Scotland – 7 – Unexpected
After a last minute change of camping site it turned out we were still in Scotland. This trip we were expecting to leave Scotland and head back into England. We did leave Scotland, briefly, but shortly after headed back into Scotland to our site which was near Berwick-upon-Tweed. Berwick is in England but the site was about a mile across the border. I did notice that Scotland has large signs on their border “welcoming” the traveller. The English border sign, which is in a parking area, on the A1 was a very small painted St Georges flag with ‘England’ underneath.
Our journey was a mix of weather and all on really good roads. A bit of traffic around the Edinburgh bypass which I guess is to be expected of a capital city. We will have to start getting used to more cars on the roads from now.
We were greeted at our site, Hunrig Caravan Park, by Charlotte and Ross who were so friendly and helpful. The weather was overcast but warm and the sun was trying to break through. It is a small laid back site with a dozen or so pitches next to their home and a holiday lodge. After we had unhitched we sat outside with a cup of tea listening to the very loud birds and the bees buzzing in the clover at our feet.
I had received an email from the National Trust for Scotland saying that they now offered free entry to Paxton House. A bonus as this was only 1 mile from the site. A Georgian gentleman’s residence and again we had a guided tour of the house. Almost a personal tour, there was only 1 other person with us. It was much like other Georgian houses we had visited, and I don’t mean that in any way derogatory, they are of their era but this one had a surprise. As well as the usual symmetry of doorways and windows that is synonymous with the Adams designers of the time, a later extension had added a huge gallery. Not at all Adams like and, as the guide anticipated when he swung open the door, took our breath away. The portraits are on loan from the National Gallery Scotland and the room is to be used shortly in a local music event as it coincidentally has great acoustics. The weather was cloudy bright and we walked down to the River Tweed and looked across to England. Not quite the Guadiana but still, a river border and reminded me of the fabulous time we had on the Portuguese/Spanish border. Here is one of my older posts from when we arrived on the Guadiana.
We took a boat trip to the Farne Islands from Seahouses. We had a perfect day. Weather was blue sky, sun shining, warm but not too hot and a calm sea. There were a few swells to get over when we first left the harbour but for any sailor, it was like a millpond. We saw Puffins. We saw other birds too but it was Puffins we wanted to see. I was a bit apprehensive that we wouldn’t see any but that would be like not seeing pigeons in Trafalagar Square. We saw them on the water and then when we got off the boat for an hour at Inner Farne Island, they were everywhere. The Arctic Terns were nesting/feeding young still on the Island and we had to make sure we didn’t step on any young birds that had wandered out onto the boardwalks looking for Mum or Dad. We saw Cormorants, Shags, Guillemots, grey seals and others. Neil got some great photos which I’ll use on this post to illustrate our trip. As with so many things we have done, the photos do not do the trip justice and we had the most fantastic time.
On our way back from Seahouses we stopped at Bamburgh and walked around the outside of Bamburgh castle. We didn’t go in as it was pretty late in the day and judging from the size of the place, it is mahoosive, a couple of hours at least would be needed to appreciate it (and get your money’s worth). Thumbs up to Bamburgh town as free parking. In Seahouses parking ranged from 1 hour free, a 2 hour ticket, a 3 hour ticket then jumped to a 24 hour ticket for £5.50 and free toilets!
Our new site, while a bit further from our original site at Berwick-upon-Tweed was still only 8 miles away. We had another, yes 2nd in a row, morning of blue sky and sunshine and we headed to Berwick. We walked around the walls of the town and read the history boards put up by English Heritage en route. A lovely walk with fabulous views across the town, the sea, the harbour and in the distance Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle. I was surprised that the walk is not fenced at all as one wrong step, well two steps, and you will be tumbling 20m+ down. They did have signs warning of this but I was just surprised that in a H&S gone mad country as the UK, that they hadn’t fenced the path. Happy that they hadn’t but surprised. The town itself had a nice mix of shops. I filled up my washing up liquid in The Green Shop and snuck a small skein of yarn into the stash from The Needle Works before picking up a small pair of binoculars from The Vintage Department Store. On the way back to the site we called back to Paxton House that was having a pop up craft fair. While we were in the marquee the heavens opened and we had torrential rain for about 10 minutes. This definitely caught people unaware as there had only been a 4% chance of light rain in the morning forecast. Lucky we hadn’t left the roof vents open too much in the van, enough though for some water to drip through on to the floor.
On our last day in the area we visited Lindisfarne, Holy Island. This was a bit of a gamble as we had previously stayed for a few days on Lindisfarne back in 2011 and had very fond memories and didn’t want to spoil them. However, nothing spoilt. A few more people, well loads, but then there would have been when we were there previously if the tides were right. We have done the two Holy Islands of the UK on this trip. Iona and Lindisfarne. The tide timings for the day we visited meant that you had to be off the causeway by 2.30pm or stay until 7.30pm at the earliest. We got off the Island before 2.30pm. Have a look on YouTube for some videos of those who tried to take on the sea and failed to cross the causeway. I have tagged one here. It’s madness and unnecessary to risk it. There are signs all over the Island, on the approaches and in local towns of the safe crossing times so no excuse if you can’t access the internet to check. There are also posters around the island of a car up to its windows in sea water. On the way back to site we went to Whistlebare Farm who produce their own yarn from their Angora goats. Poor Neil, but at least I wasn’t there too long.
We stopped at Honey Farm which I thought was a farm shop. However it turned out to be a museum/visitor centre of bees and beekeeping, which was the original idea I think but since it has become a social history museum with old vehicles including buses, tractors, bikes, sewing machines, kitchenalia, tools, furniture – just about everything really. There was even what we think is a Wharram Tiki 26 parked up in the yard between vintage farm machinery. Really random stuff but again interesting and just up the road from the Union Chain Bridge which spans the River Tweed between England and Scotland. When it opened in 1820 it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world with a span of 137 metres (449 ft), and the first vehicular bridge of its type in the U.K. It has a 2.2m wide and 2ton limit. We just squeezed through the bollards, which are multi-coloured we noticed, and drove over. This shaved about 6 miles off our journey back to Hunrig. We had just got back when the rain came. We had been lucky with the weather. Although we had seen some rain and some very heavy rain we were not caught out in it and had done our outside visiting. The weather had not stopped any of our plans. Raining it might of been but it was still warm and with a warm breeze.
We anticipated that it would be raining when we hitched up to leave but as per what had become the norm, the weather was not listening to the forecast and we hitched up under a bright blue sky. No problems this time, the family with 3 tents who had arrived the night before and put up their tents in the rain, had kindly ensured not to pitch directly in front of us. First time hitch and we were off. This time we were definitely heading out of Scotland.