Scotland the brave!

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scotland the brave! Yes, we're braving the chilly weather here in Scotland tonight. Glad I bought those gloves yesterday. It's chilly but gorgeously sunny and clear. We are almost incredulous that we've been in the United Kingdom now for 16 days and it hasn't rained yet!!!! 

We left our lodgings in the Lake District this morning, but only after Brendon had climed to the top of the mountain behind where we were staying. I opted for the luxury of a sleep-in and saved my energy for climbing up to Hadrian's Wall later in the day. Spring is definitely a wonderful time to visit this part of the world, partly because I can only imagine how freezing it gets here in winter and how crowded it gets in the summer, and partly because the weather is stunning, the trees are blossoming and the countryside is beautiful. But the other reason I love being here in springtime is that the new lambs are just so very cute!! Driving through the North York Moores, the Yorkshire Dales and all through the Lake District, the fields are filled with frolicking (yes, frolicking) lambs. My favourites are the white lambs with black faces. The window of our lodging last night overlooked a stone-walled paddock filled with sheep and their lambs and watching them play was so much fun. Having been brought up on a farm, Brendon was perhaps not quite as enraptured as I was, but we both loved watching them and we loved the area and the peaceful atmosphere here. On our way to dinner last evening, we walked past a paddock where a cow was lying down and seemed in some distress. On our way back from dinner, we saw the same cow licking her brand-new calf as it attempted to stand on wobbly legs. Ah springtime!

Heading north on our way to Scotland today, we first visited a section of Hadrian's Wall - or what's left of it. While at first glance it didn't appear all that impressive (not being completely up-to-date on my history of this region, I think perhaps I had expected something similar to China's Great Wall), once we hiked to the top of the wall that sits atop an imposing cliff and follows the high and rugged contours of the surrounding landscape, my perspective changed a great deal. Especially when I began to better understand when and how it was built. And it's truly beautiful countryside. If we had more time (and were perhaps a bit fitter), we would have loved to walk further. We met a number of people who were walking/hiking along the path of the wall between villages, staying in B & Bs each night and walking more the next day. A very popular pastime in England, we discovered. But we still thoroughly enjoyed our somewhat shorter walking adventure up and along the wall.

Then onwards to Scotland. Standing on the border looking down into Scotland, I had another one of those "I can't believe I'm really here" moments, a feeling repeated when I caught my first glimpse of Edinburgh Castle standing tall and proud in the late afternoon sunlight. Before we reached Edinburgh though, we stopped in Jedburgh, home of Mary Queen of Scots, and visited Jedburgh Abbey. The photos don't really do it justice but we enjoyed the visit to this old but well preserved cathedral which is now open to the elements and the history that it brought to life.

Tomorrow, we're off to explore the city of Edinburgh, especially it's Castle! 
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