Scotland '07


In the middle of April 2007 I drove down to Esbjerg, Denmark, to catch the ferry to Harwich (as the Gothenburg-Newcastle ferry not longer sails) and then north into Scotland (with my 'new' caravan, a Cabby 532 DLX, also from 1987, if you must know :-).

This trip has been split into five parts: April, May parts 1 and 2, and June parts 1 and 2.

In this first part, I travelled from Eskilstuna to Esbjerg to catch ferry to Harwich, and then headed up to Lake Distict before heading along Scotland's Southwest coast.

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May, part 1

Annan to Glenluce (continued)

Tueday (1/5) and time to look at the ferries to Irland ... Started of by looking at Glenluce Abbey (I was obviously born 407 years, to the day, to late to greet Mary Queen of Scots on her visit) and a restored tower house (Castle of Park, or sometimes locally called House of Hay?; only external view as it can be rented). Next was a visit to Stranraer with Castle of St. John and railway station. After a late lunch I headed south to the old port (for Ireland) of Portpatrick, where I got my first view of Ireland.
(Glenluce Abbey is one of the few abbeys where a village/town didn't establish around itand ferries to Ireland moved from Portpatrick to the more sheltered Stranraer in Loch Ryan.)

Headed south (2/5) to Port William and Isle of Whithorn and St. Ninian's chapel. Headed north again to Sorbie with it's motte (only the motte, or mound, left because built in wood) and Clan Hannay's tower house. Lunch was had in Wigtown overlooking the town hall before heading for the harbour in a marsh. On the way back I visited Torhouse Stone Circle.
(Isle of Whithorn was a place of pilgrimage, where the pilgrims passed Glenluce abbey on their way there.
Wigtown is called the book town as it has many bookshops. Before that they where a thriving port and had a distillery, which has started up again. Once upon a time there was a castle in the marsh below Wigtown, but now it's gone and the area is preserved for birds.)

Glenluce to Culzean/Maybole

Time to move on and next stop was Culzean (3/5). (Found the camp site full but the one across the road, at a farm, put me up for the night.) Quick visit to Maybole and then took the coastal road to Ayr, during which I got a nice view of Arran and Kintyre. In Ayr I got a look at, what's left, of Cromwell's Citadel. Headed back to Maybole to pick up a Madras curry. Realised that the view from my caravan was a good one of Arran, even a bit 'mystical'.
(Arran is an island of the west coast, also known as Britain, of is it Scotland?, in miniature - flat in the south and hilly in the north. Kintyre is a mainland island, i.e. is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.
Cromwell was the reason for the English Civil War, i.e 'republicans' fighting royalists. I use quotes for 'republicans' as Cromwell was somewhat of a dictator.)

Time again (4/5) to move, this time only around the corner: Maybole. Had lunch (with spectators) overlooking Crossraguel Abbey (i.e. making good use of my membership in Historic Scotland :-). Climbed the tower of the abbey's gatehouse and got an even better view of the abbey (and nearby tower house, most likely built with stone from the abbey, in the background to the left). After a nice talk to the attendant I moved on to Girvan and it's Stumpy Tower, a former jail. There I got a closer look at Ailsa Craig (an island outside Girvan).
(Girvan's Stumpy Tower was extended with a town hall, McMaster's Hall, in 1911, but the hall burnt down in 1939.)

Saturday (5/5) and time to have a look at Culzean Castle and Park (for bl**dy £12). (It's one of the most expensive walks I've had: £3/hour!) The castle is pretty 'modern' and General Eisenhower was given a suite/wing to live in, i.e. there is an exhibition about him and WWII. The Swan lake (pond?) is a nice place to have an ice cream on a nice day and the walled garden has quite a few flowers, fruit trees, and other plants. Their tulip collection and 'time piece' were exellent! (But the gas works and powder house where both disappointing.) Headed north to have a look at what 'north of Ayr' was like and ended up in Troon for supper.

Sunday (6/5) and the Met Office was right: it rained heavily (well at least to start with). Maybe time for a rest from touristing (as to not get TFS - tourist fatigue syndrome :-).
After lunch at Ayr's beach it was time to see some of Ayrshire's inland. I took a quick afternoon tour via Cumnock and New Cumnock (in the rain), where I found nice hilly nature (and that that doesn't stop humanity destroying it with opencast coal mining and industry).
Later I have learnt that I went through Patna where my great grandfather was a minister before he moved to Newtyle.

Monday (7/5) and bank holiday, and I was hoping to visit Dunaskin Heritage Centre (at an old iron works). I looked very closed and I met a nice man and his dog that confirmed it... only the railway museum (run by volunteers) is still running. So time for plan B and a visit to Loch Doon Castle. The castle ruin was moved from an island in the loch when the level of the water was raised by building a dam in the 1930s.
Headed for the coast again where I tried to see if the rumours about 'Electric Brae' (Croy Brae) where true, i.e. that a car will 'move uphill'. (The truth is that it's an illusion where the surroundings make it look like it's uphill when it's actually downhill. :-) Got a nice shot of Culzean Castle from another side (as well as Ailsa Craig).
(I also learnt that the military spent a lot of money in building an air gunnery school at Loch Doon against advise from locals. The locals where right about the weather conditions and the installations where removed 18 months later.)

Maybole to Lochgilphead

Time to move on (8/5) and this time to Loch Lomond and Balloch, where the paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is moored (not working). Went up the west shore to Luss, a small and very nice village.
(For the nerds: I found Mr. Dell's cottage in Luss! :-)
(I've been told that the Maid of the Loch was built on the Clyde and then transported in sections, via River Leven, to Loch Lomond.)

As expected staying at Loch Lomond is expensive, so time to move on (9/5). This time I decided not to continue along the terrible road north of Tarbet (that I seem to like calling Tarbert...) and headed west (through a nice pass) this year to Lochgilphead. Having set up my caravan I headed back to Inveraray, that looked historic when I passed it. Doubling back again I passed Auchindrain Township, an open air museum showing how farmers lived (which I missed, being late, and have to go back to one day). The iron furnace at Furnace was seen before going to Kilmartin at it's many prehistoric monuments. There are great stone slabs in Kilmartin's churchyard as well as standing stones, stone circles, chambered cairns, and stone carvings in the fields. There are five cairns in a row through Kilmartin Glen, known as linear cemetery (stretching from Kilmartin in the north to Ri Cruin in the south).
(On the road from Tarbet to Lochgilphead AA has missed a steep gradient, i.e. over 10%, in their 2007 road map, so the road is just a notch better than the one north of Tarbet. Why this is annoys me is because they aren't fun when towing a caravan... I'm a bit annoyed with myself for missing Rest and be thankful on the way.
On the other hand I found another kind, than those in Fife, of mile markers, this one giving the distance to Oban and Lochgilphead [shown as L'G'HEAD].
And the stone circles in Kilmartin are most likely filled with stones from 'modern day' people, i.e. not in prehistoric time.)

Thursday (10/5) and I thought I would head for Mull of Kintyre and see the extension of Giant's Causeway (in Ireland). Luckily I stopped to ask at the tourist information in Tarbert (not Tarbet :-) and got the illusion out of my head. I got some good pointers and headed south for Campbeltown (where, on the way, I got my first, and closest, look at Islay ... and the paps of Jura). The tour continued south to Southend (which wasn't much... but had a nice view, with Aisla Craig :-) and almost to the lighthouse on Mull of Kintyre. The way back was via the scenic route, with views of Arran, and Skipness Castle and chapel (with Arran in background :-). Stopped for a look at the ferry to Islay and to look at the rainbow

Friday (11/5) and time to see Crinan Canal (Ardrishaig to Crinan), where I found an old canal steam tugboat. Continued south to Kilmory Knap Chapel with yet more grave stones. Heading north again I saw some sea otters (I think :-) and stopped at Castle Sween. Still having time before supper I headed north of Kilmartin to Carnassarie Castle. This castle is interesting as it is built as a tower house with an adjoining hall block, but both built at the same time. (Normal was to build the tower house and then, in later years, expand the castle with a hall block.)

Lochgilphead to Oban

Having moved (12/5) to Oban I toured the town, where I found M/S Stockholm (ironically registred in Gothenburg :-) and Ronja Viking from Norway. Next I visited visited Dunstaffnage castle (where Flora McDonald was held for a while) and chapel. I just had to cross the old railway and road bridge at Connel (which was worth the tea and view :-)). Made the 'compulsory' visit to McCaig's Tower, the uncompleted folly above town, where there is a great view of Mull. Had fish and chips on the north pier (during which time M/S Stockholm took off) while waiting for the paddle steamer Waverley to return from it's day trip.
(The paddle steamer Waverley used to be a ferry passengers on the west coast of Scotland. It has for the last 32 years been sailing on pleasure excursions.
And once again AA has missed steep gradients in their 2007 road map!)

Sunday (13/5) and time to see Waverley depart (backwards, if you're wondering :-) for Iona before visiting Bonawe furnace. After a lunch on the beach of Loch Etive and have a look at Loch Awe, railway bridge over River Orchy, and Kilchurn Castle.

Oban to Fort William

Headed (14/5) for Fort William to stay in Glen Nevis, after having stopped to look at Castle Stalker. Visited the Glenfinnan Monument at Loch Shiel (which wasn't worth the £2 parking fee and £3 entrance fee, although I paid for the parking; the drive back to Fort William was nice though, having a view of Ben Nevis with snow on it's top). Also saw the famous 'Harry Potter railway bridge', i.e. Glenfinnan Viaduct. Had a walk through town and a look at, what's left of, the fort. The day ended better than it started. :-) (... even though I found out that I'm a week to early for the steam train to Mallaig.)
(Castle Stalker is renovated, i.e. inhabitable, and in private ownership.
Glenfinnan Monument is erected at the head of Loch Shiel where Bonnie Prince Charles is said to have raised his standard [flag], on 19th August 1745, in his attempt to reclaim the throne for his father. It failed after the battle of Culloden at Inverness in April 1746.
Fort William, one of three forts along the Great Glen and Loch Ness, is the English king's attempt to keep the Scots in check. The grounds of the fort was bought by a railway company to build a terminus and thereby destroyed the fort.)

Tuesday (15/5) turned out a nice day after a pretty cold night, at least when the mist had lifted, and it was time to head further up the glen. Lots of nice water falls and burns with clear water, and nice views of snow clad mountain tops. Lunch was had overlooking Neptune's Staircase, i.e. the sea locks at Banavie. For some reason I turned right instead of left when leaving the locks and ended up at Gairlochy (where the lock keepers where 'playing' with the swing bridge and lock gates). Here I met a nice man from York (originally from Surrey) whom I had a nice chat about this and that. Next was the Commando Memorial with a view of Ben Nevis and other mountains (which where hidden in clouds when I passed here last year). On the way back I stopped at Inverlochy Castle and the railway bridge over River Lochy.

Continued in May, part 2.


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