Sunday 9 September 2018
This is our first trip to Scotland together. Cathy visited her brother when he was based at Faslane in the 1970s and I spent time in Glasgow when HMS BRILLIANT was building and Faslane when HMS WESTMINSTER was in refit - so spent quite a lot of time in Scotland in my first and last ships. We’re looking forward to exploring and getting to know Western Scotland over the next couple of weeks. We have a rough plan of heading to Dumfries and Galloway first of all, to explore the Solway Firth coastline and the dark night skies of the Galloway Forest, before heading north to the lochs and peninsulas of Argyll, hopefully with a few days on the Isle of Mull. But much will depend on the weather and what we find on the way - we don’t want to pass nice places in a rush to drive north.
We didn’t rush around this morning; I was out most of yesterday around Holyhead Mountain with the Mon Search and Rescue team on exercise and was quite knackered by the end of it, so slept well last night! We left Anglesey at 1100 and steadily drove up the motorway, with none of the usual Sunday holdups now the school holidays are finished and everyone is back to work. My intention was to break our journey at a C&CC Temporary Holiday Site in Kendal but on arrival it didn’t look inviting, close to a busy road and a bit soulless. So after a quick stop to check out other places to stay on the Search for Sites App (highly recommended - a really good app backed up by a comprehensive an easy-to-use website), I plugged in the co-ordinates for a wild camping spot south of Dumfries. Scotland is much more relaxed about wild camping, with lots of visitor car parks available for free overnight parking.
An hour and a half later we pulled into the car park by Sweetheart Abbey in the lovely village of New Abbey. This is a small village which nuzzles up to the northern shoulder of Criffel, with lovely little stone cottages on either side of the road. After a hot meal in the van, we walked around the outside of Sweetheart Abbey, a Cistercian abbey founded by Lady Devorgilla. When she died she was buried with her husband’s heart (he pre-deceased her by several years you’ll be pleased to know!) and the monks rechristened the abbey dulce cor, meaning ‘sweetheart’. On our quick walk around the village before the rain started again, we also came across the New Abbey Corn Mill, a restored and working water mill. We’re the only motorhome parked here and it’s now very quiet and dark. After a long drive, food, walk and a cup to tea, we’re ready for a good sleep and setting off to explore the coastline tomorrow.