We stayed 4 nights in the Averon Guesthouse in Edinburgh in August 2007. The Averon Guesthouse is pretty close to the heart of downtown Edinburgh (Royal Mile).
We stayed 4 nights in the Averon Guesthouse in Edinburgh in August 2007. The Averon Guesthouse is pretty close to the heart of downtown Edinburgh (Royal Mile).
We left Canada on Friday, August 17 and headed to the UK. We spent a little time in Heathrow, then flew on to Edinburgh, Scotland.
When we left Ottawa, it was quite warm. However, we had to pack for potentially cool and possibly wet weather. We were going to Scotland, after all!
We arrived in Edinburgh about 11:00 on Saturday, August 18. We made our way to our accommodation (Averon Guest House). We then spent a little time wandering around the neighbourhood, finding lunch and trying to stay awake. The weather was not very helpful: it was gray and raining. To top it off, my husband's bag did not arrive with us and he had not kept out his goretex jacket! We eventually bought an umbrella and found a place for lunch (Bennett's).
After having some lunch and finding an umbrella (and at a more suitable time), we returned to our accommodation and were able to get into our room. Eventually, our travel mates arrived from their train trip from Glasgow, so our group was complete.
Later in the afternoon, we all headed back to the same pub for some dinner. By the time we got back, my husband's bag had been delivered so our group was really complete! We had a fairly early evening.
Sunday, August 19 - In Edinburgh
The morning after our arrival, I got up fairly early (07:30) and we headed for some breakfast about 08:00.
After breakfast and sorting ourselves out, we headed off about 10:00 to see about a tour of Edinburgh Castle. It turned out to be quite a nice day, so we headed down the Royal Mile to try to find some lunch.
We ended up having lunch a little late (14:00) in a cafeteria-style sandwich place. The Royal Mile was quite crowded, it being Sunday during August, or festival month in Edinburgh.
Later on, we decided to take a bus tour, to get a mental picture of the "lay of the land". We started that about 16:00. We got off at a stop that made it relatively close to walk to our B&B. The advantage of the ticket was that it was good for 24 hours, so we could go to a relevant bus stop the next morning, and re-start our tour!
We were home by 17:30 or so. Had a bit of a "happy hour", then headed out to find some dinner. We ended up finding a quite nice Italian place (Frankie's), then walked "home" after dinner.
Monday, August 20 - In Edinburgh
Because of our B&B breakfast hours, we were up fairly early again. We wandered around seeing more of the Royal Mile, viewed some journalists' photos in the Parliament Building, and having a look at the Crags. After returning to the B&B in the evening, our entire group went to Shakespeare's for dinner.
Tuesday, August 21 - In Edinburgh
Our last full day in Edinburgh started the usual way. We started off in the late morning to look for the Caledonian brewery. Good thing we called them first - they don't do tours! Bit of a shame really. So instead we headed off to see more of town. We spent a bit of time walking around the Princes Street Gardens in the light mist. At a pre-appointed time, we went to the Caledonian Hotel to see if we could catch up with our travel colleagues. We made it and went off for a lovely lunch at Petit Paris, a quite lovely little French restaurant not too far from the Hotel.
After returning to our B&B for a bit of a break, we went with our group to the Grassmarket area to find dinner. Worked out well, then we headed up to the Royal Mile to find our seats at the Tattoo. Whoa! Not quite so quickly. We stood in a quite enormous line and eventually made our way, in quite an orderly fashion, to our seats.
The Tattoo started at 21:00 and what a spectacle! By 22:30 it was all over and we had to find our way out and home, which we reached by 23:15.
To Stirling/Bridge of Allan
We were pretty early after our relatively late night. We were at breakfast by 07:30. Then we packed up all our things and checked out by 09:30 or so. At about 10:00, we called a large taxi to take us and all our stuff to pick up our hire car.
Once we got ourselves installed in our car, found some maps, and found our way out of Edinburgh, we headed for Roslin. We were there by about 11:00. We had a good long look at Roslin Chapel (experiencing a large increase in tourism as a result of the book "The DaVinci Code". It's a pretty impressive little chapel.
After having our fill of Roslin Chapel, we headed to to Peebles about 13:00. We went there because one of our party had some ancestors who had lived in the neighbourhood. After finding lunch, we got back in the car and found our way to Stirling. This actually involved heading back towards Edinburgh, and then finding our way northwest.
We made it to Stirling by about 16:30 or so. We found our way to a tourist information place and managed to get ourselves somewhere to stay. So then at 17:30, we headed to Stirling University (Management Centre) at Bridge of Allan (accommodation). We got settled in and rather than drive somewhere, we decided to just eat at the Management Centre. They served quite nice food.
Thursday, August 23 - To/in Oban ("Gateway to the Isles")
Again we were up pretty early and went for breakfast about 08:00. Having learned a lesson about accommodation availability, we left the university about 10:00 and headed to Stirling to book our next accommodation. Then we went to Stirling Castle.
Stirling Castle is a very impressive attraction. We spent quite a bit of time looking around and also had lunch there. After a bit of souvenir shopping, we headed to our next attraction. By 14:30, we were at Doune Castle. This is somewhat less fancy than Stirling Castle. We were there because it's the castle where many of the castle scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed! So it was a bit of an attraction for my husband and me, avid MP fans!
By 16:00, we were on our way toward Oban. We got there by about 18:00, checked into our accommodation(s) (this was the only location we could not get two appropriate rooms in the same establishment). After settling into our respective homes for the next few days, we headed off to find something for dinner. By 18:00, we had settled on the cafe of the Caledonian Hotel. It was quite nice.
Friday, August 24
We were up pretty early again and had breakfast by about 7:30. This day, we decided to do some sightseeing south of Oban. This was traditionally "Campbell-country", though we didn't see too many castles. We did have lunch at a place where an ancestor had lived, I believe.
We got back to Oban and joined our compatriots at their B&B for dinner - that was the King's Knoll. It was quite nice.
Saturday, August 25
Following on a discussion last evening, we were up early again (7:30 for breakfast) and called to see about a boat tour for the day. We managed to get on the tour of Mull and Iona by 8:15, then went to pick up our friends, then went to wait at the ferry terminal. We were on the 9:00 ferry to Mull/Iona.
That was quite a nice day. The ferry didn't take too long. After the ferry arrived in Craignure (on Mull), we took a bus to Fionnphort. Then there was another smaller ferry to Iona. From the ferry dock on Iona, we could walk to pretty much everything there was to see. The main attraction was the Abbey, which was pretty, and nice and interesting.
After looking around at the Abbey, we headed back to catch the ferry back to Mull, then the bus back to the ferry back to Oban. It was a good day. Though it had been a bit gray in the morning, the weather turned out to be quite lovely! We were back in Oban by 18:00, when we found somewhere to eat.
Sunday, August 26 - To Colonsay
We had places to go and things to do today, so we were up early again (07:20) and packed up all our things and checked out. Then, we were up to pick up our colleagues (who had also packed up and checked out).
First, we went to check out McCaig's Tower. This is a faux coliseum-like building on a hillside overlooking Oban. The structure was erected by a wealthy, philanthropic banker between 1895 and 1902. McCaig hoped to provide a lasting monument to his family and provide work for local stonemasons. Now it's an interesting garden with lovely views of the sea.
Next we went to the Oban distillery for a tour, which was interesting (and tasty). We had a bite of lunch at McTavish's Kitchen, a cafeteria-style restaurant. Just before heading to the ferry terminal again, we had a look at Dunollie Castle, just outside Oban. It was the seat of the MacDougalls, who once owned a third of Scotland. It's a bit of a steep walk up a hill to reach the ruins, but it's free and the view overlooking the northern entrance to Oban harbour is worth it.
Then, we had to head to the ferry terminal to catch our ferry to Colonsay. As we left in the late afternoon, we had dinner on the ferry. It was pretty good.
We arrived in Scalasaig, Colonsay, by about 18:00. We walked off the ferry and looked up the hill to our accommodation. By 21:00, we were checked into the hotel and had moved our bags to our rooms. We looked around the hotel a little, had a pint in the pub and then headed to bed by 22:00.
Perhaps I should provide a little background - what and why Colonsay? The island of Colonsay lies in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. 15 miles to the north is the island of Mull; to the east and south are Jura and Islay; to the southwest, just visible from a high point on a clear day is the Donegal coast of Ireland. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean, with only a lighthouse standing between Colonsay and Canada. A few hundred years ago, some of my ancestors moved from Colonsay to Prince Edward Island (Canada). I thought it would be interesting to see where part of me comes from.
Monday, August 27
So this morning we were up by 08:00. Without adequate planning or preparation, we decided to head off to walk towards Colonsay's semi-detached neighbour Oronsay. When the tide is right, one can walk across a strand and onto the smaller Oronsay, where there is a priory ruin and some standing stones. The round trip takes about 4 or 5 hours. This turned out to be too far for me. We didn't know for sure where the trail was and got too tired to find the way. I managed to get a lift back to the hotel, where I had a rest and read for a bit before going to check out the store, where I picked up some free maps of Colonsay, to get a better sense of the place.
That evening, we had a special dinner in honour of my husband and my 19th wedding anniversary. Dinner at the hotel was very nice.
Tuesday, August 28
This morning, we got organized and arranged to rent bikes. We pretty much went our own way for that day. My husband took his bike and went back to find his way to Oronsay, then returned to the hotel to get rid of some clothes (it was a lovely day!) and then rode the road all the way around the island. Our colleagues set out on a couple of errands: to see the area of the island where the rellies had lived, and to go to the bookstore, and also circumnavigated the island. I also got my act together and started off on my bike to find some standing stones, then ended up also going the whole way around the island. It was a lovely day and we all took lots of pictures.
This morning we had to get up and pack up all our belongings again. After breakfast we finished our packing, paid our bill and walked down the hill to the ferry terminal.
By 10:15, we had tucked our luggage into a corner at the ferry terminal, mentioned to the ferry-master that we were going to check out the Colonsay brewery for a bit of a visit and walked over to the brewary. We actually got there a little before the shop was open, but the door was open so we wandered in and ended up chatting to one of the fellows who was in on starting the brewery. They've only been in business since April, so our timing was excellent (on visiting Colonsay, if not the brewery). After a brief chat, we headed back to the ferry terminal and met up with others who were heading back to Oban on the 11:45 ferry.
We had lunch on the ferry so when we got into Oban at 14:30, we were ready to a) book accommodation for the evening, b) pick up the car again, c) re-install all our stuff and d) head for Ballachulish via the Glen of Orchy. It was really quite scenic through there. Then we drove through Glencoe (it was cloudy again), checked out the Glencoe tourist centre (where we had lunch) and were into Ballachulish by 18:00. We walked to a nearby pub for dinner (Laroch?).
To Fort Augustus
After breakfast but before we left Ballachulish, we looked around the slate mining pit a bit. It was again quite a nice day. By 10:00 or so, we were on the road again.
While in Ballachulish, we booked accommodation for the night so we knew where to go. The drive to Fort Augustus wasn't too far. Once there we checked into the Caledonia hotel. Then we walked over to have a look at the Caledonia Canal. We watched a fine large sailing ship work its way up the locks from Loch Ness through to the canal. The ship was from Dublin and they were heading home.
Hubbie and I had dinner at a pub near the canal, then tried to have a look at an old abbey. It's being turned into luxury flats, so we couldn't get near it. Should have taken a different route! Then we headed back to the hotel for a drink before bed.
Up again. Breakfast again. On the road again. Today our target was Inverness, where we would stay with some friends. It was nice to not have to worry about booking accommodation for a change! Oh, by the way, while in Ballachulish, we had called a hotel in Edinburgh so our last night's accommodation was also taken care of.
We continued up the Great Glen, taking the road less travelled on the southeast side of Loch Ness. It was quite scenic, though hard to find a stopping place to look at the view - this was actually a common complaint much of the way along our travels.
Once we got to Inverness, we actually found Pringle's before we found our friends, so we did a bit of shopping. After our successful shopping, we headed to find our friends.
After a bit of late lunch, we all headed to have a look at Fort George, a very impressive, very large British fort. Once we were worn out, we returned to our friends' for happy hour and dinner. It was a lovely change from hotels!
Saturday, September 1
Since we didn't have a set time for breakfast, we had no need to be up early. We were up by 08:00 anyway. Had some breakfast with our hosts. Then we packed everything up again, made sure everything not ours was out of the hire car, said our goodbyes and headed out on the road.
We didn't get too far because we needed some petrol and we'd exited Inverness before we knew it. After that false start, however, we were on our way back to Edinburgh.
We took a pretty direct route, passing near the Cairngorms, and ended up in Pitlochry in time for lunch. We had designs on a brewery there, but there wasn't much to see.
We got back on the road again and headed south. After passing through Perth, we took a bit of a side trip to see if we could see more scenic routes, but ended up on the main drag, crossing the Forth bridge again and arrived in Queensferry about 16:00.
About 19:00, we drove into downtown Queensferry to find some dinner. The first time in 2 weeks that neither of us had a camera and it turned out to be a very scenic little place. We ended up eating at a cafe on the waterfront, which was very nice. Since we had to get up pretty early, we were back at the hotel and in bed by 21:00.
Sunday, September 2
Today started very early. We were up at 03:00. We packed up all our stuff one last time and headed to the airport. It was harder to find that I thought it was going to be and complicated by the fact that it was still dark! We found our way there, however, by 04:00. We investigated the car return area, then I was dropped with our luggage to make my way to the terminal building.
In not too much time, Gardner was at the building and we could proceed with our flight check-in. Once that was complete, we headed to the BMI lounge for a bit of coffee and breaky. Our 06:15 flight to Heathrow left pretty much on time, putting us there at 07:30. Then we had to wait quite a long time for our 14:35 flight to Ottawa, though we did get to wait in the AC lounge, so it wasn't so bad!
We finally got back after our trip by 17:15 local time. Another great trip done!
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Address: 44 Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, Scotland EH3 9NQ, United Kingdom