How we spent our week in Dumfries & Galloway.

I thought I would write one more holiday post before I say a final goodbye to Scotland as I still have a few more photos to share with you. Stopping in the South West of the country in November meant that a lot of visitor attractions are winding down or already closed, especially in such a relatively quiet area as Dumfries & Galloway. However we still found things to see and do, always accompanied by our Black Labrador Hugo of course.🙂

Hiked to St Ninian’s Cave.   We took a short hike to visit the sea-cave retreat of Scotland’s first missionary saint. St Ninian set up the first church in nearby Whithorn and also used this cave as a place of solace and prayer. The original Celtic Cross Carvings that adorned the walls can now be found in Whithorn Museum but people from all over the world still make pilgrimages here, leaving gifts and makeshift crosses. We parked at the small car park at Kidsdale ( honesty box payment) , walked down to the shore through a woody glen and the cave can be seen on the right, a short stroll along the rocky beach. The cult movie ‘The Wicker Man’ was filmed in the area.

Visited Scotland’s National Book Town.   Yes Scotland has a National Book Town !  Wigtown on the Machars peninsula has a high concentration of book shops ( I counted ten) , including the largest book shop in Scotland, imaginatively called ‘The Book Shop’. The building doesn’t look very vast from the outside, but is deceptively tardis like from the moment you step indoors. And it’s also home to a very cute  Bookshop cat,so Hugo didn’t visit this one !  We found a couple of bookshop/cafes that are pet friendly including ‘Beltie Books’ and ‘Reading Lassies’, the latter has a cute resident collie. Soz, I am slightly dog/cat crazy.  What I should say is, if you love books, you will be in your element here.🙂 The town has an annual Book Festival every September.

Ate out in pretty Portpatrick.  Although we stayed in most evenings ( we had such a cosy holiday cottage, it was hard to leave after darkness fell) , we did go out for lunch…and even afternoon tea , in the pretty little fishing village of Portpatrick. With it’s pastel coloured cottages and impressive community bought harbor, the village is picture postcard perfect. It’s also a great place to try fresh seafood. Wil can heartily recommend the Cod Loin Au Poivre at the seafront ‘Crown Hotel’ ( I had a taste , and it was delicious) and their Seafood platter sounds impressive. As a Birthday treat for moi , Wil had booked afternoon tea at the Fernhill Hotel. With stunning cliff top views over the harbor and beyond, the Fernhills afternoon tea comes served in darling vintage crockery. Both establishments are down to earth, friendly and welcome dogs too.

Explored Castle Kennedy Gardens and grounds.  Galloway’s most well known gardens are situated between two natural lochs in the grounds of two historic castles near Stranraer. 75 acres  of forest trails, a huge lily pond, lochside walks, rhododendron displays, a walled garden and Champion trees. As well as exploring the parkland, we actually stopped here , in a lovely cottage on the estate.  You can read about our stay here  and check out lots of pictures of the local wildlife, which include Roe Deer and Red squirrels.🙂

 

Looked for Lighthouses.  The Rhins of Galloway ( rhins means points or headlands) are renowned for their numerous lighthouses, mostly built by members of the same family as the writer Robert Louis Stevenson !  I did write  A separate Lighthouse Post . about our visits to Corsewall Lighthouse and The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Both are havens for wildlife including seabird colonies and Grey Seal.🙂 Depending on the time of year it may be possible to take a lighthouse tour on the Mull. Another Stevenson built beacon that I didn’t include, can be found five miles from Portpatrick, on the Southern Upland Way. Killantringan is privately owned. A 1970s shipwreck can sometimes be viewed at low tide apparently.

 

Visited an Artist’s Town.  The quality of light brought and still brings many artists to the harbor town of Kirkcudbright and there is a popular Arts and Crafts trail for visitors to enjoy. We bobbed here on our journey back to England, and it is somewhere I would love to return to and spend more time . Apart from having a wee wander round, we actually bought a picture of a Lighthouse from one of the local galleries. It is an Artist’s Town after all!  We also enjoyed Fish & Chips from ‘Polar Bites’ and shared them with Hugo.:)

So that is how we spent our week.

Have you ever visited the area?  Where would you recommend a visit in South West Scotland?

Our stay in the grounds of a Scottish Castle.

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Icehouse Cottage.

I can hardly believe that only last week, we were staying in a beautiful cottage in Scotland. A cottage in the grounds of a Castle no less. Two castles in fact !  Lochinch Castle in Dumfries and Galloway is  home to the Count and Countess of Stair. The castle was built in the mid 19th Century some years after their original residence ‘ Castle Kennedy’ was burned to the ground. The ruins of Castle Kennedy can also be found on the Lochinch Estate and the Castle Kennedy Gardens are open to the public. Seventy Five acres of sculptured gardens and woodland to wander in. In November we more or less had it all to ourselves!

Our home for the week was the cosy single story Icehouse Cottage situated close to the original remains of a Victorian Icehouse. With it’s pretty furnishings, toasty wood burner and idyllic location, we couldn’t have wanted for more. Hugo was especially happy led in front of the fire after long walks around the grounds.🙂

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The ruins of Castle Kennedy.

On our very first walk we came across three deer just wandering through the forest.🙂  In fact every walk, thereafter, we would spot roe deer, red squirrels , woodpecker, pheasants, buzzards and other wildlife amongst the canopy of the trees. They became such common sights that it wasn’t even a surprise when we spied deer along the treeline of the woodland  behind the back of the cottage. I’m sure if we had erected a trampoline, the John lewis advert would have come to life there and then!

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Lochinch Castle.

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There are two Lochs on the Lochinch estate poetically named The Black Loch and The White Loch. Both hold lots of wildlife and the White Loch is a site of Special Scientific Interest due to its winter waterfowl and rare invertebrate  fauna and flora. I’m not quite sure why my dog has two tails in the above photograph….

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I think my favourite part of the Castle Kennedy Gardens is The Walled Garden, which somehow reminded me of a Secret Garden. Autumnal colours were out in force and flowering shrubs still bloomed. So beautiful.

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We loved our time in South west Scotland and Lochinch Cottages  ( there are two more in the castle grounds) provided an ideal base to explore Dumfries & Galloway. And a Winter Break there?  Well why not! Being out of the tourist season means you can (almost) imagine your lording over your own estate.🙂

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As we left we saw a deer wading through the Black loch.🙂

A Tale Of Two Lighthouses.

What to do on a blustery day in November?  Why ,Visit a Lighthouse of course.🙂  Whilst holidaying in Dumfries and Galloway recently, there were certainly plenty of blustery days. The first Lighthouse we decided to go look at was The Corsewall Lighthouse which is actually also a hotel. Situated 15 minutes from Stranraer in the North Rhinns of Galloway ( rhinns is gaelic for headlands) ,Corsewall was built in 1817 and still beams a warning light to ships approaching the mouth of Loch Ryan.

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On the rocks near Corsewall Lighthouse.
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A better view. Can you spot the fog horn..

The surrounding rocks are home to many different seabirds including fulmer, kittiwakes and cormorants. We were also excited to see swimming Grey seals and one poser basking in the Winter sun.🙂

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Watch the birdies.
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Fancy stopping in a Lighthouse??

After scrambling about the rocks for a bit we definitely needed a brew and happily a hot chocolate inside did the trick for me.🙂  I should have sneaked a look at the rooms. They are quite expensive at £100 per person per night!  Maybe the views are worth it. On a clear day you can see towards Ireland, the Isle of Mann, Arran and Ailsa Craig.

What I found fascinating is that this particular Lighthouse was constructed by ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’s’ Grandfather Robert Stevenson. And it isn’t the only one. Robert and many of his descendants are responsible for most of Scotland’s  Lighthouses. Including another, we came across a couple of days later…

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Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Recognise the paint job.🙂

Heading south to the Mull of Galloway headland, the lighthouse here dominates the most Southern tip of Scotland. In season tours of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse   are possible and there is also an exhibition, holiday cottages, a glass encased coffee house and an RSPB Nature reserve.Phew! But of course on a squally November’s day , the most you can expect from the South Rhins is a bracing walk and the odd wildlife sighting.

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Even in November the sea was a surprising shade of blue green. Maybe the West Coast Gulf stream accounts for the comparatively temperate weather here. That didn’t stop us wrapping up warm!  The winds beat up swirls of sea foam from the ocean beneath us.

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Weather Stone!

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RSPB  building.
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Wil took this great picture of a Buzzard on the Mull.🙂

As the cafe was shut we decided to venture into the nearby village of Drummore , which is the most southerly village in Scotland. It was amazing to see palm trees along the shoreline. :)There I spied  a rough n ready biker’s cafe called ‘The Mariner’s Coffee Shop’ which does a mean hot chocolate and sticky ginger cake.

So there you have it, a tale of two lighthouses, built by the Grandfather of the author of ‘Treasure Island’…..

Have you ever stopped in a Lighthouse?

 

 

Photo an Hour ~ 19th November.

Saturday I joined in with Photo an Hour even though I was travelling back from Scotland, so I’m afraid a few of my pictures are either Car or weather related ! 

8am. Breakfast at the holiday cottage.Well a holiday breakfast should absolutey be coffee and croissants.:)

9am. On the road and heading for the town of Kirdcudbright, as a fellow blogger said it was nice. And she was right. ♡

10am. In Kircudbright and I really should have taken a photo of the town.Instead I am looking at my feet. My poor boots have had it.There is a hole in my right boot….and I am wandering around with one wet sock.:(

11am.  Here are some pretty Beach huts in the town that are part of an art trail.

Noon. Chippy lunch and there is a worrying sign in the Fish and Chip shop.Good chips though.:)

1pm.  Travelling companion in the back.Mr Hugo.:)

2pm.  Still in the car but nearly at my Mums, who we are dropping in on, on the way home. I’m looking through my recently aquired Belted Galloways Calander. Yep I am a farmer’s daughter alright. lol.🙂

3pm. At Mums and we lit a tea light in this cute tea light holder my brother gave me for my birthday.🙂

4pm.  Back in the car and I took this picture as we drove through Shap in Cumbria. Yes snow! Don’t worry I am a passenger. I’m one of life’s permanent pedestrians .  

6pm. Home sweet home.I didn’t bother with a 5pm photo as we were travelling through darkness and driving rain. Nice to finally arrive in Lancashire.The fur babies are reunited. ^^

7pm. Easy tea.Pizza from Sainsburys. You obviously can’t eat in peace in our house!

8pm. Looking for somewhere to display this gorgeous present from my friend Lisa.Its a hand painted tile of ‘The Duke’ a showman’s wagon we stayed in back in July. At the moment it’s on a shelf but deserves to be hung on the wall.I am so touched that Lisa made me this.:)

9pm.  The last photo I took , watching Black Sails. Love this show! But the theme tune is quite grating. All screechy but oddly atmospheric ! 

Thanks as always to Louisa and Janey for organizing.🙂

 

Links and Likes ♡ November.

My Links and Likes this month are coming from Bonnie Scotland, as I am currently holidaying in a cosy cottage in the grounds of ‘Castle Kennedy’ in the South West of the country. Whilst I hunker down next to a roaring fire in Icehouse Cottage ( it is toasty here, honest;) )

  , I will share a few pictures of where we are stopping , as well as some of my recent favourite blog posts.🙂

The Living Room. And lots of books on the book shelf.🙂

 

I love the look of this Colour Walk on Sarah’s blog. What a fun idea!

Little Birch has reviewed the stage version of Breakfast at Tiffanys. I would love to see it.:)


Mrs B is at the Whitby Goth Festival. How fantastic does it look! 

Its my Birthday whilst I’m here so I was amazed to be greeted on arrival by a bottle of wine and a birthday cake.:)

 
If you like Steampunk the Discovery Museum  in Newcastle is hosting a ‘Fabricating History‘ exhibition  from the 12th November. What if Lovelace and Babbage had computerised the 1840s and Steam powered airships had actually taken  off !

To get you in the mood for mulled wine and festive markets The Well Travelled Man has been reminiscing about Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.🙂

One of the pretty bedrooms.

Check out Christine’s post featuring Wild Swimming and Star Gazing  in the Lake District.🙂

I just had to include Danielle’s blog about the North East invasion of Snow Dogs. Her quest to find as many as possible was shared by her gorgeously photogenic and well behaved pooch Baker. What a sweetie. ^^

I have never been to Northern Ireland but this post by ‘ The Travelling B’ could persuade me.:)

I love that the cottage garden blooms with flowers, even in mid November.

Paula has been enjoying a decadent breakfast at The Savoy. Could Breakfast  be the new Afternoon Tea?? 

Well thats all for now. I will be back in a week or so with lots of adventures in Scotland.Already in my element, as have seen Red squirrel, Herons and Roedeer.🙂

Lowther Castle & Gardens.

Last weekend I found myself visiting the romantic ruins of Lowther Castle near Penrith in The Lake District. The Castle stands in what was once a medieval Deer Park and both the grounds and the castle are an ongoing restoration project by the Lowther family. The last Lowther resident was the Yellow Earl,5th Earl of Lonsdale. Like his name suggests, he had a fondness for the colour yellow and he was actually a founder and first president of the AA (Automobile Association) ,who adopted the colour. Unfortunately his penchant for the Good life meant he could not keep up with the expenses of living in a castle, so the historic building was left a derelict shell for many years.

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Happily today the Castle and gardens are being lovingly restored and are open to the public. Since my last visit 3 years ago, I can see the improvements that have been made, especially to the courtyard and gardens. Lowther castle is family friendly with lots of grounds and woodland to walk around and play in. Children should check out the new Lost Castle Adventure Playground in the woods , where all the family are encouraged to join in the fun and there is wheel chair access. The courtyard has a cafe and a gift shop. Dogs are welcome everywhere ( except in the Lost Castle) , including  the shop and tea room.:)

As you can see I visited with Wil and Hugo the dog, as well as my brother, sister, my niece and nephew. We all enjoyed exploring Lowther. It was a fun afternoon out for all the family.:)

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