UK at Christmas! Good idea or not?
Hubby and I decided we would visit our family for a possible ‘white’ Christmas and have a holiday at the same time. Yes, it was winter. Yes, it was cold. But did we let this stop us from renting our car and driving 3,500 miles? Not at all.
We’d made our list and we’d checked it twice (Christmas pun intended 😊) of places we wanted to visit. Remembering that in the UK in winter, you have limited daylight hours 8am – 4pm.
We landed in Edinburgh, Scotland and checked into our accommodation, I’d highly recommend Braid Apartments by Mansley, well centered for walking, clean, tidy and a decent size, (don’t use if you have a rental car, there is no parking)
A visit to the Christmas market in Edinburgh was one of my highlights, bright, cheerful, Christmas tunes blaring and it was here I tried my
first ever Chimney Cake, it was delicious and very like a spongy donut in texture. We used the hop on hop off bus to get around the city, stopping off at The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. Chilly day, but the view was amazing.
After collecting our hire car from Waverley Station, we set off for the Highlands, where we had booked accommodation for a few nights at a beautiful B&B, Arden House in Kingussie, a lovely place, room was a good size and the owner was friendly, helpful and made the yummiest porridge. This was our base camp and from there we drove in different directions each day. Culloden was our first journey, where we experienced four seasons in a day, the sun broke through, the wind roared, and then the clouds rolled in and the rain came down, quickly followed by the snow which turned the Moor into a white landscape, this place was stunningly beautiful and slightly eerie in its silence.
Drove along Lochs, including, Lomond and Ness, and visited the remains of Urquhart Castle, after we listened to the tales of the battles fought within the thick stone walls.
Saw the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle as we made our way to the Isle of Skye and being fortunate enough to glimpse a herd of deer as they trotted across the fog-filled road on our way back to base.
The breathtaking views as we passed through Glencoe had us stopping for photos in the snow as the sun glistened on the hilly tussock, the beauty of it made leaving a little difficult, but we finally pulled ourselves away and wound our way out of Scotland and back to England to where our families awaited us.
The touring continued as we continued to tick off our bucket list places. We’d meant to visit Bath on previous trips to the UK but had never quite gotten there so this time we made sure of it. The Roman baths and the history surrounding them were well worth the journey.
A drive to Burgh Island to check out the hotel where Agatha Christie wrote at least two of her amazing murder mysteries. Burgh Island is a small island which gets cut off from the mainland at full tide but allows one to walk across the sandy beach at low tide to visit the café and take in the views.
For any Doc Martin fans, (or Fisherman’s Friends) the exquisite village of Port Izaac, where the program and movie was filmed is a must to visit. Port Izaac (or Portwenn as known in the program) is found just North of Cornwall and we were delighted to find the ‘school house’ from the program is in fact a pub/hotel/restaurant in which we stayed for a night. ‘Doc’s’ house has a ‘for rent’ sign in the window, so guessing it can be rented out when not filming. The pub is still a pub but the chemist where nosey Mrs Tishell lives is in real-life, a sweet shop. The scenery is stunning, although sadly the weather wasn’t kind on our visit, but still, we soaked up the atmosphere as well as the rain.
For something a little different, I purchased my hubby (for his birthday) a two-hour experience at the Devon Bird of Prey Centre. http://www.devonbirdofprey.co.uk/ where he was able to learn about the many birds that are housed there. Karen, the owner, shared her knowledge about the different birds; feeding and hunting habits and allowing her guests to ‘fly the birds’, having them landing on your gauntlet, up close and very personal. A must do experience for bird lovers and one my hubby will never forget, he’s still smiling.
So, Christmas in the UK? Sure, why not, it was cold, it was damp, it was night-time early but that’s one of the best bits, because early dark means one gets see the Christmas decorations/lights/trees lit up at a decent hour instead of having to wait till 10pm, as we do here in New Zealand, and hey, isn’t that what we love about Christmas time?