We said goodbye to Kippford on Wednesday 29th March. Having packed the van there seemed little point in prolonging the agony. We turned Vincent towards the Galloway Forest Park and went to visit with the Red Deer. Mother Nature ensured that the weather was absolutely as bad as the last time that we visited, though perhaps a touch warmer this time.
On Thursday we drove over to Glentrool, where Nell and Mr Snail enjoyed the full circular walk around the loch in the rain. I had things to do, so did them and then walked out in the opposite direction to meet the walkers on their return. It was a misty landscape by then, a little less than wet.
We were due to catch a 7:00 am ferry on Saturday morning at Ardrossan so travelled over to the West coast on Friday with the intention of finding a stopover close to the ferry port.
There was much wincing as we travelled over some extremely poor road surfaces on our way but the rain had finally ceased and the sun was shining for the most part. We drove through Barrhill (where we had once tried to buy a house), played a little in Girvan, and then went into Ayr for a spot of Tesco action so that we would be fully supplied on Arran.
I dislike Ayr. It is not just a dump, there are also personal factors that prevent me from feeling comfortable when in Ayr. I was happy to move on.
Armed with a list of potential wilding spots in both South and North Ayrshire, we headed for the most favoured first and found it barred to us. The next best on our list also had height bars and the situation was repeated. We drove as far as West Kilbride, then headed backwards to look at other potential spots. Height bars were everywhere.
Finally we called in at a hotel in West Kilbride. We had previously emailed the Waterside Hotel with an enquiry but, having had no reply, Mr Snail was sceptical regarding our chances. It turned out that we were made very welcome with no difficulties at all, despite the fact that a wedding was in progress. We ate well from the Light Menu (£15.95 for three courses, £13.95 for two), then returned to the car park sandwiched between the sea and the busy main road.
We managed to sleep okay and were up at 05:30 and away to the ferry queue at Ardrossan, a few minutes back down the road.The ferry crossing was smooth and untroublesome. Being a Saturday the boat was teeming with walkers, cyclists and early season holidaymakers. We berthed at 08:00 and Mr Snail was somewhat taken aback to find that we could not park along the front at Brodick.
We had much time to kill until checking in at the campsite so it was fortunate that we found space in the car park behind the Co-op and were able to make a late breakfast and then walk Nell on the coastal path. Our plan was to exercise our National Trust membership cards at Brodick Castle but we had to wait until 09:30 to do that.
On our walk I found this pretty flower but could not understand why it was flowering so early nor why it had solitary flowers on what appeared to be a raspberry or blackberry plant…
We took a tour of the village and found a couple of good shops.
We purchased postcards, sweets, a newspaper and a paint by numbers set from the proper old-fashioned stationers-cum-bookshop and chocolates from the chocolate shop but resisted the prodigious sausage rolls at the bakery.
Goat Fell was looking magnificent under drifting low cloud but that cloud soon brought some rain with it. Luckily it did not last long and the sun was out again by the time that we were ready to explore the garden at Brodick, where we were the first visitors of the year. The site had only opened for the year just eleven minutes before we walked in.
I took many photographs and many of them were appalling. Also, I found more of the mysterious bramble plants.
Googling has come up with a surprising result on the brambles. I think that these may be a North American species, the Salmonberry. The fact that this escapee from cultivation is also called the Arran Raspberry is, I think, the clincher. First noted in Sannox in the 19th Century but not by me until the 21st!(http://www.nonnativespecies.org/factsheet/factsheet.cfm?speciesId=3058)
Although the site was only just opened, a tour of the garden showed that many of the Rhododendrons had already been and gone for this season.
Of course many remained to be enjoyed, along with the Magnolias and Camellias.
The Castle building is closed for this season but we were content to roam the woodland garden and admire the Rhodies.
And now, to the important bit… the Tea Room. Scone for me, Paradise Slice for him. Both declared to be average. The coffee was sub-par.
Further adventures as soon as we have Internet and EHU again.