I don’t sleep well on my first night in Edinburgh. The prior long travel day combined with my apprehension of my upcoming walk make for a restless night. Today I need to catch the train south for a couple of hours, exit and try and find the right metro to the town of Tynemouth and the No. 61 guest house, the starting point of my Hadrians Wall walk the following day.
To try and make travel in a foreign country a tad easier, I book my train tickets through a booking agent beforehand. She let’s me know that I just need to be at the Edinburgh EDI gateway train station to pick up my ticket and I’ll be good to go.
I get a taxi from my Edinburgh hotel and tell him my destination. I should have realized there was a problem when the driver had to google the location, which is never a good sign. Thirty minutes later we arrive to a desolate and eerily quiet train station. The taxi leaves me to my lonesome. I get my ticket and sit in the station watching the board showing arrivals and departures. I still have a couple of hours yet but I’m not seeing my train.
I get up the courage to ask the man behind the glass if I am in the right spot to catch the train I need.
“No mate, you need to catch this train at Waverly, but you can get on the next train that arrives here and it will take you where you need to be.”
Luckily I have the two hours to spare. Waverly train station was only a couple of blocks from the hotel I was staying in. The booking agent thought I needed to catch a train directly from the airport, not realizing I was already in downtown Edinburgh.
It doesn’t take me long to get back on track though, and I find myself at the Waverly Station. Now I just need to find my platform. I have about an hour before my departure time. The lack of sleep is really starting to affect me.
The hustle and bustle keeps me entertained as I watch the arrivals and departures, yet my train never appears. I have thirty minutes before the train departs. I grab my luggage and decide to wander around to the other side of the train platform to see if perhaps my train is over here.
Dumb luck lets me stumble onto my train platform with twenty minutes to spare before we leave. I sit down and let out some huge sighs of relief. The joys of solo travel. I have two hours to enjoy the countryside from the fast moving train before I arrive to my connection, then get to try and find the metro that will take me to the town of Tynemouth.
A nice enough gent with a thick accent takes his time to repeat the instructions to me on how to get to onto the right metro. Eventually I figure out where I need to go, board the metro in the dark underbelly of the city, and intently listen to the announcements overhead for the correct departure station.
I have an application on my phone from the company that booked my accommodations for me that gives me helpful directions to each guest house I will be staying in. I read the directions repeatedly on my journey down here to Tynemouth, but once I exit the station, I’m still lost.
The stress is high as my phone battery gets lower and lower. I take a chance and cross the bridge over the train tracks to see if the other side of the station has the familiar street signs and markings I need that will take me to the No. 61 guesthouse.
Incredulously, my intuition serves me well, and with relief visible on my face, I walk towards the No.61 guesthouse.
I check in easily enough, then head back out to wander around this lovely seaside town. At the water’s edge I find the Tynemouth Castle and Priory. A path along the ocean shows me the beauty of this lovely little town. This marks my final evening before I start walking in the morning. By this time tomorrow, all questions about whether I have the physical and mental strength to walk Hadrian’s Wall will start to have answers.
As the ocean waves blanket the sands in white foam, I smile at the beach goers and tourists enjoying the late afternoon. The quaint buildings and cobblestone streets of Tynemouth put me in a serene mood of serious contentment.
I find a little Indian restaurant to get dinner. Two ales later and a belly full of vegetable korma have me feeling satisfied.
I double check my backpack and suitcase one final time before calling it a day. I hope to sleep better tonight than the night before, as the walk starts tomorrow…..