Our week at Barnsdale Lodge had come to an end, and it was time to head north. This was the longest drive we made in our month in the UK. Because of the time share set-up, our week at Loch Ard in Scotland started on a Saturday, the same day our week in Barnsdale finished. The only other option was to leave a whole week between the two bookings, which didn't really fit in with the time we were able to get away from work.
We made good time initially, driving up the A1 - not the M1, but still a very good road with sections of motorway, and no traffic jams. After a couple of hours or so we took a small diversion eastwards to visit York. Despite the gap between our maps - our large scale road map showed the main roads, the "Rough Guide" showed the city centre but neither really show the route to take through cities on the fringes - we managed to get near to where we wanted to be, and find a good parking place just outside the city centre, beside the River Ouse.
We crossed the river on foot and spent an hour or so looking around the region of York Minster.
Unlike other churches we visited, there was no "suggested donation". There was an out-and-out admission charge, and it wasn't included on our heritage pass - £5.50 to see inside the Minster, £7.50 for the Minster and tower or Minster and undercroft, or £9.50 for all three. By this time we had already spent time photographing the streets, Roman walls and outside of the Minster, and wouldn't have really had time for more than a quick look, so we decided it wasn't worth the price. Though if we could have spared a couple of hours, I would gladly have paid, especially as I gather the view from the top of the tower is the best view of the city. (In this photo, you can see some people walking along the edge of the roof, heading for the tower).
We did see a bit of the inside, as the ticket desk wasn't right at the door but about twenty feet or so inside:
Constantine was proclaimed Roman emperor near here in 306.
This artist was at work nearby:
Another way to view the city from above:
Not a cultural festival but a promotion for a local store opening. Didn't he pose nicely for me?
And here is a section of the city wall, just near where we crossed the river:
We headed back to the car and the motorway and continued north. I had studied the map and picked out two possible routes: a coastal route via East Lothian and Edinburgh, or a route up through the Scottish borders - Jedburgh etc - on the A68, which looked slightly shorter and more scenic. Always suspect "more scenic". After a short time on the A68, climbing and winding, it was clear that it was going to be a much slower road and that P wasn't happy. So I studied the map some more, not wanting to turn back as we had already gone too far for that, and realised that we could turn east again on the A69 and pick up the coastal route further north, near Newcastle on Tyne. We lost a little time (but saw some great upland scenery), but started making good time again.
We drove and drove ... the border between England and Scotland slopes diagonally to the northeast, so that it is a lot further north on the east coast than on the west ... but eventually we came to flags by the roadside, and a sign that proclaimed "Welcome to Scotland".
And then we drove some more .... took the bypass round Edinburgh ... and reached Stirling, where we stopped for petrol and supplies at the supermarket. And heard people speaking in wonderful Scottish accents all around, confirming that yes, the Scots really do say "aye" and "didnae".
By now it was dark, and raining. After two wonderfully sunny weeks in England, it had started raining sometime late in the afternoon, near Edinburgh. On the map it didn't look much further to our timeshare, but we were unfamiliar with the road, and it was narrow, dark and wet. At one point a deer bounded across the road in front of us. And then something small hopped in the headlights, and another, and another - frogs all over the road.
We passed through a couple of small villages and located our splendidly tartaned timeshare on the shores of Loch Ard, past the tourist village of Aberfoyle. And once again, ate dinner and got to bed rather late.