Don't tell anyone, but I've been south of the border…

…and it was pretty good. Fear not, for I did not stray far from Scotland, and I returned quickly. I hired a car for the weekend again, and headed south. Down to Edinburgh, then east along the A1, down towards Newcastle. A quick photo stop at the English/Scottish border (it’s not very exciting), then on south. The plan was to roughly follow the line of Hadrian’s Wall across the country, then curve back up around through the Borders region.

Coming up to Corbridge, I thought it would just be a “blink and you’ll miss it” type of affair, but it turned out to be a lovely little village. It’s quite cool when you walk across bridges that have stood for nearly 400 years. I was going to get something to eat in the town, but they were having a food festival on at the old Roman site in Corbridge, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. There were quite extensive remains of the Roman town that had stood there 1800 years ago, which were pretty cool to look at. The extent of the water and drainage systems they had in place were pretty amazing.

Then it was time for some local food and drink, and one of the more unusual settings I’ve seen for food festivals. The local Angus beef was very nice, and the chocolate orange fudge was particularly good. The Fentimans drink was pretty good too – quite unusual, something along the lines of the Phoenix range in NZ, but with more of a herbal taste.

Off to Chester’s Roman Fort next, which was the first real sighting of Hadrian’s Wall. Not only running water and drainage here, they even had central heating! What I don’t quite understand is how the Romans could have had that, but later all these works were lost, buried. When the places were abandoned by the Romans, you somehow would have thought that the locals would have taken a look at them, compared them to the thatched huts they lived in, and moved right in!

The other thing that cracked me up was some of the old tombstones – people were buried, a stone was erected, with their name on it, then 20 years later, someone else can’t be bothered getting a new stone, so they just engrave a new name over the top of the previous one!

Via Carlisle, then on to Dumfries for the night. Went in a B&B;, looking for a place to stay – they were full, but the fantastic manager rang another place, gave me a map of the town and pointed out good places to eat/drink. Great service, especially since he wasn’t directly getting anything for it – will hunt down the name and post it here. The actual place I ended up at – Morton Villa – was very nice too, really nice personal service.

Caerverlock castle (Or is it Caeverlock? Seems to be some variation) Sunday morning. I don’t think I’ve seen a castle with its moat filled with water before – it really made the place come alive, made it a real castle experience. Lots of good photos here, I’ll just add the one:

Back via the A7, stopping at the Malcolm Memorial. Quite stunning views of the surrounding area. There’s some pretty barren terrain there. The thing I didn’t get was the road signs pointed towards the McDiarmid memorial – but that only seem to consist of a small cairn 400m from the summit, compared the large obelisk that is the Malcolm memorial.

Nice country to drive back through, towards Edinburgh. Strangely enough, there was an NZ flag flying about a rural house, more or less in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps not so strange though, the Borders region seems to be pretty big on its rugby.

Went into Rosslyn Chapel (if you’ve read the Da Vinci code, you’ll know what I’m talking about) on the way home. It’s actually quite an amazing little church, with massive amounts of imagery – of which I might only be able to work out 10% – but it’s kinda taken over by the people out there who think that the Da Vinci code was just the best book ever written, and that’s it all true, every word. Never mind that it was possibly the only book those people have read in the last 5 years. It would be quite the place to wander around just by yourself, but you’d need a few religious scholars to help you interpret the meaning of it all.

Hope everyone out there is doing ok. Not sure exactly when/where the next Scotland trip is – I’m thinking the west coast/Skye for a long weekend, but I’m not sure when that’s going to work out, due to some other stuff happening.