When speaking with friends a lot decide their next holiday location based on the sunniest and hottest place they can get to. An adult only hotel on an island in the Indian Ocean, a boozefest in a location such as Benidorm. Clubbing in Ibiza seems to entice many people or long haul in search of Asian food and elephants. City breaks seem as popular as all inclusive relaxation. So many options are open to us, I sometimes think people just stick a pin in a map of the world with some of the exotic locations I’ve never even heard of. What do you want from your holiday? Sun, sea and sand? Action and adventure? Walking? Relaxing? History and architecture? Busy cities that never sleep? Theme parks? Foodie destinations? We all have different loves, wants and passions.
The question is how did Mr C and I decide on a June break in Scotland? Covering Ayrshire in the south west to John O’Groats in the far north east to Nairn and Edinburgh?
If you know us even a little bit through my blog you won’t be surprised to hear that we planned our summer holiday around post boxes, 19 Edward 8th post boxes in Glasgow to be exact! The EVIII post boxes which lots of people think say EVIL!
We enjoy visiting parts of the United Kingdom that we haven’t seen before and finding a post box or thirty along the way makes it into a bit of a magical mystery tour!
We started our journey in England with a gastronomic Michelin Starred meal and overnight stay at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume restaurant and hotel in Cartmel near Grange Over Sands and the Lake District.
Cartmel is a very pretty village with lots going on especially were good food is concerned!
Next stop meant crossing the border into Scotland and our first EVIII post box of the trip was in Ayr close to the beach and the racecourse.
If you look at your local post boxes you’ll see that they aren’t actually all the same. The cypher of the King or Queen is present on the door, the above cypher is the one we are interested in, Edward 8th’s.
We stayed at Wemyss Bay and had an amazing view across the Firth of Clyde with warm sunny weather and wonderful sunsets. If you’re in the area make sure you check out the Art Deco ice cream parlour in Largs…delicious!
A trip on a boat on Loch Lomond showed us what must be the grandest Youth Hostel ever, a wonderful residence that was home to many US servicemen recovering in the war. Following the hospitality to its soldiers, donations were made from the States to keep this building accessible to all travellers hence why it’s been a Youth hostel ever since. Another fantastic building is now a luxury hotel where many famous stars and celebrities have stayed over the years. I love taking tourist boat or bus trips, there’s always amazing information at hand from the local guides, things you just wouldn’t hear anywhere else. The landing of a bright yellow water plane at the DeVere Hotel was pretty cool despite the lady sat behind me humming the Indiana Jones theme tune. Is it stuck in your head yet? Yep… me too!
Just across the bridge from the boat mooring was another EVIII post box on our list in Alexandria.
The next post box was in Kilmarnock by a very pretty park and beautiful houses made of the local red stone. At the top of the hill above the park is a great monument to Robert Burns. The monument has had the local registry office built around it in a really sympathetic way. At the side is also a wonderful drinking fountain that was donated to celebrate the King’s Coronation in 1902, King Edward 7th, Queen Victoria’s son.
A few ice creams later we celebrated Mr C’s birthday so it is now only 6 months to Christmas Day! It’ll be even nearer Christmas when you read this blog!
Now how would you choose to celebrate your birthday? Mr C’s involved the City of Glasgow, 19 EVIII post boxes in one day, 3 football grounds and a dirty burger and beer at Bread Meats Bread in the city centre.
Where to next I hear you ask?
Nairn was our next destination, across 200 miles of amazing scenery in The Highlands via Fort William and Ben Nevis. Then travelling north east alongside Loch Lochy which leads into Loch Ness and then the Caledonian Canal. There’s an AA black box on the right as you pass Loch Ness but we didn’t stop for a photo even though I love these boxes, still kicking myself for not turning round! We crossed Scotland in a north east direction just above the Cairngorm Mountains. If it had been a clear day we would have gone for a cable car ride but we’ll save that for another trip. I also want to do the Jacobite Steam Train journey from Fort William to Mallaig on our next visit north.
Now I love visiting new places and being so near to John O’Groats had been enticing me for months. A six hour round trip but it did include post boxes of course, a box on the harbour side in Thurso and a large Wooden Post Box at the John O’Groats Gift Shop. We had a delicious ice cream each while at John O’Groats. We saw some fantastic sights from the coastline, more mountains, windy roads with hairpin bends, Castles hugging the cliffs, many more Lochs inland and some amazing sandy beaches in this most northerly coastline of the United Kingdom. Lots of farming all around and a huge Venison farm as we headed south again.
We wanted to visit Balmoral while staying in Nairn, so that’s another one for a future trip. Mr C has been before but I’ve wanted to go there since I was a little girl but we just couldn’t fit it into this trip. My grandma loved the Royal Family, especially the Queen Mother so I’ve always been fascinated by our Royal Family and their homes. One of my Uncles served in the Royal Navy under Lord Mountbatten and then was an Officer above Prince Charles so this was always a favourite talking point of my grandma.
We tried to visit a few Distilleries on the Sunday but found none of them were open… note to us both, visit midweek next time!
The next journey was south east to Aberdeen and we passed another AA box and yes I did screech to a halt.
Our next planned stop was for a Mantlepiece post box in Buckie, Mr C wasn’t very impressed with this one! Again showing how different each post box can be!
In Aberdeen there was a VR ‘A’ post box in AB24, in such a wonderful part of Old Aberdeen.
Two EVIII post boxes in Aberdeen.
The final post box to find in Aberdeen was a VR ‘B’ post box in AB11.
Some fantastic architecture in Aberdeen especially around the University. Don’t forget wherever you’re travelling to look up, look down, look all around or you’ll miss some great sights.
We found another EVIII from our list in Perth, no silly, not the Australian Perth! Set into the wall of a pretty village Post Office.
One more stop on our journey south in Dunfermline.
Our next overnight location was Edinburgh and the coastal area of Leith, the location of one of our favourite restaurants, Tom Kitchin’s ‘The Kitchin’ and yes of course we were booked in for a Michelin Star lunch the following day.
First though the Forth Road Bridge, did I not mention I love bridges? I’m just an addictive personality…. Anyway bridges… wow re the new road bridge that’s being built, a big change since we were last here about 15 months ago. There’s a Replica VR Penfold pillar box in South Queensferry that has a great view of the three bridges and a good view of the trains going over the Forth Rail Bridge.
This week the Forth Bridge was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more information on all three bridges have a look at this website http://www.forth-bridges.co.uk/
A memorial for those known to have lost their lives building the Forth Bridge.
If you live in Scotland you’ll find that post boxes often have a Scottish Crown and the words Post Office. This is due to ‘our’ Queen Elizabeth II only being the first Queen Elizabeth of Scotland, some post boxes in the early 1950’s were defaced and since then they have only displayed the crown and not the ERII cypher.
We also visited the local Royal Mail Centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh and it had a wonderful garden full of post boxes including an EVIII post box.
Chris Hoy’s two gold post boxes will have to wait for another trip. The night we arrived we ate at new curry and craft beer restaurant VDeep in Leith, highly recommend if you’re in the area.
Where next? The next destination was a surprise to Mr C and the rest of his birthday present from me. He knew we were Northumbria bound but didn’t know where. We stayed in an old guards Van railway carriage at a former train station near Wooler. Bliss!
We went to Etal Castle on the local narrow gauge railway which was a lovely little trip.
We also renewed our English Heritage Membership while we were at Etal Castle. Lots of great places to visit throughout England. As we’ve shown with this trip, you can easily build travel plans around places you’d like to visit, just takes a bit of planning!
Our final day involved laying on the beach at Bamburgh to read for an hour or so before we hit the A1 back to Yorkshire.
Now we didn’t have any more post boxes we needed to find but there were a few favourites on our route south.
The large K4 Post Office phone box near Whitley Bay metro station.
The EVIII post box in Whitley Bay near the seafront close to the wonderful St Mary’s Lighthouse.
We’ve become big fans of Newcastle as this was the Curly One’s home for three years while at Uni. I always like visiting the original VR Penfold post box and don’t forget there’s a replica VR Penfold in Newcastle’s China Town. Another EVIII post box is close to the Biscuit Factory as you travel towards the Quayside.
Newcastle’s Replica Penfold post box.
Catterick Garrison EVIII
We did miss two EVIII post boxes in Scotland on the Isle of Mull due to logistics of distance and ferries… this needs to be another trip in the future involving Oban as well as some Island Hopping. Though whilst on this trip my friend Sam from Clandestine Cake Club sent me a photo of one of the Mull EVIII post boxes so we’re going to part claim that one for this trip… thank you Sam! I love how my friends all send me photos of post boxes, we’ve got a lot of people noticing them over the last four years!
Isle Of Mull EVIII
It was finally time to make our way home after another amazing holiday. We’ve travelled around 1,800 miles over 12 days seeing some of the most fantastic scenery in the United Kingdom. We hope you’ve enjoyed our trip too and watch out for another post box sightseeing tour soon! Including the photo from my friend that’s a total of 32 Edward 8th post boxes in one trip with a few extra ones along the way.
Where will your next trip take you?