I must admit that even though I love all my grandchildren to pieces, I am not a fan of crowded ‘family entertaintement’ places and choose to show them the simple, natural enjoyment of nature which is rich in experience rather than rich as in ‘costs a fortune’. So with the emphasis on ‘Adventuring’ rather than ‘holiday’ I set off for a few weeks touring of the South West of Scotland with my forever-young husband who is actually only Peter Pan in his head and not body, and his packets of pain killers for his back! My two granddaughters aged 8 and 6 years, as many children’s clothes as I could pack into the van for the wild, wet and windy days ahead (I was NOT wrong!!). My own essential items consisted of a 4 season sleeping bag that has actually been used on an expedition to Greenland as the very warmest on the planet, and my trusty old RAB down jacket which also endured Greenland’s snow,and a hot water bottle – I felt secure and ready.
Our first stop was far up the west side of Scotland to Arisaig. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth with white sandy beaches and views of other small islands on the horizon. We stayed at a lovely campsite called Camusdarach which although they state has a path to the beach it is quite a walk carrying beach essentials for children. The couple who run it are lovely and bake fresh hot croissants in the camp shop for breakfast. The small field is very quiet whilst the larger field is for more ‘outgoing’ campers! Rain, rain everyday instigated card games, craft and drawing games. We then decided the weather maybe better further down the coast and moved to Ayr.
I was wary of the ‘busy town’ image I had of Ayr but this proved unfounded. The town has plenty of interesting shops and the children found a large park full of interesting equipment on the Seafront which kept them entertained for hours.Toilet facilities are very good and provided in numerous locations. We have brought the children up with the ethos of there is no inappropriate weather only inappropriate clothing, and now had to pay the price. They quickly dressed in waterproofs and enjoyed the park and beach to the full, whilst after our ‘adult discussion’ which used to be known as ‘having a row’ we decided we would take the supervision in turns, one would sit freezing on a bench until limbs went numb whilst the other enjoyed an empty van to read and have a cuppa in peace. The constant rain soon dissolved any qualms I had of hanging my knickers out in public and as soon as the sun popped out they were hung on the back of the van to dry. ‘When I am old I will wear purple’ has certainly been apt to me!
Ayr is very flat and a dream to walk or cycle. The beach is long and sandy and cleaned every morning. We also took a trip 5 miles south of Ayr to Dunure Castle. A lovely ruin that has been made safe so you can actually go inside. Good toilet facilities and small car park. It overlooks a lovely small bay and is only £2 admission. A play park is also available and picnic benches.
In search of the sun we then made our way through the Galloway Forest Park which is a dedicated Dark Sky area and saw some amazing night skies.
My favourite place of all had to be Kirkudbright. The most amazing, friendly, welcoming people. The shops are local and charming and mostly run by the owners. It is also a working fishing town and it is interesting to watch their daily routines whilst the children spent hours catching crabs off the harbour. By chance we arrived on a Thursday and were rewarded by a free Scottish evening in the Town Square. The are bakeries which serve delicious home baked goods and open till evening. Numerous quaint cafe’s and pubs, not a McDonald’s in sight. Good toilet facilities and flat walks along the harbour add to your comfort. Kirkudbright is known as an Arts and Crafts town and this clearly shows by the talent showed all around town. We experienced an ‘Old Fashioned’ friendly, quality time in the town and can’t wait to go back. Even the teenager’s hanging about in the Tesco in the evening had manners which came as a pleasant surprise.
There is an excellent small campsite in town where I managed to do my washing in private and dry it in a drier.
We visited Ardwall Island by foot as you can walk across it at low tide, this proved an exciting time for the children who were also told of the Early Christian chapel on the Island where they excavated skeletons they nicknamed the ‘Giants’ as they were all over six feet in height by a local who was walking his dog.
We then moved to Dhoon Bay which is a lovely small bay and was very quiet when we there, again toilets and free parking add to your comfort. Shell and pebble collecting were the order of the day and miracle of all the sun shone so swimming in the sea was possible.
A trip to Dumfries and the Camera Obscura which is the oldest working one of its kind providing panoramic views over the town and countryside at a cost of £1.15 each rounded off our trip.
Its was an exciting, interesting time and made pleasurable by sharing it with the girls, but back home to reality, bags of washing and cleaning the van and a week to recover, whilst hubby is busy planning the next trip, I am dreaming of a rich, childless man who wants to run away to a sunny place with a Granny he wishes to spend millions on!!
What did I learn? One, always but always take your best knickers on holiday however old you are and two, the same clothes are required for Scotland in Summer as Greenland!