Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Scotland + Northern England

New Abbey, Caerlaverock

Friday September 12th

the Twelve (?) Apostles
We had breakfast in our B&B, took a look at Moffat's woolen shops, sent off some postcards, then headed for Dumfries. There we went looking for some standing stones to the north called "the Twelve Apostles", which we only knew about from a symbol on our road map. After some wandering we found them, but they weren't that exciting - certainly nothing compared to the Orkney standing stones we were to see later on the trip. And Jenny thought the sheep wandering around them had foot-and-mouth disease.
To find the Twelve Apostles, head north from Dumfries on the A76, turn left onto the B729, then take the first lane left and look for a sign on the lefthand fence.

We drove back through Dumfries without stopping, to New Abbey on the Firth of Nith. Sweetheart Abbey is very much like the border abbeys, a ruin set on billiard table quality green grass. Much more interesting to us was the New Abbey Mill, which is still-functional - we watched a documentary on the history of the mill and looked over the machinery and the wheel. (Both the abbey and the mill are managed by Historic Scotland.)

Sweetheart abbey
New Abbey Mill wheel
inside New Abbey mill

fast tides in the Firth of Nith
Caerlaverock castle
Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre
To reach the other side of the Firth of Nith we had to go all the way north to Dumfries and then back south. We stopped for lunch at the Nith Hotel in Glencape, with good views over the Firth, watching the tide come in -- very fast.

Caerlaverock is a small but attractive triangular castle, with a nice big moat (yet another Historic Scotland property). There's not that much to see -- there's a dramatised siege video and a trebuchet, as well as the castle -- but you can do a short walk through the woods to the site of an earlier castle. Apparently the badgers dig up the grass lawns around the castle at night.

Next stop was the Caerlaverock Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre. This is a large complex of wetlands and fields, with nicely set up hides. It was not peak season -- there were maybe half a dozen other visitors -- and we didn't get to see the tens of thousands of Barnacle geese that overwinter. But there were an impressive number of ducks, swans (Whooper and Mute), and other geese (Canada and Greylag). Walking along a lane and having scores of geese fly overhead within metres was pretty amazing - it reminded me very much of the film Winged Migration (aka Travelling Birds).

the Ruthwell Cross
We stopped to see the Ruthwell Cross - we had to hunt down the woman with the key to get into the church - on the way to Carlisle, where we dropped Thomas off at the station. We then pushed on to Keswick in the Lake District.

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