The day I met William Wallace in Edinburgh.

After Morocco, my friend and I drove north from Yorkshire to Scotland for the night. The drive through England’s rolling green hills was relaxing and, after a time, we passed by the North Sea and arrived in the amazing city of Edinburgh.

We spent our evening in a pub eating haggis and meat pies and drinking fine Scottish ales until our stomachs were full and our bodies ready for sleep.

 

The next morning we arose and walked up the center hill to Edinburgh Castle. Perched above the city, it peers over the vast metropolitan mass. It’s walls are of large stone and it just breaths history.

On either side of it’s front gate are memorial statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. The movies and books of my adolescence come alive in concrete history.

A wedding is taken place in the ancient chapel at the top of the castle grounds and a group of Asians in suits also meander the area. There are dungeons, and museums, and a gift shop. Cannons ever defend the walls near the barracks.

Of all the castles I have walked in Great Britain, so far Edinburgh is the most splendid.

On our way out of the castle, I posed with William Wallace himself. A charity acting gig on the street that plays on our Hollywood dreams more than history itself, but worth a good laugh and a photo.

We traveled south again and tried to stop at Holy Island, but the rising tides of the North Sea took away our road. Still, we sat for a while and watched a dog play in the water and the tide come in until it reached the tires of our car. We decided it was time to turn around and continue south.

In that spirit of adventure that so often grabs me and propels me into an unplanned side-trip, we followed the signs on the motorway to Hadrian’s Wall, assuming it wasn’t far off the road. We were wrong as we so often are.

Hours out of our way we found a very small piece of ancient fort that had sat upon Hadrian’s Wall. Dusk was upon us as we navigated the sheep pasture (and herd of sheep) to the little remaining rubble. I dare say that my bladder was pained at this point and I may have watered the grass by the broken wall so that the two other strangers couldn’t see my shame.

I am probably not the first archaeologist to desecrate such a site in an emergency and in my defense, the sheep had left their feces all over the ground. Still, my friend claimed exasperatedly, “I can’t take you anywhere!” A good joke that will continue on in future trips, I fear.

The sun was already gone and the dark came down upon us. We left our quest for Hadrian’s Wall to another year.

Thus ended our very brief sojourn to Scotland and the last days of my 2011 holiday to the Northeastern Hemisphere. A place I fully intend to return to within the new year for a longer amount of time.

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