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A Sassenach's Stravaig
Monday, 31 August 2009 -- Meandering southwards

Since I'm at my computer, I'd better start bringing you up to date with my latest rambles. It'll be quick, since I see that I'm only up to early July in talking about the places I've stayed.


Yes, again. I've talked about the area and its literary connections but not mentioned the site. It's good example of a Caravan Club five-vanner, with level hardstandings and good water and waste amenities. There is, alas, a drawback to it.

I refer to Culicoides impunctatus, more often known as "those xxxxxxx midges". It's ironic that I'd left the Highlands to avoid this creature and my only encounter should be in the Lowlands. There's a stream (burn) near the inn and a pond, which is probably where they breed. These little bastards, which the Americans call "No-see-ums", are invasive, persistent and malign.

I left for the coast with 70 bites on my body and limbs and more on my head. It's how a man knows he's reached middle age, when the only female that wants him for his body is a female mosquito.

New England Bay, Stranraer, Dumfries And Galloway

Giving it plentyThis is a full-sized Caravan Club site, which I rate excellent. It's on the west bank of Luce Bay, which separates the Rhins of Galloway from the mainland.

Next to the site there's a long beach of sand and shingle with dunes protecting it. There was plenty of wildlife interest, including seals in the bay (regular visitors, I was told) and this Yellowhammer near my van.

Stranraer is about 12 miles to the north and is where most people do their shopping. The site is otherwise miles from anywhere. Fortunately, there's a handy shop on site. Regular vans separately bring fresh and fried fish.


1. Logan Botanic Garden is just three miles away and is a jewel. It's an outstation of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and specialises in plants from warm climates. The walled garden at its heart was full of colour, scents and grateful flying insects when I went. Outside this are collections of Tree Ferns, Palms and Gunnera.

There is a cafeteria, a small shop and -- a nice touch -- shaded parking for vehicles containing dogs. It was a baking-hot day when I went, so Jenny was a beneficiary.

I met several people who went for ideas on plant choice, as well as for the pleasure of being there. Highly recommended.

2. Wigtown. On the mainland is what was the county town (of Wigtownshire). A charming and easy-going place, it is trying -- but not too hard -- to become Scotland's Hay-on-Wye. The shops are more diverse than Hay's, in fact, and the town is not as claustrophobic.

The large town hall has a display on the top floor of the local natural history, including a live video display of an Osprey's nest "somewhere in Galloway". There was one chick left.

The local church has a memorial to some Covenanters killed in 1685. They include two women tied to stakes in the harbour and left to drown in the rising tide. It's yet another example of what, in American police jargon, might be described as 'Christian-on-Christian' violence and a depressing reflection on human barbarism.

Also good:

Corsewall Point1. At the other end of the Rhins is Corsewall Point. Here is yet another lighthouse from the Stevenson dynasty, part of it now run as an hotel. There are fine views over the water between Scotland and Ireland and the ferries crossing between.

2. The Mull of Galloway. This nature reserve at the southern tip of the Galloway peninsula is an ideal place from which to watch cliff-dwelling birds. The weather was poor so I didn't linger. I shall return.

3. Kirkmadrine Stones. These early Christian relics are displayed in the glassed-in end wall of a small church at the end of a short track in the middle of a pastoral landscape. It's a tranquil spot, not encumbered with disfiguring "interpretation" panels.

I'm now off back to England with many happy memories.

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