A Holiday !

When do B&B owners go on holiday? We went mid October. It’s an unusual occurrence to be away for my birthday. With Fay previously being a teacher in England, my birthday, on the 12th of October was never coincidental with school holidays. Fay’s birthday in August, however, we were always away.

This year we took the opportunity go go away for my birthday. So, we decided to go over the sea to Arran. But, we decided to just take the bikes, so we parked at the ferry terminal and went across with bikes and ruck sacs.

We were very fortunate with the weather, and completed a few walks, including up Goat Fell, and a few cycle rides including a ride all round the island .

I could post all sorts of pictures of our holiday, but a particularly special evening was spent badger watching, so here is a picture of our successful evening.

Walk on The Rhinns of Kells

The Rhinns of Kells are a range of hills in the Galloway Hills, part of the Southern Uplands of Scotland. The most easterly of three parallel ridges, they are neighboured to the west by the Range of the Awful Hand (including Merrick) and the Dungeon Hills.

We have been living in Newton Stewart for almost 3 years and this is the first time we’ve stretched over to the east to the Rhinns. Here’s our summit photo and route 🙂 It’s a long old walk, with a bit of navigation to get through the forest roads before hitting the flanks of the hills. The summit photo was on Corserine, a Corbbet at 814m and then we walked the ridge to Meikle Millyea, a Donald at 746m.

As we’ve not had a long mountain walk for a few months, we were surprised at being able to walk the following day !!

Some local attractions

One of our recent lovely guests sent us a couple of pictures of some local places that many of our visitors choose to visit. The first is the magnificent lighthouse at the most southerly point in Scotland, the Mull of Galloway. The second is the picturesque harbour town of Port Patrick. Many thanks for the pictures Jacquie Newlands.

Arran the Stag, at his cutest

Arran still has the velvet covering on his antlers. The felt will be coming off soon ready for the rut, when the antlers will be used in anger. This photo was taken by our guest Sean, with his rather magnificent camera.

Red kites at Bellymack Hill Farm

We had some lovely guests over the last few days who visited the Red Kite feeding farm near Laurieston, just the other side of Gatehouse of Fleet. Here is a magnificent photograph by Ann Renfrew. We often see the Red Kites whilst out on the bikes, but they’re never this close and we never have decent cameras with us, so this is a great picture to be able to add to our posts. What a magnificent creature!!

Building works complete

During the lockdown of 2021 we have had the conservatory replaced. Removing the leaky roof, replacing it with a properly insulated roof, insulating the walls and floor to modern standard and replacing all the windows with modern units. We also took the opportunity to add an exit door to the side.

More decorating

Having sorted the majority of the inside, and had our building work done by the terrific, local R.E.B. Joinery, it was time to start the outside – painting stone-chip on 25ft walls was never going to be a party !!

But, became much more interesting when we hired a cherry-picker ! 🙂 The view from above was very nice !

Massive off-road cycling festival planned for Dumfries and Galloway in Autumn 2021

The “Raiders Gravel Galloway” event will be based in Gatehouse of Fleet and could attract hundreds of cyclists from across the globe, as well as many more spectators.

For further information see the Daily Record’s article – here

The event is the brain-child of Esther Tacke, from Galloway Cycling Holidays (who are terrific!!) and has Wheels of Fleet as the event’s designated charity.

Wheels of Fleet is the charity that Dane works as a part time bike mechanic. They salvage discarded bikes and components and do work on bikes for the local community free of charge, or just charging for parts.

This event will mean there will be lots of volunteering opportunities, there would be employment opportunities and it would bring people to the area.

It would encourage cycling in general, and local children can make use of the trails and routes which will be used for the event.

Hopefully The Stables will be full that week 🙂 Although, Dane is hopeful that Covid restrictions may enable hands-on bike maintenance workshops to be run by then.

More information will be posted as it becomes available

Wildlife Camera action

For Christmas, Fay bought me a wildlife camera. I’ve had a lot of fun with it since, and captured many many birds on our feeders. However, the night images are the most exciting. Look what we’ve got visiting the garden at night.

A braw day on The Merrick

Yesterday we took advantage of beautiful blue skies to head up ‘The Merrick’. It’s been nearly a year since I was up there and 18 months since Fay was. Fay has never been up when there has been snow, and I’ve only been up with snow when there has been zero visibility, so it was with great anticipation that we set out.

Glenwhan Gardens

During the lockdown easing and since the opening up of travel and other restrictions, we have visited all of the local gardens. Today, the last one, Glenwhan. Just a short distance along the A75 from The Stables, it’s very different. Small, but a bit of a chaotic layout meaning you can easily explore a smaller area but it seems much bigger. You can end up approaching the same point several times, all from difference angles, meaning you get surprised by where you are, and where you end up 🙂

Open water swimming

Fay decided to get out into deep water when we had a guest who liked a bit of open water swimming. I, however, declined the offer 😂. I’ve not taken my titanium shoulder into the swimming baths yet, so given I have no idea whether I can or cannot swim, thought it best to watch, and take photos .

Culzean Castle Gardens

And yesterday. . . a day out at Culzean Castle Gardens, and beach. Quite busy it was too. This is just over a hour’s drive from The Stables, along the very pretty and very windy A714 Girvan Road.

Cycle/Walk/Cycle

The other day Fay and I did a cycle/walk/cycle activity, up to RSPB Wood of Cree. We often don’t see much up there, but you hear the birds having a real chatter. They are so invisible when there’s leaves on the trees.

E Bike to the rescue

Sometimes, people are more inspiring than they themselves realise. This last week, we were visited by David and his friend and helper James. David is in his early 60s. He was a headmaster in Yorkshire but is now retired. He used to be involved in all sorts of sports and even used to participate in competitive fell-running.

In recent years he has been diagnosed with a neuropathy that slowly wastes the muscles below the knee. He has a specially adapted car and rides, as he can only do now, an E-Bike.

Whilst here he successfully completed the Big Country Route, a 35 mile cross-country route which is almost all on forest tracks. This is an amazing achievement. Even for an able-bodied person it is hard work.

Although challenging, the Big Country Route is spectacular, with jaw-dropping scenery and a quiet isolation that is only possible in areas like this. There are plenty of ups and downs.

Very well done David & James.

David on his E-Bike
James and the bikes

First guest since March

Oh my, it’s so unfriendly having to wear masks and gloves when dealing with people. I really hate it, but we have to do it just now.

Pleeeaaaaase lets have a vaccine soon.

Slow Worm action !

There are so few people about that even the slow worms are laying on top of the undergrowth – this was at Kirroughtree on the yellow waymarked trail – only the second one I’ve ever seen.

Big Country Route

There is an off-road route, ostensibly based from Glentrool visitor’s centre, which passes not far from The Stables, so is easily picked up in Newton Stewart. You can then either choose to take the detour to the Glentrool visitor’s centre (making 36.1 miles) or leave that out (making 35 miles). This is the route map. (click for bigger version). This version does not include a trip to the visitor’s centre.

A PDF map and description from Forestry and Land Scotland is available for download at : GlentroolBigCountryRoute

A gpx file is also available for download : Bigcountryroute.gpx

The pink wall has gone !

A 3.8 meter drop, matching pattern and slopping ceiling. Plus difficult ladder placement ? but generally successful operation. Fay in charge of technical methodology, Dane in charge of ‘working at height’ operations ?? I think the light fitting needs an upgrade now.

oh, and a new bannister too ?

New decoration

After a small leak, and damage to the dining room ceiling, we decided to do a bit of extra decorating.

This is the new paintwork and wallpaper in the dining room:

Lock Down activity

It’s been a busy few days with decorating work, but Fay has also completed some ‘phone rounds’ of elderly and vulnerable people for the Food Train. Unfortunately, the list she was working from was for people in a different part of D&G so we’re not likely to bump into them when this is all over, but Fay enjoyed the chats. Made a change from talking to me

Merrick in March

A wee solo jaunt up The Merrick today. Saw a couple of other people too. The photo doesn’t do the wind justice. Let’s just say I had to approach the summit cairn on all fours.