Monday, November 05, 2018

a brief stay in Dumfries and Galloway

A sunny weekend in late October beckoned, we decided, based on the forecast, to visit Dumfries and Galloway again, albeit taking in new locations.    A prior commitment on the Friday evening however meant we could only do a day-trip on the Friday.   For this we decided upon Dawyck, another branch of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.   The site turned out to be a disappointment for us.   It's ringed by an aggressive shooting land owner and seems quite out of place in the location.   They do what they can given circumstance but it's not somewhere we'll be heading back to.

On Saturday having fully recovered from the evening out we drove down to Culzean Castle to visit it while it was open, which we enjoyed.   It's a lovely spot and although the Eisenhower history was a bit underwhelming, the grounds are very interesting, this is one if the outbuildings:

And a beach just beyond the swan pool:

It was worth a follow-up visit and feels like a place we'd take guests to, to explore.

From Culzean we drove into Galloway Forest Park, stopping at Clatteringshaws visitor centre and then some of the points on the main road out to Newton Stuart.

We pulled into the Red Deer Range car park, expecting to see nothing, however the area looks to be a large enclosure with a small herd and a hide.  We could hear the deer bellowing as we got out of car.   I decided to switch to my bigger lens, which i hadn't pre-cleaned.

Five minutes of faffing later i was finally able to take a picture of the stag, bellowing in the later afternoon light:

Magic.  Then the herd all headed up the hill, so that was that.   Time to head on to town to check in.

On Sunday we decided to first visit the Loch at Glentrool in the Forest Park.  It was a crisp cold clear morning after a freezing night as we crossed the Water of Minnoch towards the Glentrool visitor centre:

The Loch itself is nestled in hills:

We decided to walk to a series of waterfalls, spotting this old, split tree with new trees growing from the centre:

The falls themselves, Buchan Burn descending into the Loch were very picturesque:

And continue on up the Glen, a walk we'd like to do in the future:

From Glentrool we drove to the RSPB Wood of Cree by way of a reconnaissance.   Autumn is the wrong time of year, it looks more like a Spring and Summer spot but the gold reeds reflected on the large pool of the River Cree was eye-catching:

From there it was on to the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, the main centre for the whole Galloway Forest Park.   We enjoyed the walks from the centre including this one taking in Bruntis Loch on what proved an outstanding Autumn day:

This is a view from the lookout on the trail, down to the River of Cree as it enters the sea:

After a late lunch we decided to drive along Raiders Road, reaching the Otter Pool parking area an hour before the road closed until next March.   Definitely worth the trip to enjoy the near sunset conditions on the river:

From Raiders Road it was back to Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre for the sunset:

Then after night had fallen we headed back to the Bruce stone at Glentrool whereupon i tried my first night photography.   I learned a lot, mostly that i am clueless at this discipline.   I do however aim to improve at both photographing the stars, and with a little luck the aurora:

I shouldn't however discount the impact of seeing literally hundreds of stars with no visible light pollution to diminish them, that was amazing.

Our last day in Dumfries and Galloway for this trip started on a bright Monday morning with a visit to Threave Castle, one of the last bastions of Royalist support at the height of the 2nd Bishops War in the 17th century, long now abandoned:

Across the way is Threave House now an NTS property and having benefited substantially from this new ownership and indeed stewardship:

Autumn foliage abounded:

As did some seasonal brassicas in the gardens, we were suitably jealous:

We really enjoyed our time at both Threave locations and the interaction of the sun, the foliage and the late season.   Dumfries and Galloway has a lot more to offer, but it was time to head home again.


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