After the difficult crossing of the West Higland Way and the ascent of Ben Nevis, we moved north to the city of Inverness with the hope of continuing to the most north-western tip of Britain (Cape Wrath). Unfortunately, our plans were suddenly disrupted by a non-existent bus connection, so we had to quickly come up with an alternative. On the gloomy bus, the icy wind was blowing against us, it started to drizzle and we didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, there are good people everywhere, and with their help, a wonderful tour of Edinburgh and a trek to Holy Island were created. So don’t hesitate and go discover the world with us.
Tip: the article Tour of Edinburgh and the trek to Holy Island follows on from the article Crossing the West Highland Way and climbing Ben Nevis. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to > check it out <.
Turn 180 degrees°
After freezing on a bus stop bench, we finally decide to turn our direction south and at the last minute hop on a bus to Edinburgh. We haven’t bought a ticket in advance and we can’t pay the driver such an amount by card, so he sends us to sit down and we only buy the ticket online while driving. Knowing the British public transport system is a superhuman feat, but luckily you can buy a ticket even after the bus has left, and it’s even about £20 cheaper than if we paid for it from the driver. The four-hour journey is quite long, but full of interesting views of the cloudy Scottish countryside. Before 7 in the evening, we cross one of the three unique bridges over the Firth of Forth bay and soon get off in the center of Scotland’s capital.
First time in Edinburgh
After a week in an almost deserted countryside, and especially after half a year of living “in solitude”, the hustle and bustle of the big city is quite a shock for us. Especially Míša is always looking around and has the feeling that everyone wants to rob us . Fortunately, we managed to arrange a sleepover on Facebook during the bus ride, so we have a fairly clear goal. It is the first time for us that we try to ask a stranger for a night’s stay, and surprisingly everything works out as it should. It’s also the first time for us that we are somewhere without a plan, and it can be quite difficult to come up with a program for the next week via mobile phone. So it’s no wonder that we fall asleep quite quickly. It was a day full of twists and turns and a bit of a waste of money (had we known that the buses from Inverness to Cape Wrath didn’t run, we could have gone straight to Edinburgh from Fort William).
A tour of Edinburgh
In the morning we have the last of 25 donuts for breakfast (5 donuts for 50 pence deal – well don’t buy it) and then head out into town. The mountaineers in us will not deny ourselves, so we climb the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat first , from which we have a nice view of the whole city. Before we go all the way down, we also look at the view from Salisbury Crags. You are a little lower, but the view of the buildings and the castle is all the more intense. After the descent , we look around the royal seat of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Parliament building, but both only from the outside, because everything is closed due to the corona. We then move to the center through a group of streets called The Royal Mile.
Scotland only officially opened two days ago, so there are few people and the city is rather empty. Shops and cafes are just opening and souvenir stands are empty. But it suits us, we pass St. Giles Cathedral and we turn to the National Museum of Scotland . Entry is free, so why not take advantage of it. On three floors, we go through everything from animals, through space, culture to science and technology. Right next to the museum, we take pictures of the statue of the police dog Bobby and the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the first two parts of Harry Potter. It only takes about 5 minutes to walk and we are at Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh Castle). But they won’t let us in and it doesn’t look that great from the main gate.
Calton Hill Viewpoint
We like the view of the castle from the adjacent Princes Street Gardens much more . Out of obligation, we also pass through the shopping street of the same name, where it is head to head. Everyone needs to enjoy the reopened stores and it’s a total bummer. Better to leave quickly, so past the Scott Monument and an interesting cemetery we climb to the Calton Hill viewpoint. Here again we are offered beautiful views of the city, the observatory and the National Monument of Scotland and the Dugald Steward Monument. During today’s day we went around the main sights of Edinburgh , so we are going back to the accommodation. We spend the evening with the family of our new “lady of the house” and preparing for tomorrow’s trek. The main thing is to sew up all the equipment that got used during the crossing of the West Highland Way.
Cliffs on St. Abbs Head
In the morning, after the arranged breakfast in a nice cafe > Hideout Café < we go to the train station and take the London Express to the town of Berwick upon Tweed. After half an hour of waiting, we still move a short distance by bus along the coast to the seaside village of St. Abs. On the promontory of the same name, we pass the beautiful cliffs and watch the waves hitting the rocks with the wind in our hair . Best of all is the color contrast. Green grass, yellow flowering bushes, dark sea, white foaming waves and light blue sky with clouds. After our traditional lunch (Chinese soup and coffee) we finally set off on our 3 day trek along the east coast of Scotland and England. The destination is Holy Island, which is about 40 km away.
We meet seals
The first kilometers go by quite quickly. We pass through the village of St. Abbs, and then we rise and fall along the coast. The weather is kind to us, it could just be a little warmer. We drive for about two hours when we reach the town of Eyemouth. We ask for water in the pub, sit for a while and immediately continue on. As we pass through the tidal harbor, a seal suddenly swims alongside me and curiously pokes its head out of the water. This is our first encounter with a seal and we are thoroughly enjoying it. We move on with a good mood. We go around the golf course, pass the canola fields and after a few km we descend to the village of Burnmouth.
It’s 7 in the evening, Misha’s feet are hurting again , black clouds are gathering above us and we absolutely cannot find any place to sleep. There is nothing you can do, you have to move on. Several times during the trip we try to go down to the beaches, we look everywhere, but it’s in vain. On steep slopes and stony patches, one simply has no chance of finding something straight . We end up building a tent on a slope above the cliffs and hope it doesn’t rain, otherwise the rain will pour in. For dinner, we have couscous with a subpar curry sauce from a bag, and we spend the evening reading.
The world is really small
At about 5 in the morning, a burst of clouds comes. We huddle in the middle of the tent and try not to touch the walls. Gradually, the drumming of water ropes turns into this strange rustling, and when we climb out of the tent later, we find that it has snowed. Well, the main thing is that we are by the sea. Fortunately, our tent held up well, and even though we broke off pieces of ice from it, it didn’t get wet. On the 9th we set off in the direction of Berwick upon Tweed and in a few minutes we cross the border from Scotland to England. Today we don’t have to climb and descend so much, so the 10 km along the coast goes by quickly and before 12 we are already cooking lunch in the port. As we pack up the last things, we hear two cyclists: “Hey, those are the two backpackers we met yesterday.” A moment later we meet them in a cafe and find out that they are Czechs living in England for three years, who also happen to be from around Ostrava. It never ceases to amaze us how small the world really is.
Tip: take a look at the > top 10 most beautiful places in Scotland <.
You don’t command nature
But we are a bit pressed for time, so we cross pretty bridges through Berwick, the adjacent village of Spittal and join another coastal path. Now it’s more of a hard cycle path, which is not good for our feet. But the sun is shining, the sight of the waves gives you a nice calming feeling and we cut kilometers on the flat at a devilish pace. We don’t even know how, and we’re already within sight of Holy Island. But the tide is just starting, which means that we are out of luck for today . Holy Island is, like Mont Saint Michel a tidal island, to which the bridge leads only during low tide. So there is nothing left to do but pitch the tent and watch the sea rise rapidly before dinner. We sleep pretty well, if only it weren’t so cold.
We wade the sea to Holy Island
It rained again in the morning, so we pack the tent wet again. We put on our rubber boots, which we carry with us the entire trip, and head across the bay towards Holy Island. But the tide has not yet fully started, so we have to wade through the water in places . But in rubbers it’s a toy and you enjoy it. We are gradually approaching the island and the cars start driving on the exposed bridge. It doesn’t even take an hour and we’re on the island. It’s only 3 km to the town on the asphalt road, so we’ll hitch a ride in a little while. The center itself is tiny and one is more interested in the budding castle and church ruins. Even so, it’s nice to go around here and look at the surrounding countryside.
Tip: before visiting Holy Island, check the tide times found > here <.
We wade the sea
Good people are everywhere
By “recharging” Holy Island, we actually completed our trek. While still in Edinburgh we decided not to plan a return trip and let it take its course, which turned out to be the right choice. From Holy Island, we manage to hitchhike to Berwick, from where we continue by bus to the town of Eyemouth, where we passed two days ago. Here we have arranged to meet and spend the night with the Czechs, whom we accidentally ran into yesterday. We diversify our short wait by observing seals , which have become a local attraction in the port.
It’s great how good people are everywhere and will just let a person sleep at their place. And coincidentally, while visiting new acquaintances, a person meets other new acquaintances, who the next day take him by car to Edinburgh, so that he can spend the night with old acquaintances and the day after that, take the train back to the Lake District, where he will end his wonderful fourteen-day pilgrimage around Scotland.