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To Ayrshire and Dumfries

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 10 June 2007

Sunday 10 June, to Ayrshire and Dumfries

We wake up late in the Travelodge hotel near the highway and we are awakened by birds! Up to now we have never had any noise in this hotel chain, the outside walls must be well insulated, but also with a window open we notice little of the nearby motorways.
At the neighbors we eat breakfast and ask for 2 plates for 1 order. The pancakes are for Elisabeth, I eat the scrambled eggs with bacon and on presentation of our room key we also receive a discount.
Burns memorial, Mauchline Gatelodge at SornIt looks beautiful outside so we quickly drive away. The fact that we are here in 'Burns-area' soon becomes clear by the many monuments for this most famous poet of Scotland from the 18th century. In Mauchline we come across these striking memorials, just at a crossroads. After the death of his father, he lived in Mauchline for some time.
Then we drive to the east and end up in an extremely deserted area. We thought that only the Highlands were so extinct, but here too we rarely see a village and even almost no habitation. It is a vast and barren area where once many coal mines have been and now and then we see some signs of mining companies that are still in operation. We try to take some pictures of the area, but we can not capture the emptiness properly. It is green almost everywhere, otherwise we would have thought we were lost on the moon.
There are not many roads here either and we hardly even encounter sheep. We have already seen a lot of Scotland but are surprised by this empty landscape. The lovingmaking couple at the end of a cul-de-sac will also have thought so, but of course they have heard us coming, just before we stop next to them to turn around to drive back. We wave for a moment but personally we do not think it's warm enough to go rolling througg the grass. After the nice weather yesterday we hoped that it would be the same today and that we could find a nice spot to sit for a few hours. But the sky is getting clouded and the blue holes are always far away. So we just continue to explore this part of Scotland by car.
Drumlanrig castleFurther south we return to a more residential area and go past the Drumlanrig castle. Most castles in Scotland do have a house ghost, but here a yellow monkey seems to be around! Fortunately, there are also 2 human spirits. Many paintings can be admired in the castle, including a number of Dutch masters and even a Rembrandt (Reading old woman). The castle (from the late 17th century) itself we find a little too pompous and we have seen so much castles on the inside that we skip this one.
Center of Moniaive, Tower HouseThe village of Moniaive is a relief after the emptiness that we have behind us, however much we liked te peacefulness of it. Around the village are several valleys and forests with nice hiking trails.
The house with the tower is not a castle, post office, town hall or the like; it was built in the 19th century as a villa, an ordinary private house with a tower. Try to get a building permit for that now!
Brockloch towerSince we are still looking for a place with blue skies where the sun might want to come, we drive towards Loch Doon and we pass Brockloch Tower, another castle-like home that you can encounter anywhere in Scotland. A clear sign indicates that it is privately owned and curious people are not welcome. Pffff, we would not even want to live there, on the empty plains ...
Loch Doon A break at Loch DoonMeanwhile, the temperature is nice and warm even though we still do not see any sun and we drive along the road along Loch Doon. Just like a few years ago, the beaches are full of campers and we have to search for a quiet spot. A pebble beach is all that remains for us, but we have the place for us alone and enjoy the peace, nature and our books. We have already driven around so much this holiday and we allow ourselves a couple of hours rest and relaxation, that is also what holidays are for and which we sometimes seem to forget.
Maybole CastleWhen we continue our journey after a few hours of doing nothing, we see that the sky is becoming increasingly bluish everywhere, except on the spot where we have just sat! It is already after six so now we really have to look for a store for some groceries. But in Maybole we are distracted again by the beautiful buildings including the Maybole castle. We take a short walk and then quickly head for Ayr, but via inland roads that we have not driven before.
Alloway parish church, AyrAnd so we enter Ayr through Alloway, the place where Robert Burns was born and where we of course stop extensively to view the monuments even though everything is already closed. Burns was an outsider in his time and even though not everyone (eg the church) agreed with him, he was still widely adored. But as with so many geniuses, it has probably yielded more money for his heirs than himself. He has become the best-known poet because he wrote his poems in the Scottish language and there are real gems in his work.
The Auld Kirk, Ayr Tombstone, AyrBurn's father is buried at the 'Auld kirk', the old church whose roof has now disappeared. It is wonderful to walk quietly between these old graves and to admire the text on the tombs as far as they can still be read. There are also a few tombstones with special engravings such as those on the photo on the right, a skeleton that is given something by an angel or another being. And is the skeleton really playing a flute?
Brig O’Doon house, AyrTam O'Shanter is a narrative poem by Robert Burns in which a bridge was the main location, the Brig O'Doon and of course there is an inn with that name. On the run from the devil and his witches who were caught in the Auld Kirk by Sam, he crosses the bridge because everyone knows that witches can not cross running water. Unfortunately his horse looses his tail because a witch has just been able to seize ot.
Brig O’Doon View from Brig O’DoonAnd on that medieval bridge, probably preserved by this fantastic story, we are now. We do not know the story very well but now it is much more peaceful without the devil and flooded with sunlight, very different from the ghostly night in which Tam crossed the bridge. With his stories, Burns has saved more bridges from demolition.
Burns Monument Nice gardenOf course there is also a Burns monument in a Burns park, but that is now closed. We walk around it, because it is wonderful weather to walk. Another piece of Scotland that we have to go back to during opening hours!
Burns cottage Center of AyrAnd of course we walk to the birth house of Robert Burns, a low house where now a museum is located. But closed because we are late.
Finally we arrive in Ayr, park the car and go looking for a store. Soon we are addressed by a happy and clearly drunk, Scot who shows us the way. He still apologizes for his drunkenness, but hey, it was such a beautiful day and what can you do better than sit in the bar drinking beers. He is not annoying at all and wishes us a good day, and we him, when we have arrived at the store.
It has become beautiful weather again and time for a drink on a terrace before we drive back to the hotel. Teije goes back to "his" electricity mast, I let him speak for himself:
Teije’s new hobby, studying electricity poles Teije’s new hobby, studying electricity polesUsually you see them as large masts in the distance, somewhere in a meadow and we hardly think about them, but thanks to these structures we have power everywhere! Now I am close to such a mast and start asking myself questions like: who builds these things, how do they put those long cables on, who decides where they are put and does the landowner get money for it? And every question raises another hundred new questions!
I now start to pay attention to the details, how is such a mast built, and what do all those details mean. I can watch it for hours and make a lot of photos. That means in any case that I am relaxed, otherwise I really did not have the patience. I think in any case to be able to answer one question myself, namely why the mast itself is not electrically charged: before a cable arrives at the mast they hang a series of round saucers, probably a kind of resistances and the cable runs through the saucer under such an angle so it never toches the mast. The current does not run through the mast at all, but underneath it. I will do some comparative research in the Netherlands, now I first enjoy the beautiful lines of this mast, never thought that I could become so fascinated by something artificial. But to be honest, the nature of Scotland is infinitely more beautiful and fascinating!


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