Tim, Stirling, Pentlands (2005-09-26 - 4:44 p.m.)

Brandon has gone off to Budapest for a week. I am jealous, very jealous. It is looking less and less likely that I’ll make it over to Europe before December, which means it will probably be a very long time indeed. Rats.

Had a good weekend, which seemed much longer than usual because I took off from work early on Friday. Somehow that and the fact that I managed to cram a lot in meant it didn’t fly past as quickly as usual. Friday night was mostly spent with Jason who I met at the Bonnie Prince Billy concert in August. We met up on Princes St and I was just explaining that my brother might be calling with details of his plans for that night when along came Tim and entourage. So they joined us for a quick pint at the Hebrides Pub. Ran into them again at various points during the evening but I had to meet Keri for leaving drinks and they were off doing their own thing for most of the night.

Sadly, they decided to move on to Stirling on Saturday. I was disappointed as was hoping to properly show them the Edinburgh nightlife without having to work the next day. However, I decided to tag along to Stirling to hang out with Tim for one last day. We met up at the castle and did a super-quick double-time tour – but I still managed to see at least two bits I had missed when I went over it with a fine-tooth comb last time. This is why I like castles. Lots of hidden bits.

After that it was on to the Wallace Monument, which I had not as of yet seen. We managed to blunder our way through the Stirling bus system (mostly because Jason Baird, as the largest, went first to talk to the driver and I couldn’t hear anything around him – except nobody but me could understand the bus driver’s accent!) However, after an amusing episode where we inadvertently got off the bus a stop early (and then climbed back on), we did manage to arrive.

The monument is pretty imposing, as it sits on top of a big crag overlooking Stirling. However, it’s somewhat marred by the hideous statue of Mel Gibson as Braveheart that sits at the bottom by the tartan tat shop. Mel’s got someone’s decapitated head by his foot and good lord, the whole thing is ugly. There was also a wedding party milling about the bottom of the monument and getting their pictures taken (though, happily, not with Mel). They seemed to have hired one of those city tour coaches for the day and were driving around town taking pictures. Looked like fun. Lots of men in kilts, as well, needless to say.

We took the shuttlebus up to the monument and then went up the six million (well, two-hundred-and-something) windy narrow little stairs. They had some little rooms with information about Mr Wallace, as well as one with the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. It was a sort of animation – a dummy with a blank face, upon which they’d projected the face of an actor playing William Wallace. The effect is really odd, as it looks like this stuffed dummy is alive and looking at you. Ew.

Anyway, the coolest thing in the monument was Willy Wallace’s sword, which was enormous – taller than me! (Tim got a pic of me standing next to it). Apparently they reckon he would have to have been at least 6’6” in order to wield it.

We had huge trouble getting back into town and had to wait 40 minutes for a bus. At that point we were all starving, so we grabbed a pub dinner. I was pretty shattered by this point, so I left to catch the train back to Edinburgh and that’s the last I saw of the boys. They weren’t entirely sure where they were headed next, so I left Tim with strict instructions to give me a call in a couple of days and report back. Hopefully I can go down and join them for a bit in Glasgow next weekend, or maybe somewhere else if they are close.

I slept the sleep of the chronically exhausted on Saturday night and was up bright and early to meet Andrew on Sunday morning. He, however, was not and texted me begging for an extra hour’s sleep. So I went to Boots instead – the lens in my BRAND NEW glasses had fallen out earlier and I had just jammed it back into place, but it clearly wasn’t in properly. I figured it’d take them like five minutes to sort it out. Instead, the guy took the lens out and THEN came back and said he thought the frame was bent and he couldn’t get it back in, sorry. But someone would be in at noon that could probably fix it.

“But I’m blind!”, I pointed out. “Oh, right, well… maybe you could just do some shopping or something?” Helpful! It was unbelivable and I think I’ve upset the Evil Glasses Fairy or something. Anyway, I just went and sat in the sun in the park (managed NOT to get run over crossing any streets, thankfully) and picked my glasses up – fixed- at noon. But it meant we got a bit of a late start to our hillwalking expedition.

We took the bus out to Penicuik and spent far longer than I really would have ideally planned wandering around the town. We could see the Pentlands (and I had a pretty good idea how to get there, based on the trip with Steph and Rem last Feb) but Andrew insisted we cut cross-country across a field instead. So we did. And another field. And we clambered over a barbed-wire fence and ducked under another one and found another field, this one with sheep (and one coo). And then finally we got onto the road and more or less worked out where we were, and the walk started in earnest.

Andrew apparently likes resevoirs, because the walk he picked went past three of them. They were lovely, and it was a gorgeous day. In fact, it was my idea of a perfect autumn day – sunny but with that nice crispness in the air. Perfect walking weather. We brought a picnic and basically spent four hours or so walking from Penicuik to Balerno, which is probably nine or ten miles (maybe more given the Penicuik wanderings!) We didn’t actually climb any proper hills, but more threaded our way through them. Besides the resevoirs we saw a very pretty waterfall and a not-so-pretty (but infinitely more interesting) decomposing fox. Andrew took a picture, much to the disgust of the people passing on bikes.

We finally reached Balerno and the bus stop just as the bus pulled up. So we got to collapse in exhaustion on the bus rather than the road – though my legs had kind of seized up by the time I got home!

backwards ~ onwards

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Missed anything?
moved! - 2008-05-12
Sunday = time to ramble on - 2008-05-11
apparently I'm doing monthly updates these days. Sorry. - 2008-05-04
watershed - 2008-04-06
end of trip - 2008-03-31

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