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3.3 Welome to Scotland!

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

The ultimate Scotland Experience

Part 3

The arrival in Scotland was exhausting. But we really wanted to make it to Mortonhall campsite today to discover Edinburgh tomorrow. Laundry is once again on the agenda, hence the choice of an official campsite. It is Friday evening and the reception at Mortonhall is hectic. We are asked for our reservation, which we unfortunately do not have. Online, all camper categories were available, so we thought we would have no problems in this regard. Far from it. We let the Scottish woman teach us how we would have to handle this in the future. Of course, we vow to do better and apologize politely. As hoteliers, we know how it works. And lo and behold, the good woman at the reception suddenly has a solution. She opens the northern part for us. But it is far away from the showers and toilets etc. and has no electricity. Yes, that fits perfectly for us, we don't need all that. We are now the only ones enthroned on the slightly elevated north meadow, enjoying our peace and quiet and, on top of that, have at least an hour longer in the sun than the yogurt cups below us. This could hardly have turned out better for us ;-))

At the Mortonhall Camping in Edinburgh and still alone on the open countryside...

Farmers market below Edinburgh Castle

The bus stop is very close to our beautifully located campsite. We are about six kilometers south of the city center and reach the old town with line 11. Saturday is market day in Edinburgh, so we go there right away. If you think you can easily spend your cash on such a market, you are mistaken here in Edinburgh. Without a card nothing works. The street musicians, even the beggars work here mostly with card payment. It's sad to see what's going on in this regard. This dependence on a well-functioning system is obvious, but most people are not really aware of the control over spending and its implications.

With no credit card, you'll soon be starving: Cash is no longer king!

We stroll up to the castle and let ourselves drift in the stream of tourists for the time being. There are strikingly many Indians, but also Spanish is often heard. It is a pleasure to see that international tourism is flourishing again. This was not the case in Morocco last winter. Street artists and bagpipers fight for the strategically good places and every now and then you meet a self-promoter or tourist guide who tries to delight his audience aloud.

The city is vibrating. And playing music

The countless whisky stores stand out just as much as the souvenir shops and cashmere boutiques. In Scotland, I guess you just can't get around sheep, beer and whisky. And that's why we do what we have to do now: We go to the best restaurant in Edinburgh and have a Scottish beer and a portion of Haggis with whisky sauce. An additionally provided highland malt whisky to wash it down we enjoy then better as a digestif. We know Haggis from our hotel life, because the Scots all over the world celebrate their Burns Dinner once a year. We often held such Burns Nights in our hotels. There is almost without exception this sheep liver, heart and lung mince classic on mashed potatoes and turnips. And if you turn up your nose now, let me tell you: it's super tasty, if it's done well. At the Arcade Haggis & Whisky House, the name says it all, and we're not only surprised, but downright delighted. So for a lifetime we've been cooking up this Haggis recipe in our hotels and finally we get an original with an authentic ambiance. Haggis in Beijing was good because the longing of "home" resonates. Haggis in the heart of Edinburgh, however, is in a whole other league...

left: Bagpipers at every corner

center: Arcade Haggis & Whisky House, a restaurant for the favorites list

right: This is what the original looks like: Haggis with Scottish beer and Highland whisky.

Well fed, we move between Edinburgh Castle and Waverly in the afternoon and soak up the Scottish atmosphere. I almost succumbed to the temptation to buy a kilt. Only one whisky was probably not enough of the frivolity. Who knows, maybe later. A full-scale whiskey tasting is still on our Scotland to-do list.

Impressions of Edinburgh between Old Town and Waverly

Bronze statue "Royal Scots Greys". In the background Edinburgh Castle

After so many impressions in Edinburgh, we switch down two levels in the evening and enjoy contemplative hours in front of the washing machine and tumbler. With the swinging and tapping of the machines, we almost fall into a trance and believe ourselves to be somewhere in the African bush between drums and wild lions. Yes the day was exhausting and shortly before the solstice they are also super long here in the far north. It darkens only after 11PM and is bright again shortly after 3AM. Lordy!

After this successful start in the Scottish capital, we head back out into nature today to Dollar Glen. From now on the stretches will be shorter, because we want to see some of the sights. There are two on today's route, the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies horse statues. We hope that we get these two tourist attractions reasonably well in front of the lens despite their huge size.

The Falkirk Wheel looks like a canal bridge, but in fact it is one of the largest locks in the whole of the UK. In its kind as a rotating boat lift it is unique in the world! Here, several ships at once can overcome the 24-meter height difference in a few minutes in a giant paddle to get from the Forth & Clyde Canal into the Union Canal. A masterpiece of engineering and architecture.

Only a few kilometers further north, we reach Helix Park. Here, too, we are handed the credit card charge machine via selfie stick at driver's cabin height in the now familiar manner, in order to charge five pounds as a welcome gift, so to speak. On the one hand, we are pleased that we in Switzerland can no longer be considered a high-price country. On the other hand, we are of course also a little amazed at how shamelessly the tourists are fleeced here. But we are personally escorted by a parking attendant to find a suitable place for our XXL vehicle. Thus, service included, so it fits well.

According to the Scottish legend, the kelpies are gray, white or black creatures that change in appearance, rise from the water and in the form of a hooved man take the earthlings from the land. If you succumb to their temptation, they take you to the abysses of their waters. It now becomes clear to us why it is absolutely necessary to understand these legends in Scotland. At the latest at Loch Ness - which is also on the itinerary - we shall see our first living kelpie ;-)

Whether it makes sense or not, the Kelpie saga is supposed to warn children away from dangerous waters and young girls away from strange men. In our latitudes, however, the mermaid tales are a touch more appealing to me.

Naturally wild and beautiful: Dollar Glen

It's time to set our sights on our destination for the day. The forest of Dollar Glen appears on the map hardly larger than one square kilometer, but it is said to be the original stock of the local forest and thus something unique. On the way there, we already begin to understand the uniqueness, because here they are clearing the forest for all it's worth. While we in Switzerland have just accepted the climate initiative, we see here how the overexploitation of nature is practiced. This is the real world. One wonders, of course, what we will want to protect at all in the near future. The patch of Dollar Glen, of course. It is indeed still very natural and worth a detour. Lichens and ferns can be found here between the old trees in great quantities. But also Scotland's national flower, the thistle, can be seen frequently. After a rainy night - our first rain at all since we started almost four weeks ago - we roam through this tiny jungle in the midst of the forest clearing area and feel almost like in a jungle.

Above left: Dollar Glen's castle towers above its jungle

top right: A mushroom sculpture full of lucky coins

Bottom: Ferns, lichens and thistles dominate Dollar Glen's forest

Night quarters right on the water in Tayport

The next day, Dollar Glen got our dollars, we drive on. Dundee is on the plan. To be precise, it is the V&A Museum in Dundee that makes Brigitte's photographer's heart beat faster. We position ourselves on the opposite side of the river from Dundee in Tayport. A super location with a view of the confluence of the Tay into the North Sea. At low tide the water recedes several hundred meters and invites us to finally put on our rubber boots. What we did not experience in Holland, we catch up in the mudflats of Dundee. Here, too, people are logging as if there were no tomorrow. On Google Earth you can still see a large forest stand southeast of Tayport. But on our usual site reconnaissance tour we are confronted with the new reality. The forest stands are gone, what remains is a place of devastation, a battlefield between two unequal adversaries, money-hungry man and nature. The trigger of this disaster was supposedly a strong storm, so it is reported. Today, however, the area of deforestation appears to be many times larger than the area on the coast affected by the storm.

Top left: The sea sweeps free anti-tank barriers from the 2nd world war

top right: The "storm" sweeps the beach area "free" from old trees ;-(

below: Daily life at the harbor and in the mudflats of Tayport

above: contemplative evening at the mudflats

below: the famous Tay Bridge connects Tayport with Dundee

We find it hard to leave our fantastic stand to finally cycle to Dundee to the museum. Today is finally the day. There will be 26°C and as always a bit of wind. Our site in Tayport is not only beautiful, but also ideally situated to discover Dundee by bike. The first four kilometers are on forest and bike paths to the Tay Bridge. The next 3.2 kilometers then on its own fully segregated bike and pedestrian path across the bridge to Dundee. The fact that the Tay Bridge once became a death trap for all train passengers during a winter storm over a hundred and forty years ago is something we just don't want to think about when crossing. But the spectacular Tay Bridge disaster has gone down in Scottish history.

V&A Design Museum Facade Dundee

The V&A Museum is Scotland's design museum. In addition to the iconic building, we are of course also very interested in how the tartan pattern managed to conquer the world. Titled "Tartan", the comprehensive exhibition is all about the Scottish checked pattern. I never really liked this pattern until now. Burberry, who created their own pattern from the tartan wonder box, was therefore rather a dread to me. Today I see it quite differently. Our trip to Scotland and the resulting understanding of the history, traditions through to the supernatural power of this incomparable pattern have probably opened my eyes. It's almost hard to believe how and where the tartan pattern has influenced everywhere. In any case, it is by no means only a fashion accessory, but even architecture and art can no longer be imagined without it. Interestingly, the tartan pattern is not subject to a fixed pattern. There are rules, but they are constantly and repeatedly broken, so there are actually no limits to new creations.

But what the exhibition couldn't/wouldn't answer, despite all the detail, is the question whether the Scots really don't wear anything under their kilt ;-). The mystery shall stay alive...

above: The building as fascinating as the exhibitions

below: Impressions of the tartan exhibition

Next Blog: 3.4 Castles, Stone Circles & Sea monsters


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