The North Channel, Loch Ryan and Galloway

Our voyage across the North Channel was uneventful and we were soon bidding goodbye to Belfast Lough and Ireland.

Goodbye to Ireland 12 July 2015 (1 of 1)

As we pulled into the North Channel, I saw an oil platform being towed away from the coast. They are not built in Northern Ireland so I assume it had been repaired and was now heading back to its working position. On the other shore was a lighthouse and I started to see seabirds. Once past the buoy at the end of Loch Ryan, we turned into the loch with the Galloway coast on both sides.

Galloway coast 2 12 July 2015 (1 of 1)

Getting off the boat was reminiscent of the free-for-all at Dun Laoghaire as everyone had to merge into two lanes and then get into the correct one to go north or south at the exit. The road south bypasses Stranraer and heads for Newton Stewart but we cut across a B road towards Wigtown, passing a stone circle and several signposts to other historic places. It is several years since we spent any time in Galloway and we must return soon. We found our guesthouse in Wigtown easily and our hostess recommended the Inn at Bladnoch. It is situated by the bridge over the River Bladnoch and the distillery. When we arrived there was live music (fiddlers) and the accents in the bar and restaurant were from north and south of the border, east and west of the Pennines and from both sides of the Irish Sea. We walked back into town and look forward to bookshops tomorrow.

River Bladnoch 1 12 July 2015 (1 of 1)

River Bladnoch 2 12 July 2015 (1 of 1)

Escaping to Scotland

We arrived at Belfast Port well ahead of schedule as the roads were quiet because it is Sunday and also a public holiday. We should have been on our usual overnight ferry back to Birkenhead but this was cancelled due to the 12th of July ‘celebrations’. Apparently there has been fighting on the ferry in previous years. I am quite glad to be escaping the festivities: there are Unionist flags everywhere, bonfires scheduled for tonight and marching bands tomorrow. It does give us the chance to vary our route home and so we are enroute to Cairnryan with an overnight stop in Wigtown, Scotland’s Hay on Wye. We sat watching the boats coming into the port for a while.

Belfast Port 2 12 July 2015 (1 of 1)

Our ferry came in and off it came several buses from Scotland: Glasgow, Falkirk, Motherwell and Airdrie. One had a poster, ‘The Pride of Govan Flute Band’ on the side. There were a dozen in total and it must be the only time you see a Union Jack on a Scottish bus. As we slid out of the harbour into Belfast Lough, an announcement was made regarding the therapies on offer during our sailing. I prefer to save my cash for the bookshops tomorrow. Ahead of us, the sky looks lighter and more promising for tomorrows ferreting around in bookshops.