Expedition Base Camp

We rolled up at Glentrool camping site about 5pm and settled in. I felt immediately comfortable here. By 5,55pm I had popped into the reception and booked another night. This site was taken over in 2014 and totally revamped with a lot of thought and planning put into the design and layout.

The hard standing pitches are massive, able to take the largest motor homes. The tent pitches don’t have vehicular access which makes for a safe camping area

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The toilet facilities are first class

Fran and Jen the enthusiastic owners have invested a lot of work and effort into the site. It makes for an extremely pleasant stop over.

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It gained the nickname Expedition Base Camp due to it location in the Forest area, being ideal for trips out to explore.

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We were by standing water and the forest, so it wasn’t long before the Scottish midge made an appearance as dusk fell. Luckily it was early in the season, so the numbers weren’t great, but enough to cut short Rubies evening sniff around the dog walking area.

Next morning we set off towards Newton Stewart again as the E/knitter needed another ball of wool for my hat (I must have a big head).

I believe there had been a technical problem with the project the day before and there had been a lot of muttering under the breath as it had to be unravelled for the second time. I have learnt over the years not to ask and keep very quiet during these times of knitters stress.

With sufficient supplies of wool to last the trip we continued down through Creetown where I was forced to stop at a Tesco store, much to my disgust, as we needed food supplies.

Back on to the A75 were we turned off towards Brighouse Bay. We stopped at a small car park with access to the beach, had lunch and ambled along the sand with Ruby making friends with every dog in sight.

brigport

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Later back on the road, the sign for Castle Douglas came into view, so we made a detour to drive through the small town, then onwards to our campsite at Glentrool for our last night there.

The morning starts were getting lazy and slow. Having lost track of the days we realised that it was Friday and we needed to start travelling in a homeward direction.

 

Dubs in the Middle

This trip is out of sync with my other posts as it happened today. Normal service will be resumed.

They never tell you when you’re a teenager that when you become, shall we say “more mature” that although your body is sagging and aching, inside your head there is still an eighteen year old trying to get out.

Well they probably did tell us, but when your eighteen you never think your going to grow old.

We decided to release our younger selves and go party. Saturday morning and we drove Puffin up to the posh end of town pulling up outside the house we affectionately know as the “Crazy Shack”. We were picking up our feral daughter and our equally feral granddaughter.

The sounds were blasting from the camper stereo as we started our family road trip. Fifteen minutes later we pulled in to our destination.

http://dubsinthemiddle.co.uk/

Yes, we were getting down with the kids at our first ever VW festival and virtually on our doorstep. This was a day visit to break us in to festival life gently.

The Dubs in the Middle VW Festival at Evesham

We took the posse of younger people with us just in case we were turned away at the gate for being too old.

My first wrist band

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The vast array of VW vehicles kept me busy while the rest of the gang bought various items of clothing from the trade stands.

Toyota engined Doka Bay

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Toyota Engine

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Splitty with barn side doors

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Immaculate Beetle engine

bug engine

There was a Foam pit, but sadly only for the little ones.

Live bands were playing in the two Marquees.

One of the advantages of taking a campervan to a festival is being able to have a cup of tea, a piece of homemade cake and an afternoon nap to rest our weary bones before we party on with the kids later.

Unfortunately, early evening and our energy levels started to wane and we took the unanimous decision to head home.

Sadly the Extreme knitter and I would have to miss one thing we wanted to experience as it didn’t start until 11pm. “The Silent Disco”

I found the concept of the silent disco fascinating. I presume my younger reader will know all about it, but for the more elderly reader I will explain. You walk into a marquee with a mass of writhing bodies, strutting their stuff on the dance floor and the DJ is spinning his sounds, but the room is silent. Everyone is wearing a pair headphones that connect them via Bluetooth to the sound system. Not only that there are three separate channels, so you could be dancing to Abba, your partner might be jiving to Buddy Holly and your drunken mate would be head banging to AC/DC. How weird is that.

If this technology had existed back in the fifties it could have caused problems. Imagine asking your date for the evening to step up onto the Tower dance floor at Blackpool. Headphones on and your date selects the tango and you select the waltz.

I think the gang enjoyed the day

feral kids and e knitter

We all highly recommended The Dubs in the Middle Festival. We could have rolled up at the 8am start and stopped until midnight all for £5 with loads of entertainment, food, shopping and loads of cool VWs to swoon over.

Sunday Lunch under pressure

Camping cook books always seem to be one pot dishes like stew, curry or chilli. I have been known to like my food and I must admit to being a meat and two veg man. Cooking a meal that was equivalent to a Sunday roast lunch in a campervan with only two gas burners and a grill was going be a challenge.

Stepping forward to save the day is our trusty Hawkins pressure cooker.

We have used the 2 litre capacity cooker for sometime now and it has proved to be invaluable.

https://escaperoutetales.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-pressures-on/

The evening meal we were preparing was Beef Brisket, Minted potatoes, mixed vegetables with a rich beef/onion gravy.

The small brisket joint (800grams was about the maximum size that could fit in the pressure cooker) that I bought from Morrisons was seared and browned in the Boaty frying pan.

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Looking and smelling suitably ready the joint was placed in the pressure cooker with onions, stock cube and water. It was cooked for 40 minutes on a very low flame, then allowed to depressurise in its own time.

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It was removed and left to rest.

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The new potatoes were cooked in the pressure cooker taking 5 minutes on a low flame while the vegetables were cooked in a small saucepan. The potatoes were coated in butter with mint sauce and the beef stock made gorgeous rich gravy. The Brisket was so tasty and succulent it just pulled apart. I had the last of the Bacardi & coke that I had saved especially for this meal.

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The down side was that it produced a lot of washing up with three pans to clean, but as there was a pot wash area on site it wasn’t a problem.

You don’t have to rough it in a campervan.

North Rhinnes

With Balloch O Dee camp site behind us we continued our travels heading towards Stranraer using the pretty route taking in as much of the scenery as we could. The road sign for Wigtown loomed into view. We couldn’t pass by Scotland’s equivalent to Hay on Wye without wandering around the second hand book shops and a very pleasant town it is.

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I spotted a sign for the harbour and off we went.

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The harbour was a large parking area with a launching ramp and several boat moorings. This would have made a good place for an overnight stopover, but we hadn’t long left our previous night camp.

The coastal road took us through many small villages and towns. Our propane gas bottle had run out the night before, so we stopped at Whithorn on the way for a refill. The ladies in the shop suggested lots of places to see and various camp sites. They told me that a famous actor was being filmed at Port Patrick for a Hollywood movie. Gerard Butler or somebody, I have no idea.

We were soon entering Stranraer and the sign for my favourite supermarket appeared.

I    heart-29328_960_720  Morrisons.

We refuelled with several litres of Morrison’s finest diesel and stocked up the depleted fridge and food cupboards. I purchased a small joint of Beef brisket for our evening meal.

We had a joint of brisket in the freezer at home especially to bring with us, but I forgot it. Never mind I had £25 worth of Morrisons vouchers, so the £36 shopping bill only cost £11 in hard cash. I love a bargain me.

We gained a phone signal and wifi in the car park, so I called to book a camping pitch for the night.

We were lucky with the weather and the campsites that we picked. North Rhinns camp site in Leswalt is a small site that takes many tents and a maximum of three campervans below 6 metres long.

http://www.northrhinnscamping.co.uk/

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The excellent facilities are housed in a building beside the gate, consisting of two toilets, one large shower room and pot washing sinks.

The site has individual tent pitches and Camping pods that are surrounded by trees and bushes giving each one some privacy.

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Quite a unique site and highly recommended.

We cooked our experimental Sunday lunch even though it was Tuesday evening. (I’ll do a separate post on the results).

Port Logan breakwater

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A lazy start to the day and toast for breakfast we were hitting the open road again.   Port Logan and Port Patrick bound this time as the E/knitter wanted to see the Hollywood Film star. Unfortunately the filming had long gone leaving just a few fishermen. Never mind, onward to Stranraer for some retail therapy to pacify her disappointment.

I was last here 25 years ago taking a lorry load of machinery on the ferry to Belfast then on to Londonderry. It didn’t make much of an impression at the time, but the ferry has stopped using the port and Stranraer in the sunshine appeared to be a busy and thriving town.

Whilst I had a phone signal in Stranraer, I phoned the next camp site on my list of possibles and I booked a pitch at Glentrool campsite back up in to the Galloway forest.

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The drive up to Glen Trool took us past The Cocoa Bean chocolate company at Twynholm. The E/Knitter volunteered to investigate while Ruby and I sat outside dreaming of chocolate. A few minutes later she returned empty handed. Apparently a single Chocolate was £3 . I’m known to be quite flipant when it comes to parting with money, but I can buy a pack of four Mars bars from Morrisons for £1.

 

 

A brief return to civilisation

Back on the road again following our overnight stop in the forest.

http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest-parks/galloway-forest-park/raiders-road-forest-drive

We stopped at the Glen bar view point then travelled to Newton Stewart. By now we were peckish. We came across a small Italian café that allowed dogs, so in we went and devoured soup and steak rolls.

The Extreme knitter was showing signs of lack of wool fatigue, so Ruby and I returned to the campervan and had a short nap while the E/knitter found a wool shop and passed away an hour or two in woollen heaven. Low and behold she returned with a bag of wool to knit me a hat.

Yes!!!! Me, a hat.

I know. I couldn’t believe it either especially as this was the hottest day yet.

We were able to access mobile phone and wifi signals in the car park for the first time this trip.

After a quick phone call I managed to get a pitch on the Balloch O’Dee campsite not far from Newton Stewart. Following the long single track road, we arrived at the campsite. First impressions were rustic and comfortable with ponies and chickens roaming around. No printed rules and camp fires welcome.

http://www.ballochodee.com/home/4553037475

We had spent the last three nights with limited facilities and we needed to clean up, so the hot showers were a welcome treat.

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It was strange camping on a busy site again after our solitary three days. This site is popular with people returning time and time again and we could see why. Some sites may have superior facilities, but this one feels right. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it has something magical about it.

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We all enjoyed staying here, even Ruby who was desperate to make friends with the pony.

Every September they hold  a music festival on site.

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Like a night in the Forest

After leaving Castle corner caravan site we headed into the Galloway forest area on the A712. Along this road are various stop offs, like the deer park, the goat park, Bruces stone and the visitors centre.

The Goat Park

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I eventually turned off the A712 on to a dirt track. Two miles along the track is the payment machine and after paying our £2 fee we were driving “The Raiders road”, basically 10 miles of forestry track.

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Halfway along the track is Otters Pool with a toilet and parking area. This was to be our overnight stop for the night, but it was teeming with day visitors who departed about 5pm, leaving behind the remains of their picnics, litter and broken chairs. There was a group of lads who were camping out in a tent with a large fire. It was obvious that they were there to party the night away, so we decided to move on further along the Raiders road and found a car park at the end of Stroan Loch.

Otters Pool

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It’s a shame that Otters Pool is so neglected and the main culprits are the locals. It will eventually lead to camping restrictions like the ones being enforced in the Loch Lomond area. (sorry, rant over)

The Otter statue and Ruby

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We were alone in the parking area at Stroan Loch and the sun was setting  across the Loch. The forest area is a designated dark skies area and as night fell I scanned the sky, but unfortunately the clouds blocked my view of any stars or galaxies.

The sunset over the Loch

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Sunset on Loch Stroan

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We woke to find an eerie mist sitting on the water. All was quiet as the road doesn’t open for visitors until 9am. Two red kites circled above the Loch and a couple of walkers stopped to have a chat. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

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It’s good that we are comfortable to rock up in a pitch black forest, miles from anywhere without any radio, TV, internet or phone signal and have a peaceful nights sleep. We have an agreement that if either of us feels uncomfortable with an overnight stop, we will move on to find somewhere else.

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Puffin covered in dust from the track

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We seem to have fallen into the habit of having a lazy start to our days, just being, without any pressing commitments. It was getting near midday when we pulled on to the forest track to continue our journey, so it came as a surprise that I had to brake hard to avoid an owl that swooped down in front of the campervan.

The forest area is amazing and well worth a visit despite the minority of inconsiderate visitors.

 

Castle Corner Campsite

The campervan wheels are rolling again. After our visit last year to Arran we said we would give Scotland a miss this year as we always seem to be returning year on year.

We set off northwards towards the Scottish border. Obviously that memo wasn’t read.

Dumfries and Galloway Forest was our destination which is only just in Scotland.

Last year we passed through here on our way to catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran. After a little research it was apparent that we had missed so much that the area could give.

Our first night was spent at Castle Corner campsite, Caerlaverock. We stayed here last year as an overnight stop before catching the ferry to Arran.

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It is a five pitch site used by the Motor caravan club, but open to non-members. It is a gem of a hide away, situated beside the nature reserve and within a short walk to Caerlaverock castle.

http://castlecorner.wixsite.com/castle-corner

Based on the popular German Stellplatz design, the pitches are spacious, each provided with a picnic table. The fresh water, waste water and chemical toilet disposal point is situated near the gateway. A single toilet/wash basin is provided in a log cabin, which is kept clean and inspected on a regular basis.

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Once we had settled in we decided to walk through the nature reserve to the nearby 13th century Caerlaverock castle.

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The castle is triangular in shape surround by a moat and run by Historic Scotland.

caerlaverock castle

Library Photo

After the long drive to get here and the walk to the castle we were exhausted, so we returned to the campervan for our evening meal.

We like to live dangerously and tackle change head on. Our first night meal of the usual meatballs and pasta in a homemade tomato sauce was replaced with a healthy option of chicken salad with minted Jersey potatoes. Like a walk on the wild side.

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Castle Corner has calming, lay back effect, so we booked an extra night and took time to recover from the road trip to get here.

A full English breakfast started the day. After a leisurely tidy up and taking ruby for a short walk we drove to Dumfries for a wander around the town. As usual Ruby and I stood outside many shops chatting to Ruby’s many admirers. Dumfries is a bustling town with many well looked after Parks.

Robert Burns in Dumfries

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Next stop was Morrison’s, where we bought a cooked pork hock joint and some crusty bread rolls, restocked the fridge and food cupboard with goodies.

We drove down to the car park beside the River Nith and had our lunch while watching the world go by.

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We headed back to the campsite after having a drive around the surrounding area.

We had a lazy start to the Sunday morning and packed our gear away.

Sad to leave such a peaceful campsite were we are guaranteed a warm welcome, but we will be back again. Definitely recommended as a must visit campsite when in the area.

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