"Bollocks to this," I said pulling on my raincoat and putting my walking boots on, "We're on bleedin' 'oliday, let's do this!" So we did and within three miles of driving south the rain petered out and by the time we got to the best place we've been to so far it had stopped. To be fair, it was blowing a gale, was overcast and the temperature was 14 degrees, but if we sat around waiting for decent weather then we could have been here all day. So, off we went.
We spotted another bay to visit when we went to Black Rock beach and therefore we decided to make our way there first. It was off the 'main' road to a little place called Port William, before the even littler place of Monreith (mentioned yesterday) which is where Gavin 'Ring of Bright Water' Maxwell lived, etc. You drive up a single track lane with a sheer drop on one side and past a wonderful little golf course, that was immaculately kept into a car park that was as empty as a brand new cemetery. We piled out of the car and in front of us was this:
Isn't that positively a wonderful site. Not the beach, but the complete lack of people. This is Back Bay and it is secluded, full of interesting places to go and look at, including this:
This is a cave and it isn't particularly deep, but it's perfectly formed and has a natural chimney in it; a flue like hole at the top of the cave that lets a lot of light (and rain, I would presume) in. I went and explored and caves still hold that mystical charm that normally gives you that frisson of fear because of the dark and the unknown; this was different and I may have to take the camera in with me when we return her in a couple of days.
Unfortunately, the tide came in while we were there and we had to retreat after about an hour; mainly because when the tide turns, boy does it turn. Rocks I was sitting on at midday were covered by the sea by 12.15 and the entrance to this cave, where the two rocks are at the front was completely cut off within five minutes of this photo being taken. Canute was a wise man.
The weather showed no real sign of easing inland and when we got on the road again it started raining again. We headed to Port William, which is a lovely, but really isolated little town; we might have stayed there for half an hour or so if the rain hadn't started sheeting down again. I suggested we go along to the Isle of Whithorn, a place we hadn't been to in 14 years and was one of the very few and far between holiday we had in this neck of the woods in 1998. We got there and the summer seemed to be just in front of us. There was bugger all cloud about a quarter of a mile out to sea and the little boats, bobbing on the calm sea, looked idyllic and I yearned for that sun to be just a bit closer. Twenty minutes later we didn't get my wish, but the temperature rose, the sky started to thin and we decided to pop into the Steam Packet Inn, a bloody decent pub in 1998 and now a bit poncier, but still a bloody decent pub; with FIVE locally brewed real ales. We sat outside, the sun peaking through the thinning clouds and were reluctant to go in land because it would probably rain again.
But, eventually we headed back to Wigtown, but not after getting incredibly irate with an old arsehole tourist in his fucking Volvo smoking a fag and blocking the way and being oblivious to it. By the time we got to home base, it had brightened up and we had a wander round Wigtown. The dogs, however, were in a completely noisy and restless mood, so we came back here, got them settled, I did the dinner and the wife went back up on her own.
It's now gone 8pm and it doesn't feel like it. We've had an oddly busy but relaxing day; the wife is fit to go to bed already, I'm hoping the TV program I'm downloading comes in at faster than 15kbps, but I feel as though I've done some walking and had the first real day of the holiday.
Highlights of the day:
- If you ever get up this way this is unbelievable; you could spend all day without a stitch of clothes on and probably see no one else, especially if you go up round the head and where the caves are. This is Back Bay, about three miles east of Monreith (there's also a wonderful otter statue worth looking at).
- The Steam Packet Inn - see above.
- If the Isle of Whithorn is the kind of place where I could gladly spend the rest of my life - and it really is - then it's big sister Whithorn is like Corby with character. We saw the first chavs there - and boy they were as rough as a badger's sandpapered arse - and it had all the welcoming atmosphere of a protestant at an IRA meeting in 1972. It's like someone looked at Wigtown and thought, 'Hm, I like the cut of their jib, I think I'll make my town like that.' Sadly, he then went to the pub drank 22 pints of heavy, took loads of illegal narcotics and was beaten round the head with a sausage stuffed with diamonds for a week, He then built Whithorn from whatever memories he had left; adding odd bits and missing out essential things. It has the widest high street I have ever seen and the two narrowest of entrances into it. Quaint, you might think. Fucking retarded is what it is in real life. It looks dirty, isolated, forgotten and full of despair - it is how Roger and I saw Wigtown in 1998; which incidentally is something the wife found in a history of the town. This place almost died in the 1990s; it was split by problems, had massive unemployment and most of the businesses were dying, but through some intrepid ex-pats, some local interest and hard work, they put Wigtown back on the map by reinventing it as Scotland's Book Town. Whithorn could reinvent itself as Scotland's Home of Despair and Cretinism.