Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and its second largest city in the United Kingdom. Our time in Edinburgh was short, but we had a chance to walk part of the Royal Mile (the main street through town) and see the castle.
That night we stayed at the Scottish Youth Hostel New Lanark, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. http://www.syha.org.uk/hostels-in-scotland/lowlands/new-lanark.aspx
Their website states “Chester is arguably the richest city in Britain for archaeological and architectural treasures preserved to this day from the time of the Roman occupation.” We had an hour or so to walk around this lovely town.
We went out looking for The Lock Ness Monster (Nessie) on the Lock Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, but sadly did not find him or her. But it was still a great boat ride and we got to see the ruins of Urquhart Castle (constructed in 1200s).
After the Lock, we went to see a shepherd with his sheep and sheepdogs.
There is only one place to buy jewelry made from the heather plant and that is from the Heathergems Factory in Pitlockry, Perthshire, Scotland, UK. The making of the gems is a cool process. First the roots of the heather plant are gathered and cleaned, then they are cut and dyed different colors from local, natural dyes and then they are bound tightly. Over time they roots compressed into a single multicolored piece which can then be cut and shaped like stone. Once shaped, the gem is shellacked and mounted for jewelry.
I’ve always pictured myself as the type of person who would be happy going from hostel to hostel and traveling the world. And I’m pleased to say that the two hostels I stayed in met my expectations. The three women leaders stayed together in one room, which is just fine since we got along so well. The hostel had several common rooms where visitors could talk, play games, read, watch tv, etc. and a large dining area. I visited with one woman who was hiking with several of her girl friends, staying in hostels along the way. One of their husbands was following in the car with all their luggage 😀 These ladies were in their 60s, so hostels aren’t limited to youth anymore.
To see more about this hostel, go here http://www.syha.org.uk/hostels-in-scotland/highlands/pitlochry.aspx
During the evening we went to see a Scotsman who demonstrated putting on a kilt and showed traditional Scots weapons.
Our local guide described the Cheddar Gorge is England’s Grand Canyon, only smaller. It was a very pretty area and village, but the caves were the highlight! Back in the day Cheddar Cheese was stored in the caves as can be seen in the photo. The caves were discovered in 1837. More about the area can be found here http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/
We I learned that we were visiting the Roman Baths, I initially pictured ruins in the countryside. But the opposite is true. The Baths are restored for the most part and situated in the middle of a vibrant city, Bath.
For more information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Baths_%28Bath%29