From the Borders to Loch Ness
January has been a mixed bag of weather that has alternated between the extremes of wet and dull rainy days to bright and crisp sunny days! The wet and rainy days have been in the majority, but this weekend the elements were in our favour so we headed across country to the Borders and Berwickshire coast to do some fine tuning of tour routes.
I lived in Kelso for 9 months several years ago and spent most of my weekends cycling or driving around the country roads. One thing that always struck me about the Borders was just how many great driving roads there are in this corner of Scotland. Driving fast also seems to be a recreational activity in the Borders and this might explain why this region is home to 2 of Scotland's most famous Grand Prix drivers; Jim Clark from Duns and David Coulthard from Twynholm.
The enthusiasm for driving fast also appears to have been noticed by the authorities and there is an amazing number of speed cameras on the road between Edinburgh and Jedburgh. Fortunately we weren't interested in speeding as we were, as always, on the lookout for little side roads to explore.
Being January, they weren't many tourist attractions open for visitors. However, we did take the opportunity to nip into Jedburgh Abbey so that we could take some new pictures of the building in brilliant sunshine and without any other visitors getting in the way of the camera angles. I also took a short video clip to try to demonstrate just how narrow the spiral staircases are. The noise in the background is not me out of breath, its the sound of my shoulders rubbing against the stones walls!!!
You can't accuse us of being lazy at Secret Scotland. On the first day of the New Year we managed to visit one of the few, if not only, tourist attractions that is open in Scotland on New Year's Day!
I must admit that it came as a surprise to us to find that Castle Urquhart was open on the 1st January. Even more surprising was the number of visitors at the castle.
If you have read our information sheet on Urquhart Castle you will know that we don't rate this attraction as good value for money. In fact we suggest that you save the cost of the £12 entry fee and just take a picture from the road above the castle. However, there was not a lot else to do on New Year's day and we have our Historic Scotland membership cards so entry was free.
We have to admit that the filmshow at the visitor centre is very well done and the castle does have a great photogenic location on Loch Ness. Despite these plus points, we still think that you would feel disappointed after paying £12 to see the few ruined remains of the castle. To try to show you what we mean, we have added a video clip taken from the top of the castles main tower.