“Well, this is some family hike!”
Ben was indignant from the back seat that the family hike we had been planning for over a week for our Valentine’s Day outing was being missed by two members of our family.
Somehow the perfectly reasonable 10am leaving time had become not-so-reasonable to everyone involved, the result being that when the van pulled out of the driveway, we were short a couple of Chinos.
Pressing on, Taido and I did our best to convince Ben and Simon that we would still have a fun day, even if the misty morning was declaring otherwise with regards to weather.
We stopped an hour down the road to collect a picnic lunch and then we were off to walk the coast from Arbroath, a town I have heretofore only known as a stop on the train between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Fishermen were working out in the low tide when we arrived, and we quickly climbed above them to walk the cliffs over the North Sea.
The scale of the sea cliffs is almost impossible to perceive in photos but we were high enough up to make me a tiny bit nervous as the boys ran ahead of us.
The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below drowned out my voice calling to them to slow down. However, the several miles of trail that run north of Arbroath are actually set further back from the cliff drops than other coastal walks we have done. The first two miles are even paved and there are easy steps down to the sea.
For the most part the boys forgot about their siblings not being along. They ran along the rocky shoreline when the trail dipped down to the bay, stopping now and then for a shell or a bit of sea glass.
The drizzle that we had driven down in was replaced by the usual cold, wet air but as long as we were walking I was warm. And I am always grateful when it’s not raining.
When we reached Auchmithie, we found a playground where we sat and gobbled up our sandwiches, followed with thermos cups full of gloriously hot tea. Even a short stop in the cold air makes me feel a bit stiff when we start walking again, but I was glad to move to warm back up after lunch.
On the way back we saw folks in kayaks just below the cliffs. I shivered at the thought of being out on the sea where the icy water could splash me. It made me tired to watch them struggle against the waves.
The boys ran most of the way back, reaching the car well before me. (always) We made a couple more stops in Arbroath before heading back up to Aberdeen, one to see the Arbroath Abbey and another to get a taste of the famous Arbroath Smokies. You can buy this delectable smoked fish right near the harbor, not far from where it is caught and prepared. We even took some home to Cole and Mary Polly.
Now when I take the train south from Aberdeen, I will watch more closely when we roll through Arbroath for a glimpse of this trail and for the fisherman who are bringing in the catch for the day.
And this is part of what I love about exploring Scotland this way,
bit by bit on foot.
I feel I am collecting it in my heart, like pieces of a puzzle.
Memories strung across a map.
Meaning given to town names that a year ago I did not know how to pronounce.
I cannot wait to see what we will find next.
You can see more photos from our day out in Arbroath in the Photo Story on Google.