Road Trip around Scotland – Part 1: The South West

Road Trip around Scotland:  When did I go?

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to tour Scotland in a Motorhome.  Indeed one of the reasons for first building the Motorhome was to let me complete a Road Trip around Scotland!

Towards the end of 2019, the call of Scotland was greater than ever.  I blocked out four weeks during February 2020 and decided that I would finally go! 

Find out where I went and what I saw on my exciting Road Trip around Scotland!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 1 – Driving from Southern England

From home in Southern England, the border is around 400 miles away. I planned to spend the first night in Gretna Green which is the first town across the border when travelling up the M6.

Whilst the national speed limit is 70mph, I tend to drive Gadget 2 (the motorhome) at 60mph.  This is because it is considerably more economical and more stable at this speed.  Allowing for traffic, driving at 60mph and 1 hour of rest,  I had allocated 9 hours for the drive to Gretna Green.

I planned to leave early on Friday 31st January and drive all the way to Gretna Green. Unfortunately I was delayed and did not leave until late afternoon. As to be expected, Friday evening traffic was heavy and progress was slow.  Consequently, it became clear that I would be unable to drive all the way to Gretna Green on the first day. 

After only 5 hours on the road, I decided to stop for the day as it was getting late. I found a quiet area in Pontefract where I rested over night!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 2 – Arriving in Scotland!

Undeterred by the previous days progress, I got up early and hit the road at 9am. After 150 miles driving, which took around 2 1/2 hours on easy dual carriageways, I turned off the M6 onto the B7076 and drove a short distance to the small parish of Gretna Green.   Finally, I had arrived in Scotland!

Gretna Green

The border runs along the River Sark and the only indication that I had arrived was a small road sign.  100m after the sign was a convenient lay by – ideal for a quick photo and for a short stroll! Gretna Green has the usual array of shops and pretty buildings. Gretna Green is also well known as a wedding venue! Historically, England and Scotland had different marriage laws. Eloping couples were therefore able to take advantage of Scotland’s laws by marrying in the Parish.

Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve

After a short wonder through Gretna Green, it was time to hit the road once again.  I was keen to get out into nature and so headed along the A75 to the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve.  I drove along the B725 Shore Road where there were numerous lay bys. Finally, I decided to stop in one of these for the afternoon.  The location was so very quiet and I sat for a few hours at a picnic bench just admiring the view.

Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve, Road Trip around Scotland
View from the side door overlooking the reserve

After a while, I decided to fly the drone to get a perspective of the area from overhead!  It became clear that access along the Estuary was limited due to the fact that  they mainly consisted of mudflats.  Furthermore, numerous signs advised of quicksands.  For this reason, I was unable to venture to far!

Water's edge, Caerlaverock, Road Trip around Scotland
The water’s edge, Caerlaverock

Glencaple

As the sunset, I headed into the small village of Glencaple where I would spend the night.  Glencaple is a welcoming village with a pub and hotels and well worth wondering around. There was also lots of easy parking along the waters edge.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 3

I slept very well in Glencaple and woke to an early morning mist over the River Nith.  After breakfast, I spent the morning setting up this blog – Road Trip around Scotland!  By the time I had finished work it was around 12.  Consequently, I would only have 4 hours of daylight to explore and so promptly packed up and hit the road.

The Hills

As the weather was nice, I was keen to go for a walk.  Consequently I headed along Delbeattie Road to a wooded area called The Hills.  Parking was easy and I was able to walk up the path towards the top of the hill.  After about 100m I crossed an old railway line and was able to view the rather spectacular old railway bridge across the valley.  I continued along the path until looping back to the van.

The Hills Woodland, near Dumfries. Road Trip around Scotland
The Hills Woodland, near Dumfries

Dalbeattie

My second brief stop was Dalbeattie, a small town with lots of shops and a river running through. Whilst a nice town, there was little to see from a tourist point of view and so I headed on towards Kirkcudbright.  About half way, I pulled over into a view point lay by where I practiced flying my drone!

Dundrennan Abbey

Once the battery died, I once again hit the road and stopped at Dundrennan Abbey.  These  majestic, abandoned buildings were quite impressive! Sadly the Abbey is only  open during the summer months and so I was unable to walk around, however the view from the gate was still worth stopping for.

Dundrennan Abbey, near Kirkcudbright. Road Trip around Scotland
Dundrennan Abbey, near Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright

After a walk through the field next to the Abbey, I returned to the van and headed into the town of Kirkcudbright where I parked in a large car park in the middle of the town. By now the rain had started, however this did not deter me! I put on a waterproof jacket and walked down to the harbour. Despite the torrential rain, I thoroughly enjoyed my walk around Kirkcudbright. Points of interest included MacLellan’s Castle as well as enjoying the view across the harbour.

MacLellan's Castle, Kirkcudbright. Road Trip around Scotland
MacLellan’s Castle, Kirkcudbright

By now it was getting dark and so I returned to the van and headed over the rather impressive concrete bridge across the River Dee and soon parked up for some rest.

Bridge across the River Dee, Kirkcudbright. Road Trip around Scotland
Bridge across the River Dee, Kirkcudbright

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 4

I woke early to total silence! Furthermore, the weather was calm and most importantly, it had stopped raining! I moved the van to a lay by along the River Dee overlooking Kirkcudbright where I watched the sun begin to rise as I cooked bacon and egg for breakfast!

I needed to spend some time working during the afternoon and so looked for somewhere within an hours drive to aim for. Park4Night saved the day again! I found a large parking area at Isle of Whithorn that allowed overnight parking. Furthermore, the village looked very picturesque with lots of walks – perfect for a longer stay.

I planned to arrive at Isle of Whithorn around 1pm and so would have the morning to complete the hours drive. As always, I aimed to drive along the coastal road towards the village and stop at interesting places along the way.

Carrick Bay

As I left Kirkcudbright, I decided to take the B727 which followed the coast as opposed to the main A roads. The views were beautiful and after about 15 minutes I saw a large sign for a lookout at the top of a hill. Perfect I thought! I started following the signs along a very narrow track to Carrick Bay where I parked up. This was a beautiful, peaceful bay with secluded beach and view across to some islands. I climbed down onto the rocks to the waters edge before following the path up to the viewpoint. The views from the top were well worth the detour and it was a lovely place to sit quietly.

The view across Carrick Bay, near Castle Douglas. Road Trip around Scotland
 The view across Carrick Bay, near Castle Douglas.
 

When it was time to move on, I was unhappy taking the van any further along the track as it was very uneven. Consequently I retraced the route back to the main road and headed towards Gatehouse of fleet where I picked up the main A75. I continued along the A75, stopping at a number of lay-bys to admire the view.

Wigtown

After about an hours driving, I arrived at Wigtown. I parked up along the green and decided to go for a walk. The town had a rather magnificent Town Hall and lots of cafes and local shops. A very nice place to wonder around. Eventually, I made my way to the harbour where I walked along the 2.5 mile river loop before returning to the van.

Wigtown Town Hall
The rather impressive Town Hall in Wigtown.

 

Wigtown from Harbour. Road Trip around Scotland
View over Wigtown from the harbour

Isle of Whithorn

It was now approaching lunchtime and so I drove to my destination of Isle of Whithorn, parked up in the harbour car park and cooked lunch. The weather was rather beautiful, albeit a little windy and so I decided to go for a walk.

Anchor, Isle of Whithorn. Road Trip around Scotland
There was an anchor at the top of the hill!

 

My route took me up towards St Ninian’s Chapel and to the harbour light and then down onto the rocks below. It was really nice to just sit on the rocks and appreciate the beauty of Scotland’s coast.

St Ninian's Chapel, Isle of Whithorn. Road Trip around Scotland
St Ninian’s Chapel, Isle of Whithorn.

 

After a while, I headed back towards the carpark and along the harbour into the village. There is a nice pub, The Steam Packet Inn, opposite the harbour that is worth visiting too!

View over Isle of Whithorn, Road Trip around Scotland
View over Isle of Whithorn, Scotland

 

Finally I returned to the van at around 2pm to get on with some work for the remainder of the afternoon. I had a peaceful night’s sleep, although it was very windy!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 5

I woke to a beautiful day on Isle of Whithorn and so sat outside to eat a cooked breakfast before wondering along the rocks for an hour or so. I finally headed off around lunchtime and drove towards Port William and along the coastal road until I joined the A77. Having done a lot of driving over the past few days, I was keen to slow the pace down a little. Consequently, I continued along the A77 until I reached the coastal town of Girvan where I parked up. Of course, I stopped numerous times along the route to enjoy the stunning views!

View towards Girvan on A77  South Ayrshire Road Trip around Scotland
The view alongside the A77

Girvan

The weather remained beautiful and so I took the opportunity to walk along the seafront and into the main town of Girvan. Luckily, as the weather was so clear, I had a superb view across to Ailsa Craig from Ainslie Park near to where I was parked. Continuing along the seafront, I finally reached the harbour before looping through the town and back along the front to the van and settled in for the night.

View over green towards Girvan, South Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View towards Girvan across the Green.

 

Sunset. View from Girvan, South Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
Sunset!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 6

Today was spent working on my website in the van, however I did go for a few walks along the seafront over lunch! Consequently, I was able to get this view across towards Ailsa Craig.

View towards Ailsa Craig, from Girvan, South Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View towards Ailsa Craig

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 7

It was windy overnight, however by morning it had calmed down and I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise over Girvan. After a quick stretch of my legs, I left Girvan and headed along the A719 towards Ayr. The views from the road were stunning, especially on the approach to Dunure. Furthermore, as the weather was so nice, there was a perfect opportunity to fly the drone!

View over A719 near Dunure. Road Trip around Scotland.
View over A719 near Dunure, South Ayrshire

Dunure Castle

After an hour experimenting with the drone, I headed along Castle Road and parked up in the village of Dunure. This was a worthwhile stop as there was a fantastic ruined castle called Dunure Castle, right on the cliff top. Luckily, I was able to walk down to the rocks and along the secluded beach.

Dunure Castle, South Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View of Dunure Castle from above!

Ayr

After my stop in Dunure, I carried on driving into Ayr where I parked up along the Esplanade where there was ample, unrestricted parking!  I was however surprised how busy the beach was for early February!  The weather was still dry l and so spent the afternoon wondering around the streets of Ayr, including along the river.  When evening approached, I returned to the van for dinner and spent the evening creating a video of my journey so far! Click the link to see my video!

View across River Ayr. Road Trip around Scotland.
View across the River Ayr, South Ayrshire.

 

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 8

Today, I had arranged to meet up with a friend who lived locally and knew the area! He wasn’t around until the afternoon, and so I spent the morning catching up with some emails and admiring the views out to sea!

Greenan Castle

When my friend arrived, he suggested that we head out out of the centre towards Greenan Castle. Consequently, we walked along the Esplanade and behind some sand dunes to the south of Ayr. The views were lovely, especially as we approached the castle. A footpath led us up to the back of Greenan Castle from where we were able to see right across the bay back towards Ayr. This was really a lovely location and very peaceful. After walking back towards the town, I eventually arrived back at the campervan late afternoon shortly before sunset.

Greenan Castle, Ayr. Road Trip around Scotland.
Looking up at Greenan Castle in Ayr

 

Sunset over Ayr. Road Trip around  Scotland
Sunset over Ayr, Scotland.

Irvine

My food supplies were running low and I needed to go shopping!  Consequently, I decided to leave Ayr and headed to the local Aldi to stock up!  Once this exciting task was completed, I drove towards the town of Irvine, a short distance along the coast. Luckily I was able to park right alongside the river for the night, complete with some lovely views!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 9

Overnight it was extremely windy! I woke a couple of times with the wind howling through the rigging of some sailing boats nearby.  I decided that as the weather wasn’t too great, it would be worth spending the day indoors.  Furthermore, I had a couple of repairs that needing doing and so took the opportunity to work on the van.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 10

I woke to a lovely morning.  Consequently, I decided to explore the town of Irvine.  My route took me to along the River Irvine from the harbour and into town.  Irvine was bigger than I expected with lots of nice churches and a busy shopping area. Whilst I was in the town centre I stopped for a coffee for about an hour before continuing wondering around and exploring!  

Irvine Harbour, North Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View along the river towards Irvine.

 

Street in Irvine, North Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View along a narrow street in Irvine

 

Once I had seen most of the town centre, I headed down to Irvine Beach Park and went for a long walk.  Eventually I returned to the van and drove to Saltcoats where I stopped for the night.

Irvine Beach Park, North Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
View across Irvine Beach Park

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 11

Saltcoats

I had parked away from the sea front as the forecast was for strong winds! Indeed, this proved to be a wise decision!  I woke to high winds and torrential rain, however I did not want this to stop me exploring this small seaside town.  Consequently, I put on some waterproofs as well as found a waterproof bag for the camera and headed out!

My route took me along the seafront towards a large church.  The winds were extremely strong by now, however I was still able to get a few shots.

Waves crashing against sea wall at Saltcoats, North Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
Storm Ciara at Saltcoats!

 

storm ciara over Saltcoats, North Ayrshire. Road Trip around Scotland
Storm Ciara arrives at Saltcoats!

Lochwinnoch

After a few hours exploring Saltcoats, it was time to head off again on my Road Trip around Scotland! My next stop was Lochwinnoch, in Renfrewshire, about 40 minutes drive from Saltcoats. 

At the centre of Lochwinnoch is Castle Semple Loch.  By the time I arrived, the wind and rain had eased and so I was able to go for a late afternoon walk around the loch and into the village.  By the time I returned to the van, it was dark and so I then settled in for the night.

Lochwinnoch. Road Trip around Scotland
Wondering around Lochwinnoch!

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 12

I woke to a covering of snow in Lochwinnoch! Consequently, I decided to walk back to the Castle Semple Loch to take some more photographs!  After a couple of hours wondering around the Loch, I returned to the van and drove to my next location of Dumbarton.  I made a number of stops on the way and so the journey took much longer than planned!  As a result, it was almost dark by the time I arrived and so I settled in for the night. 

Snow over Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire. Road Trip around  Scotland
Snow falling over Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch.

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 13

Dumbarton

I slept very well in Dumbarton.  After an early breakfast, I drove down to Dumbarton Castle car park and walked inland along the River Clyde  The views were far reaching including towards Erskine Bridge to the East.  Furthermore, the low tide gave me a clear view of the remains of the area’s historic docks which I found very interesting. Sadly, the castle was closed on the day I visited, however this did not stop me getting some photographs from the green below!

Distant view of Erskine Bridge from Dumbarton. Road Trip around Scotland.
Distant view of Erskine Bridge from Dumbarton

 

Dumbarton Castle. Road Trip around Scotland
View of Dumbarton Castle

Balloch, Loch Lomond

Once I had completed my tour of Dumbarton, I headed to Balloch.  This busy small town serves as the gateway to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and has lots of shops and hotels.  I parked up in Loch Lomond Shores car park and enjoyed a walk around from the public slipway towards the Sea Life centre and shops.  Luckily, the weather was perfect allowing for great views across the Loch and of the Maid of the Loch steamer. 

Maid of the Loch, Loch Lomond, Balloch. Road Trip around Scotland
View across Loch Lomond including the Maid of the Loch.

 

Boats on Loch Lomond. Road Trip around Scotland
Boats on Loch Lomond!

Rosneath peninsula

After an hours walking, I headed back to the van for lunch.  Since I had visited Loch Lomond a few years previously, I decided to explore somewhere new.  After a quick look on the map, I decided that Rosneath peninsula was worth a visit!

The drive was spectacular taking me over a high ridge. Consequently, I stopped in a layby for some time to take some photographs. By now, there was only around an hour of daylight remaining and so decided to stay for longer to take some night photographs.

Gare Loch, Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
View over Gare Loch, Rosneath peninsula.

 

Night view over Gare Loch towards Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
Night view over Gare Loch towards Rosneath peninsula

 

Once it was completely dark and I had finished taking photographs, I headed down onto Rosneath peninsula and parked up alongside Gare Loch in the small village of Clynder for the night.

View over Gare Loch from Glynder, Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
View over Gare Loch from Rosneath peninsula

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 14

Around Rosneath peninsula

I had a very peaceful nights sleep in Clynder and woke to a dry day.  As to be expected, I took the opportunity to enjoy the view over Gare Loch before heading into the town of Rosneath. 

Whilst a nice town, there was little access to the waters edge and so I carried on along the coastal road until I reached Kilcreggan.  From here along to Coulport there were lots of lay bys which enabled me to stop regularly to enjoy the stunning views across Loch Long. Furthermore, the weather was calm and so I was once again able to fly the drone!

View over Loch Long, Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
View along Rosneath peninsula

 

Drone over Loch Long, Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
Testing the drone again!

Back to Loch Lomond!

Finally I arrived at Coulport on the western side of Rosneath peninsula. Since the main road now headed inland,  I decided to follow it and return to Loch Lomond.  My route took me back along Haul Road and over the ridge that I had driven the day before.  I did however stop at a carpark at the top of the ridge to fly the drone!  Eventually I continued on my journey to Loch Lomond and parked up for the night.

Looking towards Rosneath peninsula. Road Trip around Scotland
Looking back in the direction of Rosneath peninsula

 

View over Loch Lomond from Ridge
View over Loch Lomond

 

View over Loch Lomond. Road Trip around Scotland
View over Loch Lomond from the roadside

Road Trip around Scotland: Day 15

Today was spent updating this blog on the banks of Loch Lomond!  Luckily, Erica had booked last minute flights to come and visit me for a few days.  Consequently, at 9pm I drove to Glasgow Airport to pick her up before returning to Loch Lomond for the night!

Loch Lomond Night. Road Trip around Scotland
Night view across Loch Lomond

Click here to continue reading about my Road Trip around Scotland!

 

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Further Reading.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading about my Road Trip around Scotland. If so, why not read about my Road Trip around North Wales as well as other adventures in the van and boat.

If you are planning your own Road Trip, read this handy guide!

 

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