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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 heritage.

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 visiting.

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.

Hadrian's WallStarting 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.

Edinburgh from Calton HillCalton 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 city.

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.

 

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