A guide to Port Patrick

A guide to Port Patrick

Located on the Rhin’s west coast, Portpatrick is a stunning old port that was once used as the departure point to Northern Ireland.

These days it’s better known as a relaxing, peaceful holiday destination. If you’re looking to get away from it all, this could be the perfect place to head to. Below you’ll discover everything you need to know about this picturesque location and the numerous activities available in the area.

About the area

Due to its location, visitors to Portpatrick will get to witness extraordinary views across to the North Irish coast. It is set within a dramatic cliff backdrop which makes the area perfect for walkers. The historic crescent shaped harbour still remains a dominant focal point of the village.

The village is actually a great starting point for the impressive 212 mile coastal route. Ending up at Cockburnspath, most people will find the entire route to be a little too much. However, you can start from Portpatrick and simply walk part of the route before heading back. There’s public transportation available if you don’t fancy the walk back. It’s worth looking into the full route to see exactly where buses are available.

The village is extremely close to Dunskey Castle. While all that remains are ruins, it’s still a great attraction to head to. With its mild temperature, it’s not uncommon to find sub-tropical plants and trees in the area.

When and where to go

As with any part of the UK, it’s always better to visit Portpatrick in the summer months. Its coastal location makes it ideal for sun worshippers who prefer a quieter location. However, it is still a beautiful place to head to all year round. In September, you’ll get to experience the Folk Festival. This three day event celebrates everything to do with folk music and is quite a fun event to experience.

If you do head to the village in summer, Life Boat week is another event you might be interested in. Taking place from Sunday 27th July, each day there are different activities to take part in. On the opening Sunday, the Loch Ryan Pipe Band will be performing, along with an Open Air Service and a Rib Raid. On Tuesday July 29th, there will be Ladies Golf, a family bingo night and a children’s treasure hunt. As you can see, there’s fun activities fr all the family at this event.

Activities and attractions

Portpatrick is a great place for nature lovers and walkers. It’s also great for those who love to explore the history of an area. Dunskey Castle and Gardens are two of the best attractions in the area. The castle benefits from a dramatic cliff-top location. While all that remains are ruins, you’ll get a stunning view over the North Irish coast. Originally it was known as Adair Castle. However, after being destroyed by the McCullochs of Cardoness and Myrton, all that’s left of the original castle is the defensive ditch. If you do choose to visit this attraction, be aware that you won’t be able to gain access into the interior. It’s also advised that you stay on the path as you walk up to the castle. It’s quite a steep incline so care should be taken.

The Dunskey Gardens have been recently renovated and they are best visited in spring. This is when the woodland gardens really come to life. There’s a wide selection of wild flowers including bluebells and rhododendrons on display. If you plan on visiting in the autumn months then you’ll get to see all kinds of exotic flowers in glasshouses too. So no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always a beautiful display of flowers to enjoy. If you’re travelling with the kids, they’ll also love the hedge maze. This is said to be the first hedge maze to be planted within south-west Scotland. You can also take back a souvenir from your trip as there’s a shop there selling various plants.

Take a walk on the Stanraer 19th century harbour and see the original pier in all its glory. It’s actually still used by a number of fishing boats and leisure boats.

The Old Church is another beautiful attraction not to be missed. This church is actually thought to have medieval roots. It’s the circular tower that’s thought to date back to medieval times, though the St Andrews Kirk was said to be built a little later in the 16thcentury. There’s a theory that the circular tower was once used as a lighthouse, though no official records of this have been found.

Agnew Park is an excellent attraction for families. Not only are you treated to beautiful outdoor spaces, you’ll also discover a great choice of activities. Canoes, pedalos, boats and skiffs are all available to hire. There’s also a miniature railway, an 18 hole putting green, a mini car racing circuit and a play island. There are hours of fun for you and the kids.

Food and accommodation

While you’re in the area, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of food on offer. From mouth-watering seafood restaurants to hearty local delights served up in pubs; there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets. The Ferhill Hotel and Knockinaam Lodge are two of the best places to eat out in Portpatrick.

Accommodation wise, there’s a great choice of self-catering options and luxury hotels available. If you’re on a budget, hiring a campervan and staying at one of the local campsites such as the Castle Bay Holiday and Residential Park are a great option.

A guide to Applecross

London to Scotland in a VW Camper Van

The Applecross Peninsula is situated in Wester Ross between the mainland and the Isle of Skye. There you will find a wee settlement, home to just over 200 people, also called Applecross, but known locally as ‘The Street’.

If it’s true peace and tranquility you’re after, you won’t go far wrong with Applecross – a peninsula in Western Ross, in the north west of Scotland.

It’s a small village famous for its scenic drive on one of the highest roads in Britain, some 2053 feet above sea level. The village is also well-known for having one of the oldest place names in the UK, at over 1300 years old.

But despite its rich history, there’s plenty going on in Applecross these days to merit a stop-off during a Rockinvans holiday.

The village can be driven into one of two ways – either via a winding coast road from Shielding, to the north on Loch Torridon, or the Bealach na Ba, which is the super-high route.

Things to do

The Applecross Walled Garden, by Applecross House, is a sympathetically restored green space in the village which dates from 1675 and was originally built to serve the ‘big house’ with fruit and vegetables. It once employed a team of gardeners to maximise on its produce, but fell into disrepair following the second world war.

A restoration project began in 2011 and nowadays the team works to bring the on-site Potting Shed café and restaurant the best of what the garden yields for visitors to enjoy. The eateries offer all kinds of locally sourced produce, from Applecross salmon and lobsters to venison from the estate. Breakfast is served from 8.30am to 12pm, and dinner from 6pm to 8.30pm.

As a peninsula, Applecross naturally offers much in the way of water activities. Sea kayaking, walking, climbing and mountaineering are all popular in the general vicinity and multi-day activites are also offered by local company Mountain and Sea Guides – ideal for those who plan to enjoy Applecross for longer than just a brief encounter. The firm can also design days around a group personal preferences or cater its offering to specific budget requirements.

Exploring the area by foot is highly recommended, and what better way to do it than with a beautiful beach trek? The white coral beaches of Ard Ban are a worthy way to spend the day, and there’s even the chance to discover how the white sands are formed during informative trips held at a secret location on the beach. Check Visit Scotland’s website for more information. The bay at Sand is another popular choice with those who like to paddle in the shallows of a day, and Applecross Bay, one of the biggest inlets in the Highlands, provides stunning aspects of the Isle of Skye in the distance.

For foodies, the Applecross Smokehouse is a must-visit. Gourmet trout, salmon, cheeses, pates and mussels are hot and cold smoked in an original hot smoker and sold through the smokehouse as well as online. Not just brilliant at smoking, the smokehouse also offers locally caught langoustines, squat lobsters, crabs and prawns for seafood lovers.

If squat lobsters, scallops and prawns are your idea of perfect vacation meal then look no further than Rockinvans favourite small restaurant, the Applecross Inn.

A guide to the Lake District

A guide to the Lake District

A guide to the Lake District The Lake District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. Visitors can experience majestic views, rolling green countryside and some of the most beautiful scenery within the UK.

There’s even a fantastic National Park that’s been protected from as far back as 1951. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, this is definitely the location you want to head to.

About the area

Situated in the North West of England, the Lake District is also commonly referred to as Lakeland or The Lakes. While mostly famous for its varying woodland, lakes and mountain landscapes, it’s also well known for its links to William Wordsworth. He wrote several well-known poems back in the 19th century.

An interesting fact about the Lake District is that it contains the only land within the UK that is situated more than 3,000 feet above sea level. It is home to Scafell Pike; the largest mountain within the UK. The Windermere and Wastwater lakes are also known to be two of the longest and deepest lakes within the country.

If you do plan on heading to The Lakes for your holidays, keep in mind it’s the dampest part of the UK. This is thanks to its mountainous location. It gets more than 2,000mm of annual precipitation as recorded by the MET Office. So remember to take a mixture of clothing to suit all weathers no matter what time of year you visit.

When and where to go

It’s definitely a good idea to head to the Lake District in spring/summer time. While heavy rainfall can occur at any time during the year, in winter you’ve also got the added threat of snow. Some of the rural roads actually become impassable if you visit between November and February. So unless you fancy a true ‘at one with nature’ experience, it’s best to head there in the summer months. It will of course be more crowded then; particularly in June and August. The prices will also be a lot higher. So if you want to avoid excessive charges and crowds of people, April and May are the best months to go.

As for where to go, there are plenty of great choices. Coniston Water, Langdale Valley and Windermere are just three of the best parts of the Lakes.

Activities and Attractions

Walking is the number one activity to partake in on your visit. With so many glorious sights to see, it’s a good idea to take your camera. It’s worth pointing out that some trails are best suited to more experienced walkers. However, there are routes available to suit all abilities.

There are also plenty of guided walks available and you can check out the schedule on the website. There are even walks suitable for those in a wheelchair which avoid any stiles and steep climbs. Don’t worry though, you won’t miss out on spectacular views – you really don’t have to climb the highest fells to experience breath-taking scenery. There are lots of different walking routes available so be sure to check them out before you go.

Perhaps you’d like to teach your children some useful navigating skills? There are great short classes available such as ‘Map Quest for Kids’ and ‘Navigation skills for beginners’.

As well as on-land activities, you can also choose to get on the water. Why not hire a boat on any of the lakes? You can hire rowing boats and electric boats. There’s also a great choice of water sports available. Try your hand at canoeing or rafting from just £7 for a taster session.

Explore the coastline while you’re there. There’s a total of 26 miles of coastline to be enjoyed. As well as witnessing incredible scenery, you’ll also get to spot various wildlife. You’ll particularly see a lot of birds so if you’re a keen bird watcher this is an ideal place for you.

If you’re travelling with the kids there are a few great attractions you won’t want to miss. The Coast Aquaruim provides a fun and interesting day out. There’s also the fantastic Lakeland Wildlife Oasis. This is a pretty small zoo but it does offer a lot of activities for the whole family.

Food and drink

Many people have a misconception about The Lake District. They assume there’s nothing but open spaces with very little around in terms of dining out. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s a good amount of choice when it comes to eating out.

Of course, self-catering is one of the best ways to enjoy your lakes experience. It’s also the cheapest option. However, for a treat you could head to The Grasmere Hotel restaurant, The Old Stamp House Restaurant or Hooked located in Windermere.

There are also plenty of small pubs in the towns and villages throughout the Lake District, so you’ll be able to get a bite to eat and dram o’ whiskey, wherever you stay.

Where to stay

Accommodation wise you’ll find there are a number of boutique hotels and quaint guest houses available. Camping tends to be one of the most popular options for visitors to the Lakes. If you are looking for a good campsite, there are quite a few you’ll want to check out. The Syke Farm Camping Ground, Gillside Farm and Great Langdale National Trust Campsite are all worth looking into.

Overall, the Lake District is a fantastic place to visit; particularly if you plan on taking a campervan holiday. There’s plenty to keep you entertained and it’s a great destination to head to if you’re looking to forget your everyday stresses. It helps if you do a little research before you go to figure out which part of the lakes is bested suited to your needs.