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Driving along the eastern coat to the north

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 11 May 2011

Wednesday 11 May, driving along the eastern coat to the north

After a good night sleep in this beautiful room we also get a delicious breakfast, I with tasty smoked trout. We do not have to complain about the service and luxury at this hotel (the Royal Mackintosh hotel), but we still think it is very expensive as economical as we Dutch people are.
Hotel in ??? Tantallon Castle and Bass RockAfter breakfast we have quickly loaded the car again and we set off. We do not have a final destination for tonight, but we'll see where we'll end up. But first drive around and see new places.
From Dunbar we take the coastal route to the north and our first stop is at Tantallon Castle which lies along the coast.
Tantallon Castle Sea from Tantallon CastleCastle Tantallon looks impressive when you arrive, a massive fortress on the cliffs above the Firth of Forth (which is the inlet that runs from the North Sea to Edinburgh). It was the residence of the Douglas Dukes, an influential family among the nobles of Scotland. The walls are incredibly thick (sometimes 4 meters!) And high, but after the third and last siege in 1651, it was damaged in such a way that the place was destroyed and only a ruin remains.
Bass Rock from Tantallon CastleThe castle dates from the 13th century, so after the invasions of the Normans, it had to defend itself mainly against invaders from the interior. The thick walls were perfectly resistant to the weapons that were in fashion at the time but not against the heavy artillery from later centuries. It is an interesting castle to visit and access is only 5 pounds. It is managed by Historic Scotland and their properties are usually cheaper to visit than those of the NTS (National Trust for Scotland).
Tantallon Castle Sea from Tantallon CastleThe castle is very beautifully situated on the cliff with in the background Bass Rock, an island that is now a bird nature reserve, but once served as a state prison. It seems to have been a sort of Guantanamo Bay where the prisoners were treated very uncomfortably; many died of hunger, illness or neglect.
We started our visit with a lot of sunshine, but after an hour clouds start to cover the sky and soon it rains. In the end we have to walk back to the car through the showers.
Nice houses, Dirleton DirletonBut soon the sky clears up again and we continue along the coast. This is also totally unknown territory for us and so I can again mark some roads on the map. North Berwick is not very interesting, but at Dirleton we see a few nice houses. Scotland (and Great Britain in the general) have them in abundance, those 'old-fashioned' cottages. The old houses are not being replaced by new buildings but are modernized and well insulated.
Cottage near DirletonThe detached houses we like the most. What would we like to live in such a house! But well, a few minutes later we see an even nicer house and a day later a much nicer one, or an empty castle that we absolutely love. So we keep on enjoying the houses and castles that we see, sometimes a dream just has to stay a dream, then it remains fun.
It is funny though, to see that more rural houses in Scotland are being rebuilt in the 'old' style.
Dirleton Castle Castel gate BurleighOf course, Dirleton also has a castle, a ruin, where we only walk through the park. Then we drive through Edinburgh, as close to the coast as possible, and cross the bridge to the north at Queensferry. It takes some time to get used to the busy traffic but after we cross the bridge we quickly leave the highway again. On the way we encounter more castle gates and entrances.
Ochill HillsThen we start looking for quiet and rural roads. We are now in the Ochill Hills, a strip of high hills that run across the entire width of Scotland, north of the Glasgow - Edinburgh line. We are still in the relatively low part, but most hills are between 400 and 700 meters. And everywhere we see rapeseed fields, intended to make biofuels.
It makes this part of Scotland a lot more colorful than it used to be.
Pheasant on the road Flying pheasantOn the quiet roads we encounter a lot of animals, especially rabbits and pheasants and the latter we also get on photograph. They walk quietly on the road as if it were theirs and that is also true, it is their territory. At the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn you see many more, then sometimes they are in groups of 20 or more on a small road.
St. Andrews Balcomie HouseThen we drive back to the coast and in St. Andrews we sit down (with a thick sweater) on a terrace where we write a postcard to our granddaughter, that we had promised. After a short walk through the city we go south along the coast, where we see Balcomie house.
According to legend, there was a general who was bothered by the whistle of a young minstrel. He grabbed him by the throat, put him in a cell and forgot him for a week. When he finally went to see the boy had died of hunger, but now he roams around the castle like a ghost.
Kellie Castle Kellie Castle gardenAnd now that it has become castle day, we also visit Kellie Castle, a bit more inland, from the 14th century.
We do not go into the castle that looks nice, but the gardens around it are also beautiful to walk through. It is striking that it smells very onion-like in the air and it must be the many white flowers that we see everywhere .. It does not smell dirty or anything, rather very refreshing.
Minibar in CarnoustieThen we drive a bit to the north and beyond Dundee we start looking for a hotel. But everything is already full or is much too expensive. When we ask in a hotel with a pub people are very helpful, as we have often experienced in Scotland: the barmaid picks up a telephone to call some places, others look at the local telephonebook, but then we are approached by a man. He has heard our request for a room and has called with an acquaintance of his. He presses me the phone and I get instructions how to drive. A bit later we are in the hotel The 19th Hole.
For 65 pounds (95 euros) we have at least a well-stocked minibar!


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