How to Get Lost in Scotland

The Southern Highlands of southwest Scotland are both impressive and beautiful. "Lowlands" don't create waterfalls like these between Thornhill and Moniaive on Highway A 702.

Years ago my father told me that our family came from southwestern Scotland. I was mildly disgruntled. It would make me a Lowland Scot. I wanted to be a Highland Scot, a man of the mountains.

I have just completed a tour of southwest Scotland and I’ve changed my mind. The Southern Highlands produce some quite respectable mountains, or at least high hills, thank you very much.

And the whole area is beautiful.

We started our tour with a day in Edinburgh. Peggy and I, along with her sister Jane and husband Jim, took the train up from Long Eaton, England where we had just completed the narrow boat tour on the Trent and Mersey Canal I wrote about in my last blog.

While Peggy, Jane and Jim explored the city, I worked out our tentative Scotland itinerary. Having travelled a lot, I like to keep my plans flexible. Opportunity may knock.

While I worked on planning our itinerary, Peggy, Jim and Jane did a tour of Edinburgh. This was their tour bus. Could it be more garish?

Edinburg has a lot to offer in sights, however, as this view of Edinburgh Castle suggests.

A cannon view of the Walter Scott Monument looking down from Edinburgh Castle. The writer Walter Scott and poet Robert Burns are highly honored as national heroes in Scotland.

A final view of Edinburgh looking up toward the Nelson Monument (on the left) from Waverley Station. We took the photo while picking up our rental car. Not many parking lots can claim such scenery.

The next day was a parting of the ways. We taxied together to Waverly Station where Jane and Jim had booked a train to London and Peggy and I had reserved a rental car. Quite to our surprise, the rental agency had upgraded us to a brand new Mercedes with a total of two miles on the odometer.

Peggy behind the wheel of our brand new Mercedes rental car. Note both hands grip the steering wheel and Peggy looks slightly wild-eyed as she chants her Scotland driving mantra... left, left, left.

New car or not, I do not recommend left-hand-side-of-the-road driver training in Edinburgh. To start with, the traffic sucks (bad word but applicable). Even more irksome, street names seem to change every block or so. And then there are roundabouts to master. A wrong turn can mean serious dislocation.

Peggy was the driver and I was the navigator. I am happy to report that one of us performed like a pro. Peggy was unflappable.

I, on the other hand, had us hopelessly lost in five minutes. In my defense, the car rental agency had given us two routes out. Both were blocked by construction. By the time we managed to work around street blockades, we had gone beyond the ability of my two downtown tourist maps to save us.

All I could recommend was full speed ahead and damn the double-deckers. An hour later we actually found the road I had intended to have us on in five minutes. Ten minutes later we were admiring the countryside.

A view of the country just outside of Edinburgh on Highway A 702. The square stones in the front of the fence were likely part of/or recycled from an old structure. The yellow flowers are Scotch Broom. Appropriately, I might add. We were to see lots of it.

Our first day’s goal was the small community of Creetown on the Wigtown Bay. Google informed me the trip was 110 miles and would take 2 hours and 47 minutes. But Google hadn’t planned for my extensive tour of Edinburgh, or the detour I took out of Moniaive. I missed a jog left.

Our ample two-lane road became a narrow two-lane road and then a one-lane road with passing pullouts, and then a bumpy one-lane road filled with sheep that behaved like they hadn’t seen a car in months. Maybe they hadn’t…

These two fellows pretty much dominated our bumpy single-lane road, and wondered what we were doing on it.

While we were waiting for our two road companions to decide whether they would bother to move, I took a photo of this fluffy guy. I think he was trying to decide if he should charge.

All’s well that ends well, however. Six hours after leaving Waverly Station we arrived at our B&B in Creetown, the Ellangowan Hotel. It was time for a pint. (Next blog: How in the heck do you pronounce Kirkcudbright?)

Our first nights lodging in the small community of Creetown. Peggy was impressed by our canopy bed that featured lace curtains. I was more impressed with the bar that featured fine Scottish Ale and Indian Curry. Of special note: Most restaurants/pubs we visited in England and Scotland featured at least one Indian dish. Given my love of hot curries, I was one happy camper.

2 comments on “How to Get Lost in Scotland

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