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The Galloway Forest Park has a couple of forest roads that are open to cars in the summer months. We took a trip along the “Raider’s Road” in September. It goes for about 10 miles from near Mossdale/Loch Ken through the Galloway Forest to emerge near Clatteringshaws Loch and visitor centre. There are a number of places to stop off and take a walk or enjoy the views. At Stroan Loch, there is a viaduct from the disused railway line that used to run from Castle Douglas to Portpatrick and Stranraer. Here’s a picture looking through the viaduct towards Stroan Loch and Cairn Edward Hill
A wider view of the loch with Cairnsmore of Dee in the background.
Further along the road is the “Otter Pool”, where the Black Water of Dee flows over a series of granite ledges. A good place for a lunch stop.
Here’s the otter, keeping an eye on the pool.
Close to the Otter Pool, we found quite a few specimens of this large, black fungus. We think it was probably Craterellus cornucopioides
There is a set of Rosnes Benches near the Otter Pool. Here are Gabrielle and Betty, trying out one of them.
Close to the western end of the Raider’s Road there is an earthwork called “the Labyrinth”. It’s about 50 feet in diameter and consists of a winding path leading to a central point where it looks like there used to be some kind of fountain or water feature that fed into the channels between the raised walkways.
We had a house full of visitors one weekend in August and it was a good opportunity to get out the whole fleet of kayaks for a paddle around the bay.
Stephen and Harvey in the double kayak along with a small flock of gulls.
Gabrielle with Philip and a very pregnant Laura paddling along the coast towards Corseyard.
Philip in among the rocks at Rumblekirn.
After a couple of years, some of the plants are getting quite well established. The Inula hookeri is turning into a bit of a thug and is taking over the end of one of the beds. Here are a couple of pictures of the flowers. This is the bud as it opens.
And here’s the flower fully open.
The rockery bed is filling out nicely and we’ll have to start thinking about moving and thinning out a few plants next year.
Down in the lower garden the steep slope that was infested with nettles and brambles has been dug over and contained between some dry stone walls. The upper wall is still being worked on but we have finally been able to plant out a few plants that have been sitting around in pots since we brought them down from Aberdeen.
Wine o’ Clock has been taking place most Friday evenings through the year but it’s good to be able to venture outdoors now that we have a taste of summer weather. There are still a few fleece jackets in evidence but some hardy souls are in short sleeves.
We had a trip to the deep south and one of the highlights was a visit to the amazing gardens at Great Dixter, near Hastings. Here are a couple of pictures of the riotous planting there:
Kirkcudbright was visited by the Kelpies in July and August. These are models of the enormous ones that are installed near Falkirk but they fitted well with the scale of Kirkcudbright harbour.
Following on from the wine-tasting in June, we had a seashore wildlife walk in July, led by local naturalist Jim Logan as another fund-raiser for Kirkandrews Kirk. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious on the day but a small band of hardy souls ventured out into Kirkandrews Bay and discovered a range of interesting shells and marine creatures. Here’s Jim identifying a specimen for Howard.
The fruit patch started to produce in July. Here’s a selection of some of the goodies. We had good crops of gooseberries, blackcurrants and raspberries. The freezer will be busy for the rest of the year! Unfortunately we did not do very well with our vegetables this year. It was quite cold back in April when we planted seeds and many failed to germinate. We should have crops of the basics such as potatoes, onions and leeks though.
We also started to develop some more decorative beds in the middle section of the garden. It’s a bit more sheltered down there so we hope to be able to raise some plants that would not survive up at the top, windswept area of the garden. Here’s the first bed that we have dug out. The sycamore stumps that were in this area have mostly rotted away now so we should be able to get on with some planting soon. This area is heavily infested with persistent weeds such as couch grass, nettles and ground elder so it will require a lot of weeding until we have got them under control.
In early June we held a wine tasting fund-raiser in the wee kirk at Kirkandrews. The event was very well attended, helped enormously by the provision of a mini-bus to transport people from and back to Kirkcudbright. Twelve wines were sampled in a blind tasting quiz format although after the first six most people just seemed to be happy to enjoy the drinking part! Members of the kirk trust provided tasty snacks to accompany the wines and the event raised a few hundred pounds to assist with the ongoing repairs and maintenance of the kirk.
We had a day trip over to Portpatrick, near Stranraer, to meet our friends Hilary and Jonathan who had sailed over from Largs via Northern Ireland. Portpatrick is probably the most scenic harbour village in Dumfries & Galloway and has some good harbour-side pubs and restaurants too. Here’s the view across the harbour towards the Crown Hotel where we enjoyed an excellent meal and some tasty local beer. The Crown is the black and white building just right of the blue building on the far side of the harbour.
The latest stonework project in the garden is the creation of a retaining wall at the top of the cliff in the lower section of the garden. This will hopefully avoid the soil from higher up washing down the cliff face into the lower section. Now the wall is in place we can start creating the bed along the bottom of the south-facing wall which will hopefully be a nice warm location for growing a few of the more tender plants.