THE MULL OF GALLOWAY

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We spent a peaceful night in the van by the shore of Clatteringshaw Loch… quite blissful, in fact… and quiet, except for the occasional passing car on the nearby road.

In the morning, we discovered an extra bonus to the location; a chemical toilet disposal… it seems The Forestry and Land Commission of Scotland have thought of everything. Not that we needed to use the disposal facility since we were only there for one night and away for a couple, but for motorhomes touring the area, this is an absolute godsend. I should add that the only reason we hadn’t noticed it last night (apart from the pesky midge distraction) was because of a couple of large motorhomes parked at the end of the car park that hid it from us (not deliberately, of course…).

By 10am, after taking a few photographs of the loch in the morning light, we were packed and away, heading towards our next destination. It was sunny, and the drive through the park was quite spectactular – Scotland is so beautiful!

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most Southerly point. A lighthouse perched above the cliffs at the bottom end of the Rhins of Galloway peninsula and a small cafe-cum-gift shop built into the slope with a turfed-over roof is about as understated as you can get… so different to the grotesque experience awaiting visitors to Lands End.

Our plan was to walk a circular route, North along the clifftop edges, taking in Kennedy’s Cairn, a large circular construction with crazy steps up its side. While no-one seems to know its original purpose for certain, one popular theory is that it commemorates a local postman who lost his life delivering mail in a snow storm.

Just beyond West Tarbet, a small secluded bay where we stopped to eat lunch and explore the rocks by the shore, the route takes well-marked footpaths and tracks, crossing farmland to the opposite, Eastern side of the penninsula. Here, a section of the ‘Mull of Galloway Trail’, a 24-mile hiking trail starting in Stranraer, leads the walk back along the coastal paths to the lighthouse.

The full circular walk is just over 6 miles in length, which isn’t a massive distance, but parts of it, particularly along the eastern coastal section, were quite tough, and we wimped out of the final couple of miles, opting to retrace our route back to the lighthouse along the western section, where the paths were a little more user-friendly.

The weather started out sunny (as forecast by the Met Office app, that we always consult before any trip out) but turned cooler, and windier, as we went along. Choosing the easier – slightly quicker – option on the final stretch proved to be a wise choice as everything turned quite murky within minutes of returning to the van, followed by the heavens opening up in a spectacular deluge, and thunder and lightning crashing around us. It was time to move on.

One thing we noticed was just how many campervans and wild campers there were randomly pitched on the beaches of West and East Tarbet bays nearby. Such behaviour would appear to be tolerated in Scotland – either that, or the scottish just don’t take any notice of ‘no camping’ signs. Its certainly something that would be received quite differently in English coastal locations, such as the East coast, near Whitby and Scarborough, or heaven forbid, Cornwall. There would be uproar…

Having enjoyed a good walk out, we headed for our second night’s ‘wild’ stopover, about an hour’s drive away. This time, we were staying at the Visitor Centre car park in Kirroughtree Forest (another ‘Stay the Night’ location). It’s a much larger car park than the one at Clatteringshaws, and when we arrived there were probably half a dozen motorhomes and campervans already settled in for the night. Because of the car parks size, the vans were all well spaced out, making it an ideal stopover… quiet and dark (and perfect for star gazing, except by the time we got there it was still raining, and the thunderstorm appeared to have followed us…).

Here’s a map of todays walking route…

gpx file (Right-click and click on ‘Save As…’

Peter Woolley

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