I’m home now, but I have a couple posts left to catch up on the final days of my trip. Here we go!
We woke up early on Saturday and took the train north to Stonehaven. I had my heart set on a true Scottish country walk, along the coastal trail from Stonehaven to Dunottar Castle. Kj had been dissuaded from attempting this walk by several folks at St Andrews, so she was hesitant, but I was determined. We were both so glad that we went! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
We walked into town from the train station, which is about a mile, stopping along the way to pick up sandwiches at a deli. I found my hotel, or rather, my inn, and went to check in. It was so legit that there was no front desk and no manager etc — it was rooms above a pub, and you got the key from the bartender. The room wasn’t ready yet as it was a bit early, so we left our bags behind the bar, ate our sandwiches, and went walking.
We walked up a hill out of the village, then along a wide path through rolling wheat fields to a war memorial high on the hillside overlooking the sea. We took a short detour to see it, and there was a piper piping inside (unfortunately a sub-par piper, but he was making a solid effort and wearing the full outfit so props for that). It was a really lovely memorial, built to look unfinished and with a poem writ large around the inside, paraphrased here: “One by one death challenged them/one by one they looked into his grim visage/and refused to be dismayed.”
Then we continued along this beautiful rolling coastal path, with amazing views, all the way to Dunottar castle. It was a bit of a walk and washed out in a few places, but perfectly wonderful and absolutely worthwhile. I took about a million pictures but of course none of them capture the rugged majesty of the place. I LOVED IT.
We reached the castle (past another piper) and explored the ruins for awhile. It was really great but lacked a lot of explanatory information… I was left with a lot of questions. Specifically, I had lots of questions about how the bread oven worked, but that’s just me… Kj had some more cultured, intelligent questions to ponder 🙂
Then we trekked back to town and I checked in to my room, which was adorable! It had a four-poster bed with curtains, and a shower with buttons (!) and a switch outside the bathroom door warning guests that they had to flip a big red switch if they wanted a hot shower. Whaaaaaaaaat?! There wasn’t any explanation of exactly how far in advance one should flip this switch, either — that part was left up to the imagination.
I dropped off my bags and we went back into town to have dinner, after I led us on a mad dash around town hunting for an open souvenir shop (with minor success and many thanks to a very tired Kj for humoring me). Next we stopped off at a fish & chips place proclaiming itself as the ‘birthplace of the deep-fried Mars Bar,’ which Brendan had told me I should try but which I’d sort of thought he was joking about. Anyway, we tried it, and it was… totally delicious. It was only good while hot and melty, but yeah… it was GOOD. Then we found a pub and had a meal and a drink and played Evil Pineapple until it was time for Kj to go catch her train home.
After we parted ways I went back to the hotel and relaxed for a few minutes, then went for a walk on the beach at dusk. I found a present for Christina, who had requested a bone, through sheer force of will (by walking along the rocky beach in the almost-dark with my eyes shut, saying “I need a bone for Christina” until it was time to stop, then opening my eyes, looking down, and picking up a bone off the beach). Then I walked back and settled in for the night, as I had to be up early the next day to catch a train…