Haggis, Tatties & Neeps - An Adventure in Scotland
Jan 17, 2018 03:05PM
By Don Kindred
story and photos by Don Kindred
Nine San Clementeans made the journey last September, a self guided tour. We lived in a two-year-old, five-bedroom home on a twenty-acre, 300-year-old farm ... where the view was a rolling carpet of varied hues of green. Our loosely-planned itinerary included the important historical destinations; the castles, the palaces, climbing aboard the royal yacht Britannia, eating some local food - some of which was prepared for us at the farm (and at least once included the national dish of Haggis). We also made time for the pursuit of recreational activities such as golfing one of the many historic courses, fly fishing on the river Tweed, placing a bet at a Scottish horseracing course, touring a Scotch distillery and perhaps wandering through a local pub or two...
The journey was all that and more. Here are some highlights.
The south of Scotland is a land rich in historic and natural wonder. We walked the stone halls of the twelfth-century Edinburgh Castle, which stands like the Acropolis above its namesake city. It is one of the most important strongholds in the country’s history, and is believed to have been the most besieged. But Scotland is more than another episode of Game of Thrones. History and beauty abound. We also drove the windy roads through the vibrant green hills to the tranquil valley of the Tweed River, where it carves its gentle course to the North Sea. It is along these banks that famed writer Sir Walter Scott chose to build his world-famous abode, Abbottfordshire. Not to be missed.
You couldn’t miss it if you wanted to. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the city from a commanding position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock for over seven thousand years. The royal castle on the rock dates to at least the reign of David I in the 1100s, it continued to serve as a royal residence until 1633.
As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in its share of historical conflicts. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world.”
Visitors are allowed through, the Castle remains a working military establishment where the Scottish Division headquarters are based.
One of the great golf resorts in the world, Gleneagles boasts three superb parkland golf courses, the King’s Course and Queen's Course, both designed by the legendary James Braid and the modern Monarch’s Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. The King’s Course is perceived as being the jewel in Gleneagles' crown. It dates back to 1919.
Gleneagles is situated in Auchterarder, a “wee bit” north of Edinburgh, near Perth.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is actually more than a mile by 107 yards. It runs from the Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace. The latter being the residence of the royal family when the Queen comes to town. The parallel streets, there are actually three, date at least to the 16th-century, the walk is a great indoctrination to the country. Between the various pubs and shops there are such attractions as the Scotch Whisky Experience, which include a replica distillery and the world’s largest whiskey selection (3,500 bottles).
The Writer’s Museum, which pays homage to such noted Scottish authors as, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns.
At the end of the road lies Holyrood Abby and the Palace of Holyrood House. The abby was founded 900 years ago and is mostly a ruin with dramatic architecture. The Palace, was rebuilt in 1540 for Mary, Queen of Scotts. The Palace remains the royal residence when the Queen or the Royal Family are in town, and open to the public when not.
Sheeps Hied Inn is a beautifully restored village pub and restaurant in Duddingston. A favorite among past monarchs and poets, Edinburgh’s oldest surviving watering hole (established a mere 500 years ago). Soak it all up over a plate of seasonal food and a glass of what you fancy.
If you go:
Car & Driver
Dave Caulder • Office: +441315101051
(New) Farm Houses to Rent
Airhouses at Oxton • Carol Ann Houghton
+44 (0) 1578 717113 • www.airhouses.com
Fly fishing on the Tweed
Bill and Ron • www.tweedguide.com
Julia Bruce • Ph: 01835830232