Seeking A Day Without Rain
Our last weeks in Scotland were characterized by near-freezing temperatures and rain, which often became ice on the sidewalks. We traveled on foot wherever we went, and our enjoyment of walking deteriorated as our tolerance for long hours in the cold and wet diminished.
In our final week, we felt that we needed to pack in a little more local travel and sightseeing, but the weather was prohibitive - as were the late sunrise, early sunset, and limited train schedule as Scotland prepared to celebrate Hogmanay (New Year's Eve). On our last Saturday evening, we sat down with a map, BBC Weather (online), and the Scotrail train schedule (online), and tried to plan a trip. Every reasonable destination for a day trip had significant rain predicted for Sunday: Dunkeld, Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee, and St. Andrews (and Perth would be rainy too). I followed the train routes on the map and looked for smaller towns, hoping for a clear forecast and a reasonable train schedule. One destination fit the requirements - Arbroath.
Rain in Perth
Walking in the rain in Scotland isn't really worth noting, but we were caught in a very heavy downpour as we made our way to the train station that morning. Walking in the rain along a busy street requires certain skills: managing umbrellas in a crowd, avoiding puddles in your path, and notably on this occasion, keeping an eye out for deep puddles along the side of the road that cars cannot avoid. Brian, walking several paces in front of me, was at the wrong place at the wrong time; a car zoomed through a massive puddle. The fin of water raised by this passing car was impressive and effective in drenching Brian's entire right leg. My jaw dropped as I witness this bath of road water. I was sure our outing was to be aborted, but Brian soldiered on, and we made it to the train.
We do not have smart phone, so looking up maps when we are traveling isn't possible. Our Arbroath trip was on a Sunday, so we knew that any Tourist Information offices would be closed, and we had no way to print maps from the internet at home before we left. The only solution left - a hand-drawn map.
Our planning paid off, and we escaped the rain before we arrived in Arbroath.
It was still quite cold, but at least it was sunny. We began our day in Arbroath Abby.
After exploring the Abby (and some excellent shopping in the gift shop), we had a granola bar and headed to the the sea.
While we were cold at the Abby, we had been sheltered from the wind. As we walked along the Harbor, we became deeply chilled. Our time in this area was cut short because of the cold and wind. We took refuge in the Old BoatYard, where I had one of the best meals of our Scotland time. However, I can't remember what I ordered - smoked salmon, or crab cake, or a fish cake? We did not order Arbroath Smokies (a small, salted, smoked fish that you eat whole), but we had a smokies tart (like a small quiche) as an appetizer.
We headed out again to see the sunset, but was far too cold and windy to walk much further west along the water.
My calendar for 12/30/12 reads:
Arbroath trip: a walk in heavy rain and car splashes to train. Abby. Harbor. Windy & cold.
Late lunch at Boathouse - yummy. Walk toward sunset. Return to Perth.