Gandalf the VW is parked up on the C&MC Club site on the south side of Edinburgh, having had a good run up from Grassington Club site (Wharfedale) this morning.
We made a stop Tebay services on the M6 just before the Scotland border- this (somehow, despite many recommendations to stop here over the years) was our first stop ever here. Lets just say it was a very expensive but jolly tasty Loo stop! And forever more our journeys north will factor in this very wonderful Services/Farm shop/deli. We stocked up with meats, sausages, beers, cider and even some Scottish Tablet, pasties and sausage rolls for lunch. And enjoyed the sight of the winter wonderland that surrounded the M6.
On arrival at Edinburgh Club site, we had a very quick set up – less than 10 mins- amazing how much quicker when we aren’t faffing with the awning etc, before whisking Jazz out for a mile loop before the sun set. The site is very close to the Firth of Forth and we could have walked for miles along the wide promenade taking in views of Crammond Island and enjoying the beach area too. But it got dark!
We settled in for an evening in Gandalf, I cooked up a Spag Bol and we enjoyed a few drinks together and a read of our books. The facilities on site were, as always with the Club site network, clean, predictable and good. Heated shower blocks and endless hot water supply are just lovely for mid winter camping – especially when you’ve not had any at home for a while. Perhaps the facilities at Edinburgh were touch dated, but they were clean and worked and thats all that bothered us!
Wednesday arrived after a very peaceful night on site, and was a glorious winters day. Hurrah! Cold yes, but absolutely stunning clear blue skies and wonderful winter light. We had pre arranged a cab from the site as we were taking Jazz to doggy day care- aka Cousin Simon in Leith. However for your reference, there is a very handy mini bus service from the site to the city centre, dog friendly and just £3 pp. This is ideal as the bus stop is a bit of a walk down an unlit road (although there is pavement). It runs from 09.30 to midday into the city and from 4-6pm back to the site from the city. We however used Central Taxis for the entirety of our stay as we were needing to go off the beaten track and returning to site later than the minibus. They are totally dog friendly- just mention when you ring and they will send, very promptly, a dog friendly car to wherever you are.
So, after settling Jazz – who was about to get incredibly spoilt!- into the window seat at Simon’s pad overlooking Leith Links, Keith and I did a very brisk walk from Leith to Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Two)- the main reason we were in Edinburgh at all.
We had tickets for the Ray Harryhausen exhibition. Ray Harryhausen was an American animator and special effects creator who created a form of stop motion model animation known as “Dynamation”. His work involved making the latex moving models for many films such as Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans and many many more. Harryhausen left his collection, which includes all of his film-related artifacts, to the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, which he set up in 1986 to look after his extensive collection, to protect his name and to further the art of model stop-motion animation. This collection was being exhibited in Edinburgh to celebrate the centenary anniversary of his birth this year- but it is only on until the end of February.
Keith being a massive film fan, but also a huge admirer of Harryhausen’s work, was beyond excited at the prospect of this visit.
To say that the exhibition delivered all he hoped it would and more is a huge understatement. It was excellent, but especially for Keith who has enjoyed, and been inspired by these films for his entire life.
We spent a good two hours or so enjoying the models on display, before nipping back to Leith to collect Jazz, and making our way into Leith for lunch. Leith and Edinburgh are exceptionally dog friendly. There was only one place in our entire stay that said no dogs allowed, and so we had plenty of choice to wine and dine ourselves with our furry friend. We used this website and looked out for the stickers on windows Another good resource for Dog Friendly Edinburgh
We enjoyed lunch at Teuchters Landing, a really cool Scottish whiskey and Gin bar with a roaring fire and overlooking the river. Their food was delicious and we liked it so much we went back for breakfast the next day! (dog friendly only until 6pm)
From here we were suitably stuffed, so we decided to walk again up from Leith into Edinburgh along the Water O Leith pathway, part river path and part disused railway path. It took us all the way to Waveney station right in the heart of the city and was lovely (2.5 miles from Leith but the path runs for 12 miles in total and is all traffic free)
We then spent the remainder of the afternoon mooching about and enjoying some drinks and more food at Holyrood 9A, another exceptionally dog friendly bar that bring dogs out treats on a silver platter!
Thursday dawned not quite so bright and crisp, more damp and dismal, but it wasn’t going to stop us. Our cab took us to Leith to drop Jazz again, but not before a humongous breakfast at Teichter’s Landing and a breakfast cocktail.
We dropped Jazz and then made our way to Holyrood Palace, the official royal residence for when the senior Royals are in the Capital city (which actually tends only to be for a week in July.) Situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile and beneath Arthur’s Seat, remnants of a former volcano, Holyrood dates back to the 16th Century and was even home to Mary Queen of Scots.
We visited all of the state rooms which were brilliant to see, and the historic apartments where Mary Queen of Scots resided too. Before the Palace was built there stood an Abby, the remains of which are now engrossed into the wing of the Palace.
We really REALLY enjoyed our self guided tour, taking the processional route in and especially seeing the Royal Dining room, the state rooms, Queen Victoria’s Tarten dress dating from the late 1800s, and even jewels that belonged to Mary Queen of Scots.
We can’t believe we haven’t visited before. It really is a great place to see.
From here, we made our way back to pick up Jazz who once again had been spoilt and pampered with lovely Simon, and then walked back into the city centre via the Royal Mile. We had a few drinks in the historic pubs, full of atmosphere, and abnormally quiet; we really felt for the businesses up here, tighter restrictions but not tight enough to close and therefore get financial help, were definitely emptier than any time we’ve ever been before.
At the top of the mile we took pictures of the Castle – usually when we visit in August the area is taken over by tattoo seating. My gosh it was bitterly cold up there though!
Dinner was at The last drop, on Grassmarket, a favourite area of ours, and we both enjoyed haggis of course along with Crofters Pie and Cullen skink before making our way back to Gandalf at a respectable hour in preparation for our journey back home and a bump back to reality in the morning to sort our heating and hot water at home out!
We made the journey in home in a record 6 hours 50 mins – leaving the site at 8am and pulling onto our drive at 3pm, with just one very brief 5 minute leg stretch south of Grantham.
The heating is still not fixed nor is the hot water but our guy now has discovered the problem so its on its way to being fixed which is good.
We’d had a brilliant time away and absolutely no regrets in abandoning the house last weekend whatsoever! We highly highly recommend visiting the Ray Harryhausen exhibition if you can, they say its not going to be touring anywhere else in the UK and this is a rare trip out for the memorabilia.
We’ve got a couple of weekends at home now but we are looking forward to lots of camping that is arranged for February onwards.
Until Next Time