Edinburgh and environs

We had a free week after Christmas and, because neither of us is keen on celebrating New Year… kissing random people in packed sweaty pubs… we decided to go away in Bertie, our camper van. As I said, we’re not keen on New Year; therefore, I’m not sure why we chose to go to Edinburgh, when the Scots are renowned for their Hogmanay celebrations! But more on Hogmanay later.

We had a long drive from North Wales but reached Mortonhall campsite, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, before dark. Not bad going since sunset is so early in Scotland at this time of year!

The next morning we did Oriam Parkrun at Heriot Watt University, selected because it’s name begins with O and we’re doing the Parkrun alphabet challenge. This involves running 26 parkruns beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Sad but true! We also ticked V off the list on this trip!

After an enjoyable run, we had a wash in the van and set off to see the Kelpies, two steel sculptures of horses’ heads, which are 30 metres high. On the way we stopped to walk along the bank of the Forth to Blackness Castle. I thought we’d have a good view of the Forth bridges from there, but it was a bit disappointing, probably because the day was so grey and dreary.

The Kelpies were impressive though. We paid to go inside one, which was worthwhile to hear the story of these mythical water spirits and of the Clydesdale horses they’re based on. Also, to find out how they were built, which is amazing.

We went back to Bertie for a while to have a cup of tea and wait for the sun to go down. The Kelpies are lit at night, which makes them look stunning. There were fewer people around after dark too, which made it easier to take photos.

The next day we caught the bus from the campsite into the city, then bought tickets for the open top bus tour around the city. The photos I took from the bus tour are generally rubbish, but at least we enjoyed the sights and got our bearings.

As the sun set, we walked up to see the city from Calton Hill then, after stopping for dinner, wandered through the town and the Christmas market. The city is beautiful by night as well as by day. We finished the evening with beer for John and a couple of obligatory malt whiskies for me!

As well as the open top buses, the Royal Edinburgh ticket we’d bought included entry to the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Yacht Britannia far exceeded our expectations and we thoroughly enjoyed getting a glimpse of the Royal residences and hearing how it would have been for the crew living and working below decks.

We then visited Holyroodhouse, which we didn’t enjoy as much. It’s a lovely building but seemed rather drab inside, full of historical tapestries and artwork… not my cup of tea but I’m sure lots of people like that sort of thing!

Finally, that evening we watched the Edinburgh torchlight procession, which was quite an experience… after over an hour and a half the torches and pipe bands were still coming down the Royal Mile!

The next day was New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay. I have lots of pictures of that day so I think I’ll save it for another blog. Staying in Edinburgh was a rather good way to celebrate the end of 2019 and the arrival of 2020!

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