15.06.2015 - 18.06.2015 16 °C
It was a long train trip coming from Lille through London to Edinburgh - it went smoothly enough (apart from the Eurostar being half an hour late, which is apparently unusual but made us miss a connection and have to wait an extra hour!), but the view was really only worth it in parts. Maybe I should have looked closer at air travel?!
Still, our arrival in Edinburgh went OK and we found we had a lovely apartment just off the Royal Mile (although the building is a bit seedy!). We spent a couple of days wandering and looking, including hours at Edinburgh Castle where we found fascinating views and history around every corner.
Then we decided to change plans and go straight to look for Puffins! The original thinking was to wait and see if we see any on the cruise, then if not, we could visit the seabird centre. But when Trev realised the centre was so close, and he worked out how to get to it by train, there was no stopping him! He booked a catamaran trip around a couple of islands to be sure to see Puffins, and planned for some time at the centre. The Scottish Seabird Centre is at North Berwick and had live feed from cameras on Bass rock and four other islands nearby, all of which have various birds nesting at the moment. We got to see a young peregrine falcon sitting calmly on the rock, hundreds of gannets sitting around, normal seagulls and of course lots of puffins. There was one camera down in a burrow and we saw puffins there making a nest! It was wonderful!
We then walked down to the departure point for the boat, but that's where our luck changed. The weather was quite cold and breezy, but had been getting steadily worse, so the captain said they'd decided it was too rough and dangerous to go out! We got a refund and decided if we didn't get to see puffins when we're up in the northern isles, we will come back and try for the boat the day before we go home. Trev was a bit disappointed (I was relieved because I could see how rough it was getting!) so we stopped at the Lobster Shack for half a (small) lobster. They actually grow lobsters here, putting them into the ocean when they are still tiny (half a finger length) and then catching them when they are big.
We decided to get out of Edinburgh, so took a small group day tour to Dunfermline Abbey, Robert the Bruce the Bruce monument, Stirling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel. It was certainly worth it! The driver told history as a story and made it all very interesting. He is clearly quite a fan of Robert the Bruce, even able to forgive him for when he stabbed a friend (turning foe) in the back, 17 times! Robert the Bruce sounds like the one true God in Scotland, and the Battle of Bannockburn where Scotland finally defeated the English, is honoured and they had it's 700th anniversary last year.
Dunfermline Abbey commemorate the Bruce with a gold plaque, with his body buried in the church. While William Wallace's mothers grave under a thorn tree is the closest thing they have for him, as he was hung, drawn and quartered in England. The cemetery had headstones dating back to 1760, and many were illegible, so they are probably older - that older than European settlement in Australia! At the Bruce monument they had a large statue of him on a horse, holding his battle axe. His face/head was copied from the skeleton they found at Dunfermline.
Stirling Castle was much like Edinburgh Castle, but slightly smaller and less crowded and with less adornments. From the castle you could see the William Wallace memorial standing like a sentinel on the mountain. For the Bannockburn celebration last year they had commissioned a copy of a set of tapestries of unicorns is which had hung in the palace at Stirling Castle, but which have been moved to NY. The tapestries were done over several years by about twenty people, and we're amazing in their detail as we saw in a display at the far end of the castle.
There are still many things to see in and around Edinburgh, but at least we have a feel for their long history!