Archive for February, 2011

Journey No 16

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Journey No 16 – 21st to 22nd February 2011

21st February 2011

We departed Carrick Castle at 09.30 hrs to go to the Motorhome Workshop in Carstairs to have a new 50 bar gas regulator fitted as, when we bought the van, it had a 35 bar regulator that was incorrect for this European model of the 1992 Hymer B534 and was only discovered when the Habitation Certificate was being updated for the van in October 2010.

Travelling with one stop in Glasgow, refuelling also in Dumbarton with 35.00 litres diesel (£46.16) mileage 118152 km, we arrived in Carstairs at 12.30 in time for our 13.00 hrs appointment. The work was carried out replacing the gas regulator with one purchased in Germany. The gas system was then checked over and the Habitation Certificate was updated to being fully checked and completed.

We left Cairstairs and drove over towards Bathgate stopping at Cairnapple Hill by Torphichen near Bathgate. Cairnapple was used from about 3000 BC to 500 AD – firstly as a ceremonial site then, for centuries later, as a burial site. The walk up the hill should have had terrific views for many miles around but as it was very misty so we just had to look at the mound, ditches and burial sites plus views locally. The Historic Scotland visitors centre was closed for the winter however the noticeboards explained the origins of the site very well.

Not far from Cairnapple we came across a small car park below The Knock on the way towards Bathgate. We decided to stay there for the night. We climbed up the path to The Knock, that is a small hill, again with views all around the area. From the top we noticed a modern stone circle nearby of 50 stones but there was no mention of it on the map.

Harrie parked up for the night below The Knock

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The modern Knock Stone Circle 1998

22nd February 2011

In the morning we left to go into Edinburgh.  We decided to park Harrie at the Ingliston Park & Ride near the airport and take the X48 bus into the centre of Edinburgh. In under 30 minutes we were at North Bridge in the centre of Edinburgh and then walked up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle was our 30th Historic Scotland property visit over the last 12 months. We were fortunate to have arrived at the start of a guided tour so despite having audio systems with us we completed that tour which gave us a lot more insight to the visit than just listening to an audio commentary. We visited everywhere in the castle with the exception of the army museums that we were not particularly interested in. Castle rock is 134 metre above sea level. Edinburgh Castle contains Scotland’s most priceless treasures.

Edinburgh Castle

Liz outside the entrance to Edinburgh Castle

Liz in the impressive Great Hall

We visited the Scottish National War Memorial, St Margaret’s 12th Century Chapel, the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels) with the Stone of Destiny, the Royal Palace, the Great Hall and the building where the prisioners of war were kept. Unfortunately you are not allowed to photograph the Honours.

The vaults where the prisoners of war were held

St Margaret's 12th century chapel

Outside we saw Mons Meg, a six-tonne siege gun made in 1449 that fired gunstones that each weighed 150 kgs. The gun could travel three miles in a day hauled by 100 men. James V took it out of service in 1550.

Liz in Mons Meg's barrel...

Douglas with Mons Meg at Edinburgh Castle

Three views of Edinbugh from Edinburgh Castle…

View of Princes Street from Edinburgh Castle

View of Waverley Station from Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Mile and Arthur's Seat from the castle

We really enjoyed our visit to Edinbugh Castle having spent a few hours there…

Liz leaving Edinburgh Castle by the Argyle Tower

As it was now lunchtime we walked down the Royal Mile to Mary King’s Close to see if we could go on one of their “What lies beneath the Royal Mile?” tours.  We got the last places available for that day at 16.40, so went off and had lunch.  After lunch, we walked down the Royal Mile and Canongate, passing the Scottish Parliament to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is at the end of the road with the Scottish Parliament on the right

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen. We were able to visit fourteen magnificent historic and State Apartments and the ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey.

Douglas in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The entrance to the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse Quodrangle

Unfortunately photography is not permitted inside the Palace so we can only show the outside. A visit to the Palace is recommended to see the beautiful State Apartments.

Following out visit to the Palace, we by-passed the Scottish Parliament as we had been to it in previous years, so we took a bus up the hill to the upper part of the Royal Mile for our visit to Mary King’s Close. Each tour has twenty people – quite tight in places.  Buried deep beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile lies the city’s deepest secret – a warren of hidden streets that have remained frozen in time since the 17th century. You explore this unique site of underground streets and rooms in semi-darkness. Whilst the guide explains the history as you walk round, the best is kept for last when you see Mary King’s Close as it used to be, virtually untouched by time…

Mary King's Close under Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Following this last visit of the day, we caught the X48 bus back to Ingliston just after 18.00 hrs and then departed the Park & Ride car park at 18.35 for home.  Douglas had a good drive back stopping at Dumbarton again for diesel – 32.00 litres (£41.89) – mileage 118402 km, arriving home at 21.00 hrs.

We had had a very full and extremely interesting day – we were quite tired on reaching home.

Total mileage for the trip was 387 km/242 miles.
Total mileage to date – 118470 km/74,044 miles.

Journey No 15

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Journey No 15 – 14th to 16th February 2011

14th February 2011

Liz and Douglas departed Carrick Castle at 08.30 for Nevis Range by Fort William with our two cats Smokie and Smudge (aged 14+ each) on their first trip in Harrie.  Smudge ‘talked’ a lot for the first hour – “are we nearly there?” or something like it in cat language…!  We parked up at the ski centre and after a snack lunch, Liz went skiing, whilst Douglas remained in the van with the cats as he was suffering from asthma, so caught up with some reading. (153 km)

Liz enjoyed the skiing in the afternoon, skiing mainly on the Goose.  We had our Valentine’s dinner in Fort William and then returned to Nevis Range later in the evening and stayed overnight in the car park.

15th February 2011

It had been a cold night with new snow and ice around the van, however we and the cats were very snug inside. Liz and Douglas prepared to go skiing however the lifts were on hold until 10.00. At 10.00 it was announced that the wind was too strong to run any of the lifts including the gondola so we were unable to going skiing that day.

We decided to go to Glen Roy by Roy Bridge, Inverness-shire to see the parallel roads that surround Glen Roy. These lines were caused by ice in the ice age and are at 265 metres, 325 metres and 350 metres above sea level. They are very distinct features as can be see the the photograph below.

Parallel roads at Glen Roy

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The view above was taken from the highest (350 metre) parallel road.

We had parked Harrie in the Glen Roy car park and walked straight up the steep incline stopping at each parallel road, plus a few other stops inbetween as the climb was quite steep… Coming down we zigzaged our way down as the ground was covered with snow and we didn’t want to slide straight down!

Liz & Smudge alongside Harrie at Glen Roy

Douglas & Harrie at Glen Roy

Douglas at the 350 metre parallel road looking down on Harrie in the Glen Roy car park

Having enjoyed our visit to Glen Roy, we returned to Fort William to look for J-Gas Propane but discovered only Calor Gas was available locally so we would have to get a replacement 11 kg Propane cylinder from Arrochar on the way home.

We refuelled with 48.56 litres of diesel (£65.02) – 117883 km in Fort William.

We then went to Corpach to have dinner with Douglas’ parents and stayed overnight in their car park.

16th February 2011

Douglas drove Liz up to the Nevis Range ski centre in the morning at 09.00 for her to go skiing again whilst Douglas returned to Corpach to accompany his father to a hospital appointment at the Belford in Fort William by taxi. Donald, his father, almost 96, will have to have another operation on his ear to remove another cancerous growth. The surgeon said he would try and operate within a month but it would have to be at Inverness as a day patient.

At lunchtime, Douglas returned to Nevis Range and waited for Liz to finish skiing. Liz said the snow was very good but the visibility was terrible – white out conditions, however she managed to ski in those conditions until 14.00 hrs before coming back down to the van in the car park.

We then drove home, stopping at Arrochar for replacement gas. Unfortunately they only had a 6 kg (£15.65) instead of an 11 kg Propane but at least we now had a spare again.

We arrived home just after 17.00 hrs and the cats were home again.  They were remarkable good which was a pleasant surprise. Whilst Liz did manage two days skiing, Douglas didn’t manage to get any skiing in that was rather disappointing.

Total journey mileage = 442 km/276 miles. Total mileage to date 118083 km/73,802 miles.