A very strange thing happened on Thursday. Or rather, to be exact, a very normal thing didn't happen. It didn't rain all day. It would turn out to be the only day during our holiday when there wasn't any precipitation at all. Fortunately, the weather prophets had predicted a fine day beforehand and so we were ready to take ful advantage of it. As we had been previously restricted to the coastal regions of Ayrshire in the main because they were slightly drier than the hills we took advantage of the better weather to head inland to the hills of Galloway Forrest.
On the way we stopped to pick up some lunch in the former mining village of Dalmellington. It was very depressing. Once it had been a thriving town with people moving to it from all over the British Isles to work in the deep mines of the area around it. We even found a derelict Newcastle Building Society office, an oddity in rural Scotland which obviously had been there for the many Geordie miners who moved to the town to find work. However, the closure of the railway in the 1964 and then the mines in the late 1970s turned Dalmellington into the town with the highest unemployment in Scotland. Even now that legacy lingers. Around the market square the out of work sat looking totally bored and pissed off with life. It's such a shame as the people we spoke to in the shops were very friendly, very helpful people. I live in a former mining village in a region that was laid waste by Margaret Thatcher and her lackeys, the British "we're just following orders" police force. But nowhere in England is as remote as the ex-mining villages of the Scottish uplands. You can catch a bus from my village into Newcastle or Sunderland or Durham to look for work. The people of Dalmellington looked stranded and forgotten.
After lunch we drove a little further to Loch Doon. We had a cup of coffee (peppermint tea for Mrs MP) at a lovely little tea shop in the middle of nowhere. I then went to look around the ruins of Doon Castle.
The castle goes back to 1306 and it played a pivotal role in the wars of independence. It was designed and built by Sir Christopher Seton, brother-in-law of Robert Bruce, King of Scots, and he met a sad end at the hands of the English when the castle was captured some time after the battle of Methven in 1306.
The masonry work is of an extremely high quality considering it was a small, remote, provincial castle.
However, things are not exactly what they seem. The castle was originally built on an island in the loch. In 1935/6 the water level in the loch was raised when they built a hydro-electric dam at the north end so the castle was moved, stone by stone, to its present location on the bank nearby.
We then took the forestry road, a bumpy journey, across the hills and passed other lochs to the Newton Stewart / Strainton Road...
... and then back to the coast to have wander on the beach at Maidens.
Maidens is a fishing village at the southern end of Maidenhead Bay 2 miles north of Turnberry and 5 miles west of Maybole. The village retains an old world air of peace and tranquility and is a favourite spot for artists and camera enthusiasts. It was at Maidens that Robert the Bruce landed when he sailed from Rathlin Island.
Mrs MP and the girls went for a paddle. I would have loved to have joined them, of course, but somebody had to taske the photos and keep the camera dry. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Views from our caravan site.