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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:18 am

Ellie and Me – T5 travels (or, a novice and her dog's campervan journeys) :)

The lovely Mary Webb invites us along to share in her adventures as she travels around the country with her little dog. :aok

Last year, after not having one for more than seven years, I got a dog (well she came to me, but that's another story):
Marys pic 1.jpg
click picture to enlarge

Ellie on her first walk in the Cumbrian/Western Yorkshire Dales fells

A few months later, I bought a campervan.
Marys pic 2.jpg

My lovely campervan :)

Just before Christmas, I was given notice that I was to be made redundant.
Well, they do say that good things come in threes!!
Now in early retirement, and after some work to make the 'van spic-and-span, little Ellie dog and I set off for our first 'proper/practice' campervanning trip in March of this year.
Part II: The first trip
Leaving Dent, Cumbria, where I'd been visiting friends, I heard a strange noise from the back of the van. When I looked round, I realised that I'd forgotten to check that the bed was fully locked in the 'seat' position, it had slid down flat giving Ellie a fright. That was when she was sick for the first time.
Marys pic 3.png

Ellie and her friend Maisie, outside the farmhouse at Conder Farm, Dent

Location: Conder Farm, Dent, Cumbria (£5 pppn, additional charge for hookup). This friendly, basic campsite is partially sloped, has water, washing up facilities, toilet blocks, free showers, and emptying points. Breakfast (HUGE) is sometimes available for a very modest fee and local, free-range eggs are also for sale.
Web info: http://www.dentdale.com/visiting-dentda ... onder-farm
Lesson learned: Make a 'Before you set off' list.
We were heading to Southwest Scotland, Garlieston to be precise. Upon leaving the M6 and heading down twisty country roads, Ellie was sick again.
Lesson learned: Make sure wet-wipes are easily accessible.
The SatNav (once I'd realised that I needed to change the country setting to 'Scotland'!) took me to the middle of nowhere. Worse than sick came from Ellie (need I say more?). Fortunately, I was to initially meet up with my cousin, Jan, and some friends who had rented a cottage in the village and, also fortunately the cottage (when I eventually found it, with no help at all from the SatNav but with great directions from the lady in the petrol station/shop) had an industrial washing machine, which I used to wash ALL of my bedding (except for my pillow, which was in a cupboard).
Lessons learned: Locals are better at giving directions than the SatNav is. Put waterproof rug OVER bedding.
Finally, I arrived (with only slightly damp bedding) at the beautiful 'Hideaway' campsite, Garlieston Lodge Campsite (Camping and Camping and Club (C&CC)). I was warmly welcomed and explained that I was a 'virgin' campervanner. The owner said that he'd be happy to help me with any problems and gave me a wonderful pitch – when I opened the sliding door of the 'van, I looked straight out over the trout lake :)
Marys pic 4.png

Ellie chilling out outside the 'van

We settled in just fine and I had no problems with setting up. Phew!!
Well, I say 'no problems'. The truth of the matter is that I just wasn't organised enough to get everything I needed out of the lockers, which resulted in me putting the bed down, up, down again and again, until I'd finally got it all out and sorted – hahaha.
Location: Garlieston Lodge Campsite (£15 pn, including hookup). Limited number of pitches, 5 vans + 3 tents. Trout fishing (fly) available on site (also tuition), free-range eggs and free-range pork for sale (animals are on site). Toilet/shower block (very clean and warm), water, emptying point, grey water point, rubbish bins (including recycling), local information leaflets. Dogs allowed, but must be on-lead at all times on site.
Web site: http://www.garliestonlodge.co.uk/
Lesson learned: Make a 'Setting up' list.
I'll post more soon, as I walked several lovely routes whilst I was in the area. Oh – and with some more photos!
Hope you'll enjoy reading my future tales of joy and woe.
March 2016: Garlieston/Portpatrick/Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

Garlieston, in the far South-West of Scotland is, as you might expect from its location, a quaint fishing village.

And the tide in the bay goes out a LONG way out.
Garlieston 2.png

There is a nice pub and a shop and the harbour still has a couple of working fishing boats at berths. No 'pleasure' craft moored at that time of the year, though.

There are two nice coastal walks from Garlieston and I chose to walk north from the village on my first walk. Starting from the pub, I headed out onto the beach, with Ellie poking around in rockpools and trying to avoid the masses of slippery seaweed. We cut back to a path that wound through the dappled shade of a forest that followed the coastline – snowdrops, celandines and a few wood anemones already in bloom.

Not far and the path began to divert inland, with tangles of sea buckthorn between us and the jagged rocks on the coast. After a couple of miles, I could hear the 'boom' of sea caves. We found a path between the buckthorn and went down towards the noise. Unfortunately, the tide was in and so we couldn't get down to see the caves, but the noise of the waves booming into them was quite impressive!
Garlieston 3.png

Looking out over the Solway Firth, near the sea caves.
Further along, we came across many game bird pens and met a nice old gentleman. Back to the pub for a well-deserved half of Guinness :-)
Length of walk: Approx. 6 miles
Seen on this walk: Pheasant and two red admiral butterflies (sorry, no photo – couldn't get close enough to them).
Hello peeps. :mz For the latest adventures of Mary and Co. click this link .... viewtopic.php?f=26&t=1483

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:59 am

The following day, I was invited by my cousin, Jan, and her friends to go on a whistle-stop drive to Portpatrick and the west coast of the Rhins of Galloway.
Portpatrick is lovely :-D
Portpatrick 1.png

PortPatrick 2.png

PortPatrick 3.png

Portpatrick Parish Kirk. Built 1622-1629 and in use until 1842.
Back to Garlieston
On my penultimate day in Garlieston, I walked the coastal path South, to a little beyond the ruins of Cruggleton Castle.
Another relatively easy walk hugging the coastline and passing Rigg Bay. On the return walk, I ventured into the grounds of Galloway House Gardens.
Back to Garlieston.png

Up on top of the cliffs (great views out over the Solway Firth!), the footpath, somewhat unusually, passes through an ivy-clad stone doorway!
Back to Garlieston 3.png

Looking back to the ruins of Cruggleton Castle.
Length of walk: Approx. 6.5 miles, some steep parts and slippery footing. Look out for the rookery (you won't be able to ignore it) – nest-building was being carried out and 'rejected' twigs/branches rained down on us – hahaha. :-D

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:20 pm


After packing up (no mishaps this time), I decided to return for a quick visit to Galloway Forest Park (which I shall be visiting on my forthcoming trip – hoping for clear night skies to venture into the Dark Skies Area/s!).

I'd passed the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre on the way to Garlieston and was impressed by the loch.
Glentrool 1.png

but, instead drove to Glentrool. The bridge to the Visitor Centre there had been badly damaged by floods, so I couldn't actually get to Loch Trool. I parked up and picked up a couple of leaflets (the lovely lady in the cafe looked after Ellie for me, whilst I nipped in to the loo).

The longest walk was closed, as part of the path had been washed away, so I plumped for the 'Water of Trool Trail'.

The trails are well-marked (and well-worn!), and this particular walk took in a waterfall (woefully lacking water - must have been a raging downpour during the floods!!) and some Martyrs tombs.

Being out of season and quite early in the year, I only saw four other people on the path.
Glentrool 2.png

Glentrool 3.png

Length of walk: Approx 5 miles. Mostly wide gravel paths and some long steep sections.

What's next?

As mentioned above, I'm shortly off on another 'travel', so the next blog updates should be almost 'live' (if I can get the tech. to work!).

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:37 pm

5 weeks away - Major Road Trip: Lingfield - Sheffield - Dent

I have to admit that the first 2.5 weeks of this trip were spent with some of my lovely friends and my cousin Jan, all of whom refused to let me sleep in the van, insisting that I sleep in a 'proper bed'. Who was I to complain? (I've suffered some 'stick' from mates who say that it's 'cheating', but .... it was still travelling (close on 2,000 miles in total) and all good experience.)

One of my absolutely favourite, and most unexpected, adventures during these 5 weeks (and 2 days), was to be allowed to interact with a wolf. Yep - a wolf. 'Tame' but still wild, she wouldn't deign to come when called, but approached me, slinky, casual, almost sly, in a way only a wolf could, and twined herself around my legs, making sure that her scent was on me as much as possible. Then, slowly, she looked up at me with her eyes as amber as bright jewels and allowed me to stroke her. Later, when I was sitting drinking coffee with my host, she came and placed her head - so gently - on my lap and I fussed and stroked her head and tickled her ears, much to her delight. And mine. I can't think of a way of truly expressing the delight (and slight fear) I felt at this meeting. I'll never forget it.

Her name is Angeni. It means 'spirit' in native American, and suits her perfectly.

Her companions are a slightly bonkers Lakeland Terrier and a feral dog rescued from Romania. I was more worried about the feral dog than I was of the wolf - weird?

Making (more) memories in Sheffield:

(Easy journey up to Sheffield. Ellie not sick. Remembered not to park under the bird-poo tree outside the house.)

Visited two cherished friends, Steve and Vicky, in Sheffield, who have recently had an addition to their family - little Vanessa. Now, I'm, not overly keen on babies, but she is a little sweetheart :-)

Steve took Ellie and I on a lovely walk on Loxley Common, with his/their two dogs, Tilly (Bloody Border Collie (BBC)) and Lister. What a lovely place! Steve took some lovely photos of the dogs, but I can't find the memory stick he put them on, so a few will have to do for now:
Ellie, Lister and Tilly
Credit: Steve Allen

Ellie, rock-climbing. Loxley Common, Sheffield
Credit: Steve Allen

Ellie, Lister and Tilly, bounding around. Loxley Common, Sheffield..png
Ellie, Lister and Tilly, bounding around. Loxley Common, Sheffield.
Credit: Steve Allen

Then - we all went (3 humans + three dogs) on a pub-crawl - yay! :thunbsup
Vicky and I , do we look like we're up to no good. Probably. Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield..png
Vicky and I – do we look like we're up to no good? Probably. Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield.
Credit: Steve Allen

Steve Allen and I. Can't remember which pub.png
Steve Allen and I. Can't remember which pub *hic*
Credit: Vicky Allen

After a visit to 5 or 6 pubs, we indulged in that compulsory closing-time snack – kebab (can't remember the time I had one previously). With garlic sauce. And chillies, naturally.

Leaving Sheffield (reluctantly), I headed for one of my favourite places - Dent, Cumbria (or Yorkshire - depends ;-) )

There, the weather threw everything it could at us - snow, sleet, hailstones, wild winds and sunshine. Four seasons in one day, for sure!
Another first for Ellie - I took her to a funeral service. Little Mick, gentleman, intelligent and interesting being and all-round good egg, died unexpectedly, having lived in Dent for 20-odd years. The church was packed. To the gills. As I walked in with Ellie, one of the ladies who was handing out the order of service, looked at her and expressed her surprise that I was taking a dog in. I answered, "The God we are told about loved all creatures, so why shouldn't I bring her in?". She nodded, we found a seat at the side of the aisle and Ellie behaved impeccably though out the service. Not a whimper, not a growl or a bark - even when one of Mick's friends played his washboard tie in tribute - she just looked at him for a bit with a, "What the heck are you doing?" and lay down again on the pew.

The wake was a real good craic - Little Mick would have heartily approved - halves of Guinness with whisky chasers all round. A good day to see a true gent off in style.
Here's a little tale I was told by one of the Dent locals (Audrey) at the wake:

A lady was hanging her knickers/bloomers out to dry on her washing line, when a cow came into her yard, pulled them off the line and ate them!! She went to the farmer to complain:, "Old Mottley, your cow has eaten my bloomers off my washing line - I demand that you replace them!". "Surely enough, my dear," replied the farmer, "if you'll come into the farmhouse and let me measure you for the new ones." Tehehe.

Lessons learned:
Don't leave the rear end of the van hanging over the tram tracks (fortunately, a tram didn't come along before the traffic ahead moved – phew);
Sheffield is, indeed, the Capital of Real Ale;
Wolves MAY not be as scary as first thought.

More soon (oh, so much more :-) ) ….
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Fri Jun 10, 2016 3:19 pm

Moving on: Dent to Fletchertown

Before I move on, metaphorically speaking, to 'proper campervanning', I have a few more tales and some photos from my visit to Dent and Fletchertown.

Now, Ellie and I like a good walk. And a visit to the pub afterwards. But during this visit, the latter was almost imperative. It snowed, it hailed (which Ellie HATED – she looked at me accusingly, as if I were responsible for the almost golf-ball sized hailstones that bounced off her head and lay thickly on the back of her companion, Maisey (Mick and Wendy's Border Collie)). And it rained – boy did it rain, with ferocious winds.
But, as previously mentioned, there was always the Sun Inn to pop into at the end of the walk, for a warming glass of something and good banter with the 'locals'. I've been going there for so long that there is always somebody in there who I know – and they've taken me to their hearts just as much as I've taken them to mine. Love 'em all to bits.
Looking out at the snow-covered Howgills from the footpath on Conder Farm.png
Looking out at the snow-covered Howgills from the footpath on Conder Farm

Flinter Gill after a little drop of rain.png
Flinter Gill after a little drop of rain

The walk up is not for the faint-hearted, it's a bit of a slog, but well worth it for the views on the way up and when you get to the top, where the footpath meets the Occupation Road (Ocky). If you wish to do a longer, and more challenging, walk, turn left at the top of Flinter Gill onto the Ocky, walk for a few miles until you come to a road, turn right and walk down the road for a few hundred metres, then left onto a footpath, which will take you up the 'steep way' to the top of Whernside. Yes, steep. A bit of scrambling and short (but easy) climbs up small rockfaces. Well worth it – avoids the main path up to Whernside. An alternative route back down is to turn left onto the main path, then fork left towards three tarns and come down via Whernside Manor (where my good friend Elaine lives), then left on the road back to Dent.
I also have to mention that there were a couple of really good music sessions in the pub when I was there (Dent holds its main (free) music festival on the last full weekend of June and there are two mini-music festivals in the Sun Inn, held in March and October. The music is good, the beer is excellent and .. it's always a good craic :-) )
And …… I was told of a 'rumour' about something exciting happening later in the month, which I'll come back to at a later date ;-)

Dent to Fletchertown

As usual, I wended my way from Dent to my cousin's abode (Jan) in Fletchertown (Ellie not sick).

Highlights whilst there were:

* A knit night (at which there was more nattering and eating than there was knitting. I was 'allowed' to be an honorary member, even though I was doing cross-stitch rather than knitting :-D );
* A visit to Allonby beach to collect seaweed for Jan's asparagus patch (forgot to take more than one ball for 3 dogs, which resulted in me throwing the ball once and Jack (the Jack Russell) keeping it in his mouth for the hour-and-a-half walk. Kaz (BBC) and Ellie didn't even get a sniff at it;
* A 'Pork Fest' evening. Jan got a HUGE joint of free-range pork out of her freezer (from her good friends at the Camping Barn) and a host of people cooked up a storm to feed everybody. It was organised chaos and the resulting meal was terrific!;
* A visit to the local Cheese Farm (http://thornbymoordairy.co.uk/);
* Lovely dinner at Maryport (REALLY cross with myself for not taking my camera – the sunset was ablaze, with a fantastic shot of the harbour wall and fishing boats waiting to come in with the tide – didn't even have my mobile with me – grrrrrr);
* Visit to Larch Cottage Nurseries, Melkinthorpe, Penrith. A beautiful, walled garden centre. More info here: https://larchcottage.co.uk/cms/home
Larch Cottage Nurseries.png
Larch Cottage Nurseries

Larch Cottage Nurseries 2.png
Larch Cottage Nurseries

Lessons learned: Take 1 ball per dog;
Always take your camera with you – it's worth lugging it around and not getting one decent shot, rather than leaving it behind a regretting it :-(

Recommended: Maryport Tandoori, Maryport, Cumbria

Bonus: Left Ellie at Jan's house with her two dogs for a few hours. On our return, there was no evidence of blood or bits of fur, so assumed that they had all got on just fine and so left her there another day for much longer to go for dinner in Maryport. Again, no apparent stress. Result!!!!
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:58 am

Further North: Fletchertown to Garlieston
(Ellie sick – a blanket fell down on her during the trip, giving her a bit of a shock).

I headed to Gretna Green and then took the Solway Coast Route. B roads for the large part, scenic and quiet – hardly anybody else on the roads.

On a previous trip, I'd seen signs to the Devil's Porridge Museum, but of course it wasn't about porridge at all! The state-of-the-art museum provides information on what life was like in the HM Factory Gretna, which employed 30,000 workers at its height, to manufacture RDB Cordite, a new type of munitions propellant. By 1917, the factory was producing 1,100 tons of cordite per week
The Devil's Porridge Museum.png

Lesson learned: porridge is not always edible ;-)

Continuing along B roads, unable to take a decent photo out to the Solway Firth from the viewpoints due to heat-haze, until I arrived at Caerlaverock Castle (Castle of the Lark). What a gem of a place!! It was preceded by a Roman fort, then by a second fort which stood close by on Ward Law (hill) in around 950. This was named 'Karlauerock' and was built by British Lords. I met a most interesting chap, who knew a lot about the castle's history (including the variations – Scots v English).
The sun shone, the people were very friendly, dogs are welcomed and we took a lovely walk around the castle and grounds.

Caerlaverock Castle in the  bright sunshine.png
Caerlaverock Castle in the bright sunshine

The Castle moat.png

One of the ornate fireplaces.png
One of the ornate fireplaces

As well as the castle itself, there are lovely woodland walks and the site of the original castle (built, rather stupidly, on swampy land – it didn't last long, naturally).
One of the woodland walks, Caerlaverock Castle grounds.png
One of the woodland walks, Caerlaverock Castle grounds

All that remains of the original castle. Presumably, the stones were 'robbed' to build the second one..png
All that remains of the original castle. Presumably, the stones were 'robbed' to build the second one.

Aside: Monty Python fans, this reminded me of 'King of Swamp Castle', “When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. And that one sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail). :-D

You may remember from an earlier blog update that I visited a small campsite in Garlieston. I liked it there so much that I decide to return, partly to walk the full stretch from Garlieston to the Isle of Whithorn (on the Solway Coast Heritage Trail (more information may be found at:
http://www.dgerc.org.uk/files/dgerc/dow ... ooklet.pdf) )

It was just as pretty as on my previous visit.
Looking out of the campervan door to the trout lake. You can just see their Large Black pig pens in the background..png
Looking out of the campervan door to the trout lake. You can just see their Large Black pig pens in the background.

Another joyous occasion – my brother was travelling southwards as I was making my way northwards, in his 'van (much, MUCH newer than mine!), so we were able to meet up for the evening. We walked Ellie along the coast for a bit and then had dinner in the pub.

I also noted that I arrived at my destination with more miles 'in the tank' than when I left Fletchertown.

Lesson learned: A very 'light' and smooth right foot will get you loads more miles per tankful.

The following day, with my brother on his way home, I decided to walk the full length of the footpath between Garlieston and the Isle of Whithorn. It was a gorgeous morning. Breakfast consisted of three cups of tea. Shortly after starting the walk, I needed to find a 'Ladies' Bush' – hahaha.

Lesson learned: Do NOT drink three cups of tea in quick succession before setting off for a walk!
The walk began as on my last visit – through lovely woodland parallel to the sea, round Rigg Bay, through the rookery (much less noisy than in March) and on to the remains of Cruggleton Castle.
Masses of Bluebells and Wild Garlic (Ransomes) .png
Masses of Bluebells and Wild Garlic (Ransomes)

Big beat-harvester.png
Big beat-harvester!

After we'd passed the castle ruins I saw that notices had been posted at stiles, warning that there were cows with calves in the field and specifically stating that one 'entered at your own risk'! Stopping for a drink of water (for both of us) in a ruined lookout tower, I could see that the next three or four fields had no livestock, so we continued on. But …. it didn't last. After skirting round the bottom of one field, so that cows further up the field wouldn't see us, we passed through a gate into what seemed, initially, to be an unoccupied field. NOT SO!! As we crested a small rise, we were met by the sight of some 20 or so cows with quite small calves. No way round them at the bottom of the field, so we retraced our steps, walked up along the walled field edge, in an attempt (vain, as it turned out) to then turn left and rejoin the footpath further along. More cows hove into sight. Looking back to the previous field, I could see that the inquisitive cows there had made their way down the field to watch us.

What to do? Then I remembered: there is a 'right to roam' in Scotland! So, through several gates into yet more fields, always watchful for cows, through a farmyard to a farm track and then a slog to a B road.

By this time, I was getting very hot. The sun beat down. I'd remembered to put sunscreen on the pink patch on Ellie's nose, but had arrogantly forgone to take that precaution myself (I rarely need to use it). My nose, cheeks and forehead began to give me warnings that I was in danger of becoming sunburnt.

So – the locals must have thought I was a complete mad person, as we walked down the road to the Isle of Whithorn, me with my jacket on and zipped up to right under my chin and the hood pulled down as far as it would go over my face, in the broiling sunshine – hahaha.

Arriving at the harbour, I popped into the pub (as you do) and discovered that I'd missed the bus back to Garlieston by a few minutes and that there wasn't another one for an hour and a half.
Isle of Whithorn.png
Isle of Whithorn

Lunch service had finished. So it was (some excellent, local) beer for me a water and some food for Ellie, who then flopped down and had a 'wee nap'.

We caught the bus back (no charge for Ellie and a lovely, smooth ride round the twisting country roads) and a couple who were also staying at Garlieston Lodge boarded in Whithorn town. They told me of a nice campsite at Port Logan, which I considered visiting later in my journey.

Back at the campsite, I cooked an excellent Cumbrian sausage (purchased in Wigton) and eggs (in a pan, Danny – no room for a frying pan as well as an 'ordinary' pan, ;-) ) and had a wee nip from the bottle kindly provided by my Dad.

My Dad's gift to me for the 'van (It epitomises his sense of humour perfectly (the 'flashed-out' word is 'colouring'))..png
My Dad's gift to me for the 'van (It epitomises his sense of humour perfectly (the 'flashed-out' word is 'colouring')).

Ellie was pretty tired after this walk (I measured the distance on the OS map to include the 'detour' – it was just a little less than 11 miles (instead of 7.5 miles if we'd been able to go all the way down on the footpath!).

Lesson learned: Take a small bottle of sunscreen in my backpack.

Seen: Skylarks on the ground. I've often seen and heard them up in the air, but not seen them in the grass before.
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:18 am

Into the forest: Garlieston to Clatteringshaws Loch (Galloway Forest Park (GFP))

I had a suspicion that the day was not going to go well as, whilst I was in the shower, Ellie knocked a quarter of a pint of milk into the gas hob. Fortunately, it wasn't deep enough to get into the gas jets, but it did take me quite a while to clean it out.

Lesson learned: Always put the milk away in the 'fridge.

To leave the Garlieston Lodge site it's necessary to open to two huge iron gates and as I jumped out of the van to do so, I shut my right thumb in the driver's door. No, I haven't got a clue how that happened either, but it bloomin' well hurt!!! Fortunately, I was quick enough to open the door with my left hand before too much damage had been done (it only shut on the 'first click', not completely). The most 'ouchy' bit was at the base of the thumb nail and I kept and eye on it, just in case I needed to find a cottage hospital to get it lanced (wincing at the thought!!).

Lesson learned: Don't shut your thumb in a VW van door – they are very heavy!

Drove up to Clatteringshaws Loch. Having driven past this beautiful stretch of water on a previous trip, I wanted to take advantage of some of the views on the drive up and out over the loch itself and to recce for a wild camping place. I'd already seen somewhere that I thought might be suitable.

Before reaching Clatteringshaws, I stopped to take some photos from a viewpoint. I looked for Ellie's lead. Nowhere to be found. Then it dawned on me ….. I'd left her spiral screw-into-the-ground 'anchor', with the lead attached, at the campsite. Ghastly. So, I had to return to Garlieston (about 30 minutes drive) to retrieve it. What a plonker. At least that was the third thing.

Lesson learned: Walk completely around your vehicle (at least once!) before leaving a site.

So – back to Clatteringshaws an hour later. The loch has a magnificent dam at the southern end. Work on the dam started in August 1932 and was substantially completed by June 1934, when the reservoir was already partially filled. The dam is a gravity structure built of mass concrete, 1500 ft [457m] long and about 75ft [22.9m] above the original ground level at its highest point. It's been built on a slight curve, rather than straight, for aesthetic reasons.

I found a parking spot just below the dam and took Ellie (now on her lead) for a walk down by the River Dee, basking in yet more sunshine.
I found a parking spot just below the dam and took Ellie (now on her lead) for a walk down by the River Dee, basking in yet more sunshine..png
Two, parallel bridges on the River Dee, below the dam. The one on the left is the current road bridge, the other deemed 'dangerous' (but still standing, despite recent floods (and probably many others previously)). Both beautiful.

I was acutely.png

I was acutely aware of the power of the water coming out of the base of the dam. I'd had to persuade Ellie to hop from rock to rock to get out into the river so that I could take these photos. She wasn't keen at all. If either of us had fallen in, we would have been swept downriver very quickly by the force and sheer volume of water.

Looking downriver.png
Looking downriver. Looks peaceful and calm, eh? Looks can be deceiving – it was deep and dark and powerful. Still a gorgeous scene, though.

The Clatteringshaws Loch.png
The Clatteringshaws Loch/Reservoir. Postcard perfect. (There's a sleeping dragon in the clouds just above the hills, if you can see it? :) )

On, to the Galloway Forest Park's Clatteringshaws Visitors' Centre. From there, we took a short (2-mile) walk to (one of many) Bruce's Stone. This is a fully accessible walk, with a flat, gravel path and served as a little 'recovery' walk after the day before's 11-miler.

Information on the Galloway Forest Park may be found at: http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest- ... orest-park

One of my neighbours at the previous campsite had correctly pointed out that, “Four days of wild camping is roughly equal to one tank of fuel.” and I was eager to go 'fully wild'.

I found the spot that I thought might be a good one – a small entrance into an oval, level and gravelled space. Annoyingly, there had been some fly-tipping in it (nothing really horrid – just some soil and a few bit of an ex-kitchen). But why, oh why, do people feel that they have to spoil such lovely places? It's beyond me.
Ellie, just chillin.png
Ellie 'just chillin' ' on her blankie, wild camping

Lovely wild campsite.png
Lovely wild campsite – bedding, at left, airing on the heather :-)

One of the reasons I like my campervan so much, is it's colour – it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb when you're wild camping (or anywhere, really):
Taken from over the road at the first wild campsite..png
Taken from over the road at the first wild campsite – can you see the van? Maybe, just.

I'm really lucky in the fact that my 'fridge works 'three-ways' – if I'm on the road, I switch a switch and it takes power from the van battery, if I'm 'hooked up', it takes power from that and if I'm out in the wilds, I can run it off the gas.

This evening's meal (especially for Danny) was: gently fried shallot (better than onions, as you can use one (or more) without leaving half an onion to 'sweat' for a day or so in the van), added smoked garlic then water and a chicken stock cube, noodles (udon), an egg (free-range, of course) and a handful of wild garlic (collected on my walk). Yum!

The next day (some of it 'just' into the next day)

Dark Skies: Woke just after midnight. The moon was up, so I didn't get the full impact of the Dark Skies Area, but it was amazing just the same. Silence. Blue-black sky with an array of constellations above – some of which I know, some of which I don't. Sat for quite a while just in awe. So peaceful.

I gradually drifted off to sleep again, bathed by the light of the moon through the windows of the van and the flickering light of my tea-light (one of the only 'luxuries' I allow myself when I'm off out in the van – a nice scented candle in a cut-glass holder throwing shards of light around the interior of the van is the most magical way of falling asleep).

At 02.20 I was awoken by Ellie growling. I've never heard her growl before. What, Ellie? WHAT?? I'd made a decision to lock myself into the van when wild camping, but it was unnerving to hear that growl. I sat up. The moon was still giving good light. What was it? I looked out into the semi-darkness. Nothing. That was worse than if there HAD been something! I watched for a few minutes. Ellie wasn't growling any more. In fact, she'd flopped down next to me and was soon fast asleep again. I can only assume that it was a passing deer/fox/sheep/badger etc.

Next morning (or, rather, later that morning)
(Thumb nail turning a 'nice' shade of bluey-green – yuck!)

Now, I am a lady (questionable?) of habit and the next morning I discovered that I'd forgotten something important – a trowel (if you don't know why this was distressing then you're probably not 'ready' for wild camping!!).

But Nature will usually provide:

Trowel 'pome'

Mossy bank,
Sturdy stick,
Latrine dug

Lesson learned: Take a trowel.

Off (very) early to the Loch View Trail (2.5 miles - another excellent thing about the GFP is the variety (easy to quite challenging) of trails and the fact that they're quite well-marked (although I always take an OS map with me)).
Again looking out.png
Again, looking out over Clatteringshaws Loch. Doesn't my van look spanking new from up here?

Lunch was CAKE (and coffee) at the visitors' centre. I figured I deserved it after my 'trials' of the day before :-) Very nice it was, too (sponge cake with strawberries and cream. Large portion, not a large price.) The staff at the GFP are excellent – polite, helpful and smiley :-)

Then, caloried-up, off to take on the Raiders Road Forest Drive. It's a 10 mile (16 km) two-way forest drive, which is open to vehicles between April and October - and for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders year-round. This 'road' is rough – very rough. If you have a new/low/sporty car, this is probably NOT a road for you! It's little more than a 'pimped-up' forestry track but, at £2 (honesty system), it's well worth the ride/drive. I was a little concerned by the abundant notices that read 'CARE!! Water levels may rise rapidly due to hydro-electric operations!'. I survived without incident (as you can tell by this post).

http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest- ... rest-drive

Along the way on the Raiders Road, I sopped to walk the Buzzard Trail (2.75 miles). 'A challenging walk through the Norway spruce and Corsican pine above Loch Stroan to reach the atmospheric ruins of Clachrum village. Magnificent views across the loch from Ross Hill.' It obviously hadn't been well-walked for a while, as I had a few problems finding it at higher levels, but the day was warm, the views were spectacular and I have a good sense of direction, so – no worries!
Loch Stroan – the starting point of the Buzzard Trail

Seen: Roe deer (as my Dad taught me – walk softly, you'll see so much more than if you stomp along, or talk loudly). Whilst walking quietly down a trail, Ellie off-lead, I saw a doe up ahead. I called, softly, to Ellie to come to me, which she did, slipped her on her lead and approached. The doe (I was downwind) stayed there for quite a while whilst we watched her and then eventually ambled off. Later, we saw a buck;
Pike (sadly, dead);
Pheasants (lots) (including one drinking tea at the Vistors' Centre - hahaha);
Buzzards (magnificent birds!);
Note: I've seen a lot of birds during my travels in Scotland, but have been surprised at the most commonly seen: finches (of various types), robins! and blackbirds.

It looks like it's going to be a good year for bilberries. There were masses of flowers on the plants everywhere I went (they are very pretty and I now regret not trying to take a 'macro' shot of them :cry )

Heard: Cuckoo

Lesson learned: Don't bother to take the added weight of a bread knife. Never used it – never will.
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:51 am

To Moniaive – home to lots of music (and other stuff) ….

On the recommendation of two good friends (Matt and Blanty) I now headed off towards Moniaive, which is a lovely, friendly village - only to discover that I'd missed their annual music festival by one week – disappointment :cry


'Wild camped' in the village car park.

I popped into the pub/hotel (The Craigdarroch Arms Hotel) for a pint and to ask the landlord if it would be ok for me to go back later and use their wi-fi. He was really chatty and said it wouldn't be a problem. He also gave me a leaflet, which gives information on all of the forthcoming events to be held in the village for 2016 – so many things going on for such a small village, including music/jam sessions, sports events/clubs, poetry workshops and various exhibitions. How wonderful that the community is involved in such a variety of activities. Respect.

Supper was one of those 'camping' dinners. Pre-packed, gluten-free. A bit 'gloopy', but it was ok (I added some rice, but it was still quite 'glutinous', which is at odds to the gluten-free description - :lol: ).

I needed to find somewhere I could get mobile signal, so I hiked up the road with Ellie, until I found somewhere. Called my parents to confirm that I would be visiting them in the holiday cottage they'd rented, later in the month.
Looking down on the village of Moniaive..png
Looking down on the village of Moniaive.

Ellie, waiting patiently for me to finish my phone call.png
Ellie, waiting patiently for me to finish my phone call.

Then, back to the pub to catch up on e-mail and let people know, via Facebook, that I was still alive (and to sup a couple of pints, of course).

After an uneventful (and peaceful) night (thumb nail now a nice dark black) , I had a decision to make: Head to the West Coast? Or drive the 7-mile, single-track road to see the Striding Arches? Oh, go on then – let's drive another rough track – why not?

Striding Arches is an artist-led project which celebrates and interprets a little known area of Dumfries & Galloway in south-west Scotland. Andy Goldsworthy’s red sandstone arches ‘stride’ around the natural amphitheatre that is Cairnhead, deep in the Southern Uplands. In the heart of the glen, another arch springs from a disused farm building, The Byre, creating a place that is both sculpture and shelter.


It was slow going along the track – it starts out as a metalled road, quickly deteriorating into a very rough track, with more potholes than solid surface. I took it very gently, but it still gave the 'shocks' on the van a good workout.

There was nobody else there when I arrived at the starting point for two of the 'Arches' walks , which was a good job as the 'car park' is just a couple of lay-bys and it took me a while, jiggering back and forth, to get the van in neatly and out of the way of any passing forestry vehicles.

First, we took the walk up to The Byre Arch.
The Byre Arch represents the link between the farming community that once worked the area with the landscape in which they strove..png
The Byre Arch represents the link between the farming community that once worked the area with the landscape in which they strove.

Returning to the van, we then struck out for the nearest of the hilltop arches, at the summit of Colt Hill (598 metres). I have to admit – it was a slog. No respite from the continuous uphill gradient, brilliant sunshine (again – I was so lucky with the weather on this part of the trip!). Mile after mile (6 miles in total), up a rough forestry track. But ….. there was beautiful scenery to admire and the occasional glimpse of the Arch kept us going.

The final stretch up to the Arch is over fell and quite steep. And then, coming over the brow of a rise, I was met with this sight:
Striding Arch at the top of Colt Hill (with the trig point behind it)..png
Striding Arch at the top of Colt Hill (with the trig point behind it).

Looking out through the Arch to the stunning countryside beyond..png
Looking out through the Arch to the stunning countryside beyond.

From each of the three hill-top Arches, you can see two others (if the weather allows, which it did for me).
From Colt Hill, you can see the two other hill-top Arches. This is the one on Benbrack (581 metres). The Bail Hill Arch (517 metres) was too far away for me to get a decent photo..png
From Colt Hill, you can see the two other hill-top Arches. This is the one on Benbrack (581 metres). The Bail Hill Arch (517 metres) was too far away for me to get a decent photo.

Each arch stands just under four metres high, with a span of about seven metres, and consists of 31 blocks of hand-dressed red sandstone weighing approximately 27 tons.

It was well worth the hike up – the 360 deg views were stunning. It was windy and wild.

I wish I'd had time to go to the other two arches, but there are no 'official' footpaths between them (deliberately – you must find your own way) and although the weather conditions were perfect for me to do so, I didn't have enough time. I'd like to go back and do it some time, though.
A rare 'selfie' – Ellie and I under the Arch on Colt Hill..png
A rare 'selfie' – Ellie and I under the Arch on Colt Hill.

I'd taken food and water (as I always do) and we both ate, then walked back down to the van – a much easier walk, naturally.

Ellie was tired and so was I. We drove off back along the bumpy track – and she was promptly sick. Poor Ellie, all that jolting around on a full tummy, I wasn't surprised.

Lesson learned: Don't feed Ellie midday (even if on a very long walk) if we're going to travel onwards. I can always make sure that she gets the extra calories she needs on a 'rest day' (not many of those, so I mostly just give her extra rations daily).

Total distance walked: Just more than 12.5 miles.

…. and onwards to Port Logan

Now we went back to the West Coast – to a site that had been recommended to me by fellow campers at Garlieston. I have to say that I had reservations. I've met them to twice (unusual). The first time I saw them, they spent more than three hours (I kid you not), trying to get their satellite dish aligned so that they could watch TV in their caravan.

(I've made a conscious decision not to get TV in the van - it came with the 'added bonus' of a small TV and aerial, but I can't see the point of going out into the wild and then plugging yourself into main-stream TV. When I go away, I want to get away from all that stuff. I sew, I read, I noodle around on the guitar. I take time to cook and enjoy simple food. I sit and listen to the sounds of the countryside. I feel absolutely no need to be constantly in touch with folk. And I walk. I walk at dawn, at dusk, in sun, rain, wind and in head-torch-lit dark.)
I needn't have been worried about going to the commercial site (New England Bay, Port Logan (Camping Club) http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclu ... csid=21945 ).

Right on the beach, the site has plenty of pitches available all of which were pretty much level and although being a big site, it was rather pleasant. The grass is kept short by hundreds of brazen rabbits. I assumed that there was an abundance as few natural predators would dare to come into an area with so many people about (although I did see the signs of a 'demise' early the next morning). I guess the owners/managers of the site were happy not to have to mow the grass – hahaha.

I took Ellie for a long walk along the beach before supper. I noticed that; a) my van was the smallest outfit on site (again), b) almost all of the caravanners were old (not too surprising, out of season as it was) and c) there were lots of dogs.
Ellie on the beach.png
Ellie on the beach

I'd bought bacon (and small, locally baked loaf of seeded bread), so set about cooking dinner – softened shallot, added bacon and garlic, pesto, water, stock cube and rice. Plenty of it, too, after walking for such a long way today.

I'd wanted to do some washing today, but a water pipe had burst near to the site, which meant that there were no laundry facilities (and the toilet blocks were closed for several hours, much to the annoyance/distress of some of the 'older' folk onsite!).

Seen: Red kites, pheasants, a pair of white-fronted geese, kestrel

Handy hint: Baby wipes get rid of the smell of onion and garlic from your hands/fingers!

Woke early the next day to another glorious morning! By 8 am, I was tucking into an egg and bacon buttie (no HP sauce – disaster :-( ).

I decided, that as it was a Sunday, we should have a fairly leisurely day, so we drove to take a look around Port Logan and Drummore, along coastal roads, and then to re-visit Portpatrick for lunch.

It was really relaxing, sitting out side the pub/Hotel (Crown Hotel), eating mussels and crab and people-watching (and inwardly giggling at some of the conversations overheard). I also managed to 'procure' some sachets of tomato and HP sauce – hooray!


(Also, received two more offers to, “Tak' yer wee dug haem”.!! Yeh – right.)

Back at the site, I wandered off to do a load of washing. Now, I'm not daft (some might disagree), but I couldn't make head nor tail of the 'instructions' given for the washing machine. So, I shoved some money in - £4 plus another £1 for an extra rinse and high spin. This was meant to deliver a 30-minute wash cycle plus the extra bit. I pushed the start button. Nothing happened. I then turned my attention to the variety of other buttons, none of which gave any clear indication of on what they were for. After making an less-than-desirably informed decision, I pushed two buttons, then the start. Imagine my surprise when the machine flashed a little message up at me '10-minute cool, quick-wash'!!! Horror!! £5 for a 10-minute wash? Oh well, at least I'd remembered to put the washing liquid in. Or had I? After fretting for a few seconds, I worked out that I had – phew!

I feel I ought to mention that it's very windy at this site. Being right next to the beach, there are strong off- and on-shore 'breezes' and whilst this can make evenings and nights rather chilly, there is the advantage that your washing will be dry in no time at all.

Lessons learned: Always have plenty of £1 and 50p coins stashed away.
Buy (or make) a clothes airer.

Whilst my dinner was simmering, I indulged in a glass of nice, cold Chardonnay. I don't take a wine glass with me – a mug will suffice. Sitting outside the van in the early evening sunshine, I went to take a sip of the golden liquid, and noticed quite a few black specks suspended in it. I looked at the bottle, but there were none in it. Perplexed, I finally realised that it was black pepper. I store the salt and pepper pots in two of the mugs when travelling – hahaha. The pepper certainly added a 'certain something' to the flavour of the wine – not unpleasant, really – but I won't be adding it deliberately in the future ;-)

Lesson learned: Check your mug before pouring.

Another long walk along the beach before bed – tired and happy.

Seen: A pair of swans in the middle of a field.
Ellie on the beach (again). Well …. heading off the beach in this photo!.png
Ellie on the beach (again). Well …. heading off the beach in this photo!
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re: Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby MicV » Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:22 pm

Hi Mary
Mic V at mzawf here :-D
Nevis mailed you and said that only members can make posts and comment on your travels :scratc
This information is incorrect, guests can make comments on mzawf :yes
The only difference being is that a guests post are subject to admin clearance.
In addition, at the time of posting a reply to an article on mzawf, a spambot question/answer is required.
It's all easy and straight forward for guests to do. :thunbsup
This post was made under guest status :aok
Thanks for sharing your travels with mzawf :mz
Health & Happiness
Mic V

Re: Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Nevis » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:14 pm

:wub :wub Sorry :kiss :innocent
Now back to your lovely travels ..........
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