The road from Culzean continues close to the coast and unusually is a relatively fast one. We tried to visit Maidens for the beach but the only parking had a height barrier so we continued on, passing quickly through Turnberry, one of Trump’s resorts and as garish and ugly as you would imagine. Girvan was in contrast earthy and rather run down but we did manage a beach stop there.
At Lendalfoot we stopped to explore the monument to the Russian ship Varyag, a ship with a complex and chequered history. She was launched in 1899 and was assigned to the Russian Navy but was sunk by her crew rather than surrender to the Japanese in 1904. Later raised by the Japanese, she was renamed Soya and served with the Japanese Navy before being sold back to the Russians to serve in WW1. The Russian revolution put paid to that and she ended up in the Royal Navy but she ran aground near Lendalfoot.
From there we continued to Stranraer and onto the Rhins of Galloway, the most south-westerly peninsular in Scotland. Exploring this peninsular was fascinating. It is very agricultural with mainly beef cattle and many small roads that went literally nowhere! It was also where we were introduced to the concept of single track roads with no passing places – I was glad we weren’t visiting in peak season!
Portpatrick on the far west coast was a pretty harbour with a lighthouse but the highlight was the Mull of Galloway, the most southerly point in Scotland, also known as Scotland’s Lands End.
It was late afternoon by the time we reached there and the winds were picking up, adding to the bleak beauty of the place. Steep cliffs and fabulous views over Cumbria, Ireland and the Isle of Man on a good day. The lighthouse stands dramatically on the cliff top. It is also an RSPB centre with colonies of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes, though they had all gone to warmer places by the time we visited.
We were ushered into the centre though by a very sweet and enthusiastic volunteer called Douggie who made a big fuss of Otter and Martha, chatted about the place and our trip and, eventually, rather tentatively, asked if I’d ever considered joining the RSPB. I had and I did, happily. After all, I am undertaking a trip with a fairly big carbon footprint so supporting an organisation committed to protecting the environment was the least I could do. And, as Douggie pointed out, I would be passing through many RSPB reserves on my travels!
Once duly signed up, we left and went back to the van, intending to stay over at the Mull. The sunset was beautiful and I was looking forward to be up there at dawn. But by 10.30pm the winds were so strong that the van was rocking and being so exposed felt quite scary, so we headed down the hill to another, slightly more sheltered park up at Port Logan for the rest if the night!