turned off the Royal Mile to see the life-size Greyfriars Bobby, Scotland’s most famous Dog, a Skye terrier who captured the hearts of the British public in the late 19th century. He stands outside Greyfriars Kirkyard ( Graveyard ). From 1858 to 1872, the wee dog maintained a vigil over the grave of his master, an Edinburgh police officer before joining him in the afterlife. The story was immortalised in a novel by Eleanor Atkinson in 1912, and in 1963 was made into a movie by – who else? – Walt Disney.
By this time it was dinner time and we stopped for a quick drink in the other Wetherspoons on George Street before going into a cracking Mexican restaurant on Rose Street around the corner. The restaurant was called Miros Cantina and the food was absolutely delicious. If you are ever there, we would highly recommend it.
After that we rang for the minibus to take us home and thawed out once more back in the warm bosom of “Cis” before the sleep fairies gently carried us off to Dreamland
Friday 29 April
Well the weather forecast for overnight and today was supposedly going to be heavy snowfall upto 10 inches in the Edinburgh area. Fortunately that didn’t happen but instead we had constant rain all night rattling on the roof, and also most of today until mid afternoon. Understandably I chose not to whizz off on my bike in the morning but lounged in bed until “Cis” had warmed sufficiently through and it was toasty enough to be able to get dressed and head for the shower.
Because of the likelihood of the awful days weather ahead we decided not to venture back into Edinburgh city as we didn’t want to get drenched nor spend the whole day in the pub ( what I hear you cry ! ), so instead we caught the private minibus again from the site to Ocean Terminal which is a medium sized shopping mall with cinema and restaurants. Here is where the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed after her decommissioning in 1997. We did the full tour here which was pretty interesting and not half as ostentatious as we thought it might be. It was freezing on the outside decks but a lot warmer when the tour took us back in to look at the accommodation. We even had a hot drink in the tea room on the middle deck to warm up.
On leaving the ship we had a drink in the Ocean Bar before having an amazing burger each in the Handmade Burger co. The peanut butter and banana milk shake was to die for too.
Once we were fully fed and watered, we caught the minibus back to the site to chill out ( or warm up ! ) for the rest of the evening