The second day of my stag weekend was a relaxed affair. Sort of. I had tasked Hannah with finding us a trekking centre, so we could go for a hack through the Scottish landscape. There’s something about Scotland. It seems wilder than the rest of the British Isles; one of those few remaining areas where magic is merely dormant, and not yet defeated by the modern world. Exploring on horseback is one of the best ways to see this, along paths that mortal feet cannot tread but hooves most definitely can! Hannah did some research, and one option in particular stood out from all the rest.
The Pentland Hills Trekking Centre had excellent reviews online, and offers three hour hacks as well as the usual shorter rides. All the girls I’d invited along can ride, but when the boys turned up the riding level went down a bit. We were very glad that they joined us (Steve in particular had to be cajoled and bullied into it, and tried to pull out a number of times) but it did mean we had to walk for three hours instead of the considerably faster pace we and horses had expected!
Katy, Bekky and I, clearly enraptured by something. Probably a horse.
Boys on board. Tom and Steve, looking… well, they’re on anyway.
Seamus and I. I loved this horse. If he’s ever for sale, please get in touch. I would happily buy him instead of a house.
A very happy Katy.
… and we’re off!
This is definitely the perfect trekking centre for experienced riders, as the ride we were taken on consisted of frequent stretches of path ideal for bombing (otherwise known as a fast canter that will likely break into a gallop). The horses were incredible as well. Not your typical concrete-mouthed ponies that ignore their riders completely, and take instruction only from the tail of the horse in front; these horses actually listened. Responsive and well behaved, they did exactly what they were told, despite being incredulous that we weren’t galloping across hill and dale for three hours. The horse I was allocated, Seamus, was not only gorgeous but read my mood perfectly, and spent three hours sneaking in little trots wherever he could get away with it. The slightest squeeze on the reins though and he would instantly do as instructed.
Tom and Steve had a bit of trouble when Tom’s horse bit Steve’s horse on the arse, so Steve’s horse kicked Tom’s horse in the face, and both horses had a minor tantrum. They weren’t thrown off, or run away with, as would have been perfectly normal in my experience, but both boys panicked a tiny bit. Largely I suspect as they don’t grasp just how badly things can go wrong on a horse, and how utterly impossible to control they can be if they decide to be, even for riders who know what they’re doing. Nevertheless, nervous and first-time riders who’d rather feel like they’re mounted on a slowly-moving armchair than a real horse, should be aware that Pentland’s has real horses.
We had lunch afterwards at a pub in Edinburgh, then sent the boys off for groceries whilst we de-horsed back at Rosslyn Castle (details on our castle retreat in my last post). The bath is absolutely huge, but beware: there is not enough hot water to fill it. I made this mistake, then spent an unpleasant twenty minutes trying to maintain a submerged position, my breath smoking into the freezing air above, hopefully trying the hot tap for more warmth every five minutes only for it to turn cold again and send me scurrying back beneath the water like a wary seal. Although a miserable bath I couldn’t help but see the funny side, and ended up giggling to myself. Yes, on my own, naked, in a lukewarm puddle of water in a castle. Footsteps paused outside the bathroom door just as I was mid-cackle, then hurried away to find a less-mad bathroom I presume.
Anyway, bathing time at an end, Hannah and I got stuck in preparing the evening’s meal. I started layering up enough potatoes dauphinoise to feed eight people, and Hannah made stuffed chicken breasts to accompany it and prawn cocktails to start. She had also laid the dining room table whilst I had been pootling around upstairs (“I wasn’t sure what you wanted Jade, so I just laid it out how they have it in the House of Lords.” “Oh well, I’m sure that’ll do Hannah!”) so I lit a huge bowl-full of tea lights on the table and built us a fire.
About 11pm, just as we’d dressed for dinner (boys looking very handsome in their suits, bless them, and the girls in dresses and heels), our guests arrived. Lancastrian brothers Joe and Adam appeared on our doorstep like sprites out of the darkness (they’d got the bus from Edinburgh, and come for dinner). Lamenting being under-dressed for the occasion, they soon spotted a couple of top hats lying around from last night, and were not to be parted from them until they left at 5am. They nipped off after the meal to wash-up for us, which was very much appreciated, and cemented our impression of them as a couple of helpful hobgoblins.
Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
And bootless make the breathless huswife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?
(Act 2, Scene 1: A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Where’s the most unusual place you’ve had a dinner party? Rosslyn is certainly mine!
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