Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Holiday journal : 9 April - Heading for Scotland

So, leaving Ric at work on his Granny props, we set off northwards again, with no fixed plan as to where we might spend the night. We would see where we got to. Ric had shown Matthew a route that would take us across the Yorkshire Dales on an unfenced road, via Wharfedale and Langstrothdale. We were blessed with a brilliantly sunny day and the scenery was quite spectacular. I kept wanting to stop and take pictures, but on consideration decided that I wouldn't know where to start or finish, as the 360 degree view was equally stunning in all parts. So I just enjoyed.

When we reached the highest point however, which I think was probably Wether Fell, the grandeur of the surrounding peaks was so compelling that I had to ask Matthew to stop. I got out of the car and stood, turning full circle, breathing in the cool pure air as it blew about my head, and feeling so uplifted that tears came into my eyes. I think for the first time I really appreciated why my late husband was so great a lover of mountains, and I felt close to him again. Later I discovered that Ric had driven him along that very route, the last time that Michael visted with him.

From there we came down into Hawes where we stopped for lunch. Afterwards we wandered round a bit and were seduced by a Rock and Gem Shop, where various purchases of polished stones and marble eggs were made. Then we found a book sale going on in one of the public buildings, and by one of those serendipitous chances that so astonish us, my daughter-in-law found an old, large-scale map of Aboyne on Deeside, which is exactly where we were heading to visit her parents. She bought it for her father.

We took off again, and as we left Hawes I noticed that the signposts were giving distances in both miles and furlongs, which I have never seen before. We crossed Swaledale by the Buttertubs Pass, and rolled down into Thwaite, and on to Kirkby Stephen. Here a comfort stop was called for, and after attending to this we took a look at the Parish Church, known as the Cathedral of the Dales. (Apparently the only parish church in Cumbria which is bigger is that of Kendal). The church grounds are closely hedged in by houses, and to our astonishment, as we walked in this sort of cloister, we spotted a most unusual sight. Two brightly coloured macaws were sitting on a roof top, and another on a second roof. I have marked with white asterisks the places where they were, in the aerial picture below (taken by Simon Ledingham).

One other interesting observation about this church: the church nameboard states that it is home to both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic congregations of Kirkby Stephen, and each congregation has its own named pastor. This I have never come across before.

After that my memory of our route is hazy, but we managed somehow to make it to Edinburgh in the early evening, and still without motorways, I think. The decision had been made that we would treat ourselves to a comfortable hotel for this one night, and we drove into the centre of the city, eyeing one or two posh hotels as we went, and found somewhere we could park. Then, with the help of a printed guide, my son started to ring hotels. The first one did not have room and he next tried the Caledonian Hilton, but that was going to cost £147 for my single room, and £240 something for a family room. We declined - we didn't need to be that comfortable.

We remembered a reasonably nice one we had passed, but had to drive back to it as we didn't remember the name. Here my single room would only cost £80, and my son decided to treat me if I thought it was too much, as we wanted to get settled and find some supper. I have never paid so much for bed and breakfast in my life, but I couldn't deny that the room was worth it, especially as I had a double bed to myself. I did wonder in passing if I was paying extra for the third pillow on my bed, and spent a little time speculating as to what sort of ménage they might book in for a bed with three pillows. The hotel was called The Bruntsfield, and is a Best Western Hotel.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and my grandson ordered burger and chips for the second time that day, though I don't think he was aware of it. In the morning, Matthew insisted on going out onto the patio for his breakfast, in the fresh air, although the french window were not open, and the staff clearly were not intending to serve out there. They put up with it though - people generally do what Matthew wants them to, because he never doubts that they will! The rest of us stayed indoors and pretended not to know him.


Nocturnal Queen said...

What a lovely holiday you seem to have had. I'd love to visit England and Scotland (as well as many other countries) someday.

Your blog is a delight to read.

Pam said...

It's lovely reading your accounts, and giving me a chuckle every now and again;o)

The Dales scenery is spectacular; (and there must be loads of pics on the net if you need to remember them again). Nice to read how you felt at the highest point. And I think signposts in furlongs is amazing!

Fascinating! Thanks Judith ;o)

Nancy said...

I too am NOT DEAD YET! but getting there. I enjoy your accounts and think I would like to know you, although Wharfedale (we were there once!) and Santa Cruz, California, are a far piece apart. We're off to the east coast next Monday, so I'll be offline for a while, but I look forward to checking in when I get back.

kapgaf said...

That lovely feeling of connection with Michael must have been very moving - you see, you are still sharing things with him!
That bed looks very comfortable and I have a picture in my mind of Matthew having his breakfast in regal solitude on the patio.
I'm off to spend a few days in Devon & Cornwall (work and pleasure) and will catch up when I get back.