June 29, 2016

Coire Lagan, Isle of Skye

If the Quiraing is the hike that brought me to Scotland, Coire Lagan might be the hike that brings me back.  Hey!  I can always dream, right?  But seriously, I do feel like I have unfinished business in Scotland.  We never climbed any Munros, after all.  [A Munro is a mountain in Scotland that is over 3,000 feet high; hiking all 282 of them is a challenge hikers pursue much like the Adirondack 46ers, New Hampshire 48, or Colorado 14ers.]  And we didn't get to climb North Berwick Law, which we'd planned as a day trip from Edinburgh via train, because service on that line was canceled due to a ScotRail strike. 

June 28, 2016

Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye

After the "big" Quiraing hike yesterday, we wanted today's activities to be a little easier, to let Frankie rest up for another big adventure later in the week.  We decided on the short hike to Talisker Bay, followed by lunch at The Old Inn in Carbost and a quick stop at the Talisker distillery, where I picked up a wee bottle to help sleep through the Highland nights, which have just a few hours of darkness this time of year.  Then we hopped in the car and drove to Dunvegan, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the castle and gardens.

June 27, 2016

Quiraing Circuit, Isle of Skye

This hike is the reason we came to Scotland.  No joke!  Our trips are often inspired by some insignificant detail that leads down a rabbit hole of investigation and obsession.  For example, Erwin and I traveled to St. John's many years ago after I saw a job listing for a biological science technician position with the Park Service, but couldn't apply because it required scuba certification.  At the time, I had the same job title working for the Forest Service.  I knew nothing of St. John, but was very interested in what I read as I burrowed away.  A Caribbean island not dominated by golf and casinos?  What?  Similarly, our trip to Ireland was spurred by some rare plant surveys I did for Hart's-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum).  While doing background research, I discovered that another variety of this federally threatened species is common in Ireland; once I read about the Burren, there was no turning back.  My Quiraing fascination grew along those lines. 

June 21, 2016

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

When we travel, we always book our flights, lodging, and car rentals in advance, of course, but we don't schedule the day-to-day adventures.  Erwin uses Google Earth to pin sites of interest in the vicinity of where we are staying.  That way we have information easily accessible about place we want to see, but can fine-tune our days based on weather, energy levels, and new information we may acquire on-site.  We always have more sites pinned than we could possibly visit, so have to prioritize somewhat.  For Edinburgh, our number one attraction was Arthur's Seat.  That doesn't mean we hiked it the first day; rather we watched the weather forecast, looking for the best possible day.  After a few days in Edinburgh it became clear that the forecasts were somewhat meaningless, and it would likely rain, at least a little bit, every single day. 

June 19, 2016

Water of Leith Walkway: Roseburn to Royal Botanic Garden

The Water of Leith is the largest river in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The Walkway is a footpath that follows along the banks for about 12 miles from Balerno to Leith, where the river drains into the Firth of Forth.  We hiked the portion between Roseburn and the Royal Botanic Garden, about three miles.  To focus our time and energy on the Walkway, we took a short cab ride from our Grassmarket apartment to the intersection of Roseburn Cliff and Roseburn Terrace.  The trail is clearly marked, and descends from Roseburn Cliff to the river via a long staircase.