We had been in London for the Wimbledon tennis matches and
headed north in our rented Ford. We stopped to see the sites at Cambridge,
which proved fruitful and we even enjoyed our first ‘high tea’ with clotted
cream and scones. This is a must if you are in the British Isles just as
Hagis doused in scotch is a must in Scotland or punting on the river at
Our journey took us through York via
Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds.
York Minster in the center of the city.
|We stayed just outside Sheffield in a B & B and
what I saw was a far cry from what was once an industrial community.
It had seen its better day.
But York was something else. Built around a great
cathedral, this University center was once one of the governmental
cities of the Romans who controlled this part of Britain.
A stop near Newcastle would allow us to drive
close to Hadrian’s wall.
Built over a six-year period, the wall was 73 miles long
stretching from Newcastle to Carlisle. The purpose was to separate the
Romans from the Barbarians to the north. It was effective and it also
offered gainful employment to the skilled craftsmen of the region who helped
One of the original sign posts
At the end of the stay we returned to Edinburgh. The city
was immediately fascinating but I wasn’t ready for the place that we were to
stay in. It is recognized historical site of some importance and owned, in
part, by a friend.
White horse Close today
At the foot of the Canongate or the Historic or Royal
Mile, across from the new Scottish Parliament and close to Holyrood house
you can look through an entrance way into a square of medieval buildings. As
described by Sir Walter Scott in “Waverly” the White Horse Close which once
served as stables and a terminus for stagecoaches.
|It gets its name from Queen Mary’s
white horse. It is pure history and we were fortunate enough to join
the long ranks of famous people who stayed there. You cannot imagine
the feeling of history in the air and walls. It was an experience I
would never forget. This was once the arrival and departure point
for the London Stagecoach.
I found it
exciting to sit on the stairs of the apartment and watch groups of
tourists arrive to take pictures. The area and a nearby village was
famous when Bonnie Prince Charlie invaded Britain and after some
early success was defeated at Culloden in 1746. We did get to that
battlefield that was certainly a site where history was made.
Along the Royal Mile are many closes and today it is a
popular tourist site with museums, pubs and other interesting old buildings
including Canongate Tolbooth ( formerly a town hall and prison. Now a
museum) and Canongate Church.
|Atop the city is Edinburgh Castle, popular with
tourists watching the changing of the guard. If one can imagine this
as the acropolis of the city we understand why this Scottish
cultural center is often referred to as ‘ Athens of the North.”
A short day trip from Edinburgh could be a reward.
Drive out to nearby Rosslyn Chapel, used in The De Vinci Code, which
was certainly bending the truth of history. But the building itself
is worthy of any author’s use. It is a must see site with beautiful
|Founded in 1446 by William St. Clair, the last
Prince of Orkney and Knight of the Order of St. James, the man was
growing older and reflected on his life. He wanted to pay his dues
to God and so he devoted forty years to the project, only seven
miles from Edinburgh. It is a “dizzying riot of cultures, orthodox
Christians and older pagan images from Christ to winged serpents
gnawing at the tree of life.
We drove north-east from Edinburgh as we had an
appointment with friends at St Andrews. There, with help of our
friend in his pre WWII car, we took a ride to St Andrews Golf Course
where we walked around part of the famous links course, bought some
souvenir towels and took pictures on that 18th fairway stone bridge
that is so famous. Just being there was a thrill but golf would not
St Andrews Golf
|All too soon it was soon time to move on. We
headed north through Perth and later arrived at charming Inverness
at the bottom of the Moray Firth and the northern entrance to Loch
Ness. Our stop on Loch Ness was a disappointment as Nessie seemed
shy to show herself, but we did have a wonderful dinner overlooking
The Highland Capital, city of Inverness, our final
stop, was worth the wait. It’s the city of castles, golf and
whiskey, not necessarily in that order. This is the end of the Great
Glen Way, a 73-mile footpath to Fort William in the southeast.
The main sites are the castle said by some that
the play Macbeth was set in this 11ty century castle. Some say they
have seen Duncan’s ghost walking along the River Ness.
The city is a great sporting site as witnessed by
the Highland Games and it is close enough to visit the Culloden
battle site, which is a moving reminder of the carnage of April
Some of the old buildings boast that beautiful Scottish
red stone. It was a joy to spend a few days with friends on the edge of the
Other sites not to be missed are the cathedral and the
Eden Court Theatre where the annual Inverness Tattoo takes place.
You can’t go wrong. There are wonderful crafts, B & Bs,
and great restaurants serving international cuisine. Inverness is a long way
to or from London. But the trip is well worth it no matter which route you
take. All you need is a good map and plenty of time.
I highly recommend it as one of the most gentle trips you
The only downside was the cost. Traveling in the British
Isles means paying in British Pounds. Gas, food and B & B’s are costly. With
the exchange rates not in North America’s favor it can be expensive.
Arnie Greenberg at: