cracking scottish trip …

I’m just back from a cracking few days in Scotland. I had been a little undecided which way to head for a few days- I had though about heading south, pondered over heading north east and towards Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, but then pretty much let the weather forecasts determine where I should go.

The forecast for the West Coast of Scotland looked ideal … so that’s just where I headed.

Leaving Manchester I took a pretty direct route towards Carlisle and Gretna before heading towards Eastriggs on the A75, then New Galloway, Talnotry and Newton Stewart via the A712 and then down to Whithorn before ending up in Stranraer.

The weather had been exceptional and as I was in no particular rush to get anywhere I just enjoyed the ride and the magnificent scenery that Scotland always has to offer.

At one point, I cant quite recall where, I thought I ought to find a cash till as I literally only had a couple of pounds in my pocket so tapped the sat nav  to find a nearby till and on the way there saw a sign for an aviation museum, and as I wasn’t in any rush I thought why not take a look?

The place I arrived at was the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum. It’s only a small place and is actually on the site of the old wartime RAF Dumfries air station. With a modest £5 admission charge it turned out to be worth a visit.

There’s a collection of aircraft on display, as well as various bits and pieces from helicopters, aircraft, engines etc and the original RAF Control Tower houses a collection of displays and wartime memorabilia.

The staff there were helpful and I spent a short amount of time chatting to one of the ladies in the cafe over a reasonable cup of coffee. The place is pretty much run on a voluntary basis and relies om donations and admission charges for funding.

If you’re passing that way and this sort of thing is of any interest to you then I think its worth popping in for an hour or so. I’ve posted some pictures from the museum in the photo’ gallery below.

I made a hotel reservation for a couple of nights at  the Craignelder Hotel in Stranraer,  a small hotel with 12 rooms and that is located just across the road from Loch Ryan.

Location wise it was just right for me as I has decided that the following day (Sunday) I would head up the West Coast to Largs and then just pretty much take it from there.  The stay was great, really helpful and friendly staff, plenty of parking for my bike, a decent bar and a very pleasant restaurant for dinner with well cooked and well presented  food from a decent menu with plenty of choice (check out the picture of the superb tangy lemon tart!).

If you re traveling that way I don’t think you would be at all dissapointed with a stay at the Craignelder, it’s certainly a place that I expect to visit again.

On Sunday I was on the road for about 09:00am after what I suppose would be described as as a satisfying and hearty breakfast. Leaving the hotel put me immediately onto the A77 coast road heading north for Ayr, Ardrossan and Largs.

The first 15 miles or so of that road were wonderful. It’s not at all a difficult or challenging road to ride, rather as simple to say that its just nice, and rammed with exceptional scenery and views. One point to note is that later on the road has a few 60mph sections with average speed cameras.

I turned off the A77 to take the coast road to Ayr before rejoining the A77 later on. I stopped at the bright, busy and bustling town of Largs for refreshments and it was nice to see so many people: families, couples, etc making the most of the fabulous weather.

I carried on to Wemyss Bay and on impulse made a left turn into the small ferry port there and bought a return ticket to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.

It was only a 30 minute or so crossing, but time enough to enjoy the sunshine and a coffee.  Bute’s a pretty small island in the Firth of Clyde about 47 square miles in size and a population of less than 7,000. I pretty much ambled around the island, stopping to take pictures and enjoy the views and in particular the view across to Arran at the Sound of Bute was simply magnificent.

By the time I had returned to the mainland and pretty much headed back the way I had came it was gone 6:30pm by the time I was back at my hotel – and after the best part of 10 hours on the bike I was ready for a cold  pint, a shower and then dinner.

I was off on Monday morning for 09:00am and headed for the Galloway Hills – another beautiful part of Scotland. I had no fixed plan about my route home other than having decided to call into a small museum that I had seen a sign for on the way up and whose name intrigued me.

The museum is called The Devil’s Porridge Museum and is in a place called Eastriggs which is easy enough to get to on the Annan Road.

It’s a small museum but has the most remarkable and fascinating story to tell – essentially it was a wartime munitions factory (built in 1915) and went on to stretch for nine miles and employ around 30,000 people … and was key to the establishment of Gretna as a town.  I was amazed by the story of the factory and questioned myself at my own lack of knowledge about this piece of history. As I said it’s small place and you should probably allow about an hour to visit, but with just a £5 entry cost, a small cafe area the most astonishing of stories to tell – this is a great place to call in if you are passing.

Other than stopping off for a slightly dodgy sandwich at a fuel stop I had a warm but uneventful trip home and was back by around 3:45pm.

All in all a great few days on the bike, that has left me with a taste for seeing a bit more of the west coast of Scotland – but I think If I’m to travel further up I’d need to add some more time on to make the most of it.

There’s a photo gallery below with a selection of pictures from the trip. Clicking on the first will open a scrolable gallery.