Category Archives: seaside

Scotland Trip Plans.

Plans are afoot for a Scotland holiday later this year. So whereabouts are we going? Well, we are actually staying at three different places. It’s a bit of a Scotland Road Trip! I haven’t done a whole lot of research yet, so I thought I would get some ideas down here. If anyone can recommend any gems that are worth visiting in the destinations below, let me know in the comments.

Inverness & Around.

So we have two nights booked near the Capital City of the Highlands, Inverness. I know little about the city, though I hear there is a Castle 🏰 ( of course! ) and an amazing Book Shop ‘ Leakey’s ‘ that is housed in an old Gaelic Church.

Loch Ness. Picture by Edinburgh Tour Guides.

Inverness is from where the iconic tourist route the NC500 starts from. Although we are not following the NC500 , we will no doubt find ourselves stuck behind a queue of touring VW Camper vans at some point. Our trip is at the height of the tourist season, in August!

Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness. Image from their Instagram.

Our accomodation isn’t actually in Inverness ,so maybe we won’t find ourselves there much at all. A quick shop for supplies and we may very well be drawn away to Loch Ness for some Monster Spotting or The Black Isle for some peninsula perusing. Any suggestions?

Rogie Falls is not far from our accomodation. Picture by Visit Scotland.

We will probably only have one full day here as the bulk of our holiday will be spent below….

Gairloch & Wester Ross.

My other half has always wanted to stop in a lighthouse ( Me too actually! ), so I am over the moon that he has booked us a week ……in a lighthouse! Rua Reidh Lighthouse near Gairloch in Wester Ross looks out over a Sea Loch, Loch Ewe. It’s pretty remote and by all accounts and from what I’ve seen online, down a long skinny track with high cliff drops. Oh my! The views and the wildlife here are meant to be amazing so definitely looking forward to this portion of our trip.

Rua Reidh Lighthouse. Image from website.

If we are inclined to move from our lighthouse base, we will possibly check out Loch Ewe and it’s millitary history. During World War 2 the area was used as a rendezvous point for ships in the Arctic Convoys to Russia. A museum and Wartime Trail tells the story of their dangerous journeys.

Loch Ewe Wartime Trail. Picture from website.

Our nearest civilisation ( with shops etc) is the village of Gairloch, which looks out over Loch Gairloch. In the Summer , marine life watching boat trips set off from the harbour. There are light sandy beaches in the area and a striking red sandy beach , Redpoint Beach.

Redpoint Beach. Image from The Beach Guide.

According to the National Trust For Scotlands Inverewe Gardens , the Highlands are home to the Big 5. Common Seals, Otters, Red Squirrels, Red Deer and Golden Eagle. Fingers crossed we get to see some of them. πŸ€—

Red Deer. Photo by The National Trust for Scotland.

Bo’ness & Falkirk.

After our stay on the west coast , we are heading back to the East Coast, our base for 2 nights is the coastal town of Borrowstounness or Bo’ness for short. Our motivation for staying here is the towns closeness to the phenomenal Kelpies monuments at nearby Falkirk. Inspired by industrial Heavy Horses and Mythical Sea Horses, ‘ The Kelpies ‘ are 100 ft tall !

The Kelpies. Image from the website.

Also at Falkirk The Falkirk Wheel looks like an incredible fΓͺte of engineering. As for Bo’ Ness , I haven’t done much research about the town. I know we are based quite near Edinburgh, so perhaps we will be enticed by Scotland’s historic Capital.

Blackness Castle. Picture via Visit Falkirk.

A Castle in the shape of a ship! Blackness Castle near Queensferry is a 15th Century Castle that is ship shaped and known as ‘ The Ship that never sailed. ‘ It just may be somewhere we can visit whilst in the area.

So there you have it. If anyone has any thoughts or recommendations please let me know in the comments.

Header Photo ~ Badachro Inn by Visit Wester Ross.

Advertisement

Lune Valley Stay With Walks In Glasson And Wray.

Recently we spent a night near Lancaster in the Lune Valley area of Lancashire. It’s a fairly little known area to us, so it was good to dig out a couple of walks books and discover some new places.

Walk 1 ~ Conder Green & Glasson Dock.

Map OS Explorer 296 Lancaster, Morecambe & Fleetwood. 3.5miles. Lancaster Year Round Walks by Nick Burton.

This walk actually starts from Conder Green in the book but we just had to be different, we parked at Glasson Dock, had lunch and set off.

Glasson at the mouth of the River Lune was once the busy port of nearby Lancaster. Today the village still thrives , taking in 150,000 tonnes of cargo yearly. There is a small marina, a couple of shops, pub and a cafe.

Glasson Marina.
The area is popular for cycling. The Bay Cycle Way is 81 miles long and connects Walney with Glasson Dock.
We loved The Quayside Cafe. It’s very dog friendly too.
Lunch at the Quayside.

The first part of the walk took us along beside the Lancaster Canal. The towpath was quite icey though, so it was hard going. I enjoyed spotting a heron amongst the reeds and flocks of geese in the surrounding fields.

Canal locks outside The Mill at Condor Green.
Grey Heron.
Lancaster Canal.
Swans.

The next part of the walk involved tramping through some fields and crossing water. We saw lots of Hares bounding through the grass, a joy to watch.

After some road walking it was good to get back to the coastal scenery. The Stork Pub at Conder Green looks out over the reed beds. I especially enjoyed our hike for all the wildlife we saw, waterbirds in particular. Hopefully we can return in the Spring or Summer!

The Stork is a former Coaching Inn.
The River Conder.
The benches that look out over the water have this Sea Monster ? figure on them.
Glasson Dock.
A bonnie boat β›΅.

The weather was certainly chilly so after our walk it was time to drive inland to find our accomodation.

Our Stay.

Located in-between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, The Fenwick at Claughton is the ideal place to stay on a wintery weekend. With comfortable cosy bedrooms and warming log fires, the historic inn is a Steak and Seafood pub with an ever changing menu. It’s also very welcoming to your four – legged friends, so definitely a hit with us. πŸ™‚

The Fenwick Arms.
Eat and stay.

Walk 2 ~ Around Wray.

Map O S Explorer 0l41. 2 miles. Lancashire 40 Favourite Walks by Alastair Ross.

The pretty village of Wray was our second walk of the weekend. Situated on the edge of the Lune Valley, Wray is set around two rivers, the Hindburn and the Roeburn. Back in the sixties th e normally quiet waters of the Roeburn rose after heavy rain and swept away 13 houses. Luckily it stopped dry for us.

River Hindburn.
A stone cat or perhaps fox on the river bank.
Saw a few dippers in the river.

This walk is short and sweet, taking in Wrays surrounding countryside as well as Riverside paths through the village.

Wray.
Doggy day.
Wrays primary school which was a gift from a Captain Pooley along with the sum of Β£200 forever.
Holy Trinity Church.
Hornby Castle in the distance.

We noticed a pub and a cafe In Wray, so refreshment stops are available if you visit. And the village holds an annual scarecrow festival in the Spring. A reason to return. πŸ™‚

Robin Hood’s Bay. 🐟

Back in October we stopped at Wils brother & sister in law’s static caravan on the Yorkshire Coast. We were a little inland, but within walking distance of the coastal path. One way to Whitby, the other to Robin Hood’s Bay.

Robin Hood’s Bay is a picturesque former fishing village with a history of smuggling. The twisting tumbling cobbled streets and alley-ways were the perfect escape route for pursued smugglers, the old fisherman’s cottages and inns cellars had ample hiding places ( and connecting underground tunnels) for stolen gin, tea , silks and lace.

It is often wondered why this Yorkshire seaside village is named after Nottingham’s very own Robin Hood. Some say the Man in Lincoln Green kept a fleet of getaway boats here and others that he was called upon to help rid the area of Viking marauders. Another legend is that Yorkshire’s Robin Hood was actually a forest sprite who resided in nearby woodland.

There are some eclectic independent shops and cafes in Robin Hood’s Bay. It was great to see that Muir Lea Stores ( Muir is Gaelic for Sea) and Tea, Toast & Post are still going strong, since my last visit in 2015.

I do love the beach on this stretch of coastline. If you know what your looking for ( unlike me 😜) it is possible to find fossils that are millions of years old. Another treasure to be found is a semi-precious Gem Stone called Jet. We did notice a few people on the sand looking for washed up pieces of the shiny black mineraloid. Unfortunately lots of coal deposit gets washed up here too , which looks very similar to Jet. To tell the difference , scratch a piece of your Jet on a pale sandstone. If it leaves a black mark your find is most probably coal. A gingery brown mark however, could be Jet. Needless to say, we didn’t find any. πŸ˜‚

It was lovely to just wander amongst the quaint cobbled alley-ways of the village, admiring the red tiled roof views. They looked so striking set against a rare blue October sky.

Walking along the cliffs here was a fantastic idea, though I was glad that there is a regular bus service too. We were able to have a drink outside a pub at the top of the village, and hop on a bus back.

Where do you recommend visiting on the Yorkshire Coast?

2022 ~ My Year In Photos.

And so my tenth year of blogging ends!

I think I have blogged a little less this year. 2022 has been mostly lovely but not incredibly eventful. However it has been a happy one and a healthy one , so I shan’t complain at all!

Sea Air in Lytham.

January. The year started with Wil and I both getting covid , though luckily it wasn’t too bad an experience for either of us. Before that we did manage a day by the sea in Lytham above.

Let sleeping dragons lie, Dalemain

February. 2022 has been the first year that we have managed to get up to our caravan in Cumbria , whenever we have liked. Our first ever winter weekend was spent there in February. I especially liked visiting nearby Dalemain Manor and seeing their pretty snowdrop display.

Doggy Pals.

March. Hugo made a friend in Bulgarian Shepherd Dog ‘ Rhea ‘ this year, so I’m including a photo of them both looking gorgeous together in March. Our Labrador hasn’t many doggy Pals, as he tends to dislike whole boy dogs, mostly ignores females, is scared of small dogs and is besotted by greyhounds. He’s a bit wierd!

Binsey.

April. Spring started out well for us concerning Wainwright Fells, as we climbed both Dodd and Binsey above, but then our fell walks petered out. Hopefully we will do better in 2023.

E Biking at Lowther Castle.

May. Looking back at May, I think my favourite bit was when we went E Biking at Lowther Castle 🏰, which I won in a raffle. I would love an e – bike, but they are sooo expensive. If you huff and puff ( or simply get off the bike, like me) when you cycle up a hill, have a go on an e-bike. Game changer!

A friend’s fun 50th.

June and July. 2022 has been the start of my besties reaching their big 50s. Yikes! Definitely an excuse for a party or drinks out. These epic birthdays will continue into next year and the year after, so plenty more celebrations to come. πŸ’–

More 50th Fun.

Knock Hill Summit, Ayrshire.

August. It was great to spend a holiday as a family in August. My sister’s kids are growing up too fast for my liking, so it was nice to enjoy holiday time with them in Ayrshire, Scotland with my Mum and brother too.

Romany Hugo.

September. September is always a month when I don’t really want those sun rays of Summer to end. I remember us having a nice day out in and around Grasmere with Hugo, above.

Whitby Abbey all lit up.

October. Spending a few days away on the Yorkshire Coast was a highlight for us in October. I haven’t even got round to blogging about it yet ( naughty me ) but here’s a photo of Whitbys iconic abbey, all lit up for Halloween πŸŽƒ.

Duck Pin Bowling.

November. November is my birthday month. Wil took me away for a weekend in lovely Grange-over-sands and my friends and I went to the new local Duck Pin Bowling Range at Holmes Mill.

Finding snow…..in the fells above the caravan.

December. I would have enjoyed December alot more if I hadn’t caught a flu bug, but feeling much better now. After Christmas we found snow in the fells above the caravan. Simple pleasures. ❄️

What has 2023 got in store……..

I’m hoping that I will have much to blog about. Plenty of Lancashire and Cumbrian walks. A holiday in quirky accommodation in Scotland. A long weekend in a European country.

Thanks for checking out my blog this year and here’s to an amazing 2023. X

Weekend Away ~ South Cumbria.

When people think of the Southern Lake District, perhaps they think of Windermere, Amblesde and Grasmere. I love those places but it’s nice to escape to a less touristy part of Lakeland too. I did just that a couple of weeks ago , when Wil booked us a weekend away in Grange-Over-Sands.

Grange – Over – Sands is a peaceful town, somewhere to stay if you really just want to relax and take life slowly. Without Mr Hugo ( our bouncy black Labrador was on his own little holiday) ,we planned a quiet time. Grange is on the coast , but I don’t think I’ve ever seen much sand. Salt Marsh stretches out towards Morecambe Bay , far into the distance.

Grange~over~sands.
Twinkly lights of Grange.
Grange Plant Centre is a handy little place for plants, pots and gifts. Grange Plant Centre.
Salt Marsh.
The promenade.

Whilst in Grange we had bracing walks along the promenade ( Winter Woolies were needed) , looked for Christmas presents, ate out once in a bay view bistro, once in a little Indian restaurant ( take your own booze) and we also had a couple of drinks in the towns two pubs.

The Estuary Bistro is a nice place to dine on Main Street.
Chocolate Heaven in Choco – Lori on Main Street. This Chocolate Shop is also a Chocolate Bar and Chocolate Cafe!
Chocolate Martini.
A toasty fire in The Keg & Kitchen Sports Bar.

Our accomodation for the weekend was in a lovely B&B on the outskirts of town. Wil had found us a room at Corner Beech House , which was such a relaxing and homely place to stay. The interiors were bright and fresh, the owners were friendly and helpful and the breakfasts were delicious. Not bad considering the couple who run it had only been doing so for 3 weeks!

Corner Beech House.
Loved our sea view.
Bright and fresh room.
Breakfast Room.

On our way to Grange-Over-Sands , we had dropped into RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve at Silverdale. I had dragged Wil around looking for a Winter Visitor, Bearded Tits. These darling little birds can be seen amongst the reeds or pecking at grit ( it aids their digestion) from the specially provided trays. Unfortunately they were a no show for us, though we did see a Marsh Harrier hunting over the water.

Reeds provide a home for Bearded Tits.
An obliging comerant.

The inland village of Cartmel is not to far from Grange, so we bobbed there on the Saturday morning for a little look around. Cartmel is famous for its race course, it’s priory, it’s rather nice restaurants and it’s Sticky Toffee Pudding.

The Village Store is the home of Cartmels famous Sticky Toffee Pudding and other good stuff.
Bridge over the river Eea.
A 17th century pub.
Norman Priory.
Another lovely pub.
Delicious Apple & Parsnip Soup in The Square.
I loved this gifts and interiors shop.
Cartmel is home to The Friesian Experience , you can actually pay to have a sleepover with these gorgeous black horses.

On Sunday we said our goodbyes to South Cumbria, though not before calling at Levens Hall Deer Park for a Riverside walk, sadly the hall and grounds themselves are closed over Winter. We caught a glimpse of the parks herd of Dark Fallow Deer , though missed out on seeing the local Bagot Goats.

Gnarly trees.
Dark Fallow Deer females.

All in all we had a very relaxed weekend , though we were certainly happy to be reunited with a certain black Labrador. 😁

November ~ Round Up. πŸ’œ

I haven’t been blogging much recently, though life has been good in November, my Birthday Month!

Reading ~ it’s always fab when someone gives you books for your birthday. I am currently reading I Belong Here by Anita Sethi ,which was a present and on my wishlist of books to read. Having experienced a racial hate crime on a train, Anita bravely decides to reclaim the countryside of Northern England, on an inspirational solo hiking journey across the Pennines. I am looking forward to how things go. Will the natural world be more welcoming than the people she meets along the way ? I hope she finds goodness in both.

Bowling ~ For my Birthday some friends and I tried out the Duck Pin Bowling at Holmes Mill in Clitheroe. This is a bowling alley in miniature and was certainly alot of fun. Happy Days!

Fabulous Fungi ~ It’s been a great month for finding Fungi , especially colourful waxcaps it seems. These above were spotted on local walks here in Lancs and up at the caravan in Cumbria. My faves as always are the pale pink ones which look like opened flowers, I think they are called Ballerina Waxcaps.

Listening to ~ Records! Birthday money went towards a cute portable record player from Argos. I’ve wanted one for ages, despite having no vinyl to my name. I charity shopped them all years ago! Not that I had an impressive collection. Think Wham, Bucks Fizz and Aha. πŸ˜€ Back to the charity shops again for me..

Weekending ~ in the Southern Lakes Peninsula, or should I say Grange Over Sands. I am hoping to write a post about my time there. Until then here’s a photo of myself and Wil on the promenade ,which looks out over Salt Marsh and Sea.

The English.

Watching ~ I really watch too too much telly. Having a spare few hours in the daytime , because I work split shifts , does mean I binge watch new seasons and find a fair few films. Some good, some not so good. My faves from November are…

The Wonder ~ Film. An English nurse is sent to observe an apparent miracle in 19th century Ireland, a girl who hasn’t eaten in months, surviving on the Virgin Mary’s love. Beautifully filmed and told. Netflix. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Kingdom ~ Series. A Saxon boy is raised by Marauding Danes who killed his Earl father. Later when his Viking family are slaughtered , Uhtred pursues the kingdom that is rightfully his to inherit, taking him on a dangerous journey. Netflix. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mrs Harris Goes To Paris ~ Film. Off to the pictures for this charming 1950s set movie about a cleaning lady who falls in love with a Dior dress and pursues her dream of owning one , to Paris. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The English ~ Series. Gorgeously filmed Western that brings together a Native American looking for home and a refined English Woman looking for revenge. BBC I Player. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday ~ Series. Wednesday Adams gets her own show that follows her student years at Nevermore Academy, where she navigates solving spooky mysteries and school life, in her own dead pan way. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

That’s all folks!

October ~ Round Up. 🍁

Time for an October Round-Up of my life lately. I have been enjoying Autumn colours, reading about a psychopath serial killer, eating left overs and finding funky fungi !

Reading.

Presently still reading books at a crawl, though I am enjoying ‘ How to kill your family’ by Bella Mackie. Frustratingly thrown into jail, for a murder she didn’t commit, Grace Bernard is busy writing her memoirs ( whenever her nosy cell-mate isn’t watching), for though she might be innocent of that particular murder, Grace has actually done away with…her entire family. Yes Grace might be a cold hearted killer, but she does have her reasons. A dark but amusing read, so far.

Emma Mackey is brilliant as Emily Bronte in ‘ Emily’.

Watching.

The Empress is a glorious romp through Austrian Royalty history, specifically the beginnings of the reign of Empress Elisabeth. A reluctant Royal , her new hubby The Emperor Franz Joseph had previously been engaged to Elisabeth’s sister. The usually independent Elisabeth or ‘ Sisi ‘ finds life at court full of frosty traditions, plots and intrigue. On Netflix. Subtitles.

I also enjoyed watching medieval coming of age comedy Catherine Called Birdy, which can be found on Amazon Prime. 14 year Lady Catherine ( Birdy to her friends ) is of marriageable age, and with a charming gambler for a father, her families only hope of remaining solvent, is for young Birdy to marry. Determined to thwart all her suitors, the mischievous heiress has other ideas.

My favourite watch this month was on the Big Screen. A friend and I went to see Emily, the new biopic of the life of reclusive writer Emily Bronte. Notoriously private, little is known about Emily in comparison to her siblings, much of what we do know about Emily’s thoughts and feelings are through Charlotte, some of which is probably sensored. This film is a reimagining of Emily’s life, as if she herself experienced some of the darker, some of the more passionate moments , that she wrote about in Wuthering Heights. And whose to say, really, that she didn’t……. A heart wrenching , clever, passionate and sometimes humorous picture about an unconventional and inspirational writer.

Eating.

A friend told us about the Too Good To Go Ap, which lets you know about food that shops and cafes are selling off cheap. For a fixed price you get a carrier bag full of goodies that are nearing their sell by date, known as a Magic Bag. The surprise is you don’t really know what the bag will contain, I was certainly surprised by the amount of stuff in this one from our local garage shop, Londis. For Β£5 we got 2 Sandwiches ,a loaf of bread, broccoli, bag of salad, Mr Kipling cakes, Manchester tarts, cooked chicken pieces, 2 chicken fillets and some butter. Participating places near me include Spa, Morrisons, Subway and Starbucks. Some independent businesses are signing up too. Have you used the ap before? I suspect I’m a bit late to the party. πŸ˜€

Too Good To Go?

Creating. A pumpkin flower arrangement! My friend Fi and I made these at a class in Whalley. Mines the more messy one on the left. Basically you need to hollow out a pumpkin ( happily already done for us), put in some cellophane and a wet piece of water absorbing oasis. Stick flowers, cones etc into the oasis to create an arrangement. And Voila!

Pumpkins.
Robin Hood’s Bay. A place to explore tumbling narrow streets and look for fossilized Monkey Puzzle Tree bark ( Jet) on the beach.

Holidaying. As it is Half Term Holidays we managed to get away to the Yorkshire Coast for a couple of days. Fortunately we have another caravan in the family, Wils brother and his wife own a static on a site half way between Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay. Both are such atmospheric places to visit, especially at this time of year. Anyway we made the most of our location, walking along the cliffs to Robin Hood’s Bay oneday and catching the bus into Whitby on the other.

Whitby. October sees Whitby come alive with spooky goings on and a Goth festival. The Abbey walls are illuminated and you might just see a few corpse brides amongst the gravestones.

Finding Fungi. πŸ„

A day trip to Bolton Abbey and a woodland walk showcased a few fungi finds. Not quite sure if my IDs are correct, but here goes….

Funnel Fungi.
Fly Agaric.
Trembling Crust.
Bonnets.
Shaggy Mane Ink Caps.

Thanks for dropping by and enjoy the rest of October. Let me know if you are watching any spooky films or dressing up for Halloween πŸŽƒ in the comments. X

On Holiday ~ North Ayrshire.

Back in August we spent a week with family in a Castle. Yes a real Scottish castle! Our holiday was in Ayrshire on the South West Coast of Scotland.

Where We Stayed. 🏰

The whole family stopped in a delightfully quirky 14th century Castle in the grounds of the owners much larger Victorian Castle. Not that our holiday home skimped on fairytale charm or cosy comfort, Knock Old Castle has both in abundance. Situated just outside the coastal town of Largs, Knock Old Castle has been carefully renovated by its present owners, to provide a charming home away from home with lots of colourful and characterful touches. There are four bedrooms, a dining kitchen, living room and snug, as well as a look out tower, sauna and hot tub. The perfect family retreat. 😊

Exterior view of Knock Old Castle.
We were greeted by Gorath the Springer Spaniel who likes to check out any new holiday makers.
Castle 🏰 interiors.
View of the turret look-out.
A foxy chair. 🦊
Piggy stained glass.
Hot tub. The turret above houses a sauna.

We made ourselves very much at home at Knock Old Castle, using all the facilities, especially the hot tub and the sauna. We played table tennis, rounders and croquet on the lawn and sat out for meals at a long oak table with views over the Firth of Clyde. When can we go back??

Eating Out. 🐟

To be honest we cooked most of our meals at the Castle, but there were a few occasions that we ate out in nearby Largs.

The Fish Works.

Wil and I had a very nice Fish & Chips lunch at The Fish Works on the promenade. We sat outside and enjoyed the views of the Calmac Ferries setting off and returning from The Isle Of Cumbrae. You can’t beat fish & chips at the seaside. 😊

Scotts Bar & Restaurant.

Wil loves his seafood, so he was most impressed with this bucket of mussels and other tasty morsels , that he ordered from the menu at Scotts . Situated at Largs Yacht Haven, Scott’s is a relaxed dining experience . Steaks and seafood are their specialties.

Nardinis Ice cream.

The whole family couldn’t get enough of the delicious ice cream from Nardinis, a fabulous art deco ice cream parlour and restaurant on the seafront. Nardinis has 32 different flavours to choose from, I had 3, they were all scrumptious! 🍦

Castles, Castles Everywhere. 🏰

Certainly we were never very far from a Castle on this holiday. 😊 According to Google, Ayrshire has 198 Castles, towers and fortified buildings.

Croquet at Knock Old Castle.

Our hosts at Knock Old Castle lived at nearby Knock Castle, we were holidaying at the bottom of their garden really. On the first two days of our trip, they were holding a ‘Crictoberfest’ ( a cross between their love of cricket and their love of Octoberfest? ) and there were a few people camping on their front lawn, as well as lawnbots efficiently speeding around keeping the grass short. We later saw a golden retriever chasing one of the lawnbots and I swear I saw a gigantic penguin at their front door, maybe the butler perhaps? Yes our hosts were certainly eccentric. 😁

Knock Castle was built in the 1800s by the Steele Boat Building family.
Knock Castle.

We did visit a couple of other castles whilst in Ayrshire. A castle that my Scottish cousin recommended was Portencross Castle , somewhere my Aunt & Uncle would take him for beach days as a child. Legend has it that this 12th century scheduled ancient monument housed several of the Great Kings of Scotland. Though they wouldn’t remember much as Portencross was where they lay in state,on their way to their final resting place on the island of Iona. The Castle wasn’t open on our visit, but we still enjoyed the surrounding scenery and peering into rock pools.

Sea Asters and Portencross Castle.
Portencross Castle.
Kelburn Castle.

A very colourful Castle , just outside of Largs, is Kelburn Castle. Just look at the brightly painted turret ! The graffiti tower was painted in 2007 by Brazilian Street artists, it’s quite the focal point. The castle dates back to the 1500s and is still lived in by the Earls of Glasgow. An unpretentious place, Kelburn has an estate of forest and glen to wander in, with plenty of quirky things to see.

Little Museum in the grounds of Kelburn Castle.
Inside the museum that chronicles the travels and explorations of the 7th Earl of Glasgow.
Can you see the invisible Man?
Graffiti Castle.

Let’s head to South Ayrshire for our final castle visit. Perched high on the cliffs near Maybole , Culzean Castle is an impressive stately building owned by The National Trust for Scotland. Happily we are NT members so entry was free. 😁 Having Hugo with us meant that Wil and I didn’t go inside, there is much to entertain in the grounds though. The estate stretches 120 hectares and includes sandy coves, woodland and gardens.

Culzean Castle was completed in the late 18th Century.
I love this Kraken sculpture, it actually cleverly hides a refuse bin.
The Deer Park plays host to Red Deer and llamas.
Labrador with a gigantic pear.
Who is this in the Swan Pond…
Walled Garden at Culzean Castle.

Largs.

The nearest town to Knock Old Castle is Largs, a pleasant seaside destination that looks out over the Firth Of Clyde. Largs is known for its role in defeating Norse Invaders, hence the yearly Viking Festival held every August. A giant Viking statue stands looking inland on the green.

Erm, is that a Viking behind us??
Magnus The Viking.
Giant Ferris Wheel.
The Pencil ✏️ Monument.

If you fancy a walk along Largs attractive esplanade head toward the marina for a glimpse of The Pencil Monument , it commemorates the Battle Of Largs in 1263 , when the Scots ( and the bad weather! ) defeated the Viking army. And don’t forget to head back to Nardinis Ice Cream Parlour for a well deserved treat afterwards. 😊

Nardinis.
Viking Longboat.

Fairlie.

If our Labrador had only behaved and not taken a liking to licking jellyfish, I think we would have spent more time on the beach. The seaside village of Fairlie just South of Largs is a nice place for a wander, especially along the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Oh and The Village Inn does a very nice take-out Cream Tea too.

Fairlie.
Fairlie was once renowned for its yacht building.
A street in Fairlie.
Fairlie flowers. In the background a huge floating oil vessel from Shetland is being decommissioned off the Ayrshire Coast.

Fairlie Beach.

Knock Hill.

When the Castle your staying in is named after a hill ( or vise versa) ,then someone is bound to say ‘ let’s walk up that hill ! ‘ Off we all trundled , and I have to say, the views from the top of Knock Hill are pretty impressive. The Cumbraes, Arran and Bute are all included in the stunning vistas.

Approaching Knock Hill.
Knock Hill Summit.
Trig Point, Knock Hill.

Isle of Cumbrae.

I have to include The Isle Of Cumbrae in my post even though I have already devoted a Blog to our day out there. This was definitely my favourite outing on our North Ayrshire holiday.

The island is easily accessible from Largs, there are ferries every 30 minutes from the mainland. Pedestrians, Cyclists and Cars can take the short journey over. Dogs are welcome too.

Many people go over to Cumbrae, specifically to ride a bike around the perimeter of the island. There are 2 Cycle Hire Shops in the small seaside town of Millport. Bicycle hire for the day starts at Β£10.

Watersports are popular on the island as are trips over to it’s little cousin Wee Cumbrae. I recently found these great new eco friendly cabins at Jack’s Alt Stays , which look an interesting alternative to the usual camping, cottages and b&bs.

Calmac Ferry from Largs.
The iconic Crocodile 🐊 Rock.
Rocky shoreline.
On a bike ride.
One of Mapes Of Millports more unusual cycles.
Millport.

Thanks very much for reading. Hope this post inspires you to visit a lovely part of Scotland.

Goodnight from Knock Old Castle.

Great Cumbrae ~ Scotland’s most accessible Island. 🏝️

Did you know that there is an island off the West Coast of Scotland that is only a 10 minute ferry crossing from the mainland? Great Cumbrae is one of two islands known as The Cumbraes, they lie between the island of Bute and the seaside town of Largs in North Ayrshire. Little or Wee Cumbrae can be accessed from its larger cousin Great Cumbrae, but it is Great Cumbrae aka The Isle Of Cumbrae that I am visiting today.

Calmac Ferries run ferries every 15 minutes to the island from Largs. And tourists have been travelling over to the seaside resort of Millport on Great Cumbrae for decades. In fact some thirty odd years ago my Uncle Tommy and Auntie Joyce took my family over and we cycled around the Island. We have some happy memories of that time and I’ve always hoped to repeat the experience. So when my sister booked us a family holiday nearby, an island visit was definitely on our itinerary.

A Calmac Ferry docked at Largs.
All aboard for the 10 minute crossing.

The 10 minute crossing was quick and efficient. We went as foot passengers, but you can take your car along too. Many people travel with their bicycles and dogs are welcome on board. You don’t have to book, but you can if you like. Here’s the Calmac Website for guidance.

Once on the island there are buses waiting to transport travellers the 4 mile journey into Millport if they so desire. Most of Great Cumbraes inhabitants live in the pretty coastal town , which curves around an attractive bay.

Millport.

Millport has a couple of well stocked Bicycle Hire Shops on the main Street , so if your interested in riding around the island, you are spoilt for choice. As for the journey round?? Well it’s a 10 Mile mostly flat route that hugs the coastline. Perfect for a family outing!

Mapes of Millport Bicycle Hire.

Now, we always knew it was probably going to be difficult getting Mum on a bike. She’s In her seventies, with a dodgy knee, I don’t think we all quite thought the logistics through. Especially as Mum hasn’t actually ridden one in over 50 years. And looking back to our trips to Cumbrae, Mum never actually ventured out with us on a bike, even then. Ooops! As determined as poor Mum was to cycle out of Millport , it wasn’t to be. I ended up volunteering to look around the town with her, whilst the others pedalled away. Wil too had forgone the bike ride, to take our dog Hugo for a walk instead. That was my fault though, as I had suddenly jibbed out of putting H into a doggy daycare in Largs. Over-protective Dog Parenting issues…….

Garrison House.

Mum and I took a walk along the promenade and a rather grand looking piece of architecture struck our interest. The 18th Century Garrison House was built to house The Captain and officers of Revenue Ship ‘ The Royal George ‘ which was stationed at Millport, The Royal George played a part in catching smugglers that frequented the area. Today the impressive building contains a Doctor’s Surgery, Council Offices, Library, Cafe, Shop and Museum , it’s quite a hub for the community. Mum and I had a quick look in the Museum and around the pretty sunken garden.

Who knew Valentine cards could be so vicious ! Vinegar Valentines featured in the museum…
Part of the Lighthouse Exhibition.

Another building that we noticed in Millport was The Wedge. Though this abode on Stuart Street is definitely a blink and you’d miss it type of place ! The frontage of the skinny terrace is only 47 inches wide, which means that The Wedge has earned its place in The Guinness Book Of Records, as The World’s Narrowest House. Happily The Wedges shape does mean that the living space widens to 11 feet at the rear. I spied a Purple Bricks sign in the upstairs window and yes the petite property is currently for sale. Anyone fancy buying a Bijou Bolt hole ??

Wedged In…

Time for a brew? On a sunny Thursday morning at the end of August, we would have expected more of the towns shops and cafes to be open, but sadly quite a few were closed. I think perhaps because Scotland’s children returned to school after their summer holidays in mid August, it was no longer the height of the tourist season. The Dancing Midge Cafe ( love the name! ) seemed to be doing a roaring trade however.

The Dancing Midge.
Wil and Mum ( and Hugo) on the promenade.

After purchasing hot drinks to take away, Mum and I sat on the seafront watching the world go by. It wasn’t long before Wil and Hugo arrived back from their walk, joining us for a brew.

Opposite the Dancing Midge Cafe there is a jagged piece of rock called The Crocodile Rock. Astonishingly the brightly painted beast has been the subject of paintings and photos since 1913, when its creator Robert Brown adorned the landmark with its crocodilian features. 🐊

Crocodile Rock.
A watery stone jettie . Little Cumbrae in the distance.
The sea was full of jellyfish.
Mum on the pier.

The cyclists arrived back after a couple of hours. Seals and seabirds had been seen. Some legs were tired, some opted to pedal around the island again ! Wil and I would leave Hugo with the family and bicycle around Cumbrae with my nephew and my cousin who had joined us for the day. So after a take-out lunch from The Dancing Midge, four of us set off on our bike ride.

The cyclists returned.

The 10 Mile loop around Great Cumbrae has plenty of stopping off points to admire the beautiful views, across to the mainland and also toward the islands of Bute and Arran. We didn’t stop too many times though, as the hire bikes had to be back by a certain time. Unlike the others , I’m not the fastest on two wheels!

I think it took us about 2 hours to cycle around the island. There are various viewing points and things to see, some of these are incorporated into The Cumbrae Sensory Trail, we passed the green waymarkers on our way round. Another painted rock was spied. The Indian Rock spookily peers out from under trees on the West side of the island. It has been here since the 1920s and was reportedly first painted by a hermit called ‘ Fern Andy’. Nearby the rock is The Fintrybay Cafe, an ideal place to stop off for refreshments.

Sensory trail sign.
Can you see the Red Indian Rock?
A Grey Seal enjoying the sunshine.
Cycling selfie.
Incredible blue sea and the mountains of Arran in the distance.

I was so glad I had gotten to pedal around The Isle of Cumbrae once again, and especially so, on such a beautiful afternoon. My legs were pretty tired by the time we got back to Millport! The rest of the family had been rock pooling and playing crazy golf in our absence.

Crazy Golf.
The Isle of Cumbrae Distillery makes a selection of gins including Croc Roc Gin.
Another view from Millport.
My niece reunited some recently beached Moon Jellies, to the sea.
A fab sweet shop.

I have fallen in love with Great Cumbrae once again!

Have you ever been? Which of the Scottish islands is your favourite?

In The Summertime. β˜€οΈ

We are having some amazingly hot weather currently here in the UK. Too hot sometimes! With possible thunderstorms forecasted today though, it’s going to feel a little more refreshing for my upcoming holiday to Scotland. Whoo hoo !

Meanwhile I have been enjoying my days off with mostly early morning walks and meet ups with friends and family. After seeing a lovely Wildflower Meadow at Stonyhurst College on Facebook , I met my sister, niece and nephew for a walk nearby. After viewing the flowers and seeing lots of butterflies we headed for the river. Lots of splashing was done! Our walk included a little of The Tolkien Trail . The Lord Of The Rings author often stayed at Stonyhurst and the surrounding countryside inspired his writing.

A hot day is always better at the beach! Last Thursday St Anne’s summoned us and a happy few hours were spent lying on blankets on the sand and paddling in the sea. A wonderful cooling breeze was very welcome. I am really excited to be heading up to North Ayrshire in Scotland soon and spending lots more time on the coast. πŸ€—

Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy 10 Years Blogversary recently! As promised the winner of my little giveaway is revealed. Judy from http://walmermeadows.co.uk it’s you. 😊 I will be in touch ! Judy blogs about her beautiful woodland in Kent and the wildlife that visits is nothing short of amazing. All thanks to Judy and her husband’s conservation and woodland management skills. Pop by for a read.

I may be a little quiet on the blogging front in the next two weeks as I intend to enjoy that sea air in Scotland before a lovely long weekend break at the van. X