Day 3, Part 1: Castle Douglas and Caerlaverock Castle

On Easter Saturday we awoke in the Buccleuch Arms, a delightful hotel in St Boswells, looking forward to a hearty breakfast. And this we got – in abundance! Dapper, being a manly man and all, followed his bowl of Frosties AND bowl of porridge with local honey with a full Scottish – bacon, sausage, eggs, tomatoes, black pudding and haggis! I was torn between the local smoked haddock with scrambled eggs and the French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup – but after speaking to the waitress, the French toast won out! Everything was delicious, the breakfast room itself was a delightful bright family room looking over the gardens, and we’ll definitely be returning – if only so that I can try the other breakfast options!

After a hearty meal we checked out and hit the road south-west, towards Castle Douglas. We had enjoyed three straight days of bright sunshine (surely a record by Scottish standards for April!) so were unsurprised when the weather broke and lashing rain came in off the Irish Sea. As a contrast to the previous few days, the stunning landscape of Dumfries and Galloway suddenly became moody and foreboding, and we found ourselves wandering the streets of Castle Douglas in the kind of drenching downpour that only certain parts of the UK are familiar with: what I call proper WET rain!

Nevertheless, Castle Douglas had a sort of dated charm to it. Much of the high street seems to be run by Gowans, rather as if a department store had been dismantled and dispersed amongst the other, more modern shops fronts. Even the window displays seemed dated – it was as if they hadn’t been changed since the 50s. I was overjoyed to find one of the Gowans was an old-fashioned haberdashery, where I was able to flick through pattern books before choosing a couple in the half-price sale!

By now the rain was thinning and we were optimistic enough to drive around Solway Coast to Caerlaverock Castle. Buttoned into our wax jackets, with my trusty beret and umbrella against the weather, we decided to tackle the castle, rain or shine.

Caerlaverock Castle is a triangular moated fortress, surrounded by stunning marshlands. In 1300 a garrison of 60 men managed to hold off King Edward I and the entire British Army for several days before surrendering. So impressed was Edward by their courage and skill, that many were allowed to go free. The castle now stands in ruins. The name (evolved from Karlauerock) is thought to mean fort of the skylark.

The weather, however, saw our challenge and decided to bow out, even treating us to sunshine by the end of our visit!


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