Trip No.3 Dumfries

October 2017

Let’s go to Dumfries I said, Cathy replies, why, what’s there? –  me “oh there’s lots of lovely places to visit and explore and we’ve never been, so why not? ……well there’s lots of free/wild camping spots and it’s a beautiful country, it’s also near to Lockerbie where I have two refillable LPG bottles waiting for me to pick up & collect! “

Off we go then on a short break, try out some more wild camping, and to collect the LPG gas bottles. Again, the subject of refillable gas systems is heavily discussed on the motorhome forums, they are all similar systems so it’s about personal preference, including weight, price, volume of gas, height of bottles, etc. Please look here for information on our purchase.

Stopped at Tranzparts in Preston to collect the side marker light I ordered yesterday. The side light is working but it is held on with gaffer tape. Back on to the M61 and up the M6. Pulled in to Gretna Green retail shop car park at 6pm, we needed a break and to find a spot to stay for the night. Cathy joined a Facebook group called Scottish Motorhome Wildcamping and their suggestions included a spot at Glencaple, 4 miles south of Dumfries, sounds good, pop in the coordinates and off we go.

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view from the windscreen at Glencaple

Good spot here, on the side of River Nith, it’s quiet, level, there’s a shop, a cafe, a public toilet block and most importantly a pub The Nith Hotel that serves food till 9 pm! Parked up and 10 minutes later we are inside the pub.

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We have made it to Scotland!

After a peaceful nights sleep up for breakfast and after a quick chat with the chap who we bought the Prakto LPG bottles from, we’re off to Lockerbie. Found their house easy enough, a quick hello, I rearranged the garage, strapped the bottles together using polystyrene between them, then strapped them securely to the frame of the vehicle, don’t want anything sliding around that might cause a problem.

Off again this time to the Kelpies in Falkirk, what a fantastic place, I recommend a visit here

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The Kelpies

 

P1120612They look brilliant at night as well but I don’t think the photos do them justice.

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you lookin at me?

P1120646This place is set up for motorhomes as well, you can park in the closest car park for £5 all day till 8pm I think, or you can park at one of the lower car parks for free and take a short walk, and also overnight for free too! it’s less than 5 mins walk to the Kelpies.

We loved the Kelpies, I couldn’t stop looking at the them and kept snapping away,

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Partners for life  – on the Kelpies canal

The Kelpies lit up about 5.30pm, we left there about 7pm to find The Wheel, apparently you can camp overnight for £15 in the Wheel car park. Let’s try there then.

Arrived and it’s not clear what you can and can’t do, asked another motorhomer who was parked up for the night. He said he’s paid £15 for the night, so go to security at reception down the hill and ask because those, pointing over there, electric bollards come up soon and you can’t move off until 9am.

I ran down the hill, couldn’t find the security men despite pressing their bell, and calling the information number, reception was closed, ran back up the hill to Cathy and we decided to move in to one of the other car parks whilst we decide, we didn’t want to be trapped there tonight! and forced to pay £15 .

Another chat and we go looking at the signs on the car parks , apart from the large overnight with electric hook up and water one there are also 4 other parking bays  it seems you can park here overnight ( or should I say it doesn’t say you cant and no mention of no motorhomes, until 9am for £3, so that will do. Put coins in the machines but they are not working so we risked it overnight for free and we buy one from security at 9am tomorrow whilst we visit The Wheel.

£3 for the day whilst we visit the Wheel. A free overnight stay helps the budget.

The Wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde, it’s an amazing piece of canal and water engineering, works on water displacement in each vessel, fascinating to watch it in action. Had a nice time here including a 30-minute walk to Rough Castle, on the Antonine Wall. We liked this place as well and would recommend a visit here if you come to Falkirk.

The Wheel at various stages.

An afternoon drive now to Glencoe as we planned to meet one of Cathy’s sisters Ellen and her husband for a night or two. Leisurely drive through Scotland enjoying the scenery along the way.

We wanted a view over the loch near Ballachulish so we went to Invercoe Camp Site, it’s a great spot with great views at £24 per night.

Woke to a misty morning, a peaceful morning enjoying our spot. After doing the motorhome servicing – fresh water top up, empty grey and black waste. Next off to the meet the relatives at a hotel nearby, parked up and met the family. Drove to Kinlochleven, parked in the designated spot, headed off for a walk to a waterfall and return by the hydro station.

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view from the cab overlooking Loch Leven at Invercoe camp site in Glencoe

 

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another view from the van

We had great night with Ellen and Mark, it started off with Scottish pipers in the Hotel where they were staying followed by a meal, a few games of pool and a belly laugh of a night with our brother in law Mark who pretended he was a flamenco guitarist and sang to us too! he was so funny we couldn’t get our breath, it was reminiscent of a Les Dawson sketch when he played piano badly on purpose but managed to sound good too! we were in so much pain from laughing. Thank you El Marco!

You can guess it was a late start today, we slept in the hotel car park with their permission, thank you guys. In the afternoon we headed southwards towards home now and took the road to Inveraray, again we enjoyed great scenery. We didn’t feel comfortable at Inveraray, parking not so easy, the weather was miserable now, we ended up in the coach park at the rear of town but it didn’t feel right to us, so we planned to move on. Put the kettle on, Cathy goes on Facebook and a recommendation from Scottish Motorhome Wildcamping took us to Inver Cottage Restarant near Strachur on the side of Loch Fyne.

Wow, what a place to park up!

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Inver Cottage car park on the shore of Loch Fyne

Stayed here and we ate in the restaurant, a warm open wood burning fireplace in the lounge area, rustic and cosy. Locally caught fish used for their dishes, the dining area had a modern contemporary feel.

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our view over Loch Fyne of Lachlan Castle from Inver Cottage car park

We slept very well.

A few days ago, one of my cousins noticed Cathy’s’ Facebook posts and asked us to visit whilst we were up here in the north! So that’s where we are going now, Edinburgh in fact. As I drive Cathy is finding a wild/free spot near my cousin’s house and it looks like we are going to Marine Drive, east of Cramond, with great views of the Forth.

Found it ok, locked the motorhome up, my cousin is there to meet us and gave us a lift to their house, it’s all working out rather well today!

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View at Marine Drive Edinburgh

Chilled out time drinking wine and beer, laughing, chatting and catching up followed by a lovely meal. It was a short walk back to Pogo about 10.30pm, it’s then we discover that we are parked on the flight path to Edinburgh airport, so thank goodness for the earplugs and the alcohol we had consumed earlier, we slept ok with no hassle.

Another lazy start to the day, today we continue south and decide to go to the motorhome friendly town of Hawick with designated free motorhome parking at the council run car park with toilet facilities 20p for a P! After a cup of tea we take a stroll along the River Teviot through Wilton Park, full of wildlife, really enjoyed the afternoon. Walked to the shops and bought some groceries.

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Chainsaw sculpture in Wilton Park, Hawich

Now moving on to about 10pm, that’s when it starts, boy racers in loud cars, setting off harshly, sounding horns, music, driving around the car park at silly speeds, urmm what shall we do? Stay or go, we stayed but it didn’t stop until about 1am. No sign of any authority in the area and it must happen regularly unfortunately. It’s a shame for the town to offer free parking and attempt to bring customers and extra money in to the local business to be let down by a few stupid people. Rant over! ( Maybe we were unlucky as subsequently heard other people had not had the same experience, well give it another try one day)

Homeward bound today, left Hawick and headed down the A7, it’s raining heavily and it’s fast road in parts especially if you know the road! As we tootle along Cathy says the dash cam should be in a different place because it’s recording the wiper blades and then bang! It came without warning but the wiper arm has flicked upwards and right off the edge windscreen and is now stuck in the vertical position on my side, I can’t see a thing, it is hammering it down, hardly any visibility, it’s a dark grey day, Cathy is guiding me verbally I quickly but safely slowed down, I cant see a thing! pulled in towards the kerb, trying to keep calm  hazards on, flicking my brake lights on and off, and pulled to a stop as safe as could with Cathys guidance right over as far as I can without sinking in the grass verge. Quickly decided to move slowly forwards at 5mph looking for a safer place to pull off, found a junction with turn off on my left in 5 mins, that was a scary 5 mins as the other vehicle thunder past us, pulled in and parked in safe spot. Breathed out slowly and composed ourselves.

I assess the problem, the grooves in the arm are smoothed out and there is no grip on the motor spindle. Ok let’s call the Breakdown recovery , oops there is no mobile signal here and there are no house or buildings near us, hoping to use a landline. I get my GPS coordinates from the Sat Nav and get the map out, right ok now I know where I am. Off I go to find a mobile signal spot with my info, there is a weak signal, one bar, but it is on the edge of the busy A7 road. I make the call, and it turns in to a fiasco, the operator couldn’t find my position with the junction numbers, town names, road name, signal keeps dropping in and out, can I give you the GPS coordinates, that will make everybody’s job easier, no she said sternly we can’t take them, it’s no use to me, our system doesn’t allow it! What? I was astonished, for a breakdown company surely that’s not true? So I literally have to direct them verbally using their screen from Carlisle while I visualise the road map and describe my location. I describe the problem that the arm has sheared, and a new wiper arm is needed not a wiper blade, have you got all that, yes I have came the reply.

Ok, its sorted, someone will be there in one hour. I go back to the van, after 10 minutes I go back outside & I see a missed call, so up to the road to call them back, it’s the AA van man, where are you exactly because the info I’ve got isn’t right, and it’s a wiper blade you need isn’t it, noooooo, really it’s so annoying, start over again with the AA van man, oh he says, that’s not what I was told. He said he would be there soon, I asked if he wanted the GPS coordinates & he said that’s brilliant, yes please!

75 minutes later he found us, a quick hello and he makes a temporary repair, removed the existing arm, cleaned up the spindle, put a different size washer on and puts it back together, using liquid metal, it’s like a sort of putty for metal that is pliable for a short while and then hardens. Waited 30 minutes for it to harden, tested the arm, it is holding and working ok, so off we go home.

Home at 6pm what an exhausting day that was!

Dave