You can read part one of our trip to Scotland here!
Day Four was our ‘long’ distance travel day – well, relative to the rest of the week anyway! Just over an hour’s drive took us to the very pleasant inlet town of Kirkcudbright. The drive itself was lovely – lots of winding, deserted country roads took us past lochs, forests and rolling hills. We had a little break on the shores of one of these lochs – and what struck us was just how silent it is when you get out of the car. Dead quiet. No other people anywhere near, and no cars roaring in the distance. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in England – bar perhaps the Lake District and deep in the Yorkshire Dales.
After arriving in Kirkcudbright, we were on a mission. A mission to buy picnic food. Top of the list was the famous ‘Scotch Pie’, and Matt managed to somehow negotiate enough Pies to last a week from a baker with a brilliantly thick Scottish accent. Unfortunately, we were both starving – so the pies were eaten too quickly to take a photo of. Ah well. We wandered around Kirkcudbright for a little while more, before deciding to take the rest of our picnic down to a beach. The nearest beach was a car journey (of course) away, so we hopped back in and drove a few miles further down the coast.
The drive turned out to be well worth it, as we found a charming little bay – complete with ship-wreck – and, even better, an ice cream van. It would have been rude not to.
Ice-cream eaten, and beach-cravings satisfied, we began the drive back. A glance at TripAdvisor had told us about a Forest road, for which you pay a £2 toll and just drive through and enjoy the scenery. Predictably, it was well worth it – it was a very well maintained track, but deep enough into the forest to give the impression of being well and truly in the wild. Along the way, there were various stops to allow you to get out and enjoy the scenery. You really got the sense of being in the middle of nowhere, and what was predicted to be a 45 minute drive down the track ended up lasting twice the time.
It was nearly dark by the time we got home – and we had just enough energy left to rustle some food together and get our daily ‘Come Dine With Me’ fix.
This was a lazy day. A very lazy day. Unashamedly, we woke up very late and had zero intention of taking the car anywhere. It was also the first non-sunny day of the week, so we felt slightly less bad about our lack of activity. The morning was spent pottering about the cottage, cooking a proper breakfast, and marveling at the sheep as they surrounded us.
We decided not to stay inside all day, and set off for a wander down the Southern Upland Way again – this time, in the opposite direction to the where we’d gone a few days before. Thankfully the path followed a tarmac road, and so there was no chance of us getting lost on this occasion (see Part One!). It was a typically nice, quiet walk – with the most novelty event being assuming the role of shepherds and chasing a flock of sheep down the road for a good five minutes. Before you start accusing us of cruelty to sheep, we’d like to clarify that we were just walking along the path – but the sheep were apparently too dim to realise that they could run off the path rather than along it. Poor sheep.
They later came back to the house looking for revenge, so we wisely battened down the hatches and called it a night. We could only hope that the sheep were gone in the morning….
Today was our last full day at Dunploddin. We’re not quite sure how this happened, time absolutely flew by. We decided to spend it at the place we enjoyed the most during the week – Drumlanrig Castle. The walking boots were packed, the pizza-picnic was prepared, and off we set to explore more of the castle’s vast grounds.
The estate was as brilliantly maintained as the castle gardens. Gentle streams, muddy paths, ancient trees – it had the lot. We stopped for food at a viewing point from which you could enjoy an amazing view of the castle down beneath. There we got talking to an older group of walkers, including one gentleman who was revisiting the site where his wife’s ashes were scattered – we can see why they chose this spot.
Further on the walk, we spent a good half an hour stalking two or three birds of prey. It was brilliant being able to listen to them calling to each other, and catching the occasional glimpse as they swopped in and out of the trees. Sadly for Matt, his attempts to communicate with them were in vain – despite him maintaining that his strange squeaking sounded exactly the same as their call.
It’s fair to say that we didn’t want to leave, and we were pretty much the last car out of the car park come the end of the day. We knew that when we got back to the cottage, the reality of having to clean and pack up our stuff would hit…
Day Seven – the last day!
How did leaving day come about so quickly? I don’t think either of us were expecting Scotland to be just as good as it was – but it’s safe to say that we were very sad to be leaving. We got the car packed, said our goodbyes to our fantastic hosts at Dunploddin, and set off on our way back down to Matt’s house, where we’d be staying for a couple of days.
There was sadly no repeat of Stobart-Fest to be enjoyed on the way back – but we did find that the weather was, as it had been for most of the week, rather pleasant. We took the opportunity to call in at one of the large Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall, and enjoyed wandering around the well-maintained ruins. At some point, we both simultaneously released our mischievous sides and pretended to be historians – but we’re not sure if anyone believed, or cared, that Hadrian personally carried each brick up to his wall.
And, with that, the Scotland trip was over. Dumfries and Galloway is a highly recommended destination for anyone after some peace and quiet without having to drive or fly too far – give it a go! We both had a brilliant week, and are determined to go back and explore more of the country. Matt has his eye on a flight to Barra, whose runway is a beach, whilst Lucy will probably be happy to go anywhere where she can hide from bagpipes….