Thursday, 16 October 2014
Monks & Mountain Biking.
Of all the ruined places we've visited recently (and there have been a few!) Melrose Abbey was our favourite. It ticks many boxes - a significant part of the building remains and it's still grand and impressive. There is a spiral staircase which leads to lovely views and closer inspection of the gargoyles. Buried in the abbey grounds is the heart of Robert The Bruce (on Bruce’s death his heart was cut from his body, embalmed and placed in a silver casket. It was then taken by Scottish knights into the Crusades and carried into battle against the Moors in Spain before being returned to Scotland). A visit to the abbey includes entry to a museum where monks' habits can be tried on (adult sizes too - not just for children!). Outside the museum is a conker tree with the most abundant and biggest conkers ever. Even the pigeons flying round the towers created atmospheric photo opportunities. For this visit I was still using my husband's camera and I seem to have had it on the wrong setting to start with, hence the grainy appearance of some of the early photos. I've also started including photos of information panels, this is for my benefit as I use my blog as a diary though I like to think they may be of interest to others too.
After Melrose we stopped off at Glen Tress for some mountain biking. We parked in the Buzzard's Nest carpark away up the hill. It was raining, it was cold, and three of us weren't terribly keen. But once we set off into the woods we didn't feel the rain and we soon warmed up. It was only the green route as the three not-terribly-keen folks (myself, A & N) are beginner mountain bikers. Verdict: it was fun! Like a rollercoaster. So good that once we'd finished we went right back round again. On the hill we found information panels about a reconstructed iron age hut - it's just a grassy mound now, incase anyone wonders why there's no photo of the hut itself. The views from on high were most pleasant too. After some cake in the cafe at the bottom of the hill it was time to go home. We really enjoyed our visit to the borders and will definitely be back as there were so many places we could have visited but just didn't have time. I also liked the feeling that we were slightly off the beaten track as nowhere we went was particularly busy and the roads were nice and quiet - perfect for some future cycling expeditions...
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Have really enjoyed your Borders trip. It's so close to us and we don't get there nearly often enough.
If you have time in your busy life of young family and work you may enjoy a film about life in a French monastery: 'Into Great Silence'. It has no soundtrack, no commentary, no explanation, but is simply an account of 6 months in the life of the silent Carthusian order of the Grande Chartreuse monastery. It is quite simply the most beautiful film I have ever seen, and it continues to resonate in me. Edinburgh City Library has a copy, so if your local library doesn't you should be able to get it on inter-library loan.
Interested to hear of your dust speck problems. I have the same on my seldom used DSLR, and although I've followed the automatic cleaning instructions, and taken it to a camera shop, this annoying 'seagull' in all my shots has returned. I am always struck by the quality of the photos on your blog - what is the camera you have at the moment?
Beautiful photos of the abbey, scenery and info plates.
Oh, those Gothic arches ... how lovely they were and are! Looking at the bones of that amazing place is like looking at stone lace. And what a beautiful little succulent in the clay pot.
Those views from the hilltop are breathtaking.
So much interesting history in this post and your last one too, there really are some amazing places to visit! xx
I never realized how large the abbey's were. I'm in the US and LOVE following your blog and you are so fortunate to have so many great historic places to visit with such history. My husband is a history buff, loves all things Scotland (has visited) and I read off many of the posts about historic sites/ruins to him and he usually stumps on over to my computer to see the pics. Lovely! So many things to see when you aren't sitting in a living room behind a computer screen!
A very pretty part of the country. Nigel Tranter's "The Bruce Trilogy" really brings the wars of Independence, the fanatical zeal of the crusaders and the border castles to life and are well written and vivid.
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