We started our day with another classic Scottish breakfast at the Inn on the Mile: poached egg, black pudding, grilled tomato, link sausage, tattie scone, and ham (less the baked beans). Afterwards, the tea set posed for an impromptu still life.
Craigmillar Castle, Craigmillar, Scotland
After breakfast, we took a taxi to Craigmillar Castle, just to the south of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. This castle, which was constructed by the Prestons of Craigmillar in the early 15th century, was abandoned in 1775, but now stands as one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland.
Built at a time when nothing was easy, these castles are something to behold. They beg you to imagine yourself living in a very different age.
At one point while crawling around the castle, I thought I heard a child crying. But as I approached the chamber where the sound was coming from, it turned out to be … a pigeon. We were clearly infringing on their domain.
The Sheep Heid Inn, Duddingston Village, Scotland
From Craigmillar Castle, we walked about a mile to the 12th century village of Duddingston, where we had ‘tea’ at The Sheep Heid Inn (‘heid’ means ‘head’.). This place is said to be Scotland’s oldest surviving public house (‘pub’). The current structure dates to the 19th century, but it is said that an inn has stood on this spot since at least the 16th century. In 1580, King James VI presented the landlord of the inn with a decoration that consisted of an embellished ram’s head. What a thoughtful gift!
The Sheep Heid Inn is a very nice place, and our visit being the middle of the week, and the middle of the day, we pretty much had it to ourselves. The bartender told us that part of what made the place famous, was the ‘skittles‘ (bowling) alley that was out beyond the back patio. This form of skittles was the pub version of the original European lawn bowling game. But hey, it rains a lot in Scotland. Whadayagonnado, play skittles in the rain? And what if you get thirsty?
The Sheep Heid Inn was the perfect place for a spot of tea, and some unique photos.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
From the Sheep Heid Inn, we took a taxi to Edinburgh Castle. This castle is very impressive from the outside, but after seeing other castles in a more authentic, ruinous state, this one seemed a little too kept-up and commercialized on the inside.
From Edinburgh Castle, we went for a delicious lunch at Deacon’s House Cafe. The food was all fresh, including the ‘scone with cream and jam’. We finished at about 2:15 pm, and by that time, Patty and I had to head off to the station to catch our train to Glasgow.
Balmaha, Scotland (Bo & Peggy)
Glasgow, Scotland (Rich & Patty)
It was a short train ride, and after arriving in Glasgow, Patty and I checked in at the Millennium Hotel, which is right at the Queen Street train station.
Afterwards, we hung out at George Square, which is right in front of the hotel, before heading across the square to The Piper Bar for dinner. It being Wednesday night, The Piper Bar was holding a trivia contest that evening, and the unheralded yanks from Virginia actually won it in the first round! Unfortunately, we had to leave before we could sweep the remaining rounds, as it was getting near our bedtime, and we were hitting the WHW the next morning. We couldn’t have carried our winnings with us on the trail anyway. A case of Guinness wouldn’t travel well where we were going.