Edinburgh is a magical place and it is of no surprise that JK Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books there.  This was not our first visit to Edinburgh, so we challenged ourselves to find different things to explore.  We walked up Arthur Seat via the gentle route as carrying a camera bag and tripod up a hill is no joke.  I blessed my hiking poles at each stop along the way.  It was with great self pride that I got to the top looking out at the majestic Edinburgh Castle.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup took place in the castle grounds. I was truly surprised to find the Firth of Forth within touching distance.  I had no idea that the coast was so close to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle
Looking out on top of Arthur Seat





The next place we explored was the Jupiter Artland, in Wilkieston, 7km west of Edinburgh.  As we drove through the large gates, down a winding road of an obvious manor house, my excitement began to grow as the wooded lane cleared and we saw these extraordinary sculptured and rather alien looking mounds of very green grass.  We joined in the playful treasure hunt with other adults and children climbing on top of these grass sculptures, all of us determined to see the art piece on the apex of each mound.

We must have spent a good 5 hours walking around and we truly did not want to leave.  Highlights included the Amethyst Cave, a knitted spiders web, children playing hide and seek in the woods, a duck pond with thousands of wind chimes blowing their music across acres of open fields, the latest work of Antony Gormley and much more.  Have a look at the photos and links below.

Amethyst Cave

We had decided to include both of Antony Gormley’s sculptures into our visit.  I loved both pieces. His new piece in Jupiter Artland, although I was convinced I could see a human form in the sculpture, Gormley’s intention was to represent the way the stars and galaxy are mapped.  His other sculpture, the Angel of the North in Tyne and Wear, was equally as impressive and I was glad we made the effort to see it.   This enormous sculpture definitely has an angelic aura. I was so pleased to capture the people at the angel’s feet, giving some idea of the scale of this huge metal structure.

The Galaxy
The Galaxy
Angel of the North






North Berwick was not your typical seaside town. We stayed in the MacDonald Marine Hotel which sits adjacent to a golf course and the ocean.  Walking along the beach we watched a father and son on a rubber duck feeding fish to a seal.  I managed to capture the fish half way in the seals mouth.  We came across North Berwick Seabird Centre offering excursion to see Gannets and Puffins.  I could not contain my excitement. I spoke to the ships captain to ask him which side of the boat would be best for photographing and could I use a tripod.  He smiled at me so sweetly, I think mainly at my enthusiasm and in  his strong scottish accent he told me that I would be better off holding the camera as the boat had a strong vibration from the engine and that either side would be good for photos.  As we approached the white Bass rock, it was then obvious that the rock was not white at all, but was inhabited by thousands of birds. I tried to capture the visual explosion of gannets flying in every direction.  My excitement at seeing the fluffy chicks made it almost impossible to get a steady shot.  It was a perfect time to see the gannets but we had unfortunately missed the puffins with only a few out at sea. To be honest I saw little black birds in the water without even realising they were puffins and only after zooming in to the image could I make out their orange beaks.

White Gannets cover Bass Rock

We found the time to walk up the Laws but did not get to see the wild ponies which I believe is actually a legend.  Our final stop within the Scottish borders was a visit to the a 14th century fortress called Tantallon Castle on the edge of a cliff.  The castle was damaged by Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland in 1651. You can see in the picture the challenges they must have had in trying to protect themselves from both the invasions and the harsh natural elements.   I loved North Berwick and I plan to return.

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick

Back in the English borders, we ended the perfect holiday with an eight mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales, as the purple heather was starting to appear on the hillsides.  After our walk, we slumped down in a gluten free cake shop in the village sipping yorkshire tea and eating scones with jam and cream before heading on home to London.

Links:  Jupiter Artland, Macdonald Marine Hotel, North Berwick Seabird Centre, Tantallon Castle, gallery

  • Scotland 
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