Friday, 20 August 2010

Great North Fun Day 23

Rockcliffe - a beach made entirely of shells.

When we woke this morning we discovered that not only had the view gone but most of the sea had gone too.  We were enveloped in a thick sea mist and the gale was still howling all around us.  Rather than do battle with it all we reluctantly opted for a lazy morning and a very late start, practically having to force fresh bacon rolls down our throats while we waited for the storm to blow itself out. It's a tough job but somebody needed to do it.  Even Monty looked a little miffed by it all, peering forlornly out the window yet only able to see some strange white thing.  I'm sure somewhere deep in his feline brain he blamed us for it, as if we'd somehow transported Delores in the night without him noticing.

As we were filling and emptying the various water tanks on Delores a caravan nearby lost it's awning in the wind.  Well, nearly lost it.  It unpegged itself and was flapping and banging around over the roof of the van.  It took 7 grown adults and one small child to catch it and dismantle it.  I was worried that if the wind gusted too strongly it might pick up the small child and deposit him in Oz with nothing but his ruby red trainers to get him home again.

And I mean *entirely* shells.
Around lunchtime we finally set off with me managing to catch a few last glimpses of our stunning surroundings as we bumped along the track out of the site.  The New England Bay CC site is definitely top site so far - right on the beach, amazing views and lovely wardens.  Even the showers were great although I'm convinced they were installed by giants as the shower head was a good 7 feet high.

After a brief but very soggy stop for lunch the weather finally abated as we arrived at Rockcliffe.  In glorious sunshine we headed for the beach. Still remembering my lessons learned at High Force I took my waterproof just in case the weather realised it had foolishly slipped into summer mode and decided to make amends with another deluge.  Rockcliffe is another stunning bay on the southwest coast of Scotland a few miles south of Dumfries. The main bay is pretty enough but if you're ever there find and follow the little footpath to the beach near Rough Island.  There you will find gorgeous beaches made entirely from shells - spectacular to look at though a little sharp on the bum to sit on.  We wandered around for a while before walking along the causeway to Rough Island which is not, as you may think from the name, a dodgy council estate full of yobs wearing hoodies, but is in fact a green and pretty bird sanctuary about 500m off the coast.

Lots and lots of shells...
Returning to the main beach we sat, along with several others, watching the tide come in the same way we had at Lindisfarne. What is it about tidal islands that makes us want to see them cut off again as if we thought Mother Nature might pull a fast one if we weren't looking and forget to bring the tide in.  At least it had been fabulous sunshine all afternoon but now it was time to go in search of our campsite.

Along the way we stopped off to take in some more amazing views as well as stopping briefly at Sweetheart Abbey just as the sun was starting to set.  The reds of the brickwork against the emerald green of the grass was beautiful.  The odd story behind the name of the abbey concerns the Lady behind the building of it who, when her husband died, had his heart cut out and kept it in a jar with her at all times.  When she herself died she was buried in the abbey next to her husband holding the jar with his heart.  I guess "dotty old dear carrying around bits of her dead husband in a jar" abbey wouldn't have quite the same ring to it.

We finally found our CL tucked away about 10 miles east of Gretna. We've a couple of nights here before heading down to the Lake District so I'm sure we'll squeeze in a visit to the old Blacksmiths if we can still find it under all the tourist stuff.

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