Europe 2008 (Fort William to Penrith) Day 8 – June 1

1 06 2008

Today we finished up our visit of the Highlands of Scotland.  We got up at 0700, as is becoming our regular habit.  We we headed down to the hotel restaurant and changed our dining plans from yesterday.  No kippers for Mrs D today…  she had already had enough salt for now.  She had the "Full Scottish" and I had scrambled eggs.  A more sane breakfast.

We left Fort William in the opposite direction than that in which we came.  We headed out of town towards the north, up via Spean Bridge and Laggan.  It was a nice drive with some gently curving roads through some national park forests.  It was beautiful.  We could look back at Ben Nevis as we looped around to the north.  From the north, we headed down towards Perth, looping down via the A9 and joining up with M90 to head down to Edinburgh.  Yes, we did NOT visit Loch Ness.  I’m not THAT much of a tourist.  Mrs D wasn’t thrilled with the winding roads, but I think she still enjoyed it!

We got to Edinburgh castle at 1230.  About 10 minutes out of the car, the rain started!  Mrs D had packed her jacket deep within the luggage so she wore mine.  Me, I went with T-shirt and Tilley Hat.  Those Scottish winds can get pretty cold!  We got to the castle just in time to hear the 1300 gun.  That is, we WOULD have been just in time, if it hadn’t been Sunday.  Apparently for as long as the castle has been around the gun has not fired on Sunday, Good Friday or Christmas Day.  Go figure.  It was interesting that this gun is one of only 4 time guns that still fire.  One of the other ones is Vancouver!  Cool!

Having already shelled out our small fortune for our "Scottish Heritage" pass we didn’t feel too bad about going even though a drenching was likely.  We decided that we weren’t going to let the cold wind or rain get in the way of our visit, and came up with a plan to see the whole castle.  We saw the prison, the barracks, the great hall, as well as the Scottish Crown Jewels.  The history of the crown jewels is quite something.  Also the interesting history of the "Stone of Destiny" and how it went from Scone to England and finally back to Edinburgh.  Like the English Crown Jewels they were kept in a vault within the stone castle which seemed out of place with its high tech vault door.   There were also 3 Scottish military museums within the castle and they helped to explain how the various Highlander and other regiments have come about and what they continue to do for the UK.  We saw the famous painting "The Thin Red Line".

We finished our castle experience at 1600…  Time to beetle!  We had a LONG way to go and not much time to do it.

We drove hard down A702 until we met up with A(M)74.  It definitely started to ring for us that we weren’t going to make it to Barnard castle (near Durham).  We did some quick looking at the map and the GPS and settled on Penrith.

We took a room at the Penrith Travelodge.  £65 for the night. No phone, no shampoo….  but it DID have internet!  At £10 per 24 hours.   Definitely not the choice of hotel for comfort or luxury, but it DID have a bed and it wasn’t HORRIBLE.

We had instant noodles for dinner as we needed to clear out some luggage space.  Tomorrow we will need to carry all our stuff in our suitcases as we will be dropping off our car and hoofing it to the ferry and into Amsterdam.  Turns out Mrs D has been collecting quite a bit of stuff ;)  We washed our instant noodles down with with CAD$2 coke (500ml).  Pretty standard price.  Ouch.  Nothing in this country is cheap.  All you really get is expensive and less expensive.

While we had Internet access finally I did a bit of room searching for Amsterdam. I hope the the Tulip Inn is as good as marketed, because we’re going to find out in a day, and we’re booked in for 3 days 😉

Well, it’s been a late night catching up blogging and searching.  I’m off to bed at 0130.

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