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We change our plans and go to Argyll

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 25 August 2006

Friday 25 August, we change our plans and go to Argyll

Auld Brig, Ayr AyrAyr has several bridges over the river in the center, but the best known is Auld Brig (left photo), saved from demolition thanks to a poem by Robert Burns in which the old and the new bridge argue with each other, The Brigs Of Ayr. Burns wrote in the local Scottish Ayrshire dialect and is occasionally difficult to follow if you read the untranslated poems. He is regarded as a hero of Scotland (or as an easy source of income) which is evident from the fact that almost every place he has been to is transformed into a tourist attraction.
The sky is getting darker and it is not really warm, again quite different than yesterday. We wonder what we should do. Our plans beforehand were fairly straightforward: a few days to the island of Arran, a few days to visit the surroundings of Kilmartin and a while to our friends in Beauly plus a few days time for surprises.
However, since the end of March 2006 there has been a smoking ban in public areas in Scotland and many hotels have also made all their rooms non-smoking, difficult for us as still stubborn smokers (we regularly get emails about this, sometimes angry, sometimes with good tips to quit smoking!). Likewise on Arran, where we could not find an affordable hotel where we are allowed to smoke in our own room, and that's why we have all our camping gear with us. But we are a bit of nice weather campers and especially the humidity scares us and the weather forecasts are not too favorable either.
Kilmarnock Statue of Robert Burns, KilmarnockIn Kilmarnock (known from the Johnnie Walker whiskey) we first look for a spot where we can drink coffee, but the only thing we can get is a take-away coffee. So with our coffee in hand, we look for a place on a bench in the small center. And again there is a statue of Robert Burns; his first book 'poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect' was published here.
House along the roadWe do not really find Kilmarnock an interesting place and after finishing the coffee we drive on, still indecisive about what we are going to do. We see some nice houses, as they are everywhere throughout Scotland, and drive around a bit. But after an hour we make up our minds: we can always visit Arran later, so first we go to Kilmartin, northwest of Glasgow in Argyll where many pre- and historical monuments can be found.
We drive quickly past Glasgow and then look for LPG. But all filling stations seem to lie south of Glasgow and our navigation does not have a better solution either. While we play around with the so-called POIs (points of interest) in our navigation system, (because we have various poi's to find LPG-stations throughout Europe), we also encounter the Travelodge hotels poi! I had loaded it on the Tomtom a few days before departure, but when we could not find the way at Lancaster on the first day we never thought of it again! 150 kilometers unnecassary extra kilometers when we had remembered this POI. And now we have to go back some 35 kilometers for gas, which we eventually find at the international airport in Glasgow.
The Arctic Penguin, InverarayPast Glasgow we quickly arrive in much quieter areas with mainly exuberant nature and a few hours later we are in Inveraray along Loch Fyne where we stayed last year. It is actually a very small town but still has the appearance of a real city. It was built in 1745 after an existing fishing village was demolished. It is called an example of Scottish Georgian architecture. There are a few attractions (castle, bell tower), of which this ship is one, the Arctic Penguin, a three-master with a maritime museum, ideal for a visit on a rainy day.
Lochgilphead LochgilpheadArriving in Lochgilphead we see a hotel that we already saw on the internet, the Stag hotel. We just ask if we are allowed to smoke there, and yes, it is allowed. We book immediately for a minimum of 3 nights. Now we have at least a dry place to stay and we can explore the area in the coming days. Lochgilphead is the administrative center of Argyll and Bute and is located along Loch Gilp.
Lochgilphead is just like Inveraray a planned town, but much less fun. There is a large supermarket (and a petrol pump with LPG!), But otherwise there isn't much to do and see. We walk around a bit, but when we get to the boulevard, the drizzling rain changes in a big storm and we rush inside. It does not stop raining this evening and we are happy that we have brought so many reading books and are not in a tent.


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