Scottish National Trail: Edinburgh all the way North to Cape Wrath (day 1)

So, the recovery time past the Elbe paddle is up and two big parties are digested. Now it’s time to get back outdoors to hike the Scottish National Trail from Edinburgh all the way North to Cape Wrath, the northernmost point on the british mainland. In total 750km of fascinating countryside, villages and people lie ahead (as well as rain, wind, sore feet…).

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Slateford – Ratho – Broxburn

Today: 20km | Total: 20km

The first day started only about 3pm. First we had to travel back to Edinburgh from Dunkeld, had a publunch before we finally got going in Edinburgh suburb of Slateford. We had no specific destination in mind for today – one of the positives of carrying camping gear.

 

The Scottish National Trail is an 864 kilometre-long long distance walking route running the length of Scotland from Kirk Yetholm to Cape Wrath. Devised by outdoors writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish in 2012, the Trail offers very varied walking, following long-established footpaths for much of the distance but becoming progressively more difficult as it heads north, finishing with a tough stretch of backpacking – with some pathless and demanding terrain – on the final stretch of the Cape Wrath Trail.

All in, we managed 20km along the Union canal who will be literally on our side for at least two days. Our first major stop was at the pretty village of Ratho with its iconic The Bridge pub and nice residential developments around a small marina. From there further to Broxburn.

 

Obviously, it had to rain on the first day. Welcome to Scotland! Laura’s jacket was not quite up to the job. The rest of the gear was ok though (well, the new boots still need a little more breaking in).

Laura’s comment (day 1)

Otra aventura con Rocket ha comenzado. Las espectativas del viaje son muchas, aún conociendo las condiciones de los diferentes lugares y el común clima de Escocia, tengo la certeza que será un GRAN tiempo en este maravilloso país. 👧🏻

 

One highlight for me came late in the day, as we fixed our empty stomachs with dinner at a Broxburn burger place (one of the traditional ones). I tried fried Haggis… And i loved it. Defo gonna get some more of that stuff while up here. Not sure why i waited that long to try it.

Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, minced onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”.

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Wonderful wedding in Dunkeld

So it is official now, Jen & Sean are married. And what a party it was! So let me extend my gratitude for the invitation and wish the newly weds 👰 🤵 all the happiness in the world. But then, knowing both of them for some time now… I am not worried a bit!

After the warm up celebrations 🎉 in Edinburgh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (Edinburgh: Beauty. Tales. Art. Friends.Friends.) we took the 2h bus trip over to Dunkeld & Birnham. What a lovely little town pretty much right at the border between highlands and lowlands. It also hosts the world haggis eating championships as part of the highland games (current champion ate 1lb of Haggis in 70 seconds in Aug-17). We had only about 3h to get ready for the pick-up. Technically not a problem, but then make up needed sorting for Laura (the first time i’d see her with make up beyond a 💄 🤣).

Given limited options in town, i had booked her in at Dunkeld House Hotel. The walk over takes 20mins and ia pretty scenic. In particular the Dunkeld Cathedral. At the hotel i bumped into seemingly half the wedding party including the groom (his outfit at the time really didn’t give anything about the upcoming wedding away 👕 👟 👖), best man Fred and Reda as well as some of the stag weekend folks (Ibiza: Friends & Burglars ).

Back in our lovely B&B, i found out that the guys at the dry cleaner had kept my bow tie. A nightmare with 20mins to pick up time. Thankfully our host Kate suggested to check the local charity shop – BINGO! Outfit sorted. Laura looking stunning in her blue dress. Off we go…

The wedding took place at the lovely Murthly Castle. Beautiful gardens and an amazing chapel where Sean’s 🇺🇸 cousin held the ceremony in english and french. Most people were on time apart from a certain group from 🇱🇧 😋.

And the rest is history. Loads of chatting, drinking, dancing, Scottish food (excellent salmon), funny videos and even fireworks 🎇. Great party.

Many people stayed on for a brunch on Sunday, but sadly we had to be off for our hiking adventure to the most Northern point of Scotland. But that is a story for another day.