Sunday, 17 March 2013

Welcome to Galloway

Sometimes it takes the visits of friends who have never been to this part of Scotland to remind yourself just how lucky you are to live in area of pretty much unspoilt rural beauty.

Their amazement at seeing deer from the car window, red kites and buzzards spiralling over head or the sunlight sparkling on the 'Devil's Threshing Floor' at high tide. The handsome beach at Brighouse Bay, the more intimate one at Carrick or the hidden gem at Mossyard. All of this is reachable from my front door in 15 minutes by car - all of it part of 'hidden' Galloway.

Thirty minutes to the back of the house are the Southern Uplands where you can tramp the delights of Glen Trool or the heights and ridges behind. Maybe you will stop at Clatteringshaws and vist just one of many 'Bruce's Stones' that are scattered across Galloway marking where the great man of Scottish independence fought some guerilla campaign or another against Percy, the 'King' of Galloway or the Commins as he hacked his way to the Scottish crown. In border lands between the enemies, such in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, motte and bailey castles abound like a bad case of chicken pox - the finest example being at the Haugh of Urr.

If you like your history a bit older then there are sights in Galloway that are prehistoric with the flat costal strip abounding in Pictish 'cup and ring' marker stones, 'cist burial chambers' at Cairn Holy or our mini Stone Henge on the Machars above Wigton. A bit closer to home, historically, is the ancient celtic abbey at Whithorn with its links to Ireland and Lindisfarne and the early Christianisation of this part of Scotland. The early church's influence extended on to the building of abbeys at Glen Luce and Dundrennan. In the 20th Century history left its mark along the coast at Garlieston where much of the 1944 D-day 'Mulberry Habour' concept was tested then built.

Famous folk? We have a few. The great physicist Maxwell Clerk, Einstein's inspiration, is buried at Parton. The originator of the Blue Water United States Navy, John Paul Jones, came from above Rockcliffe and spent a night in Kirkcudbright Tolbooth on trumped charges put by Lord Selkirk's factor - a slight he repayed in a later USN raid on Selkirk's House on St Mary's Island. At Queenshill and Barcaple, William Neilson, the discoverer and developer of the 'hot blast' furnace which provided much of the iron and steel of the industrial revolution, saw out his days. At the turn of the 19th Century Scottish painting's 'Glasgow Boys' were often to be found in Kirkcudbright where E. A. Hornel made his home at Broughton House which in turn established a mini 'St Ives' phenomenon which saw the likes of E.A. Taylor, Charles Oppenhiemer and Jessie King move into the town and the 'light' still attracts artists and photographers to this day.

Looking for something more exciting? For mountain bikers there are the forest runs at Dalbeatie and Kiroughtree or a whoosh down the longest zip wire in Scotland at Laggan Farm. For cyclists there is the Kirkcudbright Criterion run by the local Rotary Club. Golf? there are many beautiful nine hole gems like Gatehouse to decent eighteen hole courses at Kirkcudbright or championship standard courses at brighouse and Stranrear.  If you are less energetic there is Kirkcudbright's Traditional Jazz Festival at the end of June or Wigton's Book Fair in September. For the youngster's  there is the adventure playground at Cream of Galloway (plus organic ice cream /  food by the bucket) or a smaller less adventurous option at Cocoa Bean where the youngster's can also have a go at making their own chocolates - maybe just head for one of the many sandy beaches or into the hills.

So what is the point of plugging Galloway? Apart from the fact I love living here and get fed up with folk asking why I moved here? I do have an alterior purpose, to advertise a friend's holiday home which sleeps four, takes dogs not far from Twynholm (birth place of David Coulthard). If you want to find out more why not E-mail her @  Larglea.


  1. Sounds great. Have been promising myself a visit for years so this summer it will be! Sad that all the great men you allude to are almost unknown in their native land!
    I see you say you have offered your services to the Yes campaign?
    I'm talking to them and the SNP about what they 'should ' be doing including using supporter expertise. Have you made any headway in this ambition?

    1. Well what do you expect after 300 years of being told we are too wee, too stupid and too poor to look after ourselves - Carol Craig explores the phenomenon in a 'Scottish Crisis of Confidence' (aka the Scottish Cringe). Between Clatteringshaws and Newton Stewart there is a memeorial to a sheperd's boy who walked to Edinburgh to get a University education and ended up one of the 19th century's greatest Chinese language experts and a professor at the age of 23 .... that is the real truth behind the Scottish tradition of free University education. At the other end you have McCaulay doing the same thing and ending up as one of Scotland's 'famous' bores but there is no arguing against his genius.

      As to 'Yes' - I am doing what I can, where my health allows mainly by writing and commenting.