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Southwest Scotland, the Rhinn of Galloway

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 15 to 18 July 2000

Saturday 15 July, Southwest Scotland, the Rhinn of Galloway

Barr is an out-of-the-way place, but certainly worth visiting. The neigbourhood is very suitable for nice walks. From our room we look at a lapping brook and we are in a good mood for our next trip this morning.
Unfortunately, we don't take much pictures on this day, nor on the next. After our experiences in the Highlands, we did not expect any other part of Scotland to be so beautiful, but this area certainly was. A bit hilly and many, many woods. Through the Galloway Forest Park we drive to Newton Stewart and from there to Wigtown, the 'book-town' of Scotland. We are both fond of books and can't resist to visit some of the shops in the main street.
Beach at Portpatrick Beach at PortpatrickBut time passes quickly and we have to continue. First to Glenluce, onto the Galloway peninsula (Rhinns) and from there to the coast. At Portpatrick we take a walk on the empty beach and also the village itself is quite nice to visit (the harbour, at least). The landscape is rough and pleasant to drive through, and so we continue on our way to Stranraer.
Along the coast we drive back north, in the direction of Girvan. The harbour is a nice place to visit and the view on Ailsa Graig, a volcano island a few kilometers from the coast, is beautiful. Finally, we take another, new, route with new views to return to Barr.
In the pub of the hotel we have very pleasant conversations with several Scottish and English people. After a discussion about whisky, we get 2 very expensive ones. But only after the people already have left, so we can't thank them. Unfortunately we have forgotten the brand, but fortunately for Teije, Elisabeth doesn't like whisky so he can drink both. He staggers a bit, walking back to our room...a bit tipsy, maybe?

Sunday 16 July 2000, the surroundings of Barr

After breakfast we take a long walk behind the village, through the beautiful woods. Several routes of different distances can be followed. The hilly environment here is made for long hikes.
In the afternoon we get into our car again to drive around. First we go to Girvan. Coming from the hills, we have a beautiful view on the volcanic island Ailsa Craig.
Castle in AyrshireAlong the coast, to the north, we see Culzean Castle in the distance, but this castle is too 'young' (18th century) to be of interest for us.

Somewhere we ran into this funny castle, but maybe it is just an ordinary house... But we forget to write down where it was.
At Ayr we turn to the south, towards Dalmellington, where we take the single track road along Loch Doon. On the map it looked like a deserted loch, but the weather is great and half of Scotland seems to be here with their mobile homes. The beaches are full of them! At the end of the loch one can find the ruins of castle Loch Doon. It has been reallocated a few hundred metres after the construction of a dam, after which the castle would have been flooded.
For the rest of the day we have followed all roads (few, but very beautiful) through the Galloway Forest Park, along Loch Moan and Glen Trool Lodge. Next time we have to make some pictures, but we didn't know where to begin and ended with no pictures at all. Ayrshire and Galloway are splendid areas, but much more 'friendly and benign' than the Highlands when you compare the nature of the landscapes. We can't compare the people, they are very nice here, too. Certainly a place worth visiting again.

Monday 17 July 2000, back to central Scotland, Strathyre

Loch LomondToday we go back to the north: through Glasgow (which doesn''t attract us much) to the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, the largest sweet water lake of Scotland. According to our travel guide, the east side (a single track road) should be quiet, but it turns out to be a traffic jam from the beginning to the end (almost 20 kilometers). Daytrippers who want to enjoy the beautiful weather. The last few days the weather has improved much and today is a really hot day. We are glad when we, at last, get the opportunity to turn around and after an hour return to a normal road.
Loch CoilOn the map we have seen this place called Rest And Be Thankful, so we just have to go there. Walking this road or travelling on a bicycle one would certainly need a rest, arriving here. It turns out that the lowest part of the pass is called this way, there is no village. We go onto the peninsula Cowal and follow the shores of Loch Coil, which is directly connected to the sea.
Again, it has been a day with beautiful views and wonderful sceneries and again almost no pictures. At that time we were more interested in watching everything than photographing it. So everybody has to wait for our next visit.
At night, we arrive for the second time at Strathyre and the Ben Sheann-hotel with Terry and Lorna, where we are welcomed heartily. Their potato soup is as good as the first time.

Tuesday 18 July 2000, Oban and the west coast

Croabhaven Nice house near KilmartinToday we want to visit the peninsula Kintyre, but we have run out of L.P.G., which is much cheaper than petrol, so we decide to make a detour via Oban. It takes almost 10 minutes before the gas tank is full. That's because it is an old gas tank, the employee tells us. After that we hurry southwards.
At Croabhaven we have to take a walk through the village. It looks like a puppet place; it is so clean and proper and the houses are as new, with all different and soft colours. Terry and Lorna, the owners of the hotel in Strathyte, have lived here for years and brought it to our attention.
A bit more to the south we pass Kilmartin and many prehistoric sites. The oldest and most impressive is the South Cairn from about 3.000 BC. No pictures of it, just this charming country house we saw along the road.
At Tarbert the peninsula begins and one can find there the ruin of the 14th century castle of Robert de Bruce.
Coast of Kintyre peninsulaThe A83 along the west coast is a very good road and as a matter of fact we pass it too fast to enjoy the view on the sea and nice sandy beaches. One has to take a pause to walk around a bit. With a clear sky one can see Ireland from here. To the south, the road goes to the eastern side of the peninsula, towards Campbeltown.
We don't want to go to the Mull of Kintyre (southwestern point), although it has become famous by the song of Paul McCartney (who also has lived there). There is not much to see, we are told. (A few years later we go there anyway).
View on ArranThe trip along the east coast pleases us much better, with now and then fantastic views on the island Arran. It is a single road track and meanders slowly along the coast, through small villages. A long and lovely drive.
The way back mainly leads us along roads we have driven on already, today or yesterday. Past Inveraray Castle and the Falls of Falloch (north of Loch Lomond) we return to our hotel. Short as this description is, it turns out to be a trip of almost 600 kilometers and certainly a worthwhile one.


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