The Willey Travel Guide:
United Kingdom (Part 1) - North to Scotland
By David and Christopher
Coming from the UK, we often
visited relatives "back home". Our most recent trip was in September 1994
when we crossed the pond to visit my sister and to show Christopher a bit of his British
My sister, Pat, lives in
Lancaster which is about 1 hour north of Manchester. Lancaster
boasts several points of interest including the castle (now used as Her Majesty's Prison)
and the Priory Church of St. Mary overlooking the city. The Lancaster Museum in the
city centre and the Maritime Museum on the banks of the Lune River are both worth
During our stay at my sisters, we
spent an afternoon in Morecambe, a typical old fashioned British seaside resort about 10
minutes from Lancaster. Because we were visiting "out of season" there was
very little going on. The "front" was full of amusement arcades, cafes
and cheap souvenir shops. I would have preferred to see more bistros with sidewalk
patios, art galleries (featuring local arts and crafts) and quality museums which would
serve to enhance the natural beauty of being next to the sea. Perhaps it has changed
in the last three years.
So as to keep the interest of an
eight year old boy, the bulk of the trip was focussed on historical sites such as castles.
Our first foray into British history started at Hadrian's Wall.
Starting at Carlisle on the west side of England we followed the
B6318 which runs alongside the old wall built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian around 125
AD. There are many places to stop and see the ruins of roman towns and to walk the
walls where roman soldiers walked almost 2,000 years ago. Housesteads is one of the
better preserved ruins and includes the remains of a granary, with the remnants of its
underground forced-air heating system and a communal toilet showing the roman method of
sanitary sewers (see photo at left). The view from the wall is amazing and it is
easy to see why this location was chosen.
Heading north to Edinburgh, we
looked for a farm bed and breakfast to spend the night. There were not many along
the A68. We eventually found a very nice farm bed and breakfast in Soutra Mains
about 10 miles south of Edinburgh. It was not easy to see the front of the farmhouse
from the road so the first impression came from the back of the house near the sheep pens,
not necessarily a beckoning sight. Once inside though, we found a well-kept home
with a beautiful conservatory overlooking the front garden. In addition, this proved
to be the cheapest of the B&B's we stayed at and they had reduced rates for children.
This proves that one should not judge solely on what we see outside.
Edinburgh was as wonderful as
usual. I find this city to be one of the more beautiful in the world. Over the
years I have visited many times and I continue to enjoy it immensely. The Castle,
perched majestically at the upper end of the Royal Mile, overlooks the Princes Street
gardens and the city centre.
At the other end of the Royal
Mile is Holyrood House, the Queen's official residence when she is in Edinburgh. In
fact, the day after we were there the Queen was due to arrive to present honours.
Calton Hill is home to a number of
attractions including Nelson's Monument, from which you can get an excellent view of the
Castle and the city centre (see the photo at right). You will also find here the
Observatory and the Edinburgh Experience, a multimedia presentation of the history of the
We made the mistake of leaving
Edinburgh during the height of the afternoon rush hour getting stuck in the middle of
traffic heading toward the Firth of Forth bridge. This put us behind in our search
for a bed and breakfast for the night.
We were on our way to Stirling,
but since we wanted to stay in a farm B&B we left the M9, crossed the Forth at
Kincardine and took a longer route that put us in the middle of small towns and more rural
settings. We drove towards Stirling but were unable to locate any farm B&Bs.
In fact we did not seem to notice any B&Bs at all. It was dusk when we
arrived in the outskirts of Stirling. We pulled off of the A91 where it meets the
A907 and saw a B&B. It was not a farm but it would do. Unfortunately, they
were full but the lady told us that there was another B&B, a farm no less, on the A907
on the other side of the A91.
This B&B (Redhall Farm, Kerse Road, Stirling
(0786 474112)) was
wonderful. It was a modern farmhouse with a view of the castle. Our host, Mrs.
Kyle, had two border collies and Christopher took an instant liking to the two and ended
up playing with them for about an hour. The dogs had a sense of hierarchy with the
younger one always standing a shoulder behind the older one.
Stirling was once the capital of
Scotland and the castle was the home of Scottish royalty. The well preserved castle
sits on a hill overlooking the town and in the distance you see the Wallace Monument
commemorating Wallace's victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. I
found the sculptured lawns you see from the west side of the castle to be quite striking.
Continued on the next page.