Whenever I travel far away from home, I always get a little homesick and realise how much beauty is right on my doorstep back in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE exploring new cultures, hearing a different language as I walk down the street, and tasting food vastly different from anything I could eat back home. But I always go home thinking “next time I shall explore more of my own country”.
As well as the beautiful places to visit throughout England, there is a special place in my heart for Scotland. Some of my family live there and I spent many happy weeks of my childhood running around Stirling and Dunblane (usually in the rain) with my sister and cousins.
However, I don’t remember visiting many other places in Scotland. So when the opportunity arose last Christmas to spend a few days with my boyfriend’s family around the Gretna Green area, I jumped at the chance.
We spent a day walking around Gretna, where we discovered why people ran away to get married at Gretna Green in the 18th century; England had strict rules about parental permission and the age of marriage but Scotland did not, so couples crossed the border to elope! We also visited the Blacksmiths museum and 19th century transport exhibition (it was actually more interesting than it sounds), then went onto the nearby village of Lockerbie.
I had heard of the village before and knew there had been a disaster there, but it was really emotional visiting the memorial to the 270 people who were killed as a result of an airplane bombing in 1988. You can tell from the atmosphere in the area that it is still really significant, and is worth paying a visit if you’re nearby.
The second full day we had in Scotland was much more cheerful and satisfied my craving for historical-nerd-stuff. We drove to Caerlaverock castle, just south of Dumfries by the sea, which is actually a National Nature Reserve. The 13th century castle, later an important site during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 18th century, is now in ruins, but the grounds were beautiful. We spent hours walking around, climbing spiral staircases, playing hide and seek, eating a picnic and fighting with wooden swords – I had the bruises to prove that boys are violent and I’m glad I grew up with sisters.
These couple of days away with family were so much fun and reminded me that I must have explore more of Scotland. The highlands are calling my name and the North Coast 500 is begging for a road trip in the near future…