Scotland Part 3, seriously, I’m done this time.

Ciao Ancora!

I am hoping to finish up our trip today, I know it’s been a couple of long posts but I wanted to be able to tell you about our adventures and my feelings about them. But we have a new adventure coming up this weekend so I need to get us out of Scotland and back home to Italy before that happens.

I left us in Eyemouth, eating breakfast, and contemplating our route. In the spirit of full confession I will tell you that it was in Eyemouth we began thinking that maybe we weren’t going to make it the entire distance. We were both exhausted and really sore. I mean REALLY sore!

It is an interesting thing about taking on activities like long distance hiking or bike touring or any other more extreme form of outdoor activity. You really need a good length of time doing them to adjust your body. I had spent the two weeks before we left walking around with increasingly heavier weight in my pack. I did household chores with my pack on. I exercised, lifted weights, did cardio and still my body was not prepared. I believe you need to be gone for a week to 10 days (or longer) for an experience that is truly enjoyed. Not because having a vacation that long is great (though it is) but it takes 5 to 7 days of the constant same activity before your body doesn’t hate you every step of the way. Will and I were hiking with fully loaded packs just long enough for our bodies to detest us but not long enough to start to make them happy again. 3 full days of hiking just made our bodies rebel! If we could have taken Sunday off as an easy day, gotten a hotel and taken a shower or found another beach where we were isolated and could have just moved around without our bags and relaxed all day we would have been better off. However, when your vacation days are limited and you are hedged in on both sides by an airline timetable you make the best decisions you can for your happiness and health. (Plus our bodies are not as young as our brains think they are).

In Eyemouth we made the decision to call the Bed & Breakfast and see if they had a room for a night earlier.

They did not. So we decided to keep going.

Eyemouth (pronounced Heymooth) is a small harbor town, with a boardwalk area that has different places to get ice cream, an arcade, and several pubs. It is also host to a large golf course. Now since it is a harbor town and we had to descend to get into it… yep, that’s right, we had to climb back out of it. We ascended some stairs, (with pretty purple flowers, called alliums) went past the golf club house, between the 5th and 10th hole and then kept trudging up. After about an hour of walking up hill, by which time we still hadn’t finished passing all of the golf course we realized we weren’t talking to each other anymore. We weren’t fighting or anything, we were just too tired to talk. In fact the best we could do was try not to fall over, we were back on the cliff side and the higher we climbed the farther the drop. We were like drunk weeble-wobbles (you know, the weeble and they wobble but they won’t fall down) but we actually had to worry about falling down.

We finally made it to a pasture enclosure and had to go over a stile (stiles are another way to allow passage through a pasture, like a kissing gate, without harming the fence line. Each side has at least one step up, sometimes several steps, then you step over the top of the fence and steps back down). I almost didn’t make it over and when we got to the other side Will knew I was done. He called around Berwick Upon Tweed and found us a place to stay for the night. All we had to do was make it to Burnmouth and there would be a bus stop that would take us the rest of the way to the guest house. I kept going knowing a destination was in sight, or at least over the next couple of hills.

The bus took us into the main train station of Berwick where we would catch the train back to Edinburgh Tuesday and we got a taxi to our guesthouse. Eastwatch guesthouse was right on the beach and our host, Patrick, was wonderfully kind and accommodating, he even did a load of laundry for us!! After showers and a little down time we walked back into Berwick and had birthday dinner at The Magna Tandoori, excellent food and it wasn’t re-hydrated (at least as far as I know). The next day we poked around Berwick upon Tweed, walking the fortified walls and having some coffee and pastries at Lowry’s at the Chandlery. After a walk out to the lighthouse we decided to have some real food at the Foxton’s Restaurant. Will was craving some fish and chips so that’s what he had. I don’t like fish, no, really, not really, not at all. So, I did not have fish and chips. But the beer was tasty!

After eating we headed to our new B&B, The Rob Roy Inn, to check in for our second night and took a nap.

I think we ended up in the Wookie room; we had weird fuzzy brown pillows and a fuzzy brown throw on our bed. I am not sure if there were any Wookies actually harmed in the making of the pillows, honestly, I just didn’t want to ask.

After a nap we went back to walk on the beach, it was a little foggy and it felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves. We walked and picked up sea glass for close to three hours, deciding to not go out for dinner (though I did have more re-hydrated food), we repacked our gear and relaxed for our last night in the UK. (A quick geography lesson, Berwick Upon Tweed is the first town on the England side of the Scotland/England border. Burnmouth being the last Scottish town when following the Coastal trail. Technically we spent the last two days of our trip in England.)

The next morning after a huge rack of toast, eggs, bacon and coffee we headed back to the train station and caught a train back to Edinburgh.

Now, Edinburgh is a town that deserves some decent exploration but we had our packs and half a day. So we walked up to the castle (FYI, we are really pathetic, there are several roads that will get you to the castle, Will and I, in our never ending wisdom, did not observe this fact until we had walked the steepest hill up to the castle and then looked around to realize we could have come up at least two other ways!) In front of the castle we were told that we couldn’t go in because our bags were too big and there was no place to store them because… you guessed it, our bags were too big. Knowing we couldn’t go into the castle or any museums we changed our plan of action.

Back to The Boozy Cow for another great burger!!!

On the way I picked up a Loch Ness stuffed animal for our grandson that Will promptly named Herbert. Don’t ask me, I have no idea why he would want to call the Loch Ness monster Herbert. Then to the burger joint. They decor is spray painted and heavy on rock band like atmosphere. The music is loud and from the eighties and nineties. The beer is tasty and the burgers are divine. It is super duper hard to get a good burger in Italy. We had a place we liked up in Heidelberg Germany called The Laughing Cow but so far no such luck in the Vicenza area.

Satiated with good food we called the trip a success, found a taxi stand and caught a cab back to the airport. (We did not see Jk Rowling’s house on the way back).

One last snafu with our travels when they delayed our initial flight three hours but the airline company recovered put us on another flight and got us back in Italy by 23:00 hours!

Exhausted, sore, and ready for our own beds we made our way back to our house. Now we are recovered and ready for another adventure 2 ½ days and counting until we head back towards Lake Garda, for a visit with some friends, the village of Affi and a Renaissance Fest!!

Until next week,

Ciao miei Amici

 

Scotland Part 2

Ciao di Nuovo,

This technically means “Hello of New”, the Italians don’t actually say this much but they might say “Ciao Ancora” which means “Hello Again”. I think I like them both so I will have to start using them more often. So, Ciao Ancora, here I am again to tell you the next stages of our adventure.

When I left you yesterday Will and I had just finished our lunch and had set out again towards St. Abbs. We were starting to get sore but our spirits were high. The fog was rolling in and then receding allowing us glimpses of spectacular cliffs and the North Sea crashing onto the rocks below. Honestly, I am pretty sure that the fog played into our favor, WIll is apprehensive of heights but the fog gave the illusion that the fall wasn’t that dangerous. Realistically we were a couple of poorly placed steps away from death by falling 500 feet (150 m) and being smashed onto the rocks by the added weight of our packs, unless, we were lucky enough to have a heart attack on the way down.

I wisely, did not mention these possibilities to Will while we were hiking. Regardless of the threat to our left Will decided that this was the time to tell me he loved tacos more than me. Yep, we are on a coastal path 500 feet (150 m) above a saltwater, rocky demise and my adventure partner tells me he would trade my life for a crunchy corn shell filled with seasoned ground meat, shredded cheese, lettuce, and taco sauce. I turned to look at him and he just laughed at me, so here we are several miles from St. Abbs and I have been usurped by a taco. Like that’s not heartbreaking, I mean tacos are good and all and I suppose if you eat them from a questionable venue then they will keep you warm at night but can you really have a scintillating conversation with a taco? And when you finish eating it’s gone forever, but my sarcastic wit and snappy humor (along with temper tantrums from lack of coffee) lasts a lifetime. I contemplated throwing him off a cliff for roughly two miles. Then as we approached the St. Abbs lighthouse he told me he had reconsidered the situation and if he had to choose between me and a taco he would let the taco plummet to its crunchy death. I was somewhat mollified.

Taco’s aside, you know what’s worse then trudging uphill when your legs are sore?

Stairs! Stairs are the worst.

We climbed them to get up to the promontory of St. Abbs lighthouse. The St. Abbs lighthouse is one of 200 along the Scottish wild coastline to help provide safe passage for ships in the area. It has provided light to the coastline since 1862 and its precarious position on a rocky ledge jutting over the seas reminds us of the dangers to be had traversing the coastline of the North Seas.

I couldn’t resist looking over the edge to see the drop and angular rocks below. Will waited for me on the path and I tell you truthfully that would have been the place I would have tossed his taco!

However, not having any tacos and loving my husband enough to not torture him with the death of a taco we walked on.

We both felt excited about the fact that St. Abbs was “within our sights”. Now, according to Google Maps St. Abbs is a quick 40 min walk… Google Maps does not follow the Coastal Path, in fact, Google Maps is just mean! A couple of hours later after many uphills, more stairs, downhills, and a walk through the St. Abbs Nature Reserve (which was beautiful and full of humanity as several people took advantage of the nice weather to walk through the Nature Reserve) we arrived above St. Abbs. It had been a beautiful day with stunning scenery but both of us were glad to make it to a town. More stairs, and yes down is as hard as up when your legs are jello, but we made it from the cliffs down all the stairs and began to look for a cafe to get some coffee and food.

When you walk into an unknown village or town there is a strange expectation that a cafe is just going to appear but often when your transportation is your own feet food establishments are not as apparent. They tend to cater to other forms of transportation. Another thing to consider is that many restaurants in Europe keep their hours “differently” than American hours. In America we are used to being able to get anything we want 24/7 in Europe they have restaurants close between lunch and dinner, or maybe they don’t serve dinner and are only open until 2 or 3. Maybe they don’t open until 11 in the morning. No matter what it is you have to be very aware of opening and closing times. When you are on the trail opening, closing and proximity must all join together to form a perfect union.

Most everything was closed or not near (4 miles is a long way to go for food when you are on foot and would have to walk those 4 miles back to get back on your route) but we found the EbbsCarr cafe. We walked up and the server told us we have stopped serving food because we close in less than an hour. I think she could see the abject defeated desperation on our faces because the next words out of her mouth were, if you chose quickly I will fill your food order. It was like being given a magnificent present. We ordered soup, rolls, coffee, and sweet bars.

A quick aside about the weather. It had rained lightly the previous evening and yes we had rolling fog but all in all the weather for our stay in Scotland was wonderful! Mostly sunny and very little rain. Many people expressed how lucky we were with the weather. The downside was that Scotland is significantly cooler than were we live in Italy. If we weren’t hiking I was cold. Hence, the soup and coffee was divine!

After profuse thanks to the ladies at EbbsCarr Cafe we set off again crossing the beaches at Coldingham Bay and then climbing back out of the St. Abbs area. It was now after 5, we were tired and thinking that we needed a to find a camp spot. But there was no camping near Coldingham Bay so up and down into the next bay. It didn’t have a great place for camping and so we forced ourselves on. The next bay we came to was called Linkim Shore. There was not much sand but there was a shelf of grasslands before ferns took over. It was here that we camped. In my mind it was more beguiling than our first camp spot. The rocky shores made it an unlikely place for most tourists but the raw beauty appealed to me. I broke down and collected two shells to carry with me. I had been adamant about not adding extra weight but sometimes you give in. We set up camp and enjoyed the evening, finally crawling into our sleeping bags.

Did I mention that our legs were sore? Yeah, well it was during the night that I realized I couldn’t lift my left leg without help (you know pulling up on my pants to lift my leg up and set it where I wanted it, my legs were toast). I was also cold, much colder than I had been the night before. With my thermals on and all the blankets covering me I finally dozed, then high tide came in. We weren’t that far away from the high waterline to start with but far enough that we weren’t worried about getting wet… we hadn’t counted on the sound of hightide against our rocky shore. It sounded like the water was going to crash over us at any second.

We talked about it the next morning and strangely neither one of us had looked outside of the tent during the night not wanting to confront the idea that the water was closer than we had expected. A look at the beach area in the morning showed that hightide hadn’t come anywhere near us. It was just noisy.

We relaxed as we rehydrated breakfast and then packed camp, moving much slower than the previous day. Our legs protested and I needed Will’s help to get my pack on, I was definitely exhausted.

We climbed our way out of the Linkim Shore bay and started towards Eyemouth. It wasn’t all that far and we came around the corner to encounter a circus that had been set up and active during the weekend (it was Sunday so it would probably be running again later on). With the fog it looked like every haunted Stephen King book I had ever tried to imagine. I wouldn’t have been surprised if something was silently watching our progress as we skirted the carnival and headed back onto the path. Another hour or so brought us around to a walkout section towards the Eyemouth Fort. Not much there but a couple of cannons but we did our obligatory walk around and then continued on into town.

All the gods be praised we found a bakery/dinner that was serving breakfast!! We sat down to eggs, bacon, and toast with coffee.

And here I am leaving you again, I am always leaving you on a full belly so that is good. Apparently, I have more to say about this trip than I thought so I guess we will have at least a Part 3.

Just picture us relaxing with a cup of coffee in a small fishing harbor town and I will get back to you soon!

Until then,

Ciao miei Amici

We’re Alive!!

Ciao Amici!

I just wanted to let everyone know we survived. We landed back in Italy at 23:00 on Tuesday evening. The trip was a tiring and wonderful experience which I look forward to sharing with everyone. However, despite my best intentions between the exhaustion and a dentist appointment today I will not be blogging until next week. 

What??? A whole week without me rambling, how will you ever survive? Hey if I can manage to not push Will off a cliff when he declared he loves tacos more than me then we will all survive another couple of days without my jibber jabber! (He actually said he would save the taco if we were both on a cliff edge. In fairness, he recanted this remark after another two miles)

Until next week,

Ciao Amici.