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To Scotland, via Duinkerken and crossing England

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 15 & 16 June 2008

Sunday 15 June, to Scotland, via Duinkerken and crossing England

Click here for the route and our photographs in Google Earth.
At 7 o'clock the alarm goes off and after a year and 2 days we leave for Scotland again, our favorite holiday destination. Scotland and holiday, you will think, but it always rains there? Fortunately, our experiences are better, there has actually been only one day that we did not see a sun and especially in the first years we have had rather pleasant weather. Last year it was quite wet in May, but in June Teije got a mild sunstroke there, the first time in his life (after many years ofliving in Africa!). But because of the rain in 2007, we decided to go this year in June, statistically the driest month in Scotland. At 8 o'clock we are in the car to drive to Dunkirk for the crossing to Dover. After that we have to go through England, a long way but this is the cheapest for us (our car runs on gas (lpg), well available in the UK). To immediately defy the statistics, we drive the first hours through heavy rain showers and a black sky that we would find beautiful above the landscapes of Scotland.
Chalk cliffs at Dover Pausing near LondonBut beyond Utrecht the sky clears and when we have crossed the Channel the skies look even better and it is 21 degrees. On the (now and then 12-lane) ring road of London we see quite a few accidents, but we ourselves pass it unharmed. We take the south-western side and then the exit towards Oxford although the navigation advises the other side. But with this route we have better experiences.
Parking place of our hotel, CreweFrom Groningen to Dunkirk it is 490 kilometers and from Dover we still have 430 kilometers to go, and we arrive at 8 o'clock (local time, in the Netherlands it's an hour later) in Crewe. We have reserved a Travelodge for only 9 pounds! And in the sun we can sit outside for a few hours to recover from the long drive. Tomorrow also a long drive, but without the resting hours of a boat trip. That does not matter, because as soon as we were on English soil we already enjoyed the view from the highway (except around London and Birmingham) as we never actually do in the Netherlands, for we find the Netherlands something lacks a lot in natural beauty.
As is almost always the case when we are on holiday, we sleep well and we wake up only after 9 am. Well rested we quickly drive to Scotland, but within half an hour we are in a traffic jam ... and there we are stuck for more than an hour, so that we arrive not before noon at the Scottish border. But we still have plenty of time and therefore we take a route that we have not yet driven through the Borders, the southern province of Scotland. Only last year we discovered how beautiful that part is, but often mistakenly skipped by tourists, including ourselves.
Pausing in Langholm Pausing in LangholmWe make our first stop (after traffic jams) in Langholm, a place where in the Middle Ages unruly women were driven around the city with a 'Branks', a kind of iron mask with a sharp point that was put in the mouth. Today, however, there is a quiet school trip along the river at the Langholm Bridge although there is quite a stir about a duck that is drowning. The students gape and some want to intervene, but the adults trie to get the young people away as quickly as possible. They are just not used to the 'real' spectacles anymore!
We always had the impression (because of the information on the internet and travel guides) that this area was pretty boring, but the sceneries are beautiful, with mountains, exciting roads and nice towns and villages and also vast areas that are uninhabited as in the north and west of Scotland.
Hawick townHawick is the largest town in the Scottish Borders and exists since the 7th century. Of course there is also a castle, built by the Norwegians in the 11th century. The town lies on a through route between England and Scotland and has therefore suffered quite a bit in the wars between the two countries in the past.
Selkirk in the Scottish Borders Selkirk in the Scottish BordersIn Selkirk we have our next stop, another charming town that is proud of its own history like almost every Scottish place. William Wallace (who does not know the movie Braveheart?) was named the Guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland around 1300 by the local notables. Not that he needed it, he had his own plans, but every support was welcome and the people did not forget it after all those centuries.
When we approach Edinburgh we choose the fastest route again because we have enjoyed ourselves many hours on the roads through the Borders but we do not want to arrive too late in Beauly where we meet our friends Iain and Cathy again. Clouds have darkened the sky and it is a lot colder when we arrive in the Highlands. But that does not matter for the warm welcome we receive, as always! Iain and Cathy are owners of the Caledonian hotel in Beauly and have become good friends of ours over the years. The local pub visitors also greet us as if we had never been away. Just quickly rehearse all their names and the gossip / histories that belong to everyone, because that is very important here!
In the pub of this hotel we feel home in Scotland within a few minutes, as if we have lived here for years. A wonderful warm feeling between all those people and that while we prefer to be on ourselves and like to go on an anonymous holiday. But Scotland has stolen our hearts not only by the beautiful nature but also by the people we have met.


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