Tag Archives: travel

Day 7 – The Berwickshire Coastal Path

After a restful night at Rhovanion B&B in Coldingham, David and I laced up our hiking boots, grabbed our trekking poles and headed towards the coast.

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Today we’d be exploring a portion of the Berwickshire Coastal Path – a 28-1/2 mile hiking route which works its way from Cockburnspath to Berwick – taking in dramatic cliff top scenery complete with arches, stacks and crumbling castles.

With the second highest cliffs on the east coast of Scotland, this area boasts one of the most dramatic coastlines in Britain. 

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A scenic one-mile walk down the Creel Path from Coldingham to St. Abbs would connect us to the main coastal route, where we’d be making a 4-mile loop that would take us past St. Abb’s Head and Pettico Wick before returning us to the Visitor’s Center.

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The Creel Path has a long history, having been in daily use for over a thousand years. It is said that men from Fisher’s Brae in Coldingham worked their boats from St. Abbs shore and carried their fishing gear down the well worn pathway, later returning with creels of fish.

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One portion of the path had me feeling like I’d just entered Hobbiton – complete with an enclosed canopy that created this amazing circular tunnel.

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From ancient times, until the early twentieth century the east coast of Scotland was home to a massive herring industry, with tens of thousands of workers migrating – often on foot – up and down the coast following the herring shoals and the attendant fishing fleet. 

It was amazing to think that we were walking the same route, but this time, out of pure enjoyment.

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Our first glimpse of St. Abbs, Scotland. Even on this overcast day, the green fields were vibrant!

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Starting down the Berwickshire Coastal path.

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We arrived in St. Abbs to find this quaint little harbor with it’s extensive set of sea walls – protecting it from the fury of the North Sea.

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A view to the north, past the harbor and towards the rocky coastline. 

The scenery is dramatic and quite beautiful, but the sea has a wildness about it that even this lovely day can’t disguise.

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A large and well-placed estate perched high above the rocky coastline.

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After heading around the massive estate, we found ourselves at the start of the circular route.

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Entering the St. Abb’s Head National Nature Preserve

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This picture doesn’t quite capture the beauty nor the height of these rocky promontories. 

Not being a lover of heights, I found myself praying that I wouldn’t be blown off the cliff top by a large gust of wind – an unfortunate but common accident.

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After climbing steadily uphill, we were amply rewarded with an amazing view of St. Abb’s harbor.

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Lovely but dangerous dropoffs!

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You may not be able to tell from this photo, but the cliffs depicted here are about 60 meters (over 180 feet) tall.

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Watching a dive boat out on the water. This area offers some of the best diving in all of Britain.


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More colonies of sea birds nesting on the cliffs and in the crags.

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Looking south towards St. Abbs – the view from up here was amazing!

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On the coastal path and arriving at St. Abb’s Head lighthouse – situated on a rocky promontory approximately 80 meters (240 feet) above sea level.

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An aerial view of the coastline and the lighthouse (not taken by me) that adequately depicts the ruggedness of the coast.

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Meeting some furry friends along the way.

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Chatting with some others folks who had walked up from St. Abb’s harbor for a bit of bird watching.

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Looking north to Tun Law Forts – the highest cliffs on the Berwickshire coast.

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Our first glimpse of Pettico Wick Bay…beautiful!

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Another view of Pettico Wick…simply stunning!

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In the foreground, the hillsides are covered in wild flowers.  In the background, the hillsides are covered with tiny cows!

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Coming down off the hills and towards the path that’ll take us to the visitor’s center.

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Taking a fiver at a quaint little cafe in St. Abb’s while waiting for our Cullen Skink – a soup made with smoked haddock.

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David taking one last look at the harbor before heading back to our B&B in Coldingham.

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Back on the Berwickshire Coastal path – this time headed south towards Coldingham Bay. 

I fell in love with this beautiful home, boasting an amazing view of the North Sea.

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Coldingham Bay and its secluded and awarding-winning beach –  popular with the local surfers!

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Another glimpse of Coldingham Bay beach. Can you see the surfers on their boards?

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As I’m writing this blog post, I find myself still haunted by one particular image from that day on the Berwickshire coast. While walking through St. Abbs, David & I came upon this bronze cast- a memorial –  depicting a group of women and children looking out towards the sea.  As fate would have it, this coast of Scotland suffered a tragic maritime accident that surpassed even the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Black Friday, October 14, 1881 commemorates the worst fishing disaster in Scotland’s history.  A ferocious hurricane devastated the fishing fleet off the east coast and claimed 189 lives.

This hauntingly beautiful sculpture (one of four) was created to depict the exact number of women that were widowed (93) and children left fatherless (267) – looking out to sea for their loved ones that never returned.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 3

Imagine building a stone wall – 8 to 10 feet wide and 15 feet high – stretching from the Irish Sea (on the west) to the North Sea (on the east) and covering a mind-boggling distance of 73 miles.  And did I mention, you don’t have any modern tools to accomplish the task – just those implements that would have been in use during the second century A.D.

This is exactly what the Romans did under the leadership of Emperor Hadrian.  Beginning in 122 A.D. the emperor ordered a protective, fortified wall – now called Hadrian’s Wall – built all the way across Roman Britain, separating them from the barbarians to the north.

Today – almost 2000 years later – many of the stones have been carted away and recycled into other buildings, but the wall is still there for people to explore.  And for those who love history and enjoy  hiking, the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail was created for folks just like you.

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This historical trail stretches from coast-to-coast and passes through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged moorland to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle.

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David & I woke up on the third day of our journey feeling refreshed, revitalized and raring to go! Today we would be tracing two thousand years of history across the beautiful English countryside and following in the footsteps of Roman centurions who had lived and worked on the wall centuries beforehand.

Knowing that we’d be able to cover only a small portion of the path in one day, we chose to begin our hike at Housesteads Roman Fort and head west for 3-1/2 miles, ending our journey at Steel Rigg. 

This particular route was said to offer some of the most dramatic sections of wall, with strenuous walking and several steep slopes.

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With our trekking poles in hand and our rain gear tucked away in David’s backpack, we headed out for the day.

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The start of the walk took us immediately uphill – heading towards the ruins of Housesteads Fort – located at the top of this hill. 

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The ruins of the fort were quite extensive and stretched out across the entire crest of the hill.

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Housesteads had been strategically placed and the view from the top was amazing!

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Entering the Commanding Officers house

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Headquarters

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The granaries – held stores of food including flour for making bread for over 800 soldiers.

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The Granaries – side view

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The Communal Latrines…I promise never to complain about having only one full bathroom in my home!

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Near the north gate

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The gate leading to Hadrian’s Wall Path

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The Wall stretching out as far as you can see!

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Looking back towards Housesteads Fort

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Wet weather up ahead! The English don’t seem to mind the rain. Many of the hikers didn’t even wear rain gear.

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Grag Lough and more rain ahead.

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Crag Lough from a different angle.

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David…looking over the edge of the cliff!

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Walking into the rain and hoping that I don’t slip and tumble down into Sycamore Gap!

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Taking a breather near the bottom of Sycamore Gap

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Walking carefully down the uneven pathway.

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Cutting through the gap on the way down the crags.

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The Peel Crags in the background.

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Arriving at Steel Rigg and feeling great!

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Leaving through the kissing gate. Wait!  You forgot something…..

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You have to pay the toll!

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TO BE CONTINUED……

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 2

After more than 24 hours of traveling, David and I had arrived safely in Edinburgh.  We were both quite tired, but knew we needed to adjust to this new time zone as quickly as possible. The best way to accomplish this was to ignore our exhaustion (easier said than done!) and not even think of sleeping or resting until some time in the early evening.  With that thought in mind, we picked up our rental car – a peppy little VW Golf – and headed south towards England.

untitledHaving had a bit of experience driving on the “wrong” side of the road, I became the designated driver and David, the wide-eyed, gawking passenger. It was a glorious day for traveling – sunny and bright with just a bit of chill in the air.

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After bypassing the city of Edinburgh, we hopped onto the A68 and drove through the Scottish Borders – a rural area full of lovely little villages and fields dotted with frolicking sheep. Unfortunately, our nice weather disappeared the further south we traveled.

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It didn’t take long for fatigue and hunger to catch up with us, so we stopped for a late lunch at a quaint little restaurant – The Caddy Mann. This inauspicious building held a much-guarded secret…it served the best slow-baked Borders lamb this side of Edinburgh.

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Fork-tender and swimming in a pool of au jus..I savored every morsel!!

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David had the medallions of pork with a mashed potato, haggis & rutabaga gratin – scrumptious as well!

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After lunch, we continued south to Melrose – a quaint border village nestled along the banks of the River Tweed and home to the beautiful and almost complete ruins of Melrose Abbey – a Gothic-style abbey founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks.

P1060432Melrose Abbey from the west.

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The south transept window.

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Up the spiral staircase to the observation deck.

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A roof level view.

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Walking on the extensive grounds of the Abbey.

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A beautiful view of the Abbey from the south.

Once back on the road, we continued south but had to make a quick stop at the scenic overview between the border of Scotland and England.

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David on the Scottish side of the border saying …so long for the present!

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Me on the other side of the border saying…hello England!!

With the fatigue of traveling beginning to take it’s toll on us, I was glad when we finally arrived at our destination.

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Carraw Bed & Breakfast – our home for the next two nights!

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We stayed in the Vindolanda Room – named after the Roman Fort built along Hadrian’s Wall almost 2000 years ago! The room had once been part of the original stone barn built many years before – notice the rugged stone wall behind the bed.

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I fell in love with the old wooden beams above our heads!

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And the view from our bedroom window was nothing short of spectacular!

We went to bed that night wondering what amazing sights tomorrow would bring.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

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The Happy Wanderer(s)

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

Chorus:
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
“Come! Join my happy song!”

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev’ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o’er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky.

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 When I was just a little girl, my Gramma Rose taught me this song – The Happy Wanderer. Well, not just me.  She taught the song to all of us Weinberg kids – a brood of seven wild and rambunctious children with enough energy to run a small factory! You see, Gramma Rose had spent more than a third of her life as a Girl Scout leader and in her 30+ years of scouting, she’d acquired quite a selection of tunes, all of which she lovingly taught to her grandchildren, providing us with a musical heritage, so to speak.

Many times, while we were tromping through the woods near our family’s cabin or driving down the highway to visit our relatives in Chicago, one of us would begin to sing as a means of passing the time.  We had quite the repertoire of both folk and silly songs – I Have a Dear Old Grandpa; A Peanut Sat on the Railroad Track; Land of the Silver Birch; The Far Northland; Granny’s in the Cellar…to name just a few!  One day, if I’m in the mood and you ask me real nicely, I may just sing a couple of them for you…if you’re lucky!

But of all the songs we ever sang, this one – The Happy Wanderer – was my favorite.  I loved the catchy Ompah band tune written shortly after World War II by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller.  You can listen to the tune on this video:

The chorus always made me laugh. As a matter of fact, it’s written in such a way that when sung properly, the third line – Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha – sounds just like a person chortling!  But more than anything, it was the last stanza that really spoke to my heart –

“Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky.”

Little did I know then, that these lines would one day be more than just the lyrics of a song – they would become a prayer of sorts and a deep longing in my heart.

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About a year ago, David and I were blessed with an unexpected monetary gift. Of course, there were bills to pay and a hundred and one things around the house that needed fixing which clamoured to be taken care of.  But in a moment of weakness inspiration, we opted to do something rather impulsive with our windfall – we decided to live out the words of my favorite childhood folk song…we were going to “go a-wandering!”

For 16 glorious days – from June 4th to June 20th – David and I became “the happy wanderers” as we drove and hiked through the hills and dales of northern England and into the Highlands of Scotland. We filled up our senses with the sights, sounds and smells of this amazing island and came home richer than when we left.

Over the next 14 days, I will be sharing a daily photo recap of our adventures. I hope you all enjoy the journey…..

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Day 1 – Minneapolis – Chicago – Over the North Atlantic

Breakfast at HHH - Minneapolis.

Today is going to be a looong travel day and we’re beginning fairly early at the HHH terminal in Minneapolis also known as Terminal 2.

Waiting to catch flight to Chicago.

We’ll fly from here to Midway airport in Chicago. From there, well catch the train to one of the downtown stations, transferring to another train that’ll take us to O’Hare.  We saved a bit of money doing it this way and it gave us the opportunity to move around and stretch our legs before taking our overnight flight to Dublin.

Taking a break at O'Hare.

We’ve arrived at O’Hare with lots of time to spare.  We’ll walk around as much as possible and still have time to take a quick snooze before we head across the Atlantic.

Waiting for our flight to Dublin.

More waiting!  Four hours until our departure.

Our flight is being called!

Our flight is being called for boarding!

Arrive in Dublin @ 8am (about 2am back in MN).

Arrival in Dublin @ 8:30am (about 2:30am back in MN).

Freshening up in Dublin.

Freshening up in Dublin while waiting for our final flight to Edinburgh.

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You’ve got to be kidding!!  This is the plane that’ll be taking us to Edinburgh. Thank goodness I took out traveler’s insurance!

In Edinburgh...finally!

Our safe arrival in Edinburgh….finally!

TO BE CONTINUED…………….

 

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