Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Coals to Newcastle- can anyone help Sheila with some advice about Scotland

Coals to Newcastle- can anyone help Sheila with some advice about Scotland

Feb 6th, 2006, 11:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Coals to Newcastle- can anyone help Sheila with some advice about Scotland

Danna has convinced me. KMR and I are going for a week's holiday to a cottage in remote D&G on 24th March.

(Actually, that's a lie- we won it in a raffle )

We will be at Barnacle Cottage on the RSPB reserve at Mersehead.

It's 18 miles/29 km south-west of Dumfries on the A710 just before Caulkerbush.

Now, on the basis that we will have to chill, and we're not American, and our mad friend Helen is coming for a few days- what should we see? Where should we go?
sheila is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 02:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 331

KMR? D&G? RSPB? Anyway, you've helped so many on this board, thought I'd top this up for you so someone can return the favor.

Adn please, tell us about your mad friend Helen!
Robdaddy is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,057
Robdaddy: RSPB is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Check out www.RSPB.org

Sheila: Is it safe to assume that you don't need to be told to go birding? Are the Barnacle Geese still around in late March? We visited Caerlaverock to see them in November 2004.
Gavin is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 815

As ever the question, what do you like?
Presumably you will have seen http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/

We go to D&G often and will be a little further west a little earlier than you.

Castles (especially Caerlaverock and Threave) are good as are the abbeys. Dumfries town centre nice, also Kirkcudbright (coast near A711 good). Gatehouse a bit run down now, but nice setting.

NTS Threave Gardens interesting.

Further W we like the Machars generally, and the Rhinns of Galloway down to the Mull, less so N to Corsewall.

Good walking in Glen Trool (very easy walk on tracks/good paths from Bruce stone across to Loch Dee has feel of getting into hills). Nice gentle forest walks at Daltamie off A75 at Palnure.

Nature reserve on edge of forest at Dromore up from Gatehouse.

wasleys is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,003
Wasleys hit many of the things I would have recommended. But since you are over near Dumfries you could certainly take a day trip over (dare I say it) into England. Lanercost Priory and a bit of exploring along Hadrian's Wall would be a decent day trip.
janisj is online now  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Sorry; I sometimes assume...

My husband is KMR. I've been posting here so long that I thought EVERYONE knew that

D&G, is Dumfries and Galloway. I must say I'm very amused by this, because I'm always thinking to myself, "why do Americans not type names etc in full?!", and here am I doing the same thing.

The geese will still be there, which is why I chose this time of year, much to KMR's disgust.

I do know Undiscovered Scotland; and, indeed, The Guide to Scotland Online; and I own a slightly aging Rough Guide and Lonely Planet Guide and a bang up to date Scotland the Best.

We like birds and nature, and archaeology and history, and good food and scenery, and books and, really EVERYTHING! We'll have the dog, so will walk a fair bit, trying to stay out of the Solway mud. Wasleys, your suggestions are great. Others, please?

Janis, if we have to collect mad Helen at Carlisle station, that's as far into Englandshire as we'll go.

We really don't know the South West at all. I had one holiday in Castle Douglas when I was about 9 (which wasn't yesterday), I've been to Dumfries once for a conference, I visited Mersehead when we (RSPB we)were buying it, and we drove through and spent a night on our honeymoon 27 years ago. KMR can only sign up to the last of those.

More ideas, please?
sheila is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,800
And there was us thinking you'd found some Dolce and Gabbana that only the fashion police would know about....
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 299
As a Doonhamer born & bred who spent all of his boyhood holidays in Galloway, may I congratulate you on your choice of holiday destination. What to do? Hmm.
Some of the more obvious destinations are: New Abbey, visiting Sweetheart Abbey - if you don't know the story, I can tell you - and the old Corn Mill there is quite interesting, as is the clothing museum in Shambellie House on the outskirts towards Dumfries. the two pubs in the village centre both serve excellent food & drink.
Dumfries I guess you know, although there won't be many visitors there before Easter; all things Burns are on offer, from his house to his grave!
Heading west rather than east, there is an excellent beach at Sandyhills, just right for a windswept walk in late March, then drive on to Colvend and the Clonyard House Hotel, which has a (deservedly) renowned kitchen - nothing fancy, just guid Scots fare.
Caerlaverock is always worth a visit, but you probably know that already, and Threave Castle is nice, but it may be a bit early for the gardens there, which is a shame as they are beautiful.
Farther afield, I always enjoy the Gem Rock museum at Creetown, or you could go clattering down the Raiders Road at Clatteringshaws Loch, or how about panning for gold at Wanlockhead (a bit far, but it IS different).

Just a taster, Sheila, if you need any further info, just ask.
doonhamer is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 03:25 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
When we stayed in near Dumfries, we enjoyed finding the Andy Goldsworthy works which can be seen around his home village of Penpont. We got a map of them from the Dumfries tourist office.

We also went down to the tip of Galloway to find the remains of the Wicker Men.

Wigtown - book town.

Another town near there - supposed to be the art town. Begins with a K I think.

Portpatrick - quite pretty on a nice day. The pub on the front does nice lunches & the Fernhill Hotel does a 'lobster feast' - but I don't think you eat fish ?

The Plumed Horse at Crossmichael has a Michelin star but we weren't that impressed with it. There's another Michelin-starred place near Portpatrick but I forget the name.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 815
Caroline's art town with K will be Kirkcudbright. She also mentions Wigtown for books, it has many second hand book shops (and Bladnoch distillery + trips).

Re Archaeology. Obviously look at Historic Scotland website. Stone circle at Torhouse interesting, also crosses at Kirkmadrine, and Whithorn. Cairn Holy (E of Creetown) worth a look, also the fort at Barsalloch on A747. St Ninian's cave a wasted walk we feel. Is a clearance village at Polmaddy near Dundeugh on A713.

Re birds/country etc. Reserve at Dromore possibly worth a look, easy walk + harder one on hill. Eagles on Cairnsmore can (we have been reliably told) been seen from L Grannoch just north of here.

Nice walk from Gatehouse across hill to Anwoth, through Killiegowan Wood, up B796 (quiet), side road to Ornockenoch, follow track to Woodhead, back down B796, cross river at Rusko, Castramont Wood (deciduous explore), home.

Garlieston conservation village, Mulberry Harbours, follow shore S (Galloway Ho Gardens worth explore) to Cruggleston Castle, retrace.

Is reserve and good cliff walk at Mull. Portpatrick pleasant, cliff walk N.

Woods at Creetown (where we stop) being opened up with reasonable paths.

wasleys is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
I am truly impressed with this. Fodors is something else. Maybe I'll hang around

Any more?
sheila is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 38
If you are in Dumfries you have to visit Robert Burns home which is a museum open to the public. His grave is also in Dumfries as is a mausoleum. There was a statue of his wife Jean Armour unveiled not too long ago which is worth a visit.

If you are at all interested in books then Wigtown is great..books galore !!

Have a lovely time. I love D&G................
highland_lass is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178

Sorry - I can't give you any advice on D&G but I can't help checking this thread in the hope that one of our non-UK friends asks what the hell coals & Newcastle have to do with it!!

Are Fodorites from other parts of the world familiar with this phrase?

JJBhoy is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,338
Since Newcastle is (was?) the capital of the British coal industry, "sending coals to Newcastle" became a proverbial expression for providing something ostensibly superfluous - like Scotland advice for Sheila.
jahoulih is online now  
Feb 7th, 2006, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178

It's OK - I am familiar with the phrase. Just wasn't sure if others would be.

JJBhoy is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 340
Hello, Sheila.

Others have mentioned most of the things we found interesting in that area a few years ago, but I'll add my opinion of them (and a few extra bits).

We loved Caerlaverock Castle (once we learned to pronounce it!). The size and shape were just really interesting, and the huge trebuchet (sort of like a catapult) outside was a source of wonder to us. (We bought miniature replicas of it for my nephews who live in Las Vegas and they had a wonderful time with the whole concept.)

We ate in Dumfries, at "The Eatin' Place" - somewhere near downtown. Way too much food, nothing fancy, but what we ate was excellent. Spent 40 GBP + tip for four people. (We were there in 2002, so prices may well be out-dated.)

We wasted part of a day, in kind of a fun and weird way, by wandering around trying to find the gigantic scuptures at the Glen Kiln Reservoir. We had read about these sculptures by famous artists (Rodin, et al), but couldn't find much info on them. After wandering around for a while, another tourist pulled up beside us in a tiny (4 car) parking area and shared his map with us. (There are supposed to be maps in a little kiosk at the parking area, but they were out of them.)

The map, and the other tourist's advice, got us on the right track. It turns out that the sculptures are pretty much scattered across acres and acres of a farmer's land. Look there! Up on top of that hill, you can see a statue! And, over there! There's the King and Queen sitting side by side (with their restored heads, which were cut off by vandals).

To see some of the statues, you got to drive across the farmer's fields - opening and closing gates as you went over the muddy fields (no lane, just fields!). It was quirky and we still laugh about it (although it was nothing like we expected).

We liked the ice cream at "Cream O'Galloway," a working farm with great ice cream and light lunches, etc.

Dan (my DH) is a rock collector, so our next stop was the Creetown Gem Rock Museum. Excellent displays, if you're into that sort of thing.

Sweetheart Abbey was a great place to visit one day. My favorite part was the sign inside the foundations of one, fairly small room, which marked it as the ONLY place in the Abbey that had a fireplace. Brrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

We also visited the New Abbey Corn Mill and enjoyed our tour, although we didn't spend a lot of time there.

Directly across the street from the main building of Sweetheart Abbey was a really nice tea room, but I didn't write down it's name....with my luck, it's probably the "Sweetheart Abbey Team Room" and I'll feel foolish when someone posts it!

Behind the tea room, on our way back to the car, we saw - for the first and only time in our lives! - people lawn bowling. Fun for us poor, deprived Americans!

We also visited Threave Gardens, and really enjoyed it. I actually liked the sculptures there almost as much as I enjoyed the gardens. (No, I'm not particularly "into" sculpture...it just happened a couple of times on this trip!)

I think we're going to go back and visit Threave Gardens in May/June while we're visiting Scotland. It was really impressive in early September, so my guess is that it will be stunning in the spring. March...hmmm...I'm not so sure about that!

We were less than enamored by Wigtown. I had chosen it because of the books, obviously, but I think we just got tired of looking at them. Also, it didn't seem to me that there were all that many shops...maybe we just missed them somewhere.

Following some obviously-outdated info, we tried to visit "the dig" at Whithorn Priory. "The dig" is years old, apparently never finished, and certainly not ongoing while we were there.

LIkewise, we were a little disappointed by the Mull of Galloway because you're just too far away from the waves, as you stand high up on that cliff. Spectacular in some ways, but we just felt a little "removed" from it. Impressive view, though, of Ireland, Wales, the English Lakes District, & Wigtown Peninsula.

We also had a wonderful encounter with a sheepherder on the way back from the Mull of Galloway. A young man on an ATV flagged us down and asked us to stop. A minute of two later, a flock of sheep appeared on the narrow road and were herded into their own field while we watched the dog work. They sort of "flooded" right up to the car and then turned just a few feet in front of us.

The Kirkmadrine Stones are situated in a lovely place, a little off the beaten path, and a very short stroll down a lane that is closed to vehicles. The stones are behind glass on the back of a small church and there isn't (or wasn't) any explanation or any signage, so the only information we had was what was in our guidebook.

From that point, we headed north into Ayrshire, and then up to Skye and so forth, so I really don't have other recommendations. (I am, however, taking notes from others' posts and may incorporate more ideas into our next trip!)

Enjoy your trip, Sheila!

leonberger is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 05:52 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 143
How is the fact that you're not American related to possible suggestions for your stay at Barnacle Cottage?
katt58 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 08:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,848
This Yankee was not familiar with the "Coals to Newcastle" phrase, so thanks. I like it.

As an aside, does anyone know if we will see puffins at Skye or Stonehaven in early July?
Nelson is online now  
Feb 7th, 2006, 09:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,801

This is board with posts from predominantly US posters.

Shelia however is a Scot who gives good information to travellers to Scotland on this forum - and she's asking about Scotland.

Take this with humour (which I'm certain is Shelia's intent) or irony.

In the scheme of things - she's a local!

alya is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 10:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
You should certainly see puffins in early July.

just south of Stonehave is the RSPB reserve at Crawton, and whilst you're gtting late for breeding they should still be lurking at the clifftop (that's their breeding, I mean, not yours

Skye will be the same, but I'm less good ona specific location.
sheila is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:24 PM.