Our nine hour drive started upon icy roads, amidst swirling snow. Our route took us across country through Wales before hitting the motorway to take us North into Scotland. The going was easy enough so that we made good time. Still long enough that by the time of our arrival there was not much of the day left for taking in historic Edinburgh. We had come to Edinburgh with my parents to spend Christmas and Hogmanay with my sister before the next leg of our journey began to the far East.
As with London, Edinburgh was filled with festive spirit. The winter markets bustled with life. Low ceilinged pubs were warm and inviting. We strolled the cobbled lanes and closes and admired the castle upon its volcanic pedestal from both near and far.
We visited Queensferry along the banks of the Firth of Forth and Peebles further in land. Had tea with old ladies in a tiny coffee shop. Climbed more castle walls at Craigmillar. All as temperatures dipped as low as minus thirteen. That may not seem cold when considering the average Canadian winter. Combined with the famous damp, British, weather the chill seeped through our clothes and into our bodies with the feeling easily 10 degrees colder.
Christmas came and went with a flash until Hogmanay, the UK’s greatest street party, was upon us.
Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration to bring in the new year. It’s origins reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with wild parties in late December. All across Scotland there are a variety of Hogmanay festivities (read more here). For the really adventurous I would recommend the Loony Dook on the 1st January.
The street festivities did not begin until the evening so we took a short trip to Dunbar to pass the day. Dunbar has a working harbour, with lobster pots, thick ropes holding the boats to the land, and colourful nets lying in heaps along the docks.
That evening the wonderful Edinburgh bus service delivered us safely to Princess Street. The street itself is closed to traffic for the evening and gated for ticket holders only (get tickets and information for 2018 Hogmanay here). Stages adorn each end of the street as well as down below in in the gardens of the same name. A mass of people hummed and thrived along the road with a combined spirit that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Despite the fullness of the mass of seething bodies we moved around with ease until finding the perfect spot to await the countdown to midnight. At midnight fireworks exploded above the castle, smoke drifting through the air due to their frequency.
It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2010 and welcome 2011.
Check out our adventures before Scotland by clicking the links below:
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