I expect that many of you have driven along the A75 and spotted Cardoness Castle built high above the road overlooking Fleet Bay about a mile south of Gatehouse of Fleet.
The very steep climb to the castle, plus the stop on a very busy road perhaps puts most people off visiting and enjoying the spectacular view which can be obtained from the top if you have enough breath left. Cardoness was built by the McCulloch family in the mid 15th. century on land acquired through marriage by a daughter to the landowner. However the tale does not end there as in a tragic accident the entire family, apart from McCulloch’s daughter, drowned by falling through ice on a frozen loch leaving the estate to the young girl. The land thereby fell into McCulloch’s hands on which they built the castle . It was virtually impregnable in those times with the sea lapping against the cliff on one side and its elevation being such that it was out of reach of artillery. What a fortress and well worth a visit by those fit enough to make the climb.
Whilst in this part of the world we can visit Palnakie which sits on the Urr water estuary as every year it hosts the World Flounder Tramping Championships. This consists of competitors shuffling along the mud-flats feeling for flounders with prizes for the heaviest and lightest catches.
I can remember as a wee boy paddling along the Girvan beach with a sharp stick in one hand looking for flounders, but usually they were much too quick for me..
Kircudbright, (Kirk of Cuthbert) is the county town in this area which is blessed with a mild climate and such a quality of light that it attracted artist from far and wide and became know as ‘The Artist’s Town’.
In the High Street is Broughton House once the home of E.A. Hornel a member of the Glasgow Boys who were a group of young artists with their own highly coloured style of impressionism. Hornel settled in Kircudbright in 1901 and left Broughton House to the town in 1933 where it became a museum containing many of his works and memorabilia.
Further along the High Street we come to the Tolbooth where John Paul Jones, father of the American Navy, was imprisoned for a time. At the far end of the street is the Selkirk Arms where Robert Burns wrote the world famous ‘The Selkirk Grace’ which will feature in many Burns’ Suppers held in January.
It is amazing what you come upon when searching for tales and this area has many more to uncover. See you next week