Edinbourgh, Fort William, Ben Nevis...
21.05.2007 - 23.05.2007
Well it has been a while, it feels weird to be in France and writing about Scotland still....let me just say that internet access is not all that easy to come by and we have had other important things to do...like travelling!! But I know, we should keep you guys posted, so here goes...this was Scotland....
So believe it or not we did manage to get ourselves out of the mountains in Wales despite the painful absence of public transport....our first bus came, then we waited for the next....for half an hour past when it was supposed to come....then the hostel warden drove up and offered us a ride to Bangor, which we graciously took. Who knows if the bus would have come! In Bangor we took the train to Chester, then another to Crewe, then another to Carlisle, and we finally got to Edinbourgh nine hours after we left Idwall! Ouch. We managed to track down a pretty nice hostel called Budget Backpackers, which we didn't really realise was that nice until later when we had visited other hostels. It had really nice facilities and we shared a room with 3 guys from Colorado, who were really nice. We went out for a beer that night at The Last Drop, which we later learned was so named because it was the place that people could have their last drink before being hung in the square outside! Nice.
The next day we took part in the free walking tour of Edinbourgh that was offered by the hostel. We lots of cool buildings and monuments (like Greyfriars Bobby - a dog that sat on his master's grave for 14 years, or so the story goes....) and learned that Edinbourgh has a very very dark past. Almost every place that we went to was known for public executions or witch burnings or heeps of dead bodies....its really sort of eerie. It's a beautiful place today, but it is hard to imagine what it was like back in the day when people were dying left right and center and the streets were full of sewage. I guess we picked out timing well
After the tour we met up with Claire, the daughter of Chris and Laura (remember, the people we stayed with in London), who is studying medicine in Edinbourgh. We had an awesome lunch in a little restaurant that is run by volunteers! Claire and Claire have known each other since they were about 8, so it was cool to meet up again and talk about travels (she just did a trip around South America) and med school, etc. Next we went to the Scottish National Museum and saw Dolly (the first cloned sheep!), and gorgeous views of Edinbourgh from the top (you will have to imagine for now....) Next we went to Edinbourgh Castle, which was a total ripoff for what it was. It was big and impressive, with lots of war memorial stuff, but definitely not worth £11 ($25Can). We have seen better for free!! At least one of us got in for free because the tour guide gave us one free pass! After that we pretty much just wondered around for the rest of the day, had a cheap dinner and got ready to leave.
The next day, we took the train to Fort William, which is a gorgeous ride through the Scottish Highlands, which looked quite similar to BC in parts. Fort William was cold - it's quite far north - but still beautiful. It is situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, which, at 1325m, is the highest mountain in the UK. We stayed at the Achantee Farm House Hostel, which is at the start of the Ben Nevis trail and was totally awesome. The guy who ran it was so friendly and reminded us of Robin Williams. We had a cute little room and a kitchen, living room and bathroom essentially to ourselves.
The next day we had planned to tackle Ben Nevis, but when we woke up to 30-50mph winds, rain and thick fog, we thought twice....we waited a few hours to see if it would clear up, but at 10:30 we regretfully gave up on the idea, since the hike takes around 8 hours, we couldn't wait all day. We walked to town instead and looked around and planned the next part of our trip, which we needed to do anyway.
The following day when we left for Stranraer was, of course, beautiful and warm - Sods Law. Oh well. We hope to come again some day. We took the train to Stranraer that day, which is on the southwestern side of Scottland, where we camped for the night before taking the boat to Belfast, Northern Ireland the next day.
That's it for now....again, thanks for reading!!