We stopped in al layby just passed the pebble sculptures, looking over Kirkcudbright Bay and St. Mary's Isle. A little further up the road at Goat Well Bay,is a very pleasant and popular picnic area of a fair size, complete with toilets,behind the nice looking beach.
Along this stretch of road are many little rocky coves and beaches but there is very limited parking, apart from the afore mentioned. Being an estuary,the sea practically disappears at low tide, leaving rock pools as well as huge swathes of sand.
When we first parked up here, the weather was very overcast and windy and the tide out, not giving us a true picture of how attrictive this bay is. Upon our return, after our motorbike trip, the sun was out, the tide was in and a dingy race was lining up ready for the off. Blue sky, blue sea, a different picture all together!! Certainly the bay had come alive with the incoming tide, boats were heading out into the bay taking advantage of the weather.
Having read this was a pretty bay we had a run on the motorbike whilst parked up in a layby near Kirkcudbright.
We took the B727 down the western flank of Kirkcudbright Bay and turned onto a minor road south of the picnic area.This takes you to both Ross Bay and Brighouse Bay, the latter having a large, popular camp site.There is also a rather nice looking campsite on the road to Ross.We only looked at Ross Bay.
Ross Bay was not as scenic as I thought it would be, more muddy than sandy and on a windy, dull day, it didn't look at it's best.There was absolutely no-one here so finding a bit of shelter, we stopped and had a cup of coffee on the shore.
The narrow road runs all the way along the backshore to a couple of houses, beautifully located. No overnight signs are in evidence here. Popular place for fishing.
We decided to stop off in New Galloway to stretch our legs a little, after travelling for a few hours.We parked in the car park where men were busy strimming the verges, disturbing this incredibly sleepy little place.
We wandered up the little back roads onto the main street, taking note of a couple of hotels and the odd shop. Oh, and a hairdressers! The grey stone architecture was a strange mix of old mixed with new bits added on. Much of it had seen better days and was in need of a decent lick of paint, including the striking town hall. This incorporated a clock tower in it's building and was the most prominent building in the village. The hotel across from the town hall could have been impressive apart from it's upper window frames, which had definitely known better times.
New Galloway is a rural town just north of Loch Ken and on the edge of the Galloway Forest park. It dates back to the 1600's and was once a thriving market town. Unfortunately, competition from nearby larger towns such as Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas led to it's decline. Nowadays it has a popular tourist following, ideal for those seeking the simple pleasures of walking and cycling in this natural environment.
We found the pretty village quaint, extremely sleepy and rather lovely.
This loch is a reservoir, created by damming the River Dee and flooding the valley. It was built to feed the Glenlee Power Station, the largest in the Galloway Hydro Electrical scheme and building took from 1929 - 1935 .
The loch is a pleasant place to stay awhile, with cycle routes, footpaths and wildlife in abundance (if you are lucky!!There is a visitor centre with car park, gift shop, cafe, toilets and an interpretive centre.) From here you can cycle to Benniguinea viewpoint or walk to Bruce's Stone. Look carefully for the native feral goat.This area is also on the Red Kite Trail, which we spotted more than once.
A short walk takes you to an Iron-Age roundhouse, uncovered when the loch was drained.
We didn't actually stop here long, just to take photos of the extremely low reservoir, before we headed off on the Raiders Road.It did seem a popular place though for families with cycles.
This is a very pretty place to while away an hour or so. It is on the Raiders Road and has a small car park. As well as the loch creating a lasting memory, the Stroan viaduct adds to the image crossing the Black Water of Dee. This used to carry the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line that sadly no longer exists.
Permit fishing for perch and pike is allowed and we watched a couple of men, feeling quite envious!
There is a memorial here, overlooking the loch, in memory of Charles Parley, forester in charge of this area between 1947 and 1970. What a spot to eternally watch over!
There are various hiking routes from the car park here. If only we had had more time here......
This is a pretty picnic site set on the Black Water of Dee along the Raiders Road. The river widens out here and and is popular for paddling and messing about on the river. On our visit, the water level was very low and rocks formed stepping stone like ledges.
I presume it was named thus because of otter sightings but on a beautiful summer's day, there is no chance of spotting these remarkable creatures amidst the picnickers.
There are information boards, picnic tables, parking, toilets and even a couple of permanent barbecues. We were amazed about these, being in woodland we thought the fire risk would be rather high.
We travelled this ten mile forest road in our motorhome, stopping wherever we could to view the scenery.It is an old Drovers road featured in the novel "The Raiders" ,by Samuel Rutherford Crockett, a tale of cattle rustling.
The road is seasonal, just about wide enough for two way traffic and has a gravel surface. It follows the Black Water of Dee for all but the last couple of miles and set amongst the landscape are two or three "art works,"including the labrynth. This was disappointing as it was supposed to be a water feature complete with fountain but the water supply was not turned on, making the whole thing rather pointless and uninteresting.
There is an information board with a map at the beginning of the drive (at the Clatteringshaws end) but I felt it would have been better to have had this on a leaflet, as we forgot what features were where.
The most popular part of the drive is a lovely picnic area by the river, called Otter pool. There was no chance of seeing any otters with the amount of people here.The sun had come out and it was positively warm. Folks were paddling in the river and relaxing in the sun.
Towards the other end of the drive is pretty Stroan Loch, a tranquil haven for fishermen.
Disappointingly, the only wild life we spotted were herons, lots of them!
The toll is £2 paid at an honesty box a couple of miles into the drive.
If you visit Kirkcudbright, you cannot miss this castle as it dominates the centre.The shell of the almost complete castle creates an imposing centre piece in the town and must have been quite something in it's heyday.
When completed in 1582, by Sir Thomas MacLellan, the castle was one of the grandest houses in Scotland. Built on the lines of a tower house, it provided more in the way of entertainment than defence and through it Sir Thomas aimed to show he was a man of some means .
The MacLellan family proved through the years to be foolish with money and were eventually ruined. By 1742, the members of the family controlling the castle removed the furniture and roof thus making it inhabitable. It passed into State care in 1912 and is now cared for by Historic Scotland.
Unfortunately it poured down on our visit so we weren't inclined to linger, the fine Scottish rain falling through the open roof soon soaked us. I enjoyed the recreated kitchen with it's mock up of earlier times and it's high, vaulted ceilings plus it was dry here!
Admission: £3.70 per adult.
£2.20 per child.
Toilets and small shop.
Open April - End Sept. 9.30am - 5.30pm.
We arrived here in the rain but after lunching in the motorhome, it had fared up.
The first thing to strike us about this place was the profusion of wild garlic creating a green and white carpet, interspersed with some handsome horse chestnut trees and if, lilke us, you like garlic, then the smell was amazing.
Situated in a peaceful location, the ruins create an impressive picture.The abbey was founded in 12thc by King David1, who invited monks from the Yorkshire Rievaulx Abbey to set up home here in Dundrennan. 13 monks and ten laymen worked on building the abbey, firstly erecting temporary accommodation before beginning work on the abbey church.Once this was built, they would proceed onto the next part.
The monks active life was a hard one, with days starting at 1.30am, the first service of the day, proceeded by seven more services until 7.30pm. The lay brothers did much of the heavy work and farming and produced quality wool that was mainly exported.
The abbey fell into decline in the1500's but continued as the parish church untilthe 1600's.By then, the crumbling buildings were used as a quarry when the stone was used in local buildings.
The abbey is in the care of Historic Scotland and like many of these places, is very low key, just as we like it. No masses, no cafe, no shop.Just impressive, well maintained grounds and ruins. Oh, nearly forgot the oyster catcher nesting in the ruins, very noisily protecting it's young!!
Admission was £3.50?
I guess you could say visiting Threave Castle is more of an overall experience than seeing a decent ruin. Having said that, we really enjoyed our visit!
A visit to Threave Castle involves a short boat ride, as the ruins are on the small Threave Island on the River Dee.You park in the carpark some distance from the castle and a ten minute stroll down through the fields (and many lychgates) takes you to the tiny landing stage, where a small motor boat ferries folks across. As our visit was during a fairly busy period, we disappointingly didn't need to ring the bell to summon the ferryman! The river was extremely low and our boatman had to gauge his loads very carefully to prevent grounding or catching his propeller on the bottom. The crossing is literally seconds rather than minutes, but it all adds to the experience.
We were fortunate with the weather, with clear blue skies, warm air and little wind, which all made our time here more enjoyable.
The castle belongs to National Trust for Scotland and there were some rather annoyed people who were not allowed admittance on an English National Trust membership.Much debate was had!
The 14th century ruins create a very scenic picture from all angles, particularly the first glimpse you get from across the river.
Inside, you can visit the kitchens where there is also a prison (padlocked!)and the great hall. Enjoy a walk around the top of the moat and take in the views of the Dee.
Admission, including the ferry crossing is £4.20 per adult.
Threave Gardens was on our planned "to do" list so the first decent morning, we set off in anticipation. The gardens are part of Threave Estate and are National Trust for Scotland maintained. Threave Houseis within the grounds but that is a seperate attraction. Entrance to the gardens is £6.50 per adult and then they had the cheek to charge us 50p for a flimsy leaflet with a vague map of the various gardens, which we would have expected came as part and parcel of the entrance fee.
Parking was easy, we took the easy option of parking in the coach and caravan park.
The gardens consist of 24 hectares in different sections between lawned and wooded areas, starting off on a low level and leading up to the top of the grounds.Begin via the Visitors Centre and walk down to the Countryside Centre which is housed in a beautifully restored stable block. From here we visited the walled garden, originally used to produce fruit, veg and cut flowers for the house and although large, we found it all a little bland and disappointing. Not enough interesting vegetables and unfortunately, the glass house appeared only to have exotic flowers and shrubs.
There are some interesting little corners, such as the secret garden, peaceful and secluded,home to three beautifully crafted slate urns. We particularly liked the huge wooden sculpted pine cone in the conifer garden and the uphill slog to the upper reaches of the garden. Here we found a wooden toadstool shelter, looking down the lawned slopes past the brightly coloured azaleas and rhododendrons. Probably one of the favourite features is a slate and rock waterfall surrounded by heathers and other alpine plants. Quite nice to watch the water tumble on a hot day!
The formal gardens, again, we found rather disappointing, rather austere and almost clinical, but then formal means just that, I suppose.
There are various walks throughout the estate, some from the gardens, others from public footpaths.
Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time here, the garden somehow failed to excite us to any great depth.
Restaurant, gift shop, toilets, plant centre.
Next stop is one of the towns most historic buildings, the Tolbooth. Its sits on the High Street where it makes a sharp turn left. Dating from the 17th C it used to be the Townhouse and jail having held at various times John Paul Jones, teh founder of the US navy, on a murder charge, Covenanters during the 1680's and Elspeth McEwan who was later executed for being a so-called witch.
However the inside has now been refurbished and the Queen opened it in 1993 as an art gallery. The top floor houses contemporary exhibitions and we were lucky to see an exhibit by a local artist [if only I could remember his name! Howard something..] of watercolours he painted in France. I LOVED them, so pretty, well painted and just the kind of thing I like. I have to say when it comes to art I'm defnitely no snob, I like what I like and I don't care who painted it or how famous they are! :)
There is also an audio visual that gives an introduction to the towns artsistic history on the first floor and the ground floor has a small shop and cafe. Its all free so well worth a visit.
Don't miss the water fountain outside or the boat shaped weather vein on top of the steeple
Following the road round into High Street, you come upon Broughton House. This was the home of E A Hornel, one of the artists known as the "Glasgow Boys". He died in 1933 and the house has recently been restored by the National Trust for Scotland and opened to the public, looking as it would have done when he lived there.
You can see his library - full of books, many many volumes of Robert Burns poetry I noticed!, dining room, kitchen but also his studio with unfinished works and the gallery room he used to show off his paintings.
The Japanese garden out the back is supposed to be lovely and was designed by the artist after his visits to Japan. Unfortunately the day we visited the house it was TIPPING it down with rain so not the best day to see the gardens. Hopefully next time I will get the chance to admire them as I love Japanese style gardens.
NOTE: closed Tuesdays + Wednesdays
further along High Street is Greengates Close [not open to the public] which was home to another local artist, Jessie M King
My main reason for visiting initially was because I had heard there was a "Monet and the Impressionists" exhibition taking place in the Town Hall there and I have always been a bit of an Impressionists fan. That exhibition has now finished as it was just on over the summer but the imposing building plays host to themed painting exhibitions every year.
Kirkcudbright is a pretty small place, well certainly the centre of it is, and very easy to walk around between the main attractions. Its also a really pleasant place for a walk thanks to all the brightly painted Georgian and Victorian buildings that line the streets, the picture postcard cottages, castle and the abundance of flowers everywhere!
So how about I take you a little walking tour of some of the attractions I saw on my recent visits there...