A Travellerspoint blog

Day 29 St. Andrews, Scotland

Thursday 11 August 2016

overcast 15 °C

Finding accommodation on this trip has been difficult due to school holidays. Everywhere we go, things are booked out. We managed to phone and secure a bed and breakfast yesterday morning. The room was spacious, breakfast was good and the lady was very friendly. However, I am not sure if I like this B&B lifestyle. We were disturbed with a creaking floor followed by the shower at 2am. This was just after the people from ANZ card rang me to sort out my card!! So, a restless night was had.
The rain had stopped when we got up so we were pleased that it was not so cold -car showed 14.5⁰C. Headed straight for Sainsbury’s to get fresh rolls and ham for lunch. That’s another problem – no fridges in the rooms. After getting the food, we stopped at the old Stirling Bridge, the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The original wooden bridge was said to be instrumental in the defeat of the English army in 1297, the battle that shot William Wallace to fame. The bridge that stands there now dates from fifteenth century and is one of the best examples of a medieval bridge still standing in Scotland. It crosses the River Forth 25 metres downstream from the original.
We had intended going to the William Wallace memorial yesterday but changed our mind and went to the castle seeing that it was raining. In hindsight, that was a good move. We found the ticket area for the memorial. That’s another thing. You see a sign for what you want but then there is nothing and it all comes down to guess work. I knew that we had a climb ahead of us and sure enough, it was a great cardiovascular workout for the morning. On top of the rise where the memorial stands, Abbey Craig, the wind was blowing and it was cool. It was built in 1869. The monument itself is massive, rising 67 metres into the air. If the walk up the hill wasn’t enough, we then had 246 steps to climb to the top. All I could think was, “And we paid them to do this”. The steps weren’t straight but wound up inside a small turret. You get quite dizzy. Fortunately, there were several floors that you could stop at to catch your breath. One gave the history behind the monument and why Wallace was considered a martyr, one showcased other notable people including Robert the Bruce and the other floor gave us some statistics on the time/size comparisons etc. The top floor was open and extremely windy. It gave views around all four sides over Sterling and the surrounding area. As I said, it had stopped raining but the cloud still clung low to the mountains but it was certainly worth the climb.
Our trip to St Andrews was uneventful and took around two hours. We were able to book straight into our hotel which was great. I had booked this back in April – Fairmont St Andrews – and the name has not let us down. Our room is spacious and clean with a fridge and tea making facilities. We had a rest and then took a drive into the town of St Andrew’s itself. It is a lovely old city. The Old Golf Course looks brilliant. We did a bit of shopping and had a look at St Andrews Castle then enjoyed the drive back to our hotel which is a little way out of town but surrounded by several golf courses that run along the coast line. Brilliant even with cloudy, rainy skies.

Posted by gpric6 14:43 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Day 28 Stirling, Scotland

Wednesday 10 August 2016

rain 10 °C

We have to say that this hotel we moved to was great – Piersland Hotel. We enjoyed the Marine as well but this one was very relaxing and spacious. We had our own little cabin which would be great if you were golfing. The main hotel has a history and is linked to Johnnie Walker, the whisky man.
Our departure came around 9.30 and we headed for Falkirk to investigate the Falkirk wheel. The journey was quick and, unfortunately, it was accompanied with rain as predicted by the weather bureau. That didn’t stop us when we reached the wheel. We were lucky enough to be there when the pleasure cruise was heading out so we saw the whole mechanism work – amazing.
It was only a short drive to Stirling. We actually booked into a guest house this morning by phone. Luckily the lady told me that she was opposite Sainsbury’s (grocery store) as we had difficulty finding the address. Anyway we were able to find it and were quite happy with our room with an ensuite. We had our little lunch in the room and then braved the rain and cold to explore Stirling.
We decided to go to the castle and actually got a discount because of our English heritage card. We joined the guided tour of the castle and the girl did a great job keeping us out of the rain. It was a strange sort of castle – bit of this and bit of that sort of thing. WE had to dash down and move the car as the parking had run out. When we came back up, we visited the Argyll’s Lodging. It was an interesting tour and showed how the rich lived back in those days.
Dinner was had in one of the restaurants in the town area. Looking forward to a quiet night and a good sleep.

Posted by gpric6 12:03 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Day 27 Troon, Scotland

Tuesday 9 August 2016

sunny 20 °C

After a restless night, we managed to get ourselves up for breakfast. I think we watched the Olympics for too long!! Thought I would try some haggis with breakfast but it looked like doggy do so didn’t have too much.
We moved out of the Marine Hotel and headed into town for a look around. We also found a laundry where we left our clothes for washing. We bought a few bits and pieces for lunch and the headed back to Piersland Hotel for an early check in. What a find! They have these small units attached to the main hotel and they are lovely.
Ross headed over to warm up for his game. The wind was not as bad as yesterday and the sun was shining at times. He finished around 6.15 and enjoyed his game. He enjoyed the course more than anything really. We went to the main hotel for dinner which was a lovely meal.

Posted by gpric6 12:00 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Day 26 Troon, Scotland

Monday 8 August 2016

sunny 14 °C

We’re in Scotland and we are a bit ahead of schedule but you can only look at so many castles, cathedrals and ruins.
Believe it or not, the sun was shining on Lake Windemere this morning so we dashed to the shop and bought some supplies and then raced down to the same spots as yesterday and took some more photos. I was determined not to go on any back tracks so we set our route to head south of the lake to Kendall and then north towards Carlisle before veering off towards Hadrian’s Wall. Ross reckoned he had seen plenty of Hadrian’s walls already with all the farm fences.
For a short while there was some concern as, once again, the back tracks appeared as we turned off and followed the signs at Brampton. We weren’t disappointed though as we soon found Birdoswald Roman Fort. This is the longest section of the wall to be seen as well. It was around 18 degrees but the wind was chilling. We went through the museum and then braved the cold outside. There was some sun shining fortunately, and once out of the wind, it was quite ok. It is interesting as the sheep graze in the field amongst the ruins of the fort. We did the obligatory walk on the wall, bought a cup of tea and then headed for Willowford Bridge. They believe that the west end of the wall will eventually fall into the river. We walked down quite a steep slope and followed the path to where the original Roman bridge stood, the ruins being the evidence of this. The River Irthing is the one that has changed its course over time.
We made an unplanned stop at Lanercost Priory. The ruins of the church were quite impressive. We were surprised to find that the church was still operational. The ladies there were very friendly and we enjoyed the visit.
The next bit of excitement was crossing into Scotland for the first time and this happened near Gretna Green. I would have liked to have visited the later but we were a bit behind time. We arrived at Troon just after 6pm and found our hotel. What a spot. It is opposite the first and eighteenth hole of the Royal Troon Golf Course so Ross is happy. When we booked, we took a dinner, bed and breakfast deal so we headed down for dinner. It was one of the best meals since we have been away – 3 courses and all.
After dinner, it was still bright outside so we headed to the golf course for some shots. The pro shop was still open so Ross booked in for tomorrow. He hopes to play at around 2.30. It’s freezing cold here but ever so beautiful while the sun is shining.

Posted by gpric6 14:25 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Day 24 & 25 Bowness, England

Saturday 6 August – 7 August 2016

rain 16 °C

Our departure from York was uneventful. We made sure that Suri had us on a decent route towards Windemere. A grocery shop was our first stop and we grabbed a few things. We followed a road on the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, very picturesque with farms but more rounded hills with browner tops. Instead of going straight to our accommodation I thought I would do the western side of the Lakes district. We passed an amazing wind power farm set out in the sea on one of the peninsulas. The road was quite windy so it’s difficult to snap a picture from the car. We did make a stop at Furness Abbey. It is a ruins site but it must have been amazing in its day.
A break for a cup of tea came at The Byre Café, Bootle. This café was originally an old barn. They had this afternoon tea for two and it was huge. We tried their scone and a cheesecake which were delicious. Luckily we had this as we decided to set Suri to plot our route for Hardknott Pass – bad move. Before we knew it, we were on the worst track we have been on yet. It is single lane and had signs saying that it was used by timber trucks. Well we didn’t meet any of them but we met a woman who refused to “back up”. We could not get off the track as we would have ended up in a ditch. I got out of the car and walked back to the next bend guiding Ross. Low and behold, two other vehicles came from the same direction as us so I waved them down. This lady passed through and we were able to continue. This type of track improved slightly but we did not allow for it being Saturday so every man and his dog (and that’s literal!!)
Having reached Boot, we attempted to push on but just up the road we were faced with an on-coming camper van so we had to back up again. Ross was getting pretty testy by this. However, we set off again and, not far up the road, we came across an Asian lady whose car was almost in the ditch. It was tipped sideways. I don’t know how they got out without it rolling. We went a little further and with the oncoming traffic increasing, we decided to turn around and head back. Bad planning meant we didn't make it to the Roman ruins or Hardknott Pass.
I made sure that the sat nav was going to take us to the main routes as we had had enough of these treacherous short cuts. We headed towards the north, east to Keswick and then south towards Windemere. We were pleased to find our hotel at Bowness. The hotel, MacDonald Old English Hotel, is right on the lake but our view is not all that great. Dinner was had at a local pub. We were able to try a Cumbrian steak and kidney pastry pie with vegies.
Sunday greeted us with heavy clouds, wind and spitting rain – good weather to stay in bed. This is where Wordsworth was supposed to have gotten his inspiration to write poetry. I am not sure how with this weather. Anyway, I woke with a headache so after breakfast, I went back to sleep and Ross watched the Olympics. Around three, we mustered the energy to go for a walk and we managed to make it to Windemere. There was hardly anyone there – Bowness must be the in place. We found our way so that we could walk near the lake and then back to Bowness. We found a lovely little Italian restaurant and that was that.

Posted by gpric6 12:44 Archived in England Comments (0)

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