In the words of another good buddy, Dennis DeYoung, "These are the best of times." And today certainly felt like that. We unanimously voted today the very best day of hiking of the trip so far. We still rank yesterday's hike up Arthur's Seat as the best portion of the trip, but as far as full days are concerned, nothing touches today: beautiful weather, very little asphalt, and diverse types of trails.
We woke at 7:30, made some cereal, veggie sausage links, and bananas for breakfast, and were on the road by 9 am.
For the first bit, we walked on a paved path alongside the beach - beautiful views.
Within a mile we were greeted by a pleasant narrow path with twists and turns along he beach among the foredunes. There were also lots of large concrete blocks next to the path that we later discovered were remnants from World War 2 - invasion defense anti-tank blocks.
The majority of the hike today was either on paths along the beach, or a little in from the beach on wooded paths.
We eventually started to move inland a bit to farmland roads and paths. The combination of beautiful trails and weather, along with the fact that we were all in great spirits for the entirety of the days hike led this to be a perfect day for the Heimann four.
Once we reached Saltcoats Steading, we started to walk on a trail with a verdant golf course to our left. This area is famous for its golf courses. Golf has been played in this area since 1854 and one of the local courses, Muirfield, is famous for hosting the Open Championship. As we left the course, we came to a welcoming bench in the town of Gullane - a perfect place to take a snack break!
Shortly after leaving Gullane, we entered Archerfield Estate. As we followed a path through trees and across this field, Olivia decided it was time to dive back in for some more Shakespeare, so we added a new monologue to her repertoire.
We skipped most of the stops along the way today - a few minor castles were in the area - because we were enjoying our hike too much to stop. We didn't stop again until we started nearing our destination. In Yellow Craig, we happened upon a quaint playground and found it to be the perfect location for our lunch break.
We spent about half an hour relaxing in the park and playing on the playground.
Then it was time for our final 2-3 mile push of the day. We headed across a large field with many options for trails to follow, any of which would take us in the right direction.
In the distance we could see the North Berwick Law, a conical shaped hill that rises 613 feet from the sea. Jonah actually called out that if we arrived early enough, he'd like to climb it!
As we approached North Berwick, we passed through this final field with tall crops - not sure what they were.
And then we entered an affluent community. It's understandable that this region would be a hot commodity. The town is beautiful, and the proximity to Edinburgh is ideal. Jonah has been really into cars lately, and there were plenty of nice ones parked in front of the town's mansions for him to ooh and ahh at.
One final golf course along the water brought us to the main part of the town.
And from there, we were just a few blocks from our destination, the Nether Abbey Hotel. We arrived at about 2:30 pm.
To top off our best day, we are staying in our most luxurious lodging. The room is spectacular, the view incredible, and the bathroom (with shower and plunging bath) is about as large as some of the rooms we've stayed in along the trek!
Everything about this place is top notch. The staff took our laundry and had it cleaned and dried within a few hours. And the owner had already let the kids stay free (it would normally have been an extra 30 dollars) because we are doing a charity hike - first class! The owner and staff were in agreement that the one thing that they would definitely recommend doing while in town was climbing the Law. The ladies were already relaxing in the room, but the Heimann boys decided to give it a go. Even though Jonah had said earlier that he wanted to, I did have to coax him with some Oreo cookies to secure my hiking companion.
While the walk to get to the base of the Law was about 1.3 miles, the actual climb up was fairly quick. That was in part because we decided to take the fast route right up the side rather than the more gentle circular route that wraps around the cone. It only took about 15 minutes to climb up. The views from the top were well worth the climb!
And we got back down we took one extra congratulatory selfie with the Law in the background.
While we made our own way through town to the base of the hill, we saw that the JMW trail does in fact go past the base of it, so we followed signs through parks and trails to return to our lodging. All in all, this jaunt added 3.7 miles (not included in our daily stats.)
We returned to find our ladies still relaxing in the room. Jonah and Olivia wanted to watch a little TV. It seems that the only shows that are ever on in Scotland are the Big Bang Theory, New Girls, and How I Met Your Mother. We weren't really familiar with any of them, but have enjoyed them after a long day's work! Lara wanted to take a walk to the town center, so I accompanied her for a little more exploration.
And we realized that she hadn't done a handstand photo for the day, so figured Why Not now!
This second excursion added an extra mile to my day's hike, bringing the grand total up to 18.5 miles - not a bad day! By the time we returned to the hotel it was almost time for dinner. We had high expectations given the quality of everything else here, but didn't expect to have a menu created just for us! Misspelled name aside, this was above and beyond!
Dinner was as delicious as the description sounded. Yum! After dinner we relaxed in the room and then called it a night fairly early, knowing that we would have to get up for an early start in the morning. I was too exhausted to write my blog before bed so decided to get up even earlier than everyone else to do it.
Distance: 13.8 miles
Time: 4 hrs. 39 min.
Avg. Speed: 3.0 mph
Total Ascent: 491 ft.
Total Descent: 446 ft.