About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday, 19 August 2022

A day without a plan.

Wednesday

Awoke this morning without any inkling of where we were going today. Within a mile of Castle Semple Loch was Lochwinnoch Nature reserve, a RSPB centre, and so that was the only plan formed, to walk the mile along the track by the loch to see what was there. The morning was dry, made a change from the last few days of drizzle. It was still overcast so waterproof jackets worn, just in case. Unsure whether dogs were allowed, we risked it anyway, got there and very pleased to find dogs could go anywhere on the reserve.


There were several hides and plenty of benches to sit and watch the world go by. The Dragonfly and Damselfly area was devoid of a single insect, but there again no sun to warm them up. 


The Pied flycatchers had nested in the area, and up until yesterday were still seen flying around. Not today though, and one of the wardens thought they may have left the reserve. Blooming typical!!!


 

A bug hotel with a difference. Loved the way the doors could open to see inside.



The sun put in an appearance as we left for Loch Earn. Roughly 80 miles along A roads, we estimated a couple of hours to get there. Stopped part way for a Toffee comfort stop, the views from the lookout was stunning. 



So Loch Earn is situated in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Park and the CL site was near to the water's edge. The pitch we chose was away from the water, we had been warned about the midges, and I'm still suffering from all those bites several days ago. Of course the place was to be explored so plenty of smelly anti midge cream rubbed all over the exposed bits. Crikey Ian wrinkled up his nose and even the dog wouldn't come near me. Don't care...just don't want to be bitten again.



 

Tomorrow we make for Glencoe, last time we were there the wind howled and the rain lashed down. I was sort of hoping this time would be different but the weather forecast for Scotland tomorrow is abysmal. Will we ever see the highlands in all its glory?  

And today's wildlife



New breed of bird? No, a decoy for the black headed gulls to nest on the platform.

A juvenile Greenfinch

Nuthatch



Lapwing

Female Teal



Thursday, 18 August 2022

A strange glow

 Tuesday 16th

Oh dear, decisions made hasn't always been the best, and it did look a nice place to stay. Admittedly it was a car par but overlooking the shore made up for that. But Girvan harbour car park was not just used by cars and motorhomes, no, lorries arrived to overnight as well. Why did they have to leave the engines running for ages after parking up? Appreciate they may need power for a brew or even make a small meal but do they not think that it may upset other people especially when they turn up after 10 pm?


As the light faded a strange sight was seen across the water. Now it could be just the glimpse of a red sunset, I'm unsure, but see what you make of it.


I had an inkling we would be woken early, and I was not wrong. Two of those lorries left before 5 am, the bin men arrived before 6 and 10 minutes later a tractor with large scoop turned up to repair the damage done by those lorries turning.  Having smoothed out the deep ruts, went below onto the beach to start on that, and all within yards of MB. What with the gulls screaming their heads off...well sleep was but a distant memory.

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We had to vacate this car park by 9 am, so I suppose getting up early mattered not. Ian went to empty the loo and came back unable to complete the task. A big blue plastic container had been placed near to the toilets for just this job. Grey water also had to be emptied in this but when he lifted the lid, it was full to the brim. I couldn't believe it. Not only was the showers out of action, the washing machine broken we now had no way of emptying the toilet! I went and saw the harbour master and told him about the elsan. He had no idea it was full! Anyway we were told of a launderette in the town centre, goodie, I could at least get the washing done!

It goes from bad to worse. Got to the launderette, it wasn't a self service place, the washing was done for you. I asked how long it would take only to be told that she very much doubted I would get the laundry back that morning. "There are people before you and they come first" she said haughtily! I turned to Ian and said we should leave and walked away in despair. Was hand washing the answer? Only trouble with that was trying to get the clothes dry. Ian got out the phone, looked on the web and found another place in Ayr. We were heading North so that would have to do.

In fact, it was much better, we could park outside, the large machine could take all the clothes and cost a fiver for a 25-minute wash, The driers were £1 for 10 minutes, so I put enough in for a 20-minute dry. Fully expecting to have to put in more at the end of the time, I was amazed that everything, even towels were dry.

Poor old Toffee had to put up with a driving day today. We eventually arrived at a place Castle Semple Loch. The rain had started again, a real dismal afternoon. We did get a short walk along the loch side, turned back rather rapidly when the rain became torrential. We will stay tonight, a camp site has been found at Loch Earn just to empty the loo. At £22 a night that's one very expensive dump!


These seen on Girvan Beach



Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Those that spoil it for others.

A strange rip tide phenomena occurs at a certain time around the southern Mull of Galloway. Legend has it that the phenomenon of the Nine Tides (typically a series of opposing rip tides straight after a low tide) around The Mull of Galloway were created by nine Witches trying to shipwreck a Witchfinder on his way from Ireland. Yesterday we were lucky enough to witness it.



 A Thunderstorm woke us at 2 am, A massive clap of thunder, so loud it had to be over head and Toffee slept through it all! Had it been our old dogs, Judy and Jade, they would have been quivering wrecks and trying desperately to hide somewhere. Anyway the thunder rumbled on for another 15 minutes and then the rain started, thankfully not torrential, a gentle drumming on the roof which lulled both of us back to sleep.

We awoke to it still raining, the plan to have breakfast at the cafรฉ seemed uncertain. No dogs allowed in so outside seating only. Did we fancy eating a full English in the pouring rain? 10 am was when they opened so we took Toffee out for her walk first in the hopes it would clear up. 

I must have missed the finger post yesterday, got the one at Dunnet Head, John o'Groats and the moat Northerly post last year. Would have kicked myself if I hadn't got the most Southerly post.

 



 

The Heather looked spectacular even though the day was dull. The colours...wow, beautiful


A path led us down to the Fog Horn. Remember those? On a foggy day at sea that was one of the sounds I remember. This one is still operational having been restored by the Mull of Galloway Trust but is only used on special occasions. I found this on the NLB Foghorn site

The conclusion was that audible fog signals had a significantly reduced role in the modern maritime environment, as a result of the widespread use of electronic position finding aids and radar, and the adoption of navigating bridges on many vessels. Accordingly, this review, the Board have taken the decision that all of Northern Lighthouse Board's fog signals are surplus to requirement, as such the few remaining systems have been decommissioned and the very last Scottish fog horn was switched off on 4 October 2005 at Skerryvore lighthouse.


It self-winds its own mechanism using compressed air from the system.

Back to the Gallie Graig cafรฉ, and it was just a bit of drizzly stuff and the trusty brolly came in handy. Waterproofs were placed on wet seats, at least our derriรจre's would stay dry. By the time the big breakfast arrived it had almost stopped. I looked at what was on the plate, 2 slices bacon, link sausage, square sausage, fried egg, haggis, tattie scone, beans and a slice of toast.  Forgot to take a photo, but it was definitely one of the bigger breakfast I have had. And all under £8, what a bargain.

I went back to MB whilst Ian went for a tour around the lighthouse. He came back singing the praises of the keepers, the place was immaculate. He was given a bookmark and certificate for walking up 115 circular steps. including three vertical ladders!


From this huge bulb to...

This, the equivalent to 65 led light’s


Rain once more started and so it continued for the rest of the day. As we left the car park and travelled down that single track lane, cars could be seen coming toward us. We pulled into a [passing place and waited...and waited...and waited some more. What was the problem, why weren't the cars moving forward? Ah it all became clear when cattle were seen on the road. 


 

We made for Girvan and the harbour. On a Search for Sites app at we could stay overnight for £10. It had a washing machine and showers, elsan and water. We had the choice of about 6 bays, found one overlooking the water. pulled in and paid over the phone. A code was given so we could access the washing machine and showers. Went to have a look and...blast...we tried the code on the keypad several times but the door wouldn't open. A cleaner was by the toilets, so we asked if she could help. Well the news she gave was not welcome. Not only was the washing machine no longer in use due to vandalism but the showers had all been damaged as well. And not by motorhomers either. No it was travellers that had taken over the harbour car park. Police were involved and enforcement orders given. Three times the travellers moved but only by a couple of hundred yards. In the end eviction orders by the court got them to leave. This all happened just a couple of days ago. As I say...timing is everything, and we got it wrong! Still the place was worth the stay, a long beach and of course the harbour to view. Rain was still falling, not that Toffee minded she just wanted to play in the sand.


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And wildlife

Large Yellow Underwing

Millipede



Oh and I forgot to show the sun halo yesterday.


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