Regarding Saturday, August 12th....
Last Friday night, I reached The Cumbria Park Hotel in Carlisle exactly three hours after setting off from Sheffield. After a hearty breakfast, I had a little stroll round the neighbourhood and took a photograph of a nearby pub - "The Crown" where I had enjoyed a couple of late pints. Back in the hotel car park I noticed a statue with an adjacent sign. It seems that I was standing on the site of one of the largest Roman forts that was built along the course of Hadrian's Wall during the first century BC - Uxelodunum.
Then Clint took me back to the M6 motorway and into Scotland. I turned left just past Gretna Green and drove along the A75 under grey skies towards Dumfries. As Clint's windcreen wipers swished away the rain I was cursing the BBC weather service. Had they got the weekend wrong? It was the promising weather forecast that had spurred me into action. However, by the time I got to
Phoenix Dumfries the grey was giving way to the blue.
I headed south onto what I shall call The Desnes Ioan Peninsula as that was the medieval name for this secret corner of Scotland. You might also say that I was travelling along the East Stewartry Coast. The weather was improving all the time and I made several stops along the winding road taking several diversions and snapping lots of pictures. The roads were quiet and the sun was shining.
One of my first stops was in New Abbey where you will find the ruins of the pleasantly named Sweetheart Abbey. It was founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her recently departed husband. After his death, Dervorguilla apparently carried his embalmed heart everywhere she went - in a casket made from silver and ivory. I wonder why this practice isn't followed in modern times. It shows true love. She was even buried with said heart.
|Sweetheart Abbey rising above the houses in New Abbey|
|The John Gray scarecrow in New Abbey|
Down the coast, I took a detour to the village Carsethorn which was once a medieval port. There's a pub there, a telephone box and a few houses that look out over The Solway Firth. At low tide, the waters recede significantly leaving sand banks, mud flats and occasional quicksands. It's paradise for seabirds and waders but challenging for sailors and watersports enthusiasts.
|Tidal flats at Carsethorn|
And then I travelled on to the hamlet of Overton. At the junction with the main road there's a quirky bus shelter which local children have
vandalised decorated while waiting to travel to school in Dumfries:-
Onwards to Southerness with its lighthouse. Close by there's a holiday site with static caravans, a pub, an amusement arcade and a fish and chip shop. I ate golden chips from a polystyrene container and drank tea from a cardboard container before visiting the "table top sale" in the pub. Most of the stuff displayed belonged in a rubbish bin so I didn't stay long.
This blogpost could easily stretch as long as as a roll of toilet paper but I'm trying to reduce it down to a few sheets. After Southerness, I headed west through Caulkerbush and Heughs of Laggan to Sandyhills Bay and Portling. Images from these places are shown below:-
|At Sandyhiills Bay|
|Portling House enjoys magnificent views across The Solway Firth|
Clint and I then travelled inland to Dalbeattie but we didn't stop there. We cut south into what was now the old county of Kirkcudbrightshire. I was conscious of the time as I travelled around the next peninsula, arching round towards to the county town but I made a few more stops. For example:-
|The ruins of Dundrennan Abbey|
Even though I hadn't travelled far and had taken my time over the journey from Dumfries I realised that I had missed so much along the way. For example, I didn't even drive into Rockcliffe and as I say I missed Dalbeattie entirely. But it was now late afternoon and I had to press on to Kirkcudbright - my Shangri La, my San Francisco - the place I had been dreaming of for several weeks.
Finally, I made it there - Kirkcudbright - "the artists' town" and joy upon joy there were no double yellow lines, no parking machines in the car park and no parking enforcement officers strolling around like stormtroopers. It was indeed a modern day Nirvana. I treated myself to a pint of shandy in The Kirkcudbright Bay Hotel and then strolled around the little town for a while before heading to my B&B accommodation in the hamlet of Girthon.
|A view of Kirkcudbright from Toll Booth House|
|Church ruin by Kirk House in Girthon|
I was staying in Kirk House by the ruined church. After an hour's rest, I headed into the old mill town Gatehouse of Fleet for more exploration and my evening meal which was ordered in a busy pub called "The Masonic Arms" - just off the high street.
|A window in Gatehouse of Fleet|
It had been a wonderful day. So many lovely sights. I was already looking forward to Sunday August 13th which will be the subject of my next blogpost.