Ah 2016, it’ll long be remembered as the year that Scotland had a summer which lasted until 10th June. Unheard of since the balmy, long summers of the 1970s. This weekend our wings have been clipped. Mr G is working and The Wee White Dug and I are spending the weekend at home mourning the passing of summer. So, I thought I’d share a trip from our Scottish travel archives with you. This one’s from April, when we enjoyed a short break in the pretty harbour town of Portpatrick.
It was a last-minute, spur of the moment trip, as many of our trips tend to be. We played a favourite game of ours – beat the weather forecast and gloat. It involves finding a tiny speck on the map of Scotland with a good weather forecast. As the rest of the country battens down the hatches for high winds, rain and snow, we sit back and wait for the barrage of woeful social media updates from our friends and family, complaining about the weather. Then we delivering our sucker punch – photos of us having a fabulous time in the sunshine. We struck gold on this trip and gloated with comments like “Is it raining in Edinburgh? Gosh, it’s beautiful here” and “SNOW in March that’s crazy. It’s sunglasses on weather where we are”.
Anyway Here are a few of the highlight from our Portpatrick trip.
En-route to Portpatrick we stopped at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire for a good walk and to explore their vast, dog friendly grounds. The castle is pronounced Kullain as in pain and not Culzeen!
In the care of the National Trust for Scotland, it’s without a doubt one of Scotland’s most striking buildings. It was a favourite of President Eisenhower, who stayed there when he visited Scotland. He was given a lifelong tenancy of an apartment in the castle by the 5th Marquis of Ailsa as a thank you for his war efforts.
The movie buffs amongst you may recognise the castle as the home of the fruitcake, Lord Summerisle from the 1973 British horror movie Wicker Man. Thankfully, there was no display of naked bonfire jumping during our visit, and if Lord Summerisle was home he didn’t make himself known to us.
After a wander around the grounds and much pleading with the Wee White Dug to pose for photos we decided to stay for lunch. We ate at the castle tearoom which is located in a sheltered courtyard. It was definitely an al fresco dining sort of day. Al fresco dining in Scotland often involves much flapping and grabbing of napkins as they’re whipped off the table in high wind, but this wasn’t one of those days. This was a calm, flap free al fresco dining experience – bliss.
Portpatrick itself is as pretty as a picture. It’s unspoiled little harbour town which clings to a cliffside around a craggy bay. On a clear day you can see Ireland across the water.
Our Portpatrick home for the night
We stayed at Dunskey Guest House, which sits on a fabulous elevated spot, overlooking the town.
We were greeted with a warm welcome by our host and guided to our rooms which were modern, comfortable and clean. The teen had decided to grace us with her presence on this trip, and as the room prices were so reasonable she got one all to herself, so we didn’t have to squeeze into a family room like The Broons on a weekend break at the But n Ben.
Eating out – The Crown Hotel, Portpatrick
The town was deserted as we wandered down to the harbour for dinner. We’d been recommended a couple of dog friendly places to eat and decided to try The Crown Hotel. Once inside we soon realised why the town was so quiet – everyone was at The Crown. It was packed to the rafters with dugs and humans. Casper settled under our table and gazed adoringly at a pair of Springer Spaniels who’d caught his eye.
I was expecting standard pub fare but I was wrong, the food was excellent. We really enjoyed our meals, including the fussy teen who rarely finishes a dish. It was high-end pub grub, and there was an extensive selection of seafood on the menu too. Good seafood is never hard to find in Scottish harbour towns.
Next morning we were up early, and out exploring with the Wee White Dug. The Teen slumbered on being incapable of functioning on anything less than 20 hours of sleep a day. It was a beautiful morning with a bright blue sky.
I’d seen a walk on the Walk Highlands website to the medieval ruins of Dunskey Castle so after pottering around town and the harbour for a bit we headed there. It was lovely and we didn’t meet another soul. The castle ruins are spectacular, perched on a cliff edge, with fantastic views out to sea. We stood and enjoyed the views a while before heading back for breakfast.
Next weekend we’re confined to town again but I’m going to give something completely new a try – whisky tasting. I’m an absolute ignoramus when it comes to whisky so when I was invited to attend Edinburgh Whisky Solstice, I jumped at the chance. It’s hosted by The Whisky Lounge in conjunction with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. If you’re in town and fancy trying your hand at whisky tasting pop along.
Anyway, the sun’s just appeared and Mr G is home from work so we’re off to our local castle, Lauriston Castle for a walk with the boy.
Until next time ……….