Facing the music

The United Kingdom is quite serious about diesel pollution. They are clamping down on population centers like London and, of immediate concern, Edinburgh. Escape Velocity is a 2009 Fiat Ducato-based chassis with a relatively clean burning class 4 diesel engine which, it turns out, precludes us entering many populated cities. It takes a minimum of a class 6 or better to get into Edinburgh proper but as luck would have it, we just found out the draconian exclusion hasn’t started yet. As a further hassle the more you travel south in the UK the fewer park-ups can be found, especially near cities, but we have a secret weapon, Marce the bloodhound. We decided to face the music and dance.

We rarely use a campground. All we need is a lot to park in and transportation into our city of interest. She found all of that for £2 a night at a park-and-ride, just two train stops outside of Edinburgh. No clue if that will be within the exclusion zone when they do in fact clamp down and we’ve been led to believe that the maps and signage are less than perfect elsewhere and it’s easy to inadvertently wander into an exclusion zone with a hefty ticket featuring a photo of your vehicle showing up in your morning Royal Mail. This country is blanketed with CCTV cameras and there are no less than 12 in our park-and-ride lot.

The ride part of the park is adjacent to our lot so it would be hard to be more convenient and it’s a cold but sunny day so we’re off to see Edinburgh. Train tickets are purchased online and within minutes we were disgorged at Edinburgh’s massive bewildering train station in the center of town. Ramping up to street level the first thing we saw was this.

It’s a memorial to Sir Walter Scott and for £8 pounds they’ll let you climb the 287 steps to the top. It’s that kind of town but as a consolation prize members of Historic Scotland get into Edinburgh Castle for free. Care to make a guess what we’re doing?

The Scots had every reason to be paranoid, what with nearly every castle changing hands typically about every ten years or so, but if there was a huge bulging volcanic plug in the vicinity they built a castle on it, which you’ve got to think ought to help with the defense of the place. Consequently you can imagine that to see Edinburgh Castle you’re going to have a wee climb. Sure enough, at the end of the bridge over the station you turn to the right and immediately start to climb. It does nothing but get steeper from there.

A short pause to replace what little oxygen I have left for the climb.

It takes a while but eventually you start to get a peek-a-boo view of the beginnings of the castle as the charming, but steep, street turns into castle instead of street buildings.

Of course, on your approach you have to negotiate a large, let’s agree to call it an arrival area filled with thrill seekers, photographers, YouTubers, fashion posers, ticket buyers, and at least two castle buffs in the mood for ice cream, balloons, and children crying over dropped ice cream cones.

We haven’t faced this much chaos since Kathmandu.

Heading through the ancient gates by necessity, it’s slightly less crowded.

Kitted-out with audio tour headphones we started climbing again.

I can’t remember ever being in a place so grand.

Correct to a T, even the paving blocks are perfectly laid.

The views are magnificent, all the better to see those trying to sneak up on you.

Mons Meg, smasher of great walls
The crush of tourists waiting for the one o’clock cannon.

We decided to walk back down into town via the Royal Mile, dodging the crowds and pipe blowing buskers, to share a pint with our friend at a very fancy old pub on Princes street.

Apple pay, credit cards, cash, it’s all good

It took a while, mostly due to whimsical signage, to find the correct track to get back to our parking lot but find it we did.


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4 Responses to Facing the music

  1. Thank You for sharing the travels of your adventure. Beautiful pics. I love castles. Sadly, only in books and documentaries. How did people perfect that architecture hundreds of years ago. Perfection. Like the arrow lining up the cannon. What a climb!

  2. Wess Smith

    I once asked a docent in the Edinburgh castle what was the most unusual question that tourists ask and he said he is often asked “ what time do they fire the one o’clock cannon “

  3. Craig and Mary from Galileo

    We are coming to Edinburgh next summer, already scheduled. Your pics are great and just make me want to go this year rather than next!

  4. Cynthia S Balfour

    Looks like a winning tour

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