In the words of my good buddy Chucky D, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." That's how I would describe our day today - the early part of the day was the highlight of the trip so far, and then the next part was our least favorite. So it balanced out to a pretty good day and one that we are thrilled to have enjoyed. We met in front of the inn at 8:45 and took one more morning shot with a view of the castle in the background.
Not wanting to be shut out of a table at Henderson's Vegan cafe again, we made sure we were there when it opened at 9 for breakfast.
And a glorious breakfast it was! Most people tend to eat late dinners here and then sleep in, so we ended up having the place to ourselves. While everyone glowed about their respective meals, I can only personally attest to the magnificence of the Tofu Florentine that Lara and I each ordered - pure heaven.
We ordered some avocado/tomato bagels to go for lunch and, before leaving, had to take a photo in front of this awesome door sign!
The first 3 miles of our hike today were actually not on the official JMW. We walked through the city to get to a merging point with the path and on the way almost made a spur of the moment purchase. Maybe next time!
Jonah had first complained about a stomach ache and headache at breakfast, but we had urged him to take it one mile at a time since we knew he could do it and would be disappointed to have come this far only to skip one of the last stages. He continued to complain as we walked through the city, and Lara realized that he was probably dehydrated - he hadn't had much water the day before. We neared the base of Arthur's Seat, which would be the only real climb of the day, and didn't know what to do. The official trail actually skirts around the edge of it, but we had heard so many wonderful comments about it that we felt we would be silly to skip it. We were lucky to have Alex and Kate with us for another day of hiking; Alex put Kate's daypack on his front and Kate relieved Jonah of his pack for the day. Since Jonah didn't have the pack and since he and Olivia usually thrive when we get to mountain climbs, we took the gamble that he would turn a corner and fortunately he did. As soon as we started to climb, Jonah forgot about his internal pains and was a newly invigorated mountain goat.
Arthur's Seat, which is 823 ft. high, is an ancient volcano whose rocks were exposed by glacial erosion. There are various prehistoric and later settlement and defense sites on the summit and slopes.
With each step we climbed, we were reminded of how much we all enjoy mountain climbing - and the views were spectacular!
I need not even mention what picture we had to take at this point!
As we neared the top, the wind really picked up. Olivia played 'Trust' with the wind and the wind didn't let her down.
We reached the top and took in the glorious panoramic view. We all felt grateful for having this experience.
The sun continued to shine as we started down the other side in the direction of our destination out of the city. The terrain on this side was less rocky and more grassy. Olivia and Jonah LOVE running down these sections.
As we neared the bottom, we passed a local half Iron Man competition. Olivia and Jonah cheered on some of the competitors.
And we stopped to have our to go bagels from Henderson's and take in a little of the competition before continuing on our way. Unfortunately, we had to juxtapose the high we felt of climbing and descending Arthur's Seat with the low of several miles of city walking as we continued to merge toward the JMW. The Heimanns are clearly not meant to be city folk! As we neared the suburb of Portobello (love the name!), we knew we would soon be leaving the city streets behind.
Once we did, we still had paved walkways but at least we weren't surrounded by traffic. It felt much better to have the beach on one side of us as we met up with the Firth of Forth.
We saw a beach stand with non-dairy ice cream. Even though we weren't really hungry, we couldn't resist! I think it is virtually impossible for a vegan to see such a sign and walk by. And we're glad we didn't. It turns out that the owner, Julia, is a Philly gal who moved here in 2008 and began this business when her daughter introduced her to veganism. Yay! Our hearts and stomachs were very happy to have found her.
It felt like we were walking on the boardwalk in Santa Monica - not a bad afternoon's stroll!
As we continued on our way, we could see Arthur's Seat in the background, a reminder of our glorious morning.
Soon after this picture we parted ways with Alex and Kate. They needed to get to the train station in the next town and make their way back to the Edinburgh airport. It has been an absolute joy sharing these past two days with them. It takes a special person to join up with the Heimann fearsome foursome for a couple of days of hiking. And these two not only held their own, but actually were a wonderful boon to our experience. And they joined us for the perfect two days - these happened to be the two days of the 10 that we went off path most (b/c we were heading in and out of Edinburgh) and really needed cell service to plan our route. A big extra thanks to Alex for helping navigate the alternate route! And there was no big sad goodbyes because we will see them again in a couple of days in Birmingham!
As we crossed the River Esk, we saw a game of swans in the water. It seems that they love hanging out in this area so if you ever do the path, you'll probably see them too!
As the path left the coast for a short while, the clouds started to roll in. The path came back around to the water , but the storm clouds remained. And time started to be a challenge. Since we took time on Arthur's Seat, we had lost track of time. And I knew that we had to check in by 4 pm, before the person left for the day. So we picked up the pace to avoid any potential rain and make it to our destination on time.
Unfortunately the time/weather concern coincided with my left shin flaring up. It seems that staying off of my cracked heels and favoring the balls of my feet has finally caused pain in another area. Each step became painful. I just hope that with a good night sleep, the pain will go away in the morning - we still have about 30 miles to hike before we get to the end! We reached Prestonpans at about 3:25. While we didn't have time for much of a break, we had to stop to take a picture by one of the town's many murals. Here I am next to a painting of our path's namesake, John Muir.
Finally, at 3:45 we reached the Cockenzie town sign! It was a relief to know that we were going to make it to our destination before 4. And we also learned that we had been being vulgar Americans, putting emphasis on the first syllable of the name. Fortunately, a local mentioned the town name and we discovered that the emphasis is actually on the second syllable - much better!
We reached our lodging, the Cockenzie House at 3:53 with 7 minutes to spare! The lodging is different from any of our other places. It is actually a full cottage with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, and living room. The house is a unique 17th century Manager's house, built in 1670 by the Earl of Seton for his manager to look after his mining, salt making, fishing, and trading interests, is hidden by trees and a clinker wall. It is a welcoming lodging to come to after what turned out to be a long day - plenty of room to spread out! Only down side is that there is no food included, so we needed to go out to the store to pick up food for breakfast and also go across the street and bring back some Thai food for dinner from Tiger In. Given our long day, we were happy to be able to eat dinner in our own space.
After dinner, we took naps and then hung out for a bit and watched some of the James Bond DVD Skyfall before calling it a night. Now just finishing this blog before crawling in to bed for a well-deserved sleep!
Distance: 13.8 miles
Time: 5 hrs. 31 min.
Avg. Speed: 2.5 mph
Total Ascent: 1,123 ft.
Total Descent: 1,373 ft.