2016 July: trip up north

Glasgow Botanics and Balmaha: Day 1 (Tuesday)

After an early morning flight up to Glasgow, headed with my parents to my sisters Maryhill Glasgow flat. From there it is beautiful twenty minute walk along the River Kelvin to the Botanical Gardens. These have had a major overhaul since my time as a student in Glasgow, they are now much improved for both kids and adults.

Spent some time in each of the greenhouses, as well as in the children’s gardens and playparks. My parents had brought along a picnic which we enjoyed in the children’s garden.

On up to Balmaha on the southern edge of Loch Lomond at around 2 pm, and then we climbed about 200 m of Conic Hill, getting a great view north up Loch Lomond in the evening sun. A BBQ at our Balmaha bed and breakfast accommodation finished off a long day for the kids, and everyone else.

Inchcailloch and an afternoon of rain: day 2

After a proper Scottish breakfast: porridge, square sausage and black pudding, took the 1948 wooden ferry boat to Inchcailloch Isle. This takes ten minutes. Kids and adults enjoyed the ride.

Its a nice walk up to the top of the island (85 m) to get a view across the Loch. Then down the west side to a small sandy beach. It was a little chilly but L&D both independently said they wanted to go in for a swim – as long as they had company. So I agreed. They bottled it at knee/toe depth. But they were the ones who missed out – it was really rather nice. Towels for the exit would however have been better than air drying in the drizzle, brrrr.

We walked back round the island, and the boat came back at 12:30, just after the rain started in earnestIMG_20160706_172134569. After getting back to the B&B all had a nap to make up for late nights and early mornings. An early dinner at The Oak Tree Inn, Lizzy then left, then some rainy
games at the play park, followed by a warming dip in a hot tub.

Rowardennan and Ayr: day 3

Left the B&B accommodation around 10 am, after another very good breakfast.  Drove up the east side of Loch Lomond to Rowardennan – where rather a lot of midges were awaiting. A couple of hours of pleasant amble, throwing sticks in streams, and climbing the first 100 or so metres of Ben Lomond. A lot of anti-midge repellent needed though. During the walk, Alfred was particularly taken by the large shiny beetles and slugs.

We left around 1 pm, and drove to Ayr for fish and chips. Then a couple of hours at the beach and the excellent beach front Pavilion play area. Then another hour and half drive on down to Sandhead.

Ayr Pavilion park – pic doesn’t really do it justice.

Sandhead beach and the Lidl Canoe: day 4

Kids were waking up way too early with the earlier light. Up around 5 am the last few days. So after an early morning, I first went back to bed for another few hours before we popped round to visit friends, and to borrow wet suits for the kids. Walked back a km or two along the beach, and stopped to build castles and play at a park.


After lunch, a long nap for Alfred and an hour or two of work for D&I. Then we took my parent latest lidl purchase out to the beach. Um, it has to be said, blow up canoes are not the most practical of water craft. But it was kinda fun.

That was followed by a couple of hours football (Alfred) and running around the village football pitch (Robert). The football/sports pitch is situated between my parent’s cottage and the beach. It was also the sports field for my primary school sports afternoons. Racing with Robert round and round the grass brought back various memories of primary school sports competitions.

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse: day 5

More sandcastles, plus dog walking and shopping in the morning. The usual soup based lunch favoured by my mum, then we headed off in the rain to the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. This is the most southerly point in Scotland and can have views of Ireland, The Isle of Man, and much of Luce Bay. On a good day. This was not a good day, with about 50 m  visibility when we arrived. However, the rain cleared up as we reached the lighthouse, and there was a spot of sunshine, and *a lot* of wind.

The RSPB centre and the lighthouse are great. Mind you, Robert found more pleasure in picking about a hundred snails off the walls.

Haggis for dinner at Ingrid’s request.

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon! Day 6

Up early again. Dog walking on the beach, then church for the kids and my folks, whilst I catch up on sleep. After lunch we went to Stranraer for a spot of shopping and swimming at the local pool. Alfred spent 20 minutes waking up with me in the warm pool, after which both kids enjoyed playing on the slides.

Got back an hour or so after the Wimbledon Mens Singles final started, Andy Murray  versus Milos Raonic. The kids went down the beach to build sandcastles and I got to watch the tennis. A second title for Murray 🙂

Glenwhan Gardens: day 7 (Monday)

After a (thankfully) slightly later start, and with a slightly drier outlook, we headed out for a morning visit to Glenwhan Gardens. The south west coast of Scotland has many gardens, largely because of the mild climate and scarcity of hard frosts. Glenwan Garden was started about 40 years ago. It is now quite mature. The tea room there is also good: we ate scones and a variety of other home cooked treats.

Its nice to have some real rocks to scramble on.


And a small potager style kitchen garden:

The weather cleared up a little more later – BBQ with views over Luce Bay is good. Especially when I rather than (ahem) anyone else (no fingers pointed : -) do the cooking.

 Killantringan and a walk to Portpartrick: day 8?

Again not ridiculous early this morning, which was rather good. Turned in the due paper review on time – woo – after breakfast. Then we all eight of us, including Charlie (dog) squashed into the car to  drive to Killantringan.

Killantringan Bay – a favourite.

A hour and a bit of rock climbing,  not-so-successful rock pool hunting, and other beach games. Then a picnic in a sheltered spot.

We set off to walk from there to Portpatrick about 1 pm. With Robert, Charlie, and Granpa driving round to Portpatrick to come and meet us half way along. Blowy but a good walk.  With lots of wildflowers, are these perhaps orchids?

Also saw a large grey seal on the hunt, which was a first for me. Sadly I have never seen an otter, but I have heard they also exist somewhere around here.

Alfred did an admirable job of the walk, until he sat down beside Granpa 1 km from Portpatrick and promptly fell asleep. Took turns in carrying him back, he is not as light as he used to be..!

A good dinner at the local pub in Sandhead rounded off the day; my apparently locally made salted caramel ice cream was particularly good.


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