An unplanned perfect evening in Edinburgh

Last year, my friend Liz and I had a little adventure to the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh. I had flown over to the UK to visit her, and we tried to fit in as many kilometers into a few short weeks as we possibly could . Our ridiculously packed (but very fun) itinerary gave us one night only in Edinburgh…

 

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After a night out in Liverpool, a late breakfast (and very delicious) at Moose Coffee followed by a walk along the waterfront counting the lamb bananas (yes it’s a thing).  we embarked on a five-hour drive north. It was about 4pm when we arrived in Edinburgh.

After checking in to our hotel and getting changed, we went for a walk around to find somewhere that would serve us some takeaway food for a picnic, and find a bottle-shop to get a bottle of wine. We had a plan. A plan we had come up with an hour ago, when realising we might have enough time… but it was a plan nonetheless.

It didn’t take us long to find a cute cafe that obliged, and made us some foccacias, and pointed us in the direction of the nearest off licence (bottleshop). We found a little minimart with an off licence, and added some fresh berries to our list.

After collecting our bits and pieces, we booked an uber, and headed to our desired location: Holyrood Park.  We figured we had just enough time to walk up Arthur’s Seat, enjoy our picnic, and walk back down before it was completely dark and one of us feel and broke our necks…

In late August, sunset is expected about 8.14pm in Edinburgh. (I regularly use this website to work out things like this when planning adventures).

There are several routes you can take when summiting the 251 metre extinct volcano that towers above the city of Edinburgh. We used this map which we found on google to hazard a guess at which route to take. the plan was to take the steepest, most challenging red route (after the orange route) to get to the peak before sunset, but then take the safer green route back down, as we would be doing it in the dark.

Without having been there before, that map looks like it makes no sense… We we didn’t have much time to plan though so we trusted it, and ended up getting us there just fine. The red route was a little challenging… I mean, we worked up a sweat as we were trying to move quickly to get there before sunset, but anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it – it is only 251 meters high, so the hard part of the 4.75km walk is over as quickly as it begins. There was one or two wrong turns, but we realised our error before walking more than 100 metres in the wrong direction.

We had timed it perfectly. Sunset should have been about 15/20 minutes away from when we arrived.

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After arriving at the peak, all we needed to do was find the perfect spot for a picnic and set up. We found a little nook that would protect us from the wind, which is really the only reason to get cold on this beautiful summer night and called it as ours. (there were a few other groups also looking around for their perfect spot to watch the sunset and get some sweet shots for instagram.

Liz grabbed the picnic rug out of her bag, while I dug out the sandwiches, wine and berries. That was about the time we realised our mistake. No cups! But how are we to enjoy the beautiful bottle we have just lugged up this hill?

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We had already tucked into the berries while we were setting up, and without us planning it, turns out they came in the perfect bowl-shaped wine-cup. Great. That’s one… I guess the other one of use can drink straight from the bottle? Quick thinking Liz finishes her water, and uses it instead. Bowl of wine anyone?

Sandwiches for dinner have never tasted so good! We watch the sunset, and joke about how romantic our evening is, before feeding each other berries and drinking more wine…

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While we were packing, I had discovered my head-torch, that I use for hiking and camping back home in Aus. I didn’t plan on using/needing it here, and didn’t mean to bring it. It’s like I planned this…

On our way back down Arthur’s Seat, we met an absolute legend. He was on his way home to Korea, after spending some time in the UK to study. He had one spare afternoon, and really wanted to see Arthurs Seat so he hiked the entire thing with his gigantic suitcase….

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After our 5+ hour-long drive, an unplanned hike, a very-much-planned bottle of red, and the excitement of making a friend who hikes-with-a-full-suitcase-just-to-live-in-the-moment , we managed to get all the way down, without falling! 

After such a great introduction to the amazing city of Edinburgh, what else could top off such a perfect evening?

A cocktail bar…

I wont embarrass myself (Liz) with the details of the rest of our evening. All I can say is, go to Edinburgh. Hike Arthur’s Seat, and definitely hit up 99 Hanover Street afterwards.

Til next time,

 

Sar (rourkeus)

xx

 

Camping packing list

Recently, a friend was telling me about their first camping trip.

They had been invited on a group camping holiday, and the whole family were excited! It being their first time, no expense was spared as they eagerly prepared for their holiday.

After weeks of planning, packing the car, and a long drive out to the campsite, they began setting up. Eventually the kids asked:

“What are we sleeping on?”

Well.

Turns out the air mattresses/ camp-mats had either been forgotten and left at home, or forgotten and never borrowed/purchased in the first place.

This made me remember the first time I went camping with a group of friends (who were also virgin campers at the time).

I’d known my whole life that I’d wanted to go camping and also knew, that given the opportunity that I would enjoy it. But, there I was,  20-or-so years old had still never managed to actually go.  I spent days, weeks, maybe longer, preparing for the trip. I was so excited for our Easter weekend camping trip I had bought everything I thought we would need – a tent, a butane stove, camping cutlery sets, you name it, I bought the budget (cheapest I could find) version of it.

Finally, the weekend came. Buzzing with excitement and anticipation, we packed up, headed off… And drove on to what ended up being the worst camping experience of my life.

One of our friends brought his girlfriend along. She didn’t even make it the first night! Her parents (lucky for her) made a three-hour-drive across town on Easter weekend to rescue her from our nightmare trip.

My boyfriend (at the time of the dreaded trip) had accidentally already (or drunkenly) eaten the food (all of it) that I’d bought specifically for camping, but didn’t tell me until I was starting to pack the esky, and all the shops were already shut for Easter. The lilo I had borrowed from a friend leaked, and went flat after we set it up. I’d forgotten to pack a torch. All five other campers also forgot to pack a torch.

It was a comedy of errors, really. And in hindsight, now that I’m an experienced camper, I know that given our inexperience, all these outcomes were inevitable.

Fast forward to now. After listening to my friend recount their failed camping trip, and reminiscing about my own failed trip, I thought about all the other people I know that have had a similar experience, and have never even wanted to consider going back for round two.

I hate that thought!! Camping is so much fun! For all age groups, and in a lot of cases, you can even bring the dog! Getting outside and appreciating this beautiful country we have is one of my favorite past-times, as I’m sure it is many of yours.

Sarah camping circa 2008

This photo is not from the fateful camping trip I described… We didnt get any photos of that trip (we all wanted to forget it ever happened!) its froma much more memorable trip to Hazelwood in approx 2008… Where we were all still young and less-prepared, but nowhere near as bad as that first attempt.

So, in an attempt to help out anyone who hasn’t been before, or maybe it’s been a while, or maybe someone like me who is a little forgetful (I forgot my head-torch last weekend which led to me falling down a 1.5-metre-deep hole in the dark), I decided to create a basic, printable, Camping Checklist.

You can get a copy of it here

Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who may need it, or even use it yourself. There is also a handy “add your own items” section where you can include anything I haven’t thought of, or you think you might specifically need, and then check off as you are packing. I reckon it’s also a great way to get the kids involved and teach them a little bit about the preparation that goes into camping too.

As always, I’d love some feedback! Is there anything on this list you think is totally unnecessary? Or have I forgotten anything major? Let me know in the comments below.

Cheers,

Sarah

PS – I’m going to put together a few more of these packing lists. Next is a lightweight 5 day hike checklist, as I’m planning a walk from Noosa to Rainbow Beach soon. Are there any other lists you want to see? or examples/photos of our regular setup?