First port of call was Newton Stewart, a lovely little town which is really the gateway to the forest park; we didn't stop because we wanted to get into the park and find some places for the dogs to go 'hunting'. The wife chose somewhere for us to go - very remote - and we got there inside an hour and took the dogs along a mountain trail in Glentrool Village. We spent an hour there (I was given the camera) and then decided to go further into the wilderness to Loch Trool.
The worrying thing about this Scottish wilderness is that in places the leaves have already started to look a bit yellow and red; autumn it seems creeps into parts of Scotland in early August. The rain that has been pretty constant here, as well as everywhere else, meant that there was boggy parts, quagmires and lots of lying water; the part of the park we were in was also a working forest, loggers in lorries carrying timber in a scene you might imagine in Canada.
We eventually got to the car park at the end of the road, but suffered the only disappointment of the day - we couldn't get within 100 yards of the loch; there is no road near it, so if you want to stand on its banks you need to walk to it and I couldn't find an easy way down - yes, down; the road sits about 50 metres above the lock and much of the side is a sheer drop. There is one place that has access to the loch and that's Glen Trool House, but that is privately owned and I am envious of the bastards that live there...
We went back up the trail a couple of miles and stopped off at the Water of Trool, the river that runs into the loch. The dogs went apeshit; this was the kind of terrain they love - woods, hills and water and we spent another hour, before heading back to Bargrennon on the main road and the best pub we've found in the whole of Dumfries and Galloway - The House O'the Hill. A restaurant with THREE unusual vegetarian options; two real ales and a sun trap of a garden that we just flopped out in. The irony was that after yesterday's shit meal, we brought a packed lunch, but we were so impressed by the place we're going back Friday for lunch, as we're heading back on that day.
From there, we took the back road back down to Newton Stewart, where we found a lovely little car park on the river, near an otter pool, where we met a family from Huntingdon and stood around for well over an hour talking about... well, everything. The irony is she works for the same umbrella company that I do and works for an Academy over where she lives. The best bit of this part of the day was Lexy having to swim.
Lexy doesn't do swimming; she loves water and will wade in it up to her shoulders, but never, ever, goes deeper. It's like she's scared that her wonky little legs won't work well enough to keep her afloat. The two times in the five years we've had her where she has swum have both been accidents and today was no exception; the big difference being an accident caused her to go in the water and her own volition brought her back.
Near the otter pool was a bendy bit of river with deep eddies and crystal clear water, which makes the floor of the riverbed seem deceptively shallower than it really is. Marley had bounced off into the water and had waded across the river and was standing in the shallows and Lexy, who had not been paying attention, looked at the six inch drop into the water; then at Marley and then without prompting, leapt into the water and went splosh, right under. She emerged looking utterly shocked and swam to where Marley was, who had now disappeared somewhere else. Lexy was stuck on the other side of the river and the only way across was to swim.
My God, you have never seen a dog edge its way more gingerly (and that is such an apt word with ginger Lexy) into water in your life. First up to her legs, then her belly, then her neck and then she was away; swimming very strongly against the flow and she covered the ten feet very quickly. She got so much praise you would have thought she'd just rescued Timmy from a well.
When we got to Newton Stewart we did some shopping; the place is really civilisation in microcosm; there is literally nothing you can't get there. Then we eventually got back here at nearly 6pm, had dinner and now we're all just buggered...
Tomorrow will be the last full day of the holiday; part of me is a little sad that I decided we'd go home on Friday evening, but if the weather forecast is anything to go by then travelling in the evening and at night is probably a good idea. We're going back to Back Bay because on a lovely day it's likely to be glorious and I want to take my boots and socks off. We're going to the Cream of Galloway ice cream making centre, a smokehouse that's off the beaten track and, if we have time, the Bladnoch Distillery and the Inn, but that will require part of that hour or so with the dogs in the car - see if we can find some shade, otherwise, we'll do that next time we're here. Which might be next year after speaking to Jenny's dad tonight on the dog n bone. We still haven't done so much, but it will make for actual plans next time we come here.
One utterly size-ist and potentially sexist moment happened when we were driving from the pub. The temperature was 23 degrees, the sun was shining and there were these two people - in their 20s - walking up the road (and up a hill) towards Glentrool. He was striding ahead, shorts, T-shirt and looking fresh and fit; she must have weighed about 18 stone; appeared to be carrying all their camping gear on her back and what looked like both their bellies on her front; she was dripping in sweat and looked about to die. I was thinking cruel and horrible thoughts when the wife said, "He probably thought she needed to do all the carrying," then grinned an evil smile at me. "He was right!"
With the exception of the two pictures of Lexy and the one of me by the river, I took all the photos on display.