Awaking in a wet grey Melrose Nico and I wandered trough some damp streets to find a small suspension bridge transversing the River Tweed. After a good espresso coffee (England is slowly understanding coffee) we walled over to Melrose Abbey now that it was actually open and we could see beyond the walls. Fortunately parts of the abbey still had a roof so we could be shielded from the heavy rains. The abbey itself is quite impressive and includes a vast graveyard including a marker indicating where Scotlands hero – Robert the Bruce’s heart is reportedly buried.
Hitting the road and heading North again, our first stop of the day was the tourist trap / artwork; The Helix: Home of The Kelpies. This roadside attraction charges 4 GBPs to park and allows you to see the Kelpies up close then visit the gift shop and cafe. The poring rain made the experience less than it could have been. A bit farther down the road was The Falkirk Wheel – a tourist attraction that was even more annoying with its crowds, heavy rain and lack of real interest. Boat lifting device may be interesting when its actually in motion but the rusty ugly looking thing is quit dull when seen static. With no letup of the rain we traveled a bit farther north to the city of Sterling and the famed Stirling Castle. We parked in the vast castle parking lot (paying the fee) and were overwhelmed with the sight of masses of tour busses and the throngs of people flowing towards the entrance of the castle as the rain pored down. We deiced it was time for some beer and went into town to Brewdog for some pizza and beers. Fortunately the tourists did not know about this place.
Eventually we entered the Cairngorms National Park and the fun began. With its amazing vistas of mountains, valleys and a twisting strip of roadway feeding through it like a dropped thin ribbon, this road is an Alfa drivers dream. A higher then reachable speed limit combined with a good road surface wide enough for two way traffic (a rarity up here) all add up to a perfect road for scenic views and thrilling motoring. With 30 minutes left on our journey we encountered a police road block informing us we needed to make a detour due to a road accident. This detour added 60 minutes to the 30 minutes left thanks to the lack of roads in the area. Soon we arrived in Bridgend of Glenlivet – home of Sharon and Derek.