Friday, 19 August 2016

Biggar and Bettar

Loch Skeen
From our house we can head north and be in Edinburgh in a little over 3 hours thanks to the modern wonders of the M6 & M74 but life isn’t always about how fast you can get from A to B (though you’d be forgiven for thinking that if you saw some of the lunatic overtaking manoeuvres we’ve witnessed over the past few days...).  We are heading for Edinburgh, eventually, but thought we’d take a few detours along the way.

Instead of racing up the M74 we headed off at J15, took a quick look at Moffat, which was OK but a bit touristy, and continued on to Biggar.  As it was our wedding anniversary (13 years – that romantic “textiles and furs” anniversary of which everyone speaks...) we thought we’d treat ourselves to a night or two in a nice hotel and were booked into the lovely Elphinstone Hotel in the middle of the town. 

I am absolutely convinced that wherever you go you can always find something interesting to see and do, so here are my top 5 things for Biggar

  • 1.        The Town Trail – at the top end of town is the smart & modern museum where you can buy a town trail for £2.50.  This fabulous wee guide will take you on a stroll through the town, pointing out the things to watch for along the way – the sorts of things that require you to peer around the backs of buildings and spot things you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  I love stuff like that!
  • 2.       Cadger’s Brig – the pretty bridge at the bottom end of town is reputedly where William Wallace once sneaked across dressed as a cadger (beggar) to snoop on English troops.  There’s a pretty bench on the old fording point and a cafe/ pub next door where William Wallace stopped for a pie and a pint on his way back.  (I may have made that last part up)
    Cadger's Brig
  • 3.       The closes – Biggar reminded me a lot of Kendal with its broad main street and dozens of closes winding off to each side.  Definitely go off and explore as there are some pretty little nooks, and so nice that it’s all still much as it has been for hundreds of years.
  • 4.       Boghall Castle – it’s tempting to say that there’s bog-all to see at Boghall, but some ruins do remain – just enough to make you wish you’d been around to see the place in its former glory.
  • 5.       Grey Mare’s Tail – OK this isn’t in Biggar, but it is only a short drive away and it’s a great hike.  If you’re not feeling energetic you can just take the short walk to the waterfall, but if you’re wanting to work up a good appetite for a big dinner, take the signed walk all the way up to Loch Skeen at the top.  The views are superb and you’ll be able to polish off a pudding later with no questions asked!

Back at The Elphinstone (which itself has an interesting history and plaque on the outside) we freshened up and headed down for dinner (I can neither confirm nor deny that we polished off the biscuits in the room while we readied ourselves.)

The menu is huge with something to suit every taste and the dining area cosy & informal.  We tucked ourselves away in a corner and splashed out on a bottle of Prosecco which was divine.  (I mean it, wine can be a bit hit and miss but this was superb).  I had the Cullen Skink – a creamy smoked haddock soup & local delicacy before moving on to salmon in a pink peppercorn sauce with plenty of chips to soak up the sauce (I am *so* classy!).  Steve opted for the breakfast stack – a mini breakfast piled up on his plate) and the steak and ale pie which appeared to contain half a cow but which Steve effortlessly polished off and promptly followed with the rhubarb crumble (seriously, where does he put it?  He’s so lovely and slim & I swear I gain weight by osmosis when I hug him after a large dinner.)

After that there was nothing left to do but roll back up the stairs and crash out on the huge bed and check out how many medals we’d won that day in Rio.  It did seem odd, sprawled there utterly stuffed to the gills while we watched perfect athletic specimens in the peak of their condition compete on the global stage. To be fair we didn’t end up watching much – the pleasantly full tummy and large cosy bed meant I was drifting off to the land of nod in no time at all.  In fact if it were an Olympic event I definitely fancy my chances of a medal.

Corn Exchange

Can anyone spot Delores?

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