Commentary and pictures from our trip to the UK.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Off to Scotland! Aydon Castle, Hadrian's Wall, and the Scottish countryside

Today we left Newcastle, England for Edinburgh, Scotland. We’d planned a route that would take us along Hadrian’s Wall for a brief while. We hadn’t realized how much of the wall was gone. There certainly is no contiguous wall any longer. Frankly, though, I know so little about the wall that is may never have been a contiguous structure.

We searched for a while for that perfect view of the wall. You know, the one you see on post cards. In the middle of our search, we made a fortuitous wrong turn off of the B6318 roadway. (I’ve since mastered the roundabout.) As we searched for a place to turn around, we passed a sign for Aydon Castle that indicated it was open. We decided to take a look as any good tourist would.

Aydon Castle, perched on a promontory with steep sides leading down to a creek, was a fortified manor house. It would have been home to a regional lord in its heyday. The castle was fabulous, and it was a great introduction to the historic countryside touring that awaited us in Scotland.

The man from the English Heritage group manning the desk at Aydon Castle was very helpful with directions to a scenic portion of Hadrian’s Wall. I casually mentioned our disappointment at not being able to find the wall. He held up a post card of Hadrian’s Wall available in their shop, and said, “You’re looking for this?” I responded affirmatively, and he politely drew me a map. (The people here are amazing.)

He directed us to a place called Steele Rigg. I’m not sure of the historical significance of the place, but it sounded like there was some from what I overheard other tourists saying about it. There was a section of wall here that was fully intact, and it was set amongst hills like we’d never seen. After a picnic lunch in the magnificent scenery, we took turns climbing up an old stair case carved into the mountain to the top, where the wall and wall remnants were visible along the ridge line that now separates sheep from sheep rather than Picts and Anglo-Saxons from Romans.

Then, we got back in the car for the drive on to Edinburgh. During the remainder of the drive, we went through some great country. Parts were completely foreign, and other parts were eerily reminiscent of the landscape of the mountainous areas in North and South Carolina. My father’s Scotch-Irish family comes from this part of North Carolina, and it dawned on my why his ancestors would have felt at home there.

You can see pictures from our day here.


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