Hiking to Duddingston - A New Year 2019 Tonic at The Sheep Heid

It had so far been a glorious stay with son Charles who had nabbed a spot in the Film Academy at Edinbugh University, Napier. We arrived for Christmas and Hogmany. Having no car, we sometimes used Uber but mostly chose to hike. Our hikes were determined by one of 2 things, an intriguing, very Scottish place (The Holyrood Palace, The National Museum of Scotland.), or an off -the- beaten -track restaurant, preferably that served oysters.

So, on New Years Day, we set off for a 5 miler to The Sheep Heid Inn, a 600 year old Public House in the picturesque village of Duddingston.  Well, I could just picture this village of Duddingston and it's lone pub crowded on New Years Day with every tourist and local person around trying to jostle there way up to the edge of it's famous bar to order their post Hogmany beverage.

To hike, we took the roads, the most direct way from Leith.   A prettier way would be to cross over the Calton Hill and walk through the meadows of Holyrood Park. 

Charlie seemed sullen, (Well, these creative types! Plus, we had stayed out until 4:30 a.m. - a first for me! See Blog Post  "Getting Squished and Torched - Making friends with the Millennials @ Hogmanay 2019".) Luckily, I love fast paced hikes and could keep up with him. I did get perturbed though, when we came to street crossings where he kept growling at me,  "Be careful." Somehow, the fact that I had gotten my way through China and Hong Kong solo in the early 90's, had not impressed him. I will give him the benefit of of the doubt  though, because to many I often come across as being somewhat fay and confused.

Boy did everyone's mood change when we arrived at The Sheep Heid Inn! No, it was not crowded and was it ever charming... in more ways than I could have imagined. Cozy, authentic,  and truly tasteful from the bar to the cozy close tables. Because we were early, they had a table for us.

A bottle of bubbly was ordered with our appetizers, one being a melted Camembert in the box. Delicious.  Then, our usual seating shuffle took place. In this case, I switched seats for a better view without the baby, and a tremendous amount of baby gear, squeezed in, about 3' away. The Sheeps Heid is dog friendly which is a joy because British dogs are well taken care of and they are fun to watch.

Our mains, dishes of traditional roasted meets with veg and potato came and we ate it up. Actually, I hardly noticed mine, because I was now looking out the window and was fascinated to see it filling up with mostly young people who were gathering OUTSIDE to cheer in the new year with friends. Later, after we met a fun couple at the incredibly beautiful bar, which was still not crowded, we joined the gathering crowd outside.  All these people looked so healthy and happy and... being someone who feels the neighbors with whom you eat with are almost as important as the food, this was a very special scene, and amazingly, we felt at home.  Since Charlie had decided to hike back to his flat, it gave us time to relax with this merry, hearty crowd and, as often happened in Edinburgh, we had the awesome opportunity to talk with people much younger. I do love, really love their pro Scotland, positive speak. And what a thrill to be among my fellow outdoorsy brethren!

Can a leg stretching, 5 mile hike to a 600 year old gorgeous pub surrounded by happy, proud people and cute dogs be a perfect way to start the New Year? Well, it was a Scottish tonic for us and one that I would drink any day.


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