Today’s drive took us north and into the highlands. It was stunningly stark, with tall, sparse hills, lots of long lochs and even some patches of snow. After a brief tour of a scotch distillery (barley? really?) we drove to Loch an Eilean , meaning lake of the island. It was very small and shallow, with a tiny ruined “castle” on the island.
We ate lunch there, and talked about how much the area reminded us of Canada. Then we continued up the road to Inverness. I napped most of the way. In Inverness, we went for supper at a pub while the World Cup England vs. Uruguay was happening. The pub was full of Scots-Scots, that is, our waitress told us, cheering against England every time. Hoping to avoid being mobbed if by accident we cheered for England, we walked down to the river and back up to our B&B.
A heat wave in Scotland! The first time I can comfortably wear shorts and a tank top, and its in Scotland! It was only a few hours drive from the Lake District, across the border and up to Perth. There we met up with my cousin and her husband, ate lunch and since it was insanely warm, went to Loch Tommel. There were kayaks for us to use so we paddled around an island and swam in the refeshingly cool water.
The scenery reminded me a lot of the Gulf Islands, but with fewer conifers. Afterwards we drove to a restaurant in Perth, then walked along the river Tay and watched the sunset.
I spent the morning going through site after site of horseback riding stables looking for one that was close, had a well-timed ride and a good level. Finally I arranged one, but first: Kate’s activity. We went to Beatrix Potter’s House, which was preserved from the early 1900s. It showed the inspiration for locations and passages for her stories, and the drawings she did.
Since I needed to eat lunch before leaving, we had to ruch a little, but it was still fun. The stable was to the east of where we’re staying, but in a similar environment. My horse was lazy half the time, and excited the rest, so it was fun.
Afterwards we rushed off to my cousin’s birthday, which was crawling with kids and chocolate cake. We all went out for supper, then walked up Wart Barrow (pretty hill, awful name) and unsuccessfully went looking for hedgehogs.
Yet more cousins to meet today! We took a nice walk down by the salt marshes with them, stopped at some very cool playgrounds and watched ducks.
Lunch was out in the garden, while we watched the baby crawl around the grass and hoist himself up. We went home afterwards, but my other cousin I had seen the night before came and brought barbecue makings. He took us up past Lake Windermere to a smaller lake, like a flatter, warmer Thetis lake. It was perfect for swimming, with really clean water and little islands.
Once we had gotten dry, we ate dinner on the grass, skipped stones and made little boats. Back at the house we caught frogs in the pond, and had tea, the proper English thing to do!
We were truly in Yorkshire today, since it rained most of the day. The moors became the dales driving east, and since it was Father’s day, our first stop was a brewery. While my parents went on the tour, Kate and I had tea and cake in the cafe. Then we continued on through the very wild, beautiful countryside to Bolton Castle. Luxurious prison for Mary Queen of Scots, one half of it is a ruin, destroyed during the English civil war. The other half was lived in until the 1940s.
We had a great picnic out in the mist. Afterwards we went in. A good number of the rooms were still furnished, and we got to wear costumes and try archery.
Warning: Geek at play
It was really well done, one of my favourite places so far! Since we were running out of time, we drove on and only stopped for a cheese factory and supper. We made it to my cousin’s in the Lake District and had tea and talked. A lot.
This morning we passed through the market to the World of James Herriot museum. James Herriot was the pseudonym for Alf Wight, a veterinarian who lived in Thirsk from the 1930s to the 1990s. The exhibits showed his life, the publishing of the James Herriot novels and veterinary practice through history. It also had a replica set from the TV show and rooms set up how Alf Wight and his family lived.
I really loved looking at all the displays, everything was really well done! Afterwards we ate a picnic lunch at the park, enjoyed the return of sunshine, then drove off into the moors. We went to Sutton Bank, a visitor centre and start to walking trails for North York Moors National Park. Our walk took us down to one of four natural lakes in Yorkshire, Gormire lake, a rainwater-dependent lake formed by retreating glaciers. Another path led us past a glider field, where we watched planes take gliders up to catch thermals.
For supper we drove down into a very pretty village called Killburn. On the way we passed the White Horse, a cliff figure made in the 1870s.
Not a horse figure, just a rose near our restaurant
Another train journey, this one to cross the midlands and get to Yorkshire. It was a pretty smooth ride, until Leeds where we had to pick up our rental car. Since they drive on the left hand side of the road, it was a panicky derive, but we got to Thirsk in one piece. We dropped our stuff off, then went for supper at a restaurant between the main square and the river. The food was really good, especially the dessert. Afterwards we walked around town and went to a really nice riverside park for the mostly cloudy sunset.