Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall near Lanercost

On our way from Grasmere to Edinburgh we stopped at one of the turrets of Hadrian’s Wall. The stone wall was built in 122 AD by the Romans for 73 miles across England from coast-to-coast just south of the current Scottish border to defend against invading Picts, whom the Romans were unable to conquer. It was around 10 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet high, with a small fort and two turrets every mile. It marks the northern extent of the Roman Empire in Britain.

We stopped for coffee at the nearby Lanercost Priory, where we also posed for a group photo. For lunch we had a full Sunday dinner featuring roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at the Annandale Arms Hotel in Moffat, Scotland.

Edinburgh and the Castle

In Edinburgh we spent a rainy morning touring by bus with a local guide, learning about the history and layout of the city. Dominated by Edinburgh Castle which sits at the top of 250-foot high cliffs on three sides, the old town developed on the gently sloping fourth side where residents could retreat quickly to the castle in times of attack. When all of that area had been built on, the “new” town was developed in the lowlands around the old town.

We stopped briefly at the monument to the famous Greyfriars Bobby before heading up to the castle. The steady rain continued while we toured the castle on foot. The castle site was first settled during the 2nd century AD. The earliest fortress is known to have existed around 600 AD, and it has been a royal castle since the 12th century. The castle was the site of many battles over the centuries including 26 sieges over an 1100-year period. Today it hosts the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

We also learned that the castle area is a popular film set, and there were a considerable number of film crew vehicles parked in the area. In our free time that afternoon we spent some time at the huge Scotland National Museum.

Royal Yacht Britannia

The next day we bused to the port suburb of Leith for a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was built in Scotland and served the royal family for global state visits and honeymoons from 1954 to 1997. It was designed to double as a hospital ship in time of war and called at over 600 ports in 135 countries during its lifetime. In addition to state visits it was used for trade missions, responsible for generating an estimated £3 billion in revenues between 1991 and 1995. Once again we enjoyed tea and scones in a royal residence before departing.

In the afternoon the rain had stopped so I headed off on a solo walking photographic tour of Edinburgh. When I was half-way around the cliffs of the castle the sun finally came out, improving the photos considerably.

Farewell Dinner – Piping in the Haggis

That evening was the last of our guided tour, and we were treated to a Scottish dinner complete with a bagpipe procession and a recitation of Rabbie Burns’ “Address to a Haggis.” The meal included scotch broth and haggis which was duly piped in. It was a wonderful and fitting finale for an outstanding tour.

Next: Scotland Post-Tour


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