A forgotten fuel cap, a minor flood,a broken fridge door and a fire in Dunkeld….but more of that later !
From Newcastle we headed west to explore Scotlands SW 300, a recent addition for a road trip on roads less travelled than the North Coast 500 and recommended by the Visit Scotland website. Only problem was the tourist information centre we visited in the first town had never heard of it. News must travel slowly in these parts, so we gave them a few notes on what we were hoping to visit and they intended to add it to their suggested itenary for future visiting tourists. We did (the what we think) a fair part and just winged it along the way.
Our first stop was the remains of Dundrennan Abbey just before closing. The Manager at the ticket office was ready to head off for the night in anticipation of his two week holiday the next morning. He advised the price and suggested we pay “whatever we had in our pocket” with no ticket issued and we could have a quick blast around on our own. Probably a donation to his first couple of pints on his hols I’d suggest. It was the perfect way to spend our first night in Scotland wildcamping on a glorious sun filled evening. Dating back to 1142 it was the monastery of Cistercian monks for more than four centuries. It was also the place where Mary Queen of Scots apparently spent her last night in Scotland before boarding a small boat en route to being imprisoned in England in 1568…..and having her head lopped off of course.
What a lovely view from our front door ..we have already been on the road now coming up three weeks and the variety of our front door views have been just wonderful!
Had a look around Kirkcudbright, selling itself as “The Artists Town” to tourists, with a few art galleries, a lively fishing port and festivals galore going on during August but unfortunately not whilst we were there.
A great walk along the river where we came across a Thomas Telford designed bridge (above ) and it will doubtless be here for another couple of Centuries. The one in the background has long since disappeared.
On our way to our next stop for the night one of the artists in town suggested we visit Carrick, a great picnic spot, although no overnight parking signs deterred wild campers, so after a cup of tea and some wild blackberry picking (we are becoming very used to having them with stewed fruit in our porridge in the morning) we set course for destinations unknown.
The village of Gatehouse of Fleet was home for the evening. Just a small village, with a lovely river meandering through it, so parked in the Spar car park which overlooked a great park where we had a dander the following morning before heading into the Galloway Forest Park. This area is known for its Dark Skies and observatory. We found a brilliant wild camping spot in the Wild Goats parking area . As the name suggests lots of wild goats around . A very slow cooked goat curry for dinner sounded good, but I’d forgotten my hunting knife and the West Indian takeaway was a good 40 miles away. It was cloudy overnight so no star gazing was had, but it was so peaceful and we were all alone. So alone in fact that Al decided to give himself a hair cut out side the following morning and not a sole around to laugh.
Wild goat camp wild camping ..In the distance you can see Murrays monument which we walked to the following morning. Up hill and down dale and in true Powell fashion we wandered off the usual track and ended up on all fours scrambling up the side of a waterfall !
.Wigtown town was our coffee stop known for its array of book shops and the Wigtown book festival. The shop below claims to be the largest in Scotland. However we’ll remember Wigtown as having the loudest constantly barking dog in Scotland. A highland terrior no less. If rosettes were available I’d have gladly pinned one on that wee doggie.
So with the weather looking a little uncertain, we decided we would stay over night on Isle of Whithorn..We arrived and parked behind The Steampacket Inn, harbour side. The sun was valiantly trying to peak out from behind the clouds. So we quickly donned the aforementioned waterproof boots and headed along the cliffs. We managed a couple of hours walk across the wind swept coast where it became more and more blustery. Well the folk here might refer to it as blustery but the gentle folk of Brisbane would call it Gale Force….bring your kids inside and pour a glass of something strong weather . Just closed our door and it started to smash down. We hastily bolted next door to the Inn for a couple of drinks before spending a hooley dooley of a night in the wind and rain tucked up in Pinot .
We stopped briefly (and so had the rain by this time) to do some banking in Port William, just joking but the local Scottish bank was harbour side and the coffee shop looked inviting .a cheeky pinch on the bum for this lovely man as he stared out to sea.
Next stop the lovely Port Patrick. Lots of lovely restaurants and cafes. Coastal walks too.We checked into our first campsite of the trip and it did not disappoint. Wow what a view!super excited too because we could turn our fairy lights on ( I know what you’re thinking, ….how easily they get excited these days ) and capture this magical view at night of the ruins of Dunskey Castle. Simple pleasures I know.
We would have liked to spend longer around here and check out more of the cycle routes etc ..(been very slack in that department as I write this) but had plans to go up to Dunkeld to meet Arthur and Wendy for a long weekend. We booked into the Invermill Farm Camping at Dunkeld. It’s about a 10 minute walk into the Town and is located on the River Tay. Lovely spot.
Dunkeld and the neighboring village of Birnam where Wendy lives are situated on the River Tay. Dunkeld is the larger of the two. We have visited here a couple of times previously. So let’s start the weekend gently with a pint at the local pub while waiting on Wendy and Arth to join us. We parked up and plugged in and walked across the Bridge into Town and were greeted by a wee bit of excitement. Wendy works each Friday in the Kettles of Dunkeld and apparently a fire had broken out upstairs and Wendy and other staff were evacuated whilst the firemen did their stuff. The road was blocked off and Wendy claimed her innocence (below) to the firies .Kettles of Dunkeld. So whilst this was kicking off we waited patiently and had a swift pint. I didn’t quite finish it as a couple of dying wasps nose dived into the dregs…..they went out happy bless em ! .Dinner at the Scottish Deli (Spanish inspired) where we had a lovely Paella. Not a Haggis in sight.Amanda has a nasty seafood allergy so had a vegetarian version but it wasn’t too good.The next morning Arthur (the local tour operator) he is very passionate about his place of birth. Couldn’t have been that good or he wouldn’t be in Melbourne 😉 It’s a gorgeous part of the world, lots of nice eateries, brilliant walks and lots of water. Fishing, cycling, canoeing and the likes..
Not often you’d see Scotsmen put money into a tree….must have been the tourists I suspect! The following day was lunch at The Grand Tully. Fantastic meal, great service and Wendy was the hostess with the mostest kindly doing the Dedicated driving duty for the day. A lovely afternoon and the weather was a balmy 28 degrees.
The water incident referred to earlier was a bit of an issue. I’d (Allen) not correctly put the lid on a 5 liter bottle of water and overnight it had decanted at least 2 liters onto the carpet…….Lucky it was fine weather, so the whole carpet was hung up to dry out over the next 48 hours. Now, the fridge incident. Just like a boat, you need to be quite gentle with latches, switches and doors etc, however the sliding lock on the fridge door can be a bit sensitive. Amanda has on several occasions in the past tried to close the fridge door whilst in the locked position. That results in jamming the lock closed, whilst the door is open. This time I couldn’t coax it back, so now we have a little bit of gentle persuasion needed to lock it permanently when in transit. No biggie, just a nuisance. First World problems ! So after a great weekend of minor issues, lots of laughs, food and drinking poo’s….we headed South once again and parked overnight in Girvan on the harbour with a lovely setting sun and some very naughty fish and chip suppers in newspaper. A fitting end to our time in Scotland.
. Bye for now xx