Off we go again! This time, a trip up to the far north of mainland Scotland, to visit places we hadn’t managed on our previous trip (which was now almost 4 years ago and blogged in journal form elsewhere way down in this ‘Travel’ listing.) Our vague plan was to take a few days getting up there, and then let global gravity drag us gently southwards back down the West Coast again, leapfrogging the bits we’d already done and enjoying the bits we’d missed first time round.
Heading north up the M6 and subsequently onwards on the A74(M), we knew we’d need to overnight somewhere. Sensing that Glasgow itself may be a little too overpopulated to provide a true ‘wild’ camping experience, we arbitrarily selected a random location just off the motorway at Douglas, about which not much was forthcoming from a brief internet search. As it turned out, we were hugely lucky with our choice as Douglas – despite being in need of a candlestick maker – had everything we could possibly have wished for in a random off-the-beaten-track Scottish village.
A river ran through it; a delightful church sat at its centre; memorials had been raised to famous sons and a battling Cameronian regiment which had been formed and subsequently disbanded within its boundaries; an agreeably well-maintained estate contained a large fishing lake (with adjacent parking); a semi-circular and therefore strangely tubular three-storey castle ruin stood sentinel over gently undulating estate parkland; ancient trees straggled their spreading boughs around massive trunks as if they were tired from holding up all their limbs; the sun shone; we parked up in glorious isolation alongside the lake; found an empty pub into which we were welcomed by a bored but enthusiastic landlady (‘twas she who proudly announced the village boasted a butcher and a baker); two cafes; a petrol station – and all of this within earshot and distant sight of the thrumming A74(M).
An undisturbed and peaceful overnight was followed by a morning’s worth of energetic fishing (“There’s big pike in there” informed a passing dog-walker, “but they’re very elusive” – whose insight we sadly came prove) and as our regular sense of disappointment overtook us, we retired to a full Scottish in-van breakfast – enjoying the peculiarly spicy addition of a locally snared haggis.
Ok, ok, I know I’ve previously written about the inclusion (or otherwise) of supporting imagery but a good friend and fellow blogger (whose opinions I both value and acknowledge) suggested I try adding a few sketches, so here’s the first attempt with my new set of Derwent pencils – in varying degrees of ‘B’ness.