Friday, 27 April 2018

Road trip, part one

I know there was going to be a picture-laden post about the Assistant Gardener, but I've been home nearly a week and I want to sort out my 'road trip' pictures, so Daisy is going to have to wait.  Oh, well, maybe just one . . .

Management had a trip in the campervan AND a Star Camp in the caravan last month and I was itching to get away for my first break in Bill.  The weather forecast for Wednesday 18th onwards was remarkably warm and sunny so it was time to pay a long-overdue and much anticipated visit to Samye Ling and then head westwards into Dumfries and Galloway.  Only I changed my plans and decided to head towards the Mull of Galloway first, and pick up the monastery on my way home, so the route looked something like this:

Other people's holiday blogs can be bum-numbingly boring, and there's no reason why this one should be any different!  I'm writing it for my own benefit, so it probably won't make much sense to anyone else.  Certains vous gagnez, certains vous perdez.

Easy run down the A75 except For.The.Bloody.Potholes.  Good grief - the main trunk route to a significant ferry port (Stranraer) and I kept expecting a police car to pull me over a do a breathalyser test.  The erratic line I was driving could just as easily been down to booze as the potential tyre ripping craters I was trying to avoid.  It made what should have been a relaxing drive very tiring.  Didn't help that the weather forecast had lied and instead of the promised sunshine and fluffy clouds I had mist and occasional drizzle.  But here's the daft thing - it absolutely did not matter at all.  Being in the campervan is so much fun that the lack of views didn't bother me.  I stopped just outside the village of Ardwell for a late lunch and found a peaceful, tranquil, gorgeous little spot.

Rolled into the New England Bay campsite a while later and fell completely in love.  Which is odd for someone who generally does not like campsites!  Space, silence, bunny rabbits and gorse - and a strong smell of coconut every time the wind dropped, flat pitches, blisteringly hot water, did I mention the total silence?

Went for a local walk in the afternoon, sat outside the van, chilled, relaxed, fell a little more in love.  Browsed online even though I had planned not to - but the mobile signal was ridiculously strong.

Thursday morning - 7.00am - blue sky, fluffy clouds, no wind.  Left the site before 9.00 and turned left heading for the lighthouse - the most southerly bit of Scotland.  One mile down the road hit a wall of sea mist which got thicker and thicker, and I bottled out completely and did a three (and a bit) point turn before the narrow road became single track.

Stopped off in Port Logan and had the harbour completely to myself;

a walk, some food, some birding - three male Wheatear, not rare but seeing the Greenland bird is fairly uncommon and was a personal first.  Most pleased!   This outstanding photo is by a chap called Mike Weedon - my birds posed nicely for the binoculars and buggered off the minute I put my hand in pocket for the camera.

Remembered that this was where two men were drowned last summer.  Proof there is a Goddess and she dispenses karma.

After lunch I set off for one of the other objectives of the trip - Logan Botanic Gardens.  Thanks to the mist I had the place nearly to myself, what joy!  The first of two visits, pictures in 'part two'.  Around 3.00pm the mist vanished to be replaced by sun & blue sky so I thought I'd make a quick run down to the lighthouse.  The last four miles of the route are a very narrow single track road with passing places and I'm in a front-wheel drive van which has a complete melt-down if someone even whispers "soft verge".

One mile into four miles of "breath in, relax, hope whoever you meet coming the other way has manners and an understanding of how to use passing places" I hit the wall of sea mist again.  6m of panel van with no more than 20m of visibility and absolutely no option to do anything but carry on - I've never been so glad to get to the end of a road!

But once again the mist did not matter, if anything it added to the atmosphere of the place.  It was windy and the mist was swirling nearly 100m up from the sea - very Lord of the Rings.

I will definitely be back, the lighthouse is open at weekends and on a good day the views from the top are going to be amazing.

Had a lovely chat with the chaps in the RSPB centre who confirmed my Wheatear sighting, and went back to the van for a cuppa.  When I spoke to Management the previous night I learned I'd missed a phone call from my dearest friend J. in Missouri.  Remember that ludicrously strong mobile signal?  On a whim I called her with Facetime and we had the most surreal chat - I'm in a van at what looks like the end of the world having a perfectly clear conversation with someone 4,000 miles away.

I hung around until 5.00pm in the hopes that I would not meet anyone coming south;  I timed it - only took 8 minutes to get from the lighthouse to where the road widened.  I think I was being a bit of a wimp . . .

And this post has probably taken more than 8 minutes!  Time to move to part two.


  1. You can tell it's late, when I read Part 2 I didn't realise I'd missed Part 1! I've just read the whole thing about the two guys - karma indeed, and to be honest I hope they suffered greatly! Rather you than me driving through all that mist - I drove across Anglesey in fog one summer evening a few years ago, it hit all at once and I've never been as glad to get back to the camp site as I was just then! Great photo of Daisy by the way, was she yawning or giving you instructions?!

    1. Thanks for the chuckle Eunice, my main feeling about 'the accident' was how much RNLI and coastguard resource was used to look for them. In deference to Eileen's feelings, I'll just say I hope the accident was on the way out, and not when they were coming back with what they were going to collect ....

      I remember you getting hit by fog in Anglesey - it does make for tiring driving.

      Madam was yawning - clearly I am very boring!

  2. I've yet to read part two but I was hoping you would write about your road trip. I have only ever visited Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and loved it. I haven't read about the two guys yet and not really sure I will when karma is involved as my mind is already working overtime. The potholes, narrow roads and the mist you describe would have stressed me out. Lovely that you managed to see the rare birds. Off to read part two now.

    1. Thanks Eileen. I don't think I left Dumfries & Galloway the whole trip, and although the mist & potholes sound dreadful it really was a fabulous journey, one I cannot wait to make again!

  3. You're one brave lady, as I wouldn't have the guts to do it. I love lighthouses & have since I was young & photographed many & have been into quite a few. Thanks.

    1. Perhaps not brave Susan - maybe completely foolhardy! Hopefully on my next trip I will have some lighthouse pictures for you :)


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