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Round-Trip: London to Edinburgh and back

Me and Dad in front of the fountainDad and I below Edinburgh Castle, August 1993. This was on a whirlwind trip of Britain when my Dad, sister Melanie and her fiance Shane visited us in London. Dad and I toured the castle, while Melanie and Shane shopped. August is a good time of the year to visit Edinburgh, because every year at that time a circus atmosphere abounds with several festivals coinciding around the center of town.

Click here for a map of Scotland | Edinburgh

This was a car journey from London to Edinburgh and back with my Dad, sister Melanie, and Shane Neal (before they were engaged). We rented a Ford Mondeo station wagon in London, and went on a trip to see as much as possible in five days. I did all the driving on the trip and booked accommodations ahead of time in Bed & Breakfasts. We meandered a bit on the journey to Edinburgh, traveling west of London to Stonehenge, and up through the Cotswold region to Stratford, and then to Iron Bridge, and up to the beautiful old city of Chester. Then we drove through the Lake District, and into Scotland. When we reached Scotland, via the motorway, we headed northeast to Edinburgh. As we drove, we noticed the exit for Lockerbie was still blocked off (where the Pan American plane crashed in 1988, as a result of a terrorist bomb), about five years after the tragedy. I guess it was to prevent curiosity seekers from entering the town from the motorway. We continued for a while and then exited the motorway onto a scenic route that went to Edinburgh. I enjoyed driving through the desolate, sparsely populated, countryside, with its smooth green mountains and purple heather. I would have enjoyed driving further north to the Scottish Highlands to see the really rugged topography that I have heard so much about in the books and travel shows, but alas, we just didn't have enough time for that. Maybe someday? We did make a short stop at a waterfall along the Tweed River, which beckoned our indulgence, with a fine old stone bridge shaped in the form of an arch, which was timeless.

We reached our B&B accommodation in Edinburgh by 5:00 p.m., as Edinburgh traffic was less congested than had been expected. Check-in at the B&B was not as perfunctory as normal, for the owners took extra special care to welcome us and question us about where we came from in America, etc. After dropping our bags in the rooms, and receiving various instructions about the lights and showers, we proceeded to walk less than a mile to central Edinburgh to take in the atmosphere that evening. We were lucky to hit Edinburgh right during the annual Edinburgh Film Festival, International Festival, and Fringe Festival--all at once--which attract a lot of visitors and carnival-like performers. We watched some jugglers, fire-eaters, street comedians, and listened to the ranting of a rather elderly Scottish preacher, as we slowly ambled across the courtyard of the National Art Gallery. There was quite a crowd of people standing around watching, too. We struck up a few conversations with people, particularly with one young Scotsman who seemed to be very curious about us and began talking to us rather enthusiastically because we were American. My Dad is a very sociable person, and it seems like everywhere we went on this trip he became engaged in conversations with all sorts of people, quite easily.

The next day, Dad and I toured Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Church in the morning, and walked by the Scottish Parliament building, and parts of Edinburgh University. The weather was very pleasant, and I would have loved to stay another day in Edinburgh, but as fate would have it, it was time for us to move on. Melanie and Shane decided to defer the chance to tour the castle in favor of shopping for a suitable souvenir kilt for Shane's Scottish roots. However, they came to the predictable conclusion that kilts were too expensive to invest in at this particular point in time, which didn't surprise me, so they missed out on a good view of the city from the castle. What a pity!

On this trip, it was a challenge to stay on schedule with these folks, but I kept us moving along and we had a terrific time. Here is our itinerary for the round-trip from London to Edinburgh and back: Stonehenge, Castle Combe, Cotswold's, Stratford on Avon, Iron Bridge, Chester, Lake District, Edinburgh, Hadrian's Wall, Durham, York, Lincoln, Cambridge...and back to London. All-in-all, it was a great trip--just too darn fast!

Mel, Dad and Shane at the border Here is Melanie, Dad, and Shane with a bagpipe player at the border of Scotland and England at what is known as the "border stone." It was a very hilly area and quite misty at the time.

On the way back to London we visited the historic city of York, which used to be a large Roman provincial capital. We walked on a long section of the medieval wall and explored the city center. One of the highlights was the "shambles," which means butcher's street, a narrow street dating back to medieval times with a lot of old buildings. We stayed in a bed & Breakfast a couple of blocks outside of the medieval wall. The historic city of York

Click here for a map of Scotland | Edinburgh