Adventures in Edinburgh

Thursday

Gandalf the VW has today crossed the Scottish border for the first time in our ownership. We love travelling to Scotland and always look forward to our annual pilgrimage “ooop north”.

Our first stop , and home for the next three nights is Mortonhall Caravan park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, a city which draws us in time and time again.

Following our three nights off grid in Whitby this site seems huge in comparison! We last stayed here 10 years ago and it looks like not much has changed apart from perhaps growing in size and now including glamping options such as shepherds huts etc. It’s a great location for visiting Edinburgh and beyond, but pricey at £35 pn. Having said that our pitch (although not all pitches) is large and fairly private, and we made full use of the hot showers and washing up block today! Endless hot water always is a treat after a few days of using the kettle for showers!

Our journey here was really smooth, helped by the decent weather which again wasn’t forecasted. Taking the A19 as far as Morpeth really cut out the nastiness of the A1 around Newcastle. We even went in the Tyne Tunnel, £1.90 and a first for us!

We stopped for provisions at Asda at Dunbar , confidently located directly on the A1, and our final stop was at a farm Shop at the gates of our campsite; Edinburgh Farm Shop situated in Mortonhall Garden Centre. The farm shop was well stocked and the owner was so knowledgeable about his local cheeses and meats. We stocked up before checking onto our pitch and setting up camp.

Tonight’s dinner was a delicious BBQ, which included the best sausages I’ve ever tasted, a pork and haggis sausage and buffalo beef burgers served with local potatoes and roasted courgettes and tomatoes. We had an after dinner cheese board, courtesy of Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain. These cheeses were exceptional!

We have a feeling it won’t be the quietist of sites here, there’s already been a fair amount of walking across our pitch and we can hear noise and ball games despite it being 9.35pm we shall see! However we are thrilled to be back in Scotland sampling her finest culinary delights.

Friday

Well last night wasn’t the quietist of nights, up until 11pm there was a constant hum of chitter chatter, kids screaming and balls being kicked. We had a number of pitch invaders too- one who got the sharp end of my tongue as they nearly demolished our sun canopy, almost tripping over our guy lines as they ran through across our pitch.

Having said that, it did quieten down after 11 and remained quiet until gone 07:30 this morning, so we did end up getting a decent nights sleep.

We enjoyed a cooked breakfast on the cadac before jumping on the bikes. Today’s plan was to see some hidden Edinburgh gems. We come to Edinburgh quite frequently as Keith’s cousin lives here, but this weekend he’s away cycling around the Hebrides so we’re on our own. This is the first time we’ve had bikes with us so we decided to cycle from Mortonhall to the Royal Observatory to enjoy the fine view over Edinburgh, before picking up the John Muir way, a 192 long distance path that runs from Falkirk to Berwick and through Edinburgh.

The first highlight of the trail for us was the tunnel which runs underneath Holyrood Park; the Innocent Railwaiy tunnel. The Innocent line, was a horse-drawn railway line connecting St Leonard’s and Dalkeith. Completed in 1831, it was Edinburgh’s debut railway, and its tunnel is one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. We really enjoyed our cycle through this!

Next up, the John Muir way exits Edinburgh through the subhurds, on a decent off road path skirting below Arthur’s Seat and out towards Musselburgh. We particularly enjoyed the section alongside Bruntstane Burn.

At Musselburgh, and it’s picturesque harbour, the JMW follows the sea all the way to Prestonpans.

It’s really beautiful and we saw seals along the seafront and beach. The weather was holding off – we’d had some drizzle as we left the Royal Observatory, and it had become a pleasant day.

We continued into Prestonpans, really enjoying the views and the smells of the sea, and paused for a refreshment stop at the Goths at Prestonpans. We shared a 2 course set lunch (we only really wanted a snack) but our haggis Bon bons and grilled local haddock was absolutely stunning- and a steal at just £10.95.

By this point we’d clocked up 15 miles from the campsite (10 from the centre of Edinburgh) so we turned back and retraced our steps until Musselburgh where we then broke away from the John Muir Way and followed quiet B roads back to Mortonhall Campsite. What a cracking day!

(Our route today in purple)

We stopped for a drink at the (almost) on-site Stables Bar which was really very nice and not like a clubhouse at all, before settling in for the evening on site.

You can tell it’s a Friday – lots of new arrivals today, the site is HEAVING. More people brings more noise, and therefore we would NOT recommend this site to anyone who wants some peace and quiet. It’s quite a contrast to where we stayed at the beginning of this trip and I’m itching to return to the tranquility of our beloved CLs (luckily the rest of the trip is made up of solely CLs!)! I’ve never heard a campsite so noisy – Keefy thinks some of the European sites were like this and perhaps he’s right but for UK campsites, this hands down is the most noisiest. Location however is excellent!

Here’s to hopefully silence at 11pm 🤞

Saturday

Saturday dawned damp and drizzly so we enjoyed a lie in, not getting out of bed til gone 10am. The campsite did quieten down around midnight last night but if you’re after peace this one perhaps isn’t for you!

We had a light breakfast before boarding the number 11 bus to Edinburgh City: conveniently situated right outside the gate to the campsite.

The location of Mortonhall campsite really is exceptional- 45 mins later and just £1.90pp each lighter (and dogs free!) we were disembarking in Edinburgh City centre. We’ve been to Edinburgh many times before, in fact I lived here for a month back in 2007 when I came up to play for a fringe show and Keith’s cousin lives here (although he’s currently cycling around the Hebrides) so today wasn’t really a tourist day as we’ve done most of the attractions this wonderful city has to offer. We did however enjoy a walk up Calton Hill for a lovely view of the city, and we also witnessed the daily 1pm canon fire from the castle (purely by fluke might I add!) – a historic event which happens daily to allow the sailors at Leith to synchronise their watches.

We took a leisurely walk to the bottom of the Royal Mile (cannon gate) and enjoyed a beer at Kilderkin and haggis neeps and tattles, which whilst being delicious had to be sent back because they were atone cold in the middle… twice!

We then had a drink at Holyrood 9c which has to be the most dog friendly place we’ve ever been- Jazz even got treats brought out on a silver platter!

We enjoyed a walk up the Mile, although it was much quieter than normal. The Fringe festival will run this year but doesn’t start til next week. The tattoo is cancelled. We felt it was much quieter than this time last summer which surprised us both.

We just love the architecture in central Edinburgh, and our favourite area is around the Grassmarket area in Old Town.

It was around here where we had a very strange experience this afternoon.

We were sat in Bow Bar, a pub in the old town that we’d picked because of its sheer dog friendly ness. Not long after we got our drinks, Jazz had a really funny turn. He usually is absolutely happy as Larry in pubs and will sit for hours either watching the world go by or sleeping under the table. But this afternoon, in this specific pub, he suddenly shot out of the way of the table and then started shaking extremely aggressively and uncontrollably. It was terrifying and no matter what we did to try to calm him he would not stop and kept trying to pull out of the bar.

We both started to panic, worrying he’s been poisoned or something awful, so left drinks and got the heck out of there. As soon as we got outside and off West Row, he calmed down and returned to normal. We were obviously relieved but decided to monitor him so sat elsewhere for sometime and he was absolutely fine. Something had clearly spooked him. A few hours later we were still trying to make sense of it and we learnt that West Row and that specific area that the bar was was once home to Major Tom Wier who was executed there for bestiality. Neither of us are sure what we make if that to be honest but it gave us goosebumps- even more so when hours later Jazz refused to walk back up West Row! Strange or what?!

Despite our strange turn of events we enjoyed our day pottering around Greenmarket – it’s always great to be in Edinburgh and we always like a city break when we can.

We caught the bus back from Princes street around 8pm and spent the rest of the night chilling. Happy to report Jazz is absolutely fine still.

Tomorrow it’s time to move on up north again! We’re always a bit sad to leave Edinburgh l, and whilst this campsite isn’t my favourite of our trips, the location is just superb, so if you are looking for a cheap way to enjoy a city break this is really a very convenient place to stay. Just bring ear plugs in the school holidays!

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