An Eastern Adventure Part 3

After our incursion into Scotland on Tuesday, we stayed a little closer to home with a run inland to the unashamedly touristy villages of Etal & Ford. The villages lie in the heart of border country and nearby lies Flodden Battlefield, site of a particularly bloody conflict between the English and Scottish armies in 1513.

Etal castle - under the stewardship of English Heritage was not surprisingly closed given the time of year as was the narrow gauge steam railway that runs alongside the river back to it’s base at Heatherslaw where there is a working water mill. It looks a great little trip - but one for another visit.

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Just up the road is Ford, almost deserted when we were there but achingly picture postcard beautiful although Ford Castle looking great from the road is sadly not open to visitors. It really is a delightful place just to meander - although I would recommend a warmer day than we had. The snow capped Cheviot Hills could be seen across the Northumberland landscape.

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Thanks to the weather turning, final port of call of the day was a little south to Wooler. Referred to often as the Gateway to the Cheviots it sits on the edge of the Northumberland National Park and is clearly popular with walkers. We walked to the cafĂ© for some sustenance and then to the bakers. Didn’t want to overdo it!

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The evening saw us in a pub. Well two actually. Who’d have thought it. The first was one we’d passed on the way up the A1 on Tuesday called The Meadow House, it’s tag line being the first and last pub in England. Which it is of course if you’re on the A1. Only one real ale on offer, a not particularly clear Young's Bitter. It wasn’t very inspiring. The second was one much closer to the site - in fact not five minutes walk away. The Albion had the feel of real locals boozer and was very friendly. Greene King - aforementioned owners of the Belhaven brewery had made their presence felt and the only real ale was their IPA Golden. Not my favourite beer but at least it was clear and at under three quid a pint perfectly acceptable!DSC_0014

It was the turn of the train take us north on Thursday with a day trip to Edinburgh, a city we visited in our first year of caravanning back in 2012. We’d done many of the touristy things such as the castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia back then but were looking forward to another meander around the city. In addition we’d get to enjoy a similar coast hugging journey to Tuesday but with someone else at the wheel. Ok, loco’s don’t have steering wheels but you get the idea. Perhaps most importantly though we’d get to hook up with some more friends and the chance to become reacquainted with a young man…..

It was bitterly cold when we arrived, the icy wind making us aware of it’s presence down the Waverley Steps as we emerged from the station. Thought’s of much meandering we’re abandoned soon abandoned - I was for once more sensibly attired than the Portly Partner, so after restoring the caffeine levels we jumped on the first bus that came in to view. It took us south of the city, past Holyrood Park and the formidable looking hills the peak of which is Arthurs Seat. I will have a go at walking up to it. One day!

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We swapped buses at the Royal Infirmary and came back into the city via a more circuitous route arriving at a pub early enough for a toastie before our first meet up of the day.

Andrew was on my bus when I started at the school and is now in his second year at the University of Edinburgh. He had a bit of a scare a year or so ago and had to undergo surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his leg. Scary at any age but at just 19 when you have your whole life in front of you quite terrifying. Fortunately prognosis was excellent and he’s made a full recovery. We had an enjoyable hour catching up about what’s happening back at the school and life in Edinburgh. I must admit it seemed a little odd having a beer with an ex-pupil but it was great to meet up again, although next time I’ll be choosing the pub. Not a real ale in sight but lots of fancy craft fizzy stuff. Dear oh dear!

We made further use of our PlusBus tickets, heading north out of the city towards the Ocean Terminal before arriving back for our second rendezvous, this time with caravanning pals Amanda & Allison who have recently started a new life north of the border. Trev’s jaw worked overtime - hard to believe I know - but the rest of us got a word or two in as well over a lovely meal in the Guildford Arms which had an impressive selection of real ales too.

Right, that’s it for now but lot’s more to come in Part 4 out soon.

Thanks and until next time

Cheers & Beers from Rich & Trev

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