Some of you many know that Stephen and I both have a huge soft spot for Scotland. We’ve already taken two big road trips up there, so we keep telling ourselves that we need to explore different places… but it just keeps calling us back, and we couldn’t help returning once more. This time for our first winter trip there, which also happened to be during a rather big event- Hogmanay!
After a very busy Christmas at home, we excitedly set off with the caravan in tow. It had been almost two months since our last outing (which is a very long time for us!) so we couldn’t wait to get going.
We briefly stopped in Oxfordshire for one night, before heading up to Durham Grange Caravan and Motorhome Club site where the adventure began. Being just off the A1 it makes a great place to stop en route to the north, but that wasn’t the only reason we stopped there. Since before we even got our caravan we’ve wanted to visit the Angel Of The North, and the campsite happens to be just a 10 minute drive away!
After a quick setup on site we headed out in the direction of the Angel, just as the sun began to set. As we arrived she stood 20 metres tall (that’s almost the height of 8 caravans!) on top of the hill and watched proudly over the land. It was quite a spectacle to see and there were a few people gathered around her, admiring the design and build as much as we were. After parking in the car park we took the short stroll along the smooth tarmac path that lead to right up her base, where she towered over us like a giant. It was a great start to our adventure, and fantastic to tick something else off our ever-growing list!
The following morning we woke up bright and early, ready to start the next leg of our journey. On our previous trips up north we’ve taken the (occasionally dreaded) M6 up the west side of England, so we were looking forward to heading up the east for a change. Along the way the views out to the glistening sea were spectacular, and before long we had reached the border. This crossing is a bit different to the other side, as there’s a large lay-by with numerous flags and a convenient burger van selling food, so we stopped to pick up some lunch.
It felt amazing to officially be back in Scotland, and we soon arrived at the conveniently located Edinburgh Caravan and Motorhome Club site, where we were looking forward to settling for a few days of festivities.
The clouds that darkened the morning soon disappeared and we set up our home-from-home under chilly but clear blue skies. Then as day turned into a crisp winters night we headed back out for our first bit of festive fun, at the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden Christmas Trail.
With there being a good selection of disabled spaces right outside the entrance, we had no problem parking, and headed straight through the lobby where we were instantly transported to a magical Christmas wonderland!
As we strolled along the trail that stretched a mile long we got treated to a huge variety of incredible light displays, accompanied by music that added to the mood. From laser lights and fairy lights to flames and interactive projections, we were totally mesmerised by the attention to detail. Along the way there were huts and vans selling festive favourites like mulled wine, hot chocolate and burgers, and even a marshmallow toasting station!There was so much to see, but I think my personal favourite section was “The Cathedral” where we went through an arched tunnel of twinkling lights while dramatic choir music faded into the night sky.
It’s safe to say that we had a great evening, and I might even go as far as saying it was one of the best Christmas displays we’ve ever been to.
The following morning we woke up to another gorgeously bright and crisp day, and took the quick 15 minute drive into Edinburgh city centre to explore.
I may have mentioned before that we’ve never been “city people”, we tend to avoid big cities where possible, usually opting for quiet countryside trips instead. However, to us, Edinburgh feels so different. Despite being the capital of Scotland it has a lovely relaxed feel, it’s easy to drive around and on the few times we’ve visited we’ve never experienced traffic and have always parked easily- and this time it was no different.
After meeting a lovely caravanning friend for coffee we wandered along the old cobbled streets, admiring the ancient stone buildings with entrances elegantly draped in traditional Christmas garlands and wreaths. It felt like something from a movie!
As we made it closer to the city centre the atmosphere began to buzz with bagpiping buskers, people exploring the city with their loved ones, and the stages being set ahead of the Hogmanay celebrations the following night.
High on the hill Edinburgh Castle lit up in blue as it watched over the bustling Christmas market below, and we headed down into Princes Street Gardens to wander amongst the stalls.
With the gardens being steep and hilly, the Christmas market was cleverly set out on numerous different levels, but the accessibility was fantastic! There were ramped routes clearly marked out for wheelchair users, the temporary flooring was smooth and flat, and there was plenty of space to manoeuvre between the stalls- they even had a temporary accessible toilet!
It was a Christmas market unlike any we’ve seen before, with tons of fairground rides, games, stalls, food huts, and even a Christmas tree hedge maze- all in a beautiful setting. Despite the dropping temperatures we easily spent two hours wandering around and soaking up the perfect atmosphere.
We couldn’t believe how lucky we had been with the weather so far, it may have been cold but the skies were completely clear- and the following day was no different. We woke up on New Years Eve to a thick sparkling frost that didn’t disappear all day, even popping out for some errands in the afternoon meant de-icing the car first. The pavements looked like they had a thin covering of snow, and this only got more noticeable when we headed back out at midnight for Hogmanay celebrations.
As much as we enjoyed the bustling city the previous day, we were keen to stay away from the centre of the action on New Years Eve, and headed to Inverleith Park where we knew we’d have a great view of the fireworks. As we arrived, a good-sized crowd was gathering- not too many people that it felt cramped, but enough people to create a buzzing atmosphere. We found a spot on the frozen over rugby field where we had a perfect view of Edinburgh castle (this time lit up in purple), and the countdown began.
5… 4… 3… 2… 1!
And a spectacular fireworks display began- 2020 was officially here.
Not being quite as young as we once were, the following day was a relaxed one, spent watching movies in our pyjamas and eating yummy food- and I couldn’t think of anything I would rather have done. I was with my favourite person, in my new favourite city- what a way to see the New Year in!