Tag Archives: lighthouses

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

 

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. πŸ™‚ 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?

A Tale Of Two Lighthouses.

What to do on a blustery day in November?  Why ,Visit a Lighthouse of course. πŸ™‚  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. πŸ™‚

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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. πŸ™‚  I should have sneaked a look at the rooms. They are quite expensive at Β£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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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?