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We are beginning to plan for our trip over to England, even though word has it from that side of the pond that the snow is still falling (as it is here up north), and it is a particularly cold winter. No worries.  By the time we go, the fields will be turning green, and the icy sleet will have turned to a warm drizzle.

This English Hedge Sparrow in West Bromwich, England is ready for spring. Photo by Tony Hisgett, Birmingham

We are planning to spend part of this trip north of Hadrian’s wall, that Roman construction that was built around 122AD to keep the Scots in Scotland,  provide a way to collect tariffs from any trade going back and forth, or possibly just an expression of Roman emperor Hadrian’s power. No one is quite positive on the subject.

This map shows the location of Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall in Scotland and Northern England. Created by Norman Einstein, September 20, 2005.

















The 80 roman mile construction was thought to have been plastered and white-washed, a pretty impressive sight by anyone’s standards. I have actually passed by it several times at fairly unimpressive spots, but the history and romance of it is very intriguing.

Hadrian's Wall between Housesteads and Once Brewed. Photo by Michael Hanselmann

Even though we have ventured to Scotland before (to both Edinburgh and to Oban on the west coast), we are going a bit further north this summer to Ballater, which is the closest village to Balmoral (as in the estate Queen Victoria purchased in 1848, and where the royal family still spends most August holidays).  There does seem to be lots to explore in the area in addition to the estates and gardens of Balmoral.

There is a safari trip I discovered online, where a guide takes guests by Range Rover through the estate and “… through the heather high up the flanks of Lochnagar, one of Scotland’s most famous mountains”….think of the stalking scenes in the movie “The Queen”.

Safari tours of Balmoral

We’ll have long days to explore.  Our last trip to Scotland that we did  in the month of June, I seem to recall it was still light at 11 pm at night!  But even though the daylight hours are very long, it was also very cold.  So I thought a tour of a Scotch whiskey distillery might be the thing to do.  There are many within an easy day trip of Ballater, including Glendronoch Distillery near Aberdeen.  They seem to be scattered all over the place. There is even one that services Balmoral.

Glendoroch Distillery in Scotland. A tasting here will take the cold Scottish chill away.







The other place I have always wanted to see is the village in “Local Hero”, the 1983 comedy drama starring Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster, and one of my favorite movies of all times.










There is a certain magic to the movie with a real sense of paradise lost, and the locations contribute a lot to that magic.  Although the movie takes place in one fictional village location, Fernesse, the actually shots were filmed in several Scottish locations, including Banffshire, Pole of Itlaw, and Pennan about two hours north of Balmoral on the coast.  It might be fun to hunt them out.

Pennan Village, photo by Tom Jervis from Wikipedia







So, I am still exploring online and trying to imagine what we may want to see when we are actually there.  But the possibilities seem endless. Now if the weather will just cooperate.