A gale in Galloway!

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

On the first day of our short break in Newton Stewart last December we planned a walk round the Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point. Our guidebook describes it as a “dramatic windswept headland” which it certainly is. When we got out of the car at the lighthouse at its tip we could barely stand up. We turned right at the sign above to take a circular route to the lighthouse and made it as far as the first corner which we literally could not turn. We were blown right back.

We managed to get to the lighthouse (built by Robert Stevenson in 1828 and now automated) by a more direct route. I’m not sure that the gallery above gives any impression of how wild it actually was. We were certainly amused by the sign on the small visitor centre inviting us to come in out of the “breeze”.

Back at the car, we abandoned the rest of the walk and decided to head for Portpatrick instead. Plenty of wild sea on show here!

We had lunch and enjoyed a wander round the pretty village. The green house with the quirky outdoor decorations, Smuggler’s Cove, had a donation pot for the upkeep of the harbour which is run by a charitable Community Benefit Society.

Daylight was fading as we left, but we made one last call before going back to our hotel, Stranraer. The only other time we have been there was about 30 years ago for what we still remember as the best wedding ever. Although that day’s happy couple has long since divorced, the North West Castle Hotel where the reception was held is still there. At the time, Stranraer was a busy ferry port connecting Scotland with Northern Ireland, but in 2011 this business moved a few miles away to Cairnryan. There’s a lot of desolate space along the waterfront now, though some parts of the port are still in use.

The town was decked out in its Christmas decorations. The local crafters had been busy.

The Castle of St. John is a medieval tower house, built around 1500, and the Old Town Hall, built in 1776, now houses the Stranraer Museum.

We weren’t sure at the time what the rusty structure below was, but subsequent research tells me it is Blind Johnnie’s Monument.  John Alexander played street music on the recorder or his squeeze box, both of which are now in the Museum. He died at the age of 70 in 1905, and when in 2012 Stranraer residents were given their say on which character from the town’s history should be selected for a new piece of artwork they chose him. Opinion is apparently divided but I like it now that I can see what it is.

By this time it was fully dark and time to head back to Newton Stewart to prepare for dinner. We were cold and ready for some good food and drink!