Updated: Feb 19
With several days unaccounted for in our 'social diary', we decided to take Iona for a spin. As is often the case, we had no advance plan for the trip and found ourselves heading out of town on the M8 motorway towards Edinburgh. Therefore, we decided to head to the Flotterstone Inn near Penicuik, Midlothian, a pleasant pub stopover that we have used previously. On arrival, we booked dinner for 18:30 and enjoyed some local ale beforehand. Later on, as we settled into bed, we were accompanied by local owls, and we woke on Monday morning to the chorus of bird song!
The sun was out, and the wind was absent, so we had a delightful walk in the adjacent Pentland hills before returning to the Inn for lunch. The afternoon saw us heading south to the Scottish Borders, and we settled for our second night just south of St Mary's Loch at the foot of Yearny Knowe on the road towards Moffat.
After a peaceful night, punctuated with a few ‘owl howls’, we woke to crazy, hazy sunshine washing the valley. Then, with a cup o’ java in hand, we made ready to face the day! We drove down the valley and into Moffat, a town I know well, having attended boarding school between the ages of 9 to 12 years old, and stocked up on provisions in the local Co-Op.
After lunch, we set about finding our next destination, which turned out to be in a valley south of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. The spot was secluded; overnight, we witnessed a superb celestial display, but unfortunately, we awoke to the sound of heavy rain! As the afternoon rolled on, the skies cleared, and we set the controls for a ‘border raid’ as we crossed into England and headed to Otterburn for our next stop. We had chosen a delightfully anachronistic establishment called ‘Le Petite Chateau’, where we spent a pleasant night and enjoyed the ablutions facility in our room.
Thursday saw us having a lovely 2-hour walk around the town and environs of Otterburn before we searched for our next stop-off location. We checked out a couple of places before settling on a field on the outskirts of a village called Longhorsley, which, for £10 per night, provided a serene setting with drinking water and rubbish disposal, perfect! Once we had set up Iona for the night, we took the 15-minute walk into the village, and we ventured into the local pub, The Shoulder of Mutton (!), where we enjoyed a few pints and dinner before strolling back to our pitch up field. Once back in Iona, we battened down the hatches and awaited the predicted 68 mph winds due in the early hours of Friday morning.
Weeellll! What a rocky ride that was! Iona was like a roller coaster ride all night as "Otto" rolled through. At times I wondered if we would awake to find that the wing mirrors had been ripped off; the wind was that bad! Once we found that all was as it should be, we set off to Alnmouth, where we had a bracing walk along the seafront as "Otto" blew itself (himself?) out. Our next stop was another farm field on the edge of a lovely village called Shilbottle, where we enjoyed a couple of pints in the Farrier's Arms pub. We then had a stottin' curry in the Lal Khazana across the road in the village before walking back to Iona in the rain! At least "Otto" has moved on!
And now, to our final night of this trip, as it turned out, we made an excellent decision! As we were heading home, we decided to head north on the A1 to shorten the drive on Sunday, and we chose a pub in the village of Warenford, the White Swan. We arrived after a day of constant 'smurr' (light rain, like a mist) and parked at the back of the pub. We then asked the barmaid if we could park up overnight if we had a meal, and she confirmed we could and booked us a table at 19:30, after which we enjoyed a couple of pints before heading back to Iona to set her up for the night!
As our reservation time came around, we returned to the pub and were shown to our table, where we had a fantastic meal, a ten out of ten score; it was that good! If you are ever in Northumberland, you should check out this great local pub.
And so in the morning, a week after we set out on this unplanned trip, we head back to Glasgow with another thoroughly enjoyable trip under our belts! Thanks for stopping by...