Monday, December 9, 2013
The Third Morning.
My last morning in Scotland. I packed up my backpack, which by now seemed particularly heavy, and checked out of my hostel, waving a metaphorical goodbye to the five French men, seeing as we weren't really on speaking terms. My plan for the day: climb Arthur's Seat.
I'd never thought of Edinburgh as a city of volcanoes prior to arriving there, but once I stepped out of the train station on the first day, it was difficult to do otherwise. The huge old structures dominate the landscape no matter where you look, not the least of which being the impressive castle towering above the rest of the city from its perch on the cliff. Arthur's Seat is the other big old volcano, and apparently climbing it is a mark of a true local, so now that I've done it, I'm basically Scottish. No paperwork required. My walk started out pretty well. I was armed with my water bottle and the remains of my bottle of Irn Bru, firmly placed in the pockets of my backpack. In fact, my backpack and I were doing pretty well, working symbiotically, until about halfway up the side of this mini-mountain.
Let me describe to you the wind on this clear morning: have you ever accidentally walked into a glass door? Full on, regular speed, face mark on the glass. Imagine what it would feel like to have a glass door walk into you, and you've got an approximation of the gusts of wind I was experiencing at this great height. So here I am, in the gale, teetering on the edge of this cliff, with a huge turtle-like backpack threatening to aid the wind in tipping me over. I had real fear for my life and considered turning back several times. I was alone! I could lie about making it to the top and no one would know the difference. I made it almost all the way, sitting down occasionally to regain my balance, until the last bit of height, which was a final rocky outcropping jutting up from the ground about 50 feet. I got about five steps up the side of this mini-mountain on the mountain, and thought "That's it. I'm ditching this thing [my backpack]. If someone wants to steal it, I invite them to carry it all the way back down." I may have given other hikers the impression that I'd left a bomb on the side of the cliff, so obviously it was there by the time I got back down. Without the weight of my backpack, I scrambled to the top with relative ease, had some nice man take my picture of proof, and took a few minutes to soak in the wind and the views, thinking that this would be a plausible place for King Arthur to have found Excalibur.
On my way down, I made the unwelcome discovery that I'd split the sole of my boot right down the middle. So the wetness my right foot was experiencing made more sense, seeing that I essentially had no protection between the bottom of my foot and the mud. They'd served me well for a short time, but in the end my adventures were simply too great for my shoes.
The rest of the morning was spent perusing shops and small museums on the Royal Mile, before making my way over to have some haggis for lunch. The verdict was a positive one. Then it was time for my train home, so I walked back to Waverley Station and found my platform to make my way back to the sweet city of Canterbury.