Tag Archives: Scotland

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?

Advertisements

Our stay in the grounds of a Scottish Castle.

scotland-158
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. 🙂

scotland-009

scotland-169

scotland-018
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!

scotland-083
Lochinch Castle.

scotland-175

scotland-036

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….

scotland-172

scotland-170

 

scotland-027

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.

scotland-040

scotland-165

scotland-177

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. 🙂

scotland-255
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.

scotland-113
On the rocks near Corsewall Lighthouse.
scotland-122
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. 🙂

scotland-134
Watch the birdies.
scotland-139
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…

scotland-205
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.

scotland-191

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.

scotland-201
Weather Stone!

scotland-217

scotland-207
RSPB  building.
scotland-190
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. 🙂

Would you stay in a Bothy?

bothy2I’ve currently been tucked up in bed at nights with the wind howling outside ( Storm Imogen I believe 😉 ) and a good book , one that I have become thoroughly engrossed in. The Book Of The Bothy by Phoebe Smith is a celebration of these humble ‘stone tents’ that offer a basic shelter and roof over the head of weary walkers in the remotest parts of the UK. Phoebe , a renowned travel journalist and serial ‘Bothy bagger’, has chosen 26 of her favourite MBA ( Mountain Bothies Association) bothies to hike to,spend the night in and write about. On the back of the book Phoebe explains ‘ I believe, if you wanted to, you could spend a whole summer staying in bothies, travelling from place to place,taking in one spectacular landscape after another with nothing but your rucksack, map and thirst for adventure. And the best thing? It wouldn’t cost you a penny….

bothy3
The Lookout – Isle of Skye ( Image www.cicerone.co.uk )

It’s true, bothies are Free! Free places to stay for anyone and everyone. They are often abandoned farmsteads or cottages, sometimes with only one room and sometimes larger. They are incredibly basic inside with no running water, electricity or bathroom facilities. They are always a good hike away from civilisation of any kind and are left unlocked so wandering walkers can bed down in them for the night. The  MBA looks after 100 bothies around Britain. Most of them are found in the wilds of Scotland but there are a few in Northern England and rural Wales  which are mentioned in the book.

The Book of the Bothy is set out for an easy and informative read. There’s a map in the front with the locations of the bothies dotted in red. Phoebe’s introduction covers the history of bothies, their pro’s ( space to sleep, escape from midges etc) and cons ( Mice, spider’s, loud snorers! ) ,what to take, bothy etiquette ( leaving it tidy etc) and safety.

She also mentions Bothy traditions such as walker’s sharing a sip of whisky or two from a sigg bottle and of course filling in the Bothy Book.  Every bothy has a kind of visitor’s book in which walkers can record their  stays adventures and experiences. Seems like a useful tradition. 🙂

The rest of this handy guide  concentrates on each individual bothy and Phoebe tells the reader the routes she followed ( there’s always a handy map reference), what to look out for ( wildlife,landmarks etc), essential information ( water sources, facilities etc) and she also writes her own Bothy Book entry for each property. 🙂

bothy 4
The author inside a rather ‘luxurious’ bothy in the Highlands. 🙂

I’m really enjoying reading about Phoebe’s Bothy bagging and even though I usually hyperventilate at the thought of hiking anywhere…….this book is almost inspiring me to seek out a bothy. I think I would have to persuade Wil too, mind. What about you? Would you stay in a bothy??

You can buy The Book of the Bothy  at www.cicerone.co.uk

Thursday Favourites ~ 4

A list of five things i have enjoyed and /or appreciated in the last seven days. My Thursday Favourites.

Rush.
Watched this entertaining biopic about the intense rivalry between two of Formula One’s greats ~ Niki Lauda and James Hunt ,over the wknd. In the days when racing was only frequented by ‘rebels, lunatics and dreamers’ ( Lauda’s words at the start of the movie) , the 1976 championships were cursed with horrific accidents and contraversy. Lauda’s methodical approach and Hunts colourful lifestyle make for a fantastic film. Starring Chris Hemsworth ( Thor) and Daniel Bruhl ( Inglorious basterds).
image

icelandic geyser

Land of Ice and Fire.
Finally booked a trip to Iceland ! For years and years I have wanted to visit this land of geysers and hotsprings and volcano’s. To say i’m excited about it is an understatement :)).  How will I manage to wait until October!  Got a really good deal through keeping an eye on Travel Zoo  .

image

A cup of Chai.
A work collegue told me how much she had enjoyed a tasty chai latte ~ so as i’ve never even tried a chai anything ( Whaaat!) I thought I should give it a go.  Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely cup of Tweedle Dum’s and Tweedle Tea at  Callooh Callay , my favourite tea rooms in my home town of Clitheroe.  Chai is traditionally an Indian tea infused with spices such as cinnamon and cardamom. I enjoyed it very much ~ even more so with a generous helping of Plum and almond cake. 🙂

Teacup Candles.

I finally started making a few candles in teacups this week. I’ve been a bit lazy since Christmas with the whole candle making thing. But I think these brightly  coloured ones look vibrant and pretty ~ so i’m on a mission to make more!
image

Sunshine On Leith.
And finally on Tues eve I went to a Ladies Film night at  The Grand venue in Clitheroe with the girls. We got to eat a delicious scottish themed meal of Scotch Broth for starters and Raspberry Cranachan for dessert and then we tapped our feet along to the Proclaimers songs in this feel good film set in Edinburgh. Strange that an entertaining and heartwarming  movie can be made around a back catalogue of Proclaimers hits
… but it really can. 🙂

image

Have you seen any good films recently?