Showing posts with label dumfries & galloway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dumfries & galloway. Show all posts

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Caerlaverock Aire, Dumfries and Galloway

Tuesday 16 July 2024

We'd planned to stop at a pub in the Yorkshire Dales tonight to break the journey. However, on arrival (despite have recce'd it on Google Street View) it was clear the dog-leg entrance to the car park was far too narrow for Nido, so we had no option but to move on.  We pulled into a parking area and I had a look for another pub stop, but none took our fancy, so we decided to hit the road and drive the three hours to home.

We set off from Aberdour yesterday morning for a two hour drive to Caerlaverock, Dumfries & Galloway on what's described as a campsite, but is actually more like an aire, with an open parking area surrounded by trees, with servicing facilities.  It's run by the local community and they ask for a £10 donation, either an online payment or by cash (envelope provided) in the honesty box; I did the latter.  We've stayed here before as it's a good stop when either arriving in or departing from Scotland as it's only a short drive from the border.  It was a very warm and sunny day so we had lunch sat outside before taking a walk along the edge of the reed beds and salt marsh for about four miles.  I warmed up a pork and bean stew we'd brought from the freezer at home and cooked some roast potatoes in the omnia oven. By bed time there were eight vans here, including five Europeans and one of the huge overlander all-terrain lorry-type motorhomes.  One British family were in a 5m Vauxhall van with three very young children (a 3 year old and twins aged 19 moths) and two large dogs!  They had a large double roof tent but it must have still been very cosy.  Dad sat with the three children on the picnic bench by us, feeding them, as Mum sorted out the van. They must be exhausted!

Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve

This morning after breakfast we walked to Caerlaverock Castle, through the forest next to the aire. It's a proper looking castle, albeit in ruins, with towers and a water-filled moat. We just had a walk along the grassy mound rather than pay to enter the castle ruins; we had Salty and could see other dogs inside, so he would be much happier outside!  There were ominously dark clouds surrounding us and as we walked back through the forest it started to rain, turning torrential just as we reached the open are of the aire.  In the van we changed out of wet clothes and sat it out until the rain eased, before leaving to head south.

Those clouds look a bit ominous....

...and they're getting closer

That was a dry aire parking area!

We now have a few weeks to prepare the van ready for our trip to France next month.  We haven't decided how long we'll be away. We'll book a return crossing once we've we're ready but I suspect it'll be the very of September or first week of October.  The current rough plan is to head for Alsace/Lorraine, down into the Jura and then across into Burgundy before heading back up to Calais.  But much will depend on the weather.  So far - like most of Europe - it's not been a great summer.  So we'll look for some pleasant sunshine but not too hot...we don't like it too hot!  

Since we got home we've emptied the van to give it a good clean and give Paul from CMS a clear run to complete a Gas Safety Check on Friday.  I fixed the broken Remis blind with the replacement hinge waiting for us at home.  I've also checked the toilet flush; I think the Control Panel is kaput (it must be at least15 years old) so have ordered another.  

We enjoyed our trip to the Cairngorms, despite the changeable weather.  I think our next trip north of the border will be to the west and perhaps the Outer Hebrides.  That'll give me something to research on the dark winter nights to come. 

Sunday 21 May 2023

Craig Croft Aire, Laurieston

Nido's parked on a lovely little 'aire' (more of a very small campsite really) with 4 pitches (3 hardstanding and one grass), called Craig Croft (///collapsed.cadet.backers).  It's a lovely peaceful spot just on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park, close to the village of Laurieston.  The owner - Pauline - is very welcoming and told us all about the birdlife and wildlife here; she feeds the birds and the species visiting are too many for us to count!  I found it on the Search for Sites app and the reviews speak for themselves. It's £10 per night with electricity charged separately on a meter.  We hadn't planned to use EHU as we have plenty of leisure battery power and a full-up Ecoflow, but this afternoon I noticed the van fridge had stopped working on gas and all the frozen food had defrosted; it was fine yesterday.  So I hooked up the electric and the fridge is now cooling down and the freezer is doing it's thing again.  There are no error codes being displayed, so a quick read of the user manual and a Google would seem to suggest a problem with the burner or thermocoupler (whatever that is - I don't touch electrical or gas systems!).  Luckily the remaining nights of our trip are all on EHU, so at least I won't be forced to drink warm beer!  I've emailed the company - CMS North Wales - I use for van maintenance and repairs (a husband and wife team based in Conwy, to ask Paul to come out and take a look when we get home.  The fridge is only 6 years old and we've had a few issues with it in the past.  Top tip - avoid Thetford motorhome fridges!

Our night in the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse car park was extremely quiet and peaceful.  There were only two other vans staying, plus there was no wind at this highpoint so we all slept well.  I was up at about 0630 and took Salty for a good walk around the circular path that runs on the clifftops and alongside the lighthouse and attached buildings. It was cloudy and still and a little cool. After a lovely hot shower (I'll never get over the novelty of showering in a car park!) and breakfast, we made our way back down the single track road, making use of the regular passing places to allow oncoming traffic to pass.

After a brief stop in the Red Deer Range car park (///rock.feasting.areas) for a cuppa (we were in tea deficit again!), we arrived at this place. Pauline had emailed to explain the road up was signed as closed, due to a bike race (not any old bike race - it was a qualifying event for the UCI World Gravel Bike championships!), but we could carry on up as the road has been closed after the site entrance.  It's a cosy little aire and again very quiet with no artificial light.  The sun came out when we arrived so we took her advice and followed a circular walk that took us through the forest, which is mainly temperate rainforest, as seen by the beautiful green mosses everywhere. We stopped off at a bird hide where the locals feed the many species of birds.  We didn't spot any of the red squirrels, pine martens, adders (thankfully!), slow worms or deer, although Salty did try to roll in a few patches of fox poo!  Luckily I was on the ball and got him away in time.  But just in case we carry a tube of Fox Poo shampoo for dogs, plus the aire had a fresh water hose and I wasn't afraid to use it on him - he had a lucky escape!

Apart from a couple of walks we've not done much here.  There's no mobile or internet signal, so we've both been reading and after a simple meal, we walked the circular walk again, only anti-clockwise this time.  It's cooled down a little and there are a few spots of rain, but nothing to worry about.  We've been very lucky with the weather over the past week.

Tomorrow we leave Scotland and head for the Lake District to meet up with old friends for a few nights on two different campsites.  We've loved our time in Dumfries and Galloway and I've no doubt we'll return in the future to visit some of the areas we missed this time.  Initial thoughts are to return to Scotland in July for a tour based on the Heart 200 and North East 250 routes.  It's my 60th birthday (eek!) in mid-July and it would be nice to be away in the long as the fridge can be fixed in time.  

Temperate rainforest - there's not much of this left in the UK

Craig Croft aire

Friday 19 May 2023

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

Nido's in the car park at the most southerly point in Scotland at the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse (///flattery.seatbelt.iceberg).  It was very hot and sunny when we arrived but it's now cloudy and has cooled down quite a bit.  Despite that, the 360' views from this highpoint are stunning.  There was just us and another van for most of the evening, although one more has just turned up.

After about half an hour of rain last night, it was warm and sunny as I took Salty for a walk at Whithorn at 0700 this morning.  We'd had a recommendation from Carol Kubicki to visit the Logan Botanical Garden on our way to the lighthouse.  She'd kindly sent us a link to one of her blogs listing some gardens she'd visited in Scotland.  I had Logan on my list and was happy to take her advice - diolch Carol!

It was about an hour's drive to get there and the drive up to the gardens was lined on both sides of the road with hundreds of palm trees (///catching.exists.acquaint); we thought we'd been transported to Spain or Morocco!  The garden's aren't too big to walk around and the entry fee is reasonable at £8 each.  We really enjoyed our tour, admiring the many specimens of trees and shrubs from as far afield as Chile and New Zealand.  It's definitely worth a visit.

Just a few minutes down the road is Port Logan (///roadblock.taken.trying).  We parked up for lunch, before walking along the beach to the old harbour, with a quay and bell tower designed by Thomas Telford.  Salty enjoyed being back on the beach, with lots of zoomies into the surf and sand.  If you ever watched the BBC series 'Two Thousand Acres of Sky', starring Michelle Collins and Paul Kaye, it was filmed in Port Logan.

Once parked up in a level spot at the Lighthouse, Cathy had a snooze while I sat on the van step enjoying the heat of the sun.  Dinner tonight was a chicken madras, followed by a short walk around the cliff tops and up to the lighthouse.  It's weird to think that from here John o' Groats is almost as far as London - Scotland is a BIG country!

Now enjoying the peace of the evening, in the warm of the van and after a hot cup of tea. it's time to settle down for the night.  Tomorrow we move on to a pre-booked aire close to Galloway Forest, which will be our last night in Scotland (for now), before we head for a campsite in Glenridding in the Lake District to meet up with old and very dear friends.

Port Logan

Thursday 18 May 2023

Isle of Whithorn

Nido's in free parking in a field looking over the Isle of Whithorn harbour (///dabbing.anchorman.cookers), with the Isle of Man visible on the horizon; O2 sent me a 'Welcome to the Isle of Man' SMS, telling me I'm now on my Roam from Home package!  It's quite sloping so we're on the levellers.  Thankfully it's still dry as I don't think we'd get on (or off) here if it was wet.  Just outside the field is a portacabin toilet, with a free motorhome service point, which I've taken advantage of.  We've stayed here before - back in September 2018 - but then we parked on the harbour front, which is no longer allowed.

Joanne from Trundlebus Travels contacted us on Twitter and asked if we could put the What3Words link on my blog posts.  I have used W3W in the past, but hadn't thought about using it on the blog; I thought it's a really good idea to help others identify the location and navigate to it.  So in these and future posts you'll see the hyper-linked W3W, rather than a link to Google Maps.

Wigtown Harbour was very quiet overnight.  I woke at about 0615, so was up and walking the dog nice and early.  We walked up to the bird hide where I sat and watched a heron and lapwing in the mud of the empty river, with about ten mute swans higher up on the salt marsh.  We had a naughty breakfast today - haggis and a fried egg in a Scottish morning roll; naughty but so nice!

Cathy had her online Welsh lesson on Zoom this morning, starting at 1030, so I took Salty off for a good walk, following the path we took yesterday all the way up to the road, then turning left up the hill towards the town.  On the way we passed the Parish Church and I popped in to take a look at the graves of the martyrs, who were tried and sentenced to be tied to a stake at low tide, then drowned as it flowed in; what a horrible way to go.  The war memorial was just outside the churchyard and it was sad to see so many names from the First World War, especially several with the same surname.

We wandered into town and did a couple of circuits before sitting outside Cafe Rendezvous for coffee and lemon meringue pie. At least that's what I had; Salty had three small gravy bones!  As we sat there I heard the beautiful and joyous sound of swifts and looking up, saw a group of about six flying around the rooftops.  I just love these birds.  I hardly get to hear them unless we're in France in the summer; their call just lifts my spirits. I also bought a slice of the pie to take away for Cathy.  Back at the van she was still 'siarad Cymraeg', so I sat outside watching the tide ebb.

The drive to the Isle of Whithorn took about half an hour and after choosing a spot to get as level as possible, we walked onto the headland before taking a turn around the harbour.  On arrival I'd walked to The Steam Packet Inn (2 minutes away!) and booked a table for tonight.  The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling, before we walked to the pub for an extremely delicious meal; highly recommended.

All's quiet now.  Salty's been walked and we're letting our lovely meals digest as the tide rolls back in.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Wigtown - National Book Town of Scotland

Nido's parked up at Wigtown Harbour (///visions.punters.salad), with expansive views over the muddy banks of the tidal river, salt marsh and the hills in the distance.  It's very quiet and peaceful here; it's a theme running through our time in Dumfries and Galloway. There are two other vans here and I'm watching the swans, egrets and herons making the most of this safe, food-filled environment.  

True to form, the ravens woke us early this morning at Dundrennan Abbey. It's a sound we're used to at home, with a rookery in the trees outside our bedroom window.  In the early hours we heard the owls and they spooked Salty so much that he jumped on to our bed like a big black flea to escape the big birds! I was up at 7am  and took Salty out.  A large hare was watching us as we walked towards the field; Salty spotted it too and was off - or at least he would have been if I didn't have a good hold of his lead!

It was a still and warm, sunny morning and I cooked breakfast with the door open.  A car pulled up alongside us and a lady in an official uniform got out of the car, ready to open the Abbey to visitors.  In England I'd be worried now about being moved on, but she couldn't have been kinder, stopping to ask us if we were having a good trip - I like Scotland!

It was about an hour's drive to Newton Stewart where we filled up with diesel and food, before driving six miles to our current park up at Wigtown Harbour.  After walking Salty, we left him to enjoy some 'me time' and wandered up to the town.  Wigtown is the National Book Town of Scotland; yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Wigtown earning this title and it has a Book  Festival every October. For such a small place it has a lot of secondhand bookshops, along with loads of cafes, pubs and independent shops - think Hay on Wye but in Scotland. We mooched around a few of them, browsing the many old books for travel, cooking and gardening gems. 

Back at the van, we took Salty for a walk across the salt marsh and onto the footpath which used to be the old railway line, routing us back to the road and the harbour.  After a welcome apero sat outside the van, I cooked a dinner of chicken fajitas and stir fry veg, before we sat in the cab with a cup of tea, watching the birdlife as the tide slowly started to turn and cover the muddy banks of the river.

It's cloudy now and the wind has dropped; it's so quiet my ears are ringing with the silence. - a thousand acres of sky.  If it clears tonight, I think we'll witness a beautiful starry night.  If not, I hope I wake early to enjoy a coffee outside at dawn.  I'm really enjoying the peace of this trip. 

Did I say I like Scotland?  

Wigtown Harbour

The Old Bookshop - pick up a book and relax!

C'mon - 'urry up!

Apero hour

View from the galley door