Help with Scotland trip- Aug 2006

Old Dec 21st, 2005, 07:46 PM
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Help with Scotland trip- Aug 2006

We (myself, my wife & 15 year old son) are planning to go to Scotland at the end of August, beginning of September, 2006. We fly in & out of Glasgow and have 8 days. The begining & end of our trip is easy - we'll go to Edinburgh from the airport for 2 days - already have tickets to the last show of the Military Tatoo. Our last day will be in Glasgow. We have 5 days to explore - plan to rent a car as leave Edinburgh.
What i would like to see & do would easily take 10 days or more, so I need to create an itinery that lets us see and experience a lot, without spending all day in a car and rushing through things.
My thoughts were to either:
1. Stick to roughly the eastern 1/2 - angus, dundee, fife, perthshire, the eastern highlands and back to Glasgow via Stirling.
2. The western 1/2 - western highlands, trossachs, loch ness, isle of skye
3. Stay roughly central - going no farther north than Fort William

Any suggestions for 5 days - we'd like to combine castels, abbeys, scenery, some off the beaten path sites.
Thanks in advance.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 12:50 AM
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Are you sure you only want 2 days in Edinburgh ? Have you been before ? You don't give your exact dates but at least some of the festivals should still be on : the International Festival is on until 3rd September (www.eif.co.uk) and the Fringe & Book Festivals are on until 28th August (www.edfringe.com, www.edbookfest.co.uk). If you haven't already done so, book your accommodation asap !
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 04:54 AM
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Caroline is right about booking your hotels as soon as possible. She is also right that 2 days in Edinburgh is not enough, but then 2 days are better than no days.

Be aware that August is the wettest month in the West Highlands, according to the Times Book of World Weather (sic). It is still wonderful.

Consider not starting in Edinburgh and not renting a car. The West Highland Railway from Glasgow to Mallaig (stopping for a day or two while in Ft William to take local tours)is one of the great railway journeys in the world and incredibly scenic. From Mallaig, you can take the Cal Mac ferry to Skye and then a bus to Portree, where you can happily stay and take more local tours. Another bus takes you to Kyle of Lochalsh, where you can get the train to Inverness through more scenic country, thence to Aberdeen and ultimately Edinburgh. No worrying about sheep in the roadway or driving on the wrong side of the road, though to be fair many scenic highland roads are only one lane with passing places anyway!

I took this trip several years ago and hope that privatization hasn't made it impossible. It was fabulous.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 06:13 AM
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We arrive on Aug 28th - last night of Military Tatoo is the 28th. Have reservations at the Novotel in Edinburgh. Did not plan to start in Edinburgh at 1st, but felt seeing the Tatoo and festivals was worth the change. I'm sure 2 days in Edinburgh is not enough - 8 days total in Scotland isn't either.
So, we have Monday through Friday to explore - plan to be in Glasgow for Saturday Aug 2nd + fly home next morning.
Driving on other side of road doesn't bother me - other than not wanting to do much busy city driving, esp. at 1st. One thought was taking the train to Inverness and getting a car there - work our way back south, question is what to see & best route to take. I like the flexibility of having a car & not being limited by bus or train schedules, plus being able to go a bitoff the beaten path.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 06:31 AM
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OK - this won't help much - whichever of the 3 areas you choose will be wonderful. So you can't really pick wrong. Sounds like you are being realistic and not trying to squeeze in too much. Each of those general routes would more than fill 3 weeks let alone 5 days.

Before we can give you the best advice - what sorts of things do you want to see?

Golf? then St Andrews and the eastern side would be a must.

Castles? They are EVERYWHERE so that souldn't be the decider.

Gardens? the Eastern bit -- Crathes Castle Garden is amazing and Drummond Castle Garden will knock your socks off.

Highland/Island scenery? then the west coast fills the bill.

Skye is great - but w/ your very short timeframe I'd probably skip it this trip. It really demands a minimum of 2 days to see and would really use up 3 days by the time you factor in travel.

My preference would be something like Edinburgh > Fife > Perthshire/Stirling > Glencoe > Trossachs/Loch Lomond > Glasgow. Or drop Fife and go farther north after Perthshire and then come down to Glencoe, etc.

But tell us what you enjoy and we can give you more useful advice.

(BTW - you were pretty lucky to get an Edinburgh hotel for just 2 nights)
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 08:32 AM
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I wrote a trip report through some of your areas available here that might give you some ideas. I concentrated on castles, abbeys, etc.. We drove and hit Edinburgh, Inverness, a highland games in Strathpeffer, drove down Loch Lomond, over to Skye, back down through Oban and Glasgow. Let me know if you have any questions about anything there

http://www.greendragonartist.com/TDCscotlandwales.html
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 10:14 AM
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Hi,
I love Scotland - the greens hills, sheep everywhere and nice people.

My favourite place of Scotland is Isle of Skye - there is really beautiful countrysite. If you are a fan of nature and hiking, I recommend this place - it is really great (I spend two days there - but I want to go back and have more time for Skye)

St. Andrews is not only about golf it is the ancient city with lots of to see - there is a very old cathedral (only ruins-but very mysterious), a castel too and a beautiful botanic garden..

Have a nice time in Scotland
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 01:41 PM
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I've been to Scotland twice (the last time a few months ago) and had 15 year old sons twice (they are now 29 and 26). I remember they had limited tolerance for scenery at that age, so if your son is like that I recommend sticking to the two major cities.

If you stay in Edinburgh half the time, you can easily take side trips to Stirling Castle, Linlithgow (ruined but lots to look at) castle, Falkirk Wheel and other historic sites. But there's an awful lot to see and do in Edinburgh.

If you move to Glasgow after that, you can take day trips to Glencoe and Skye for scenery; Kilmartin Glen for archeology and Glasgow has some great museums that a 15 year old might like.

Scotland's scenery is pretty amazing everywhere! You will have a great trip no matter where you go, and since you are planning this far in advance you are sure to identify the right places for your family.

Dorothy
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:31 PM
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I'm going against the habits of a lifetime here, but have you thought about the Borders instead of the Highlands. I'd public transport it over to Glasgow. Take your days in Edinburgh, then go south east out of Edinburgh in a hire car, cross over to Dumfries and Galloway and come back up to Glasgow through Burns country and Ayrshire. Lots of castles, Abbeys and scenery and almost all off the beaten trackbr />
Options in the Borders:- couple of big houses and some scenery. Say Traquhair Castle, which has its own brewery and some excellent history. Followed by Mellarstain House and maybe Melrose Abbey where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried. Other variations on this theme include Floors Castle, Abbotsford (home of Sir Walter Scott) Dryburgh Abbey; Hermitage Castle; Neidpath Castle- or there are lots more. Lovely rolling hills

Stay on the coast road and go out to St Abb’s Head, Take in Eyemouth and stop when you get to Berwick on Tweed. There’s a big sign on the Border that says “Here be Dragons” and you don’t want to go there!, Come back up to Duns- Manderston is worth a visit on the way. Go south-west to Mellerstain, Floors Castle and Kelso. Come west to Dryburgh Abbey, then come down to Jedburgh

Next day, do Hawick and Selkirk, Then Galashiels, , and Peebles and Neidpath Castle, and stay in Edinburgh again.

The Borders are where our traditional mills are- companies like Pringle - and every town has a bunch of mill shops. Some of them may even be selling local produce. Certainly if you are going to buy wool buy it here.

If you do do it in reverse order, you can logically dine at Clarissa’s at Lenoxlove on the way home.

Edinburgh itself is a mixture of a wonderful late mediaeval city with a planned Georgian New Town. The Castle is a must, followed by The Royal Mile -mediaeval route between the Castle and Holyrood- Palace and Park - Queen’s Scottish town house and big garden
Mary Kings Close is a street which, in the middle ages, was on ground level but when the great plague came to visit Scotland (and Edinburgh in particular) it hit the place hard. The worst section of the city was right in the heart of the 'Old Town', where the present City Chambers are nowadays. This street was known as Mary King’s Close (after an advocate’s daughter so the story goes) and the local authorities, the kind beings that they are, decided to seal both entrances of the street up with everyone still inside. This street was rediscovered many years later and now you can take a tour down there. WARNING - they tell you that because of the many people sealed alive down there that there are ghosts aplenty. Tours can be arranged from the Royal Mile There’s a new visitor centre this year which is meant to be very good.
The Museum of Childhood - on the Royal Mile
St Giles Cathedral - on the Mile. Scene of Jenny what’shername’s tantrum. Crown tower.
Gladstone’s Land, -mediaeval close off the High Street(the Mile)
John Knox’s House
Lady Stair’s Close and lots of shops, including Victoria Street just off the top of the mile

OK That’s the morning gone. Now (bearing in mind that you have a lot of Scotland to see, and you will be back in Edinburgh) you need to make up your mind whether or not you want to shop. Shops are on the whole, closed on Sundays. From this lacklustre introduction you will see that I think you should not. Assuming you agree, then you need to lunch, and I despatch you back up the hill to the National Museum of Scotland (Chambers St) in Edinburgh. It opened in 1999 and is incredible, for the architecture as well as the exhibits. It has a couple of nice caffs, as well as the main restaurant in the roof.

In the afternoon, see The Meadows - huge park in the town centre and Greyfriars Bobby - statue of dog who sat at his master’s grave for decades. Then go across to Princes Street and see The Scott Monument -Gothic Sky rocket memorial to Queen’s Victoria’s favourite Scottish writer. When you’ve looked at it, and possibly climbed it, go and see, next door, The National Gallery and Royal Scottish Academy and the National Portrait Gallery.

Then after a quick wash and brush up sprint down to see the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is berthed at Leith, Edinburgh's port, and can be visited by the public (closes 5pm). Some of Edinburgh’s best restaurants are in Leith so have an early supper there then come back up and go to the two best places in Edinburgh for folk music which are 2 pubs (surprise!) .One is the Tron and the other is Sandy Bell's. Sandy Bell's also used to produce a news-sheet "Sandy Bell's Broadsheet" and I think they still do, which lists all the folky stuff going on all over Scotland.
(As far as Edinburgh is concerned, I can think of another pub which houses traditional/folk music. It's the Ensign Ewart which is situated near the entrance to the Castle - can't miss it.)

Edinburgh is famous for the pubs in Rose Street. If you have any energy left walk along the length of Rose Street (or just nip up for a look) whilst its busy in the late evening and just take in the atmosphere. Great pubs (not all in Rose Street) include the Café Royal, the Barony, Mathers, the Diggers (posh name the Athletic Arms), the Roseburn, Bert’s, and the Abbotsford..

Next morning get up early and climb Arthur's Seat. It IS a magnificent climb and, unless it is raining, well worth it for the views. It is a great open space in the city. The approx. 1/2 mile hike provides a commanding view of the city, castle, sea, and surrounding countryside over the whole of east central Scotland.

Then have a heart attack breakfast somewhere like Cafe Vittoria - neighbourhood Tally restaurant. Very down to earth. At the top of Leith Walk.

That leaves you the rest of the day to choose betweenbr /> a walk through the New Town-planned grid Georgian -makes Bath pale by comparison. Finish up at Dean Village - working men’s planned village.
Calton Hill -Observatory
The Gallery of Modern Art
The Dean Gallery
The Georgian House
The City Art Centre
The Fruitmarket Gallery,
The Collective Gallery
The Printmakers’ Workshop
The Zoo;
Dynamic Earth (mixed reviews- haven’t been myself),
The Botanic Gardens.
And of course, it’s awash with places to walk, sporting facilities, cinemas, theatres, music venues, and stunning architecture.

For supper there are great restaurants all over the place. My favorite restaurant isThe Marque. It is on Causewayside and the food is fantastic. The prices are quite reasonable considering the level of cuisine (about $35.00 per person including dessert). If it's atmosphere you like try The Witchery. The prices are a little steep, but the food is good and it's right beside the castle. (as far as atmosphere, the name says it all)

Other great restaurants include Stac Polly, Tuscan Square, Café Hub, Browns, Le Sept, Est Est Est, Bann’s, Henderson’s, the Kalpna, Viva Mexico, Shamiana, the Siam Erewan.

I think I need Danna to do the Dumfries and Ayrshire bit


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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 03:14 PM
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If you can squeeze it in, Cawdor Castle is my all time favorite, beautiful gardens too!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 08:09 PM
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Hi rsqdmd,

Oh, can you believe all the wonderful details Sheila has provided?

I want to second her suggestion for the Borders area. We spent a wonderful 5 days there - close for driving, "castels, abbeys & great scenery".

Some of the prettiest, most picture perfect towns, filled with flowers, great places to eat, wonderful walks, more sheep than you can ever wish to photograph .

Hope you have a lovely trip! SusanEva
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Old Dec 26th, 2005, 09:05 PM
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Thanks for all the input, WOW, I'm overwhelmed by the thouroughness of some of the posts- I've rethought things and we'll concentrate on a smaller area. How does this sound. Still 2 days in Edinburgh, then
Day 3- head south to the Borders area - Melrose Abbey, Crichton Castle, maybe Rosslyn - overnight in Peebles.
Day 4 - head north to Falkland, St. Andrews and stay overnight near Dundee, perhaps Abroath.
Day 5 - head north to Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, then head south towards Dundee, stopping at either Edzell or Glamis Castle - overnight west of Dundee.
Day 6 - head towards Perth - Elcho Castle then Crieff? - Glenturret Distillery; possibly Drummond Castle Gardens or Scone Castle - end at Sterling
Day 7 - Stirling, Falkirk - Glasgow
Day 8 - Glasgow

I know it's still a lot - trying to take in as much as I can without just seeing things.
Does this sound like a reasonable route in terms of not trying to do too much, a fairly good route in terms of driving, etc. Any & all ideas/suggestions would be welcome. Recommendations on things to add or subtract - B&Bs, etc We're set for hotel in Edinburgh and have a car arranged. TIA
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 03:21 AM
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"Still 2 days in Edinburgh, "
Fine

"Day 3- head south to the Borders area - Melrose Abbey, Crichton Castle, maybe Rosslyn - overnight in Peebles."

Don't know Crichton, suspect Rosslyn is overhyped. If you're going for only one day in the Borders, then I suggest you don't move your bed, but aim back for Edinburgh that night.

"Day 4 - head north to Falkland, St. Andrews and stay overnight near Dundee, perhaps Abroath."

OK. I have a good Fife route I can send you in return for an email.

"Day 5 - head north to Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, then head south towards Dundee, stopping at either Edzell or Glamis Castle - overnight west of Dundee."

Also OK; I'd do Glamis instead of Edzell, and, to minimise the bed hopping, given the relatively short distances, I stay at or near Perth for this night and the next. If you want a real oddball thing to see on the way south, go to Fasque, the home of Gladstone, just outside Fettercairn

"Day 6 - head towards Perth - Elcho Castle then Crieff? - Glenturret Distillery; possibly Drummond Castle Gardens or Scone Castle - end at Sterling"

So, stay somewhere like Huntingtower- good castle there, too- do Elcho (actually, I'd do it on the way home from Glamis) Scone Palace, Drummond Castle, Glenturret, and down to Stirling. You could stop at Ardoch Roman Camp and/or Doune Castle on the way to Stirling (nb spelling)

"Day 7 - Stirling, Falkirk - Glasgow"

OK. Falkirk for the Wheel? No other reason to go there.

"Day 8 - Glasgow"

OK.

It's a bit pushed, but not, by transatlantic standards, a disaster. What sort of places do you want to stay in?




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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Sheila has given you good responses on your possible itinerary so I won't go over it all again. Just a couple of add'l comments:

I agree if you are only allowing 1 day for the Borders - just get an early start from Edinburgh and do it as a day trip. W/ just a day you are barely going to scratch the surface in that area and won't gain much by staying overnight. I'd skip Rosslyn - the chapel is worth seeing and used to be a lovely, quiet site. BUT w/ all the DaVinci Code hordes it will just be another crowded tourist attraction. Aand especially in August and being so close to E'burgh I'd just skip it. If I were doing just one day south of Edinburgh I'd do Melrose/Scott's View/Dryburgh first and anything else as time allows. (East of Edinburgh is also a good day trip -- Direlton, Tantallon and St Abb's Head)

And finally - the Dunnottar/Edzell/Glamis day. You would actually easily have time to do all three. Dunnottar is a "must" for sure. But Edzell really doesn't take much time to visit and is a special sort of place. The castle ruin is fairly small, but the attached garden really should be seen. The juxtaposition of the brooding castle ruin w/ the formal garden is amazing. And in August the Garden will be gorgeous. Then you'll have time to drive over to Galmis which is also a "must".
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 11:28 AM
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rsgdmd, I don't wish to alarm you, but we have already bought our tickets for the Tattoo, attending Fri. Aug. 25, but their website says the final performances are on Sat.Aug. 26. Are you sure you have official Edinburgh Military Tattoo tickets for Aug 28th as stated? By the way, their website now shows all weekend performances already sold out. What a popular event!
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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rsgdmd...

I'm actually reeling from Sheila's recommendation for a time in the Borders.

I love the SW of Scotland. It is simply lovely and the tourist horde has not yet "found" it.

As to all that... we love Kirkcudbright(pronounced ker coo bree). It's a lovely small town with plenty to see and visit. Don't miss out on the Masonic Arms pub, be sure to stand by the bar or you will miss out on a chance to visit with folks.

I haven't yet been to the Rab Burns House in Dumfries... BUT I highly recommend stopping at the Sulwaith Brewery in Castle Douglas. The owner will give you a very enlightening discussion and tour of their wonderful beers and ales.

The Logan Royal Botanical Garden near Port Logan on the coast is WONDERFUL! It's filled with plants from the southern hemisphere.

We haven't had the chance to really explore the Galloway Forest Park, but what I've read and the bits I've seen put them on the top of my "must visit next time" list.

Have a grand time!
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Thanks all for your ideas/suggestions.
Gariem - typed the wrong date - we have tickets for the Military tatoo on Aug. 26th - last night.

Shiela - thanks for the input - I'll send an email about the Fife route. The reason I thought to stay a night in the Borders, rather than go back to Edinburgh was to minimize the city driving. Also, I'm sure a B&B will be much less costly than another night at the hotel we have in Edinburgh (169/night) , not to mention the cost of parking in the city.
I like the idea of staying 2 nights at Perth, rather than moving every day. Would it be better to stay outside the city, rather than in Perth? What makes Fasque an oddball castle??

I thought my son would find the Falkirk Wheel interesting. He likes history and castles, but he's also into technology. I also thought we might have time for Callender House, which is nearby.
As to places to stay, I like B&Bs or small hotels, places with character, though in Edinburgh we'll be in a modern hotel, the Novotel. We need rooms that handle 3 - part of the reason I thought of staying in Abroath is that there is, what seems like a nice B&B - Five Gables House - they have a family suite, so my son will have his own room, connected to ours.
It's hard to plan a trip like this - i wish we had more time - there's so much to do & see. Thanks again in advance for your ideas.
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Old Dec 28th, 2005, 02:12 AM
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Not an expert on Scotland but in my opinion I would avoid both Dundee and Berwick upon Tweed. Both disapointed me, I really looked forward to seeing Berwick upon Tweed and was totally disapointed by its 'run down' appearance. I would put my energies in and around St Andrews which has some fabulous coastal resorts. Arbroath would be the place if you are determined to visit that area. Sorry if this is negative but with so little time you might as well make the best decisions; recently I went all the way to New Zealand and made the fatal error of concentrating on the North Island. Hope it helps.
Steve
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Old Dec 28th, 2005, 03:14 AM
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I probably would stay outside Perth, although there are many options in the town.

You might want to look at the Atholl Arms in Dunkeld? Or the Meikleour Hotel?

For the Dundeeish night, I have no suggestions. It's too close to home for me.

Have a look at The Tormaukin Inn for a night outside Stirling.

As to the extra Edinburgh night, you need to weigh up the incovenience of another move against driving into and out of the city. If your hotel has parking and you don't intend to drive AROUND Edinburgh, I know what my choice would be.

Fasque is a family home with the added cachet of having belonged to a great man. There are some fascinating things to see inside. I won't expand because it would give the game away.
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Old Dec 28th, 2005, 03:19 AM
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Sheila, you suggestion for a first morning in Eding is a joke, isn't it ?!? I reckon that lot would take me at least a day and a half. Also, don't want to seem critical, but I'm guessing you've been cut'n'pasting from old notes about restaurants : Clarissa is no longer at Lennoxlove, the Marque on Causewayside is now Hewat's (sadly) but Tuscan Square is now the Marque Central (huzzah !).

And you've given loads of good suggestions for things tro see in Edinburgh, but I'd never have thought of the Meadows as being worth a detour.
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