Tuesday 28 May 2024

Gretna Green to Edinburgh

 May 27th. Wet and chilly.

Crumpets and marmalade for breakfast and a leisurely start as The Halston has 11am check out.   We drove the short distance to Gretna Green.  Little Sister hadn’t heard of it, she obviously doesn’t read the Edwardian Romances I do!   

Just over the border into Scotland it is famous as the place where couples forbidden from marrying by family or circumstances by Lord Hardwicke’s 1754 Marriage Act, fled across the border to be married by the blacksmith at Gretna Green.   At the time in Scotland, marriage still only required a consenting couple and two witnesses to be valid.   In  1885 Hugh Mackie bought the farm on which the original Gretna Green Blacksmith’s forge stood and currently the fifth generation of the family run a highly successful commercial operation.   Today at 12 noon a wedding was to take place so the charming Scottish lassie at the ticket counter told us. The huge statue of the two hands is a modern addition symbolising the old custom of handfasting at which sometimes a cord was wound around the hands and tied - from which derives our phrase “tying the knot”.  

A lone piper mournfully serenaded us with his trusty donation box well hidden until he’d finished.   

The visitor experience was very well done with informative boards and video clips.   One large video screen told the story of the original blacksmith and of how Gretna Green symbolises Love and Romance.   Looking at the average age of the visitors today, for most of us this would have had historical significance!

We had a scone and tea in the Foodhall - well set up to provide meals for the coachloads of people who visit.   

Fortified, we reprogrammed Lady Satnav and set off on the A74(M).  I fully expected to follow this to Abington and then turn west onto the Western Approach road for Edinburgh.  But just south of Moffat, Lady Satnav turned us off onto the Edinburgh Scenic Route.  Sometimes she seems to know what we need more than we do!!   

Moffat was a quaint busy town.  Even on Bank Holiday the town centre was filled with cars and people and most shops were open.

We drove through into beautiful scenic vistas of the Southern Uplands.   I wish I could remember all the names of the villages and hamlets we passed through.  We saw the source of the river Tweed.   One was, Devil’s Beeftub.   We saw one sign for The Knowe and a Blthye Bridge and a Romanno Bridge.  When we got to Penicuik we rejoined a normal road and drew closer to Edinburgh.   

Our apartment is in the very centre close to The Castle and Lady Satnav told us it was a “restricted driving area”.  I grew more and more anxious as we drew closer but my unflappably competent driver navigated us to a building marked with a large blue P and we found a car park around 5 minutes walk from our accommodation.   At number 18 Canning Street we entered the numbers into the Dropbox, picked up the envelope from another locked box and went next door to number 16.  I thought very unchristian thoughts when I saw the 15 steps straight up from the front door.   

Then we had to unlock the door to the actual apartment.  And guess what there were yet more steps.  16 wooden steps curving up to two double bed rooms and a spacious bathroom.   And a view of the roofs next door.  I feel as if we are almost at cloud level!

We have decided that our suitcases can stay in the lounge dining area and we will operate from there for four nights.  Neither of us have enough oomph left today.

However we needed to go out for provisions so Mrs Google Maps led us to the foot of Edinburgh Castle where Little Sister found The Red Squirrel.  I still haven’t seen any of these elusive creatures yet.  This may be the only one of any colour I see but frankly today I am too tired to care.   

Mrs Google Maps was less successful in guiding us home and both Little Sister and I were at the stage of not knowing our right from our left.  With a stop to buy a postcard and breakfast provisions we eventually managed to get to the car park, collect our suitcases and now we are sitting on comfortable leather sofas with a welcome cup of tea and an oatcake.


Frugally challenged said...

Make the most of that red squirrel - you will be VERY lucky of you see a real live one!

Binding hands is part of the Anglican marriage ceremony as well.

Clare-Aimetu said...

A lovely journey, Moffat is a great place, we stayed overnight there once and the drive to Edinburgh is very scenic. You'll have a great time exploring Scotland's capital but pace yourselves as it's very hilly.

jocondine said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful travel. Love all the pictures you took.xxx