The Gatehouse of Fleet

The town takes its name from its location near the mouth of the river called the Water of Fleet which empties into Wigtown Bay at Fleet Bay, and its former role as the “Gait House” or “the House on the Road on the River Fleet” or toll booth of the late 18th century stagecoach route from Dumfries to Stranraer, now the A75 road. It was a safe haven along this route, and travellers would often stop in the area rather than furthering the journey at night due to the high numbers of bandits and highwaymen at the time. Wikipedia

We drove a few miles from Kirkcudbright to visit the converted mill ‘The Mill on the Fleet‘ (1788) to have  a look at the art gallery and bookshop and also have coffee and cake on the terrace at the  Tart n’ Tea  café. The most delicious cream choux pastry I have ever eaten.  Cardoness Castle is on the outskirts of the town too and Cally Nursery, which I didn’t get the time to visit.

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Having picked up a leaflet from the Information Office in Kirkcudbright of a Walking Tour of the town I dragged the OH off for a stroll.  I think he’d have quite happily remained on the terrace or in the second-hand bookshop if it hadn’t been closing time.

Leaving the Mill behind you cross over a pedestrian bridge and through the park to the Riverbank – a housing project built in the 1950s to cope with the overcrowding and poor conditions in Gatehouse. Turning left on to Hannay Street you pass an interesting little Episcopal Church with robin’s egg coloured painted windows.

DSCF8584And on the corner stands the rather dilapidated Ship Inn (previously Anworth Hotel) where Dorothy L Sawyers wrote Five Red Herrings. One of the Gatehouse artists of the ’20s and ’30s, Alice Sturrock, also lived along here.

The town harbour used to be here, but no longer. The river is still tidal at this point. Turn left onto the High Street and cross the road bridge.

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In front of you to the left is the Spar and Post Office which were once a tannery. Opposite was a former brewery complex, now flats.

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Continuing up the High Street the red sandstone building was the Town Hall. Now only the front remains, the rest of the building demolished in 1978 and replaced by a lovely little public garden that leads into Garries Park.

Naturally we took the garden route and after passing the bowling green (below) we came out on Ann Street.

Bowling Green
Bowling Green
View from the Bowling Green
View from the Bowling Green

The Cotton Mill (Scott’s Mill) at the top of Ann Street

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Ann Street

Ann Street

At the bottom of Ann Street is the clock tower (1871) and on the left in the courtyard of the Murray Arms is the original gatehouse. This building predates the town and may have been an inn on the old road to the ford.

The Murray Arms
The Murray Arms

Also in Ann Street is the Masonic Arms and opposite the Cally Estate office which looks to be under renovation. This, along with other local locations, featured in the cult movie The Wickerman.

Crossing the High Street we headed along Castramont Street, past the Parish Church with masses of Philadelphus (mock orange) scenting the evening air.

a rather quirky decorated house (now this would have been a good photo for the Kitsch challenge)

and down Birtwistle Road with its rather lovely row of workers’ cottages and back into the Mill grounds by way of a gate at the end of the lane.

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And the final thing I saw and photographed was a lovely oyster-catcher in the park. Now a reminder of a dear blogging friend.

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Source: Fleet Valley Trails Town Trail leaflet (Dumfries and Galloway Council)

If you enjoy a walk, short or long, then you may enjoy visiting Jo’s Monday Walk where you are in for a treat.

The Mill on the Fleet

The Mill at Fleet
The Mill at Fleet

The Mill on the Fleet  – The Mill was built in 1788 as a cotton spinning mill by James Birtwhistle from Yorkshire and was the second mill to be built on this site. The water wheel on the gable end was used to drive the machinery to spin the cotton.

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By 1800, because of increasing competition from steam driven mills, the cotton industry in Gatehouse declined and by 1850 the mills were out of use. In 1859 they were bought by the Helme brothers from Dalbeattie and the upper mill was used to make wooden bobbins for the textile industry while this mill was used as a store and bark mill for the processing of oak for the leather tanning industry which was thriving in Gatehouse at the time. Source: History of the Mill

Art work on display
Art work on display

As well as a lovely tea room (and terrace), an information centre and a shop on the ground floor there is a bookshop and a permanent exhibition floor focusing on the history and heritage of Gatehouse, and exploring the Fleet Valley and surrounding areas, and on the top floor the Faed Gallery holds a programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the season.

More textiles
More textiles – and even more windows!

During our visit work by William Neal from his two current strands – Lyrical Abstraction and Iridescent Passages was on display. I have to say I was completely mesmerised by the way the light falling on the paintings changed with each angle you looked at them.

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This weekly challenge is hosted by Dawn from ‘The Day After’ who invites participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story. Visit her blog to see more windows and/or to join in with the challenge.

Historic Dumfries and Galloway

Historic sites are scattered through the glorious region of  Dumfries and Galloway. Being the border county with England there is a history of battles. Till the 12th century, when it came under the Normans, the eastern Solway had alternated between English and Scottish rule.

We passed several interesting looking properties on the way to somewhere else, though nearly always during the evening when the grounds were closed. Fortunately some were quite small and close to the road so we were able to take photographs.

Threave Castle

Located in one of the more interesting locations, this castle is built on an island in the middle of the River Dee and you have to take a small boat across. A lovely circular walk from the entrance takes you through Kelton Mains farm to a small wood leading to the river. A number of bird hides can be found along the route, including one to view an osprey nest.

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This massive tower house was built in the late 14th century by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway. It became the stronghold of the Black Douglases and still today, round its base you can see the artillery fortification, an innovative defence years ahead of its time, built before 1455 when James II besieged the castle. (Threave Castle)

Cardoness Castle

A fine example of a six storey Scottish tower-house castle, Cardoness Castle was built in the later 15th century as the fortified residence of the McCullochs.  Its battlements command excellent views over Fleet Bay.

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MacLellan’s Castle

MacLellan’s Castle was named after Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie (d. 1597). Sir Thomas was provost of Kirkcudbright and a powerful man in local politics. Following the Protestant Reformation in 1560, he acquired the site and buildings of the convent of Greyfriars, established in the town by James II in 1449, and set about building himself a new residence in its place. By 1582, MacLellan’s Castle was sufficiently complete for him to move in. Five years later, he and his second wife, Grissel, entertained their sovereign, James VI, in this spacious house.

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The remains of this late 16th century house shows how architecture changed from the heavily defended tower house to a new, more domestic scale.

Dundrennan Abbey

Dundrennan Abbey was founded in 1142 by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, with the help of King David I of Scotland. The white-robed Cistercian monks came from Rievaulx Abbey, in North Yorkshire. After establishing the abbey at Dundrennan, monks went forth to found two more Cistercian abbeys in Galloway – Glenluce, near Stranraer, around 1190, and Sweetheart, in the village of New Abbey, south of Dumfries, in 1273.

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The abbey‘s most famous visitor was Mary Queen of Scots. On 15 May 1568, she was welcomed at the gates following her escape from Lochleven Castle, near Kinross, and her defeat at Langside, beside Glasgow. Mary was making for England and the comparative safety, so she thought, of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England. On the following morning she boarded a boat bound for the Cumberland coast. She never returned to her native land.

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John Balliol. In 1268, Lord John Balliol died. His grieving widow, Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway, had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket. She carried it with her everywhere. When she too died in 1289, she was laid to rest in front of the abbey church’s high altar, clutching her husband’s heart to her bosom.

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The graceful ruin nestles between the grey bulk of Criffel and the shimmering waters of the Solway Firth, whilst its blood-red sandstone walls contrast with the lush green grass at their feet.

Carsluith Castle

Carsluith Castle is a lightly-defended tower house. It is typical of the many L-planned tower houses built by the landed gentry throughout Scotland after the Protestant Reformation of 1560.  This eye-catching tower is on the road between Newton Stuart and Dumfries. And next to it is the Markbury Smokehouse.

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One Day One World Project: 21:00 – 22:00

The Kirkyard in Kirkcudbright

The site of St Cuthbert’s Kirk lies in the older part of the kirkyard in Kirkcudbright. The ancient church was dedicated to Saint Cuthbert, the patron saint of Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. The town is named after it.

Rising above the town, the kirkyard can be viewed from across the River Dee and is a perfect spot to watch the sun set.

Lisa of the blog NorthWest Frame of Mind has decided to run a different project over the next 24 weeks. To try to show what is happening in different parts of the world (if you all join in) at a particular time of day. If you would like to participate you have until next Saturday midnight to post a photo or write about what is happening in your part of the world.   This week is between 21:00 – 22:00.  I hope you’ll join in! See links for more details.

Just back From… Kirkcudbright

I have visited Scotland a few times, but never Dumfries and Galloway. I’d heard good things about the region, not least that they have some good gardens on account of it being near the Gulf Stream so the climate is warm, wet and mild – i.e. no frost.

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Having booked a week in Keswick for the OH’s 65th birthday, I realised how close to D&G we were going to be, so on a whim, booked a week in Kirkcudbright known as “The Artists’ Town” because of the generations of creative artists who made this their home. It is also a fishing town, though most of the catches, mainly scallops, are apparently sent to France. With its wide streets, prettily coloured houses, free parking and independent shops and many activities in the town and the area it looked like a nice place to relax.

We stayed in the High Street, in the heart of the town behind the castle and close to several art studios, art centres and art galleries.

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1-hr-(2)

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MacLellan’s Castle

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Lots of lovely flower displays to be found down a wynd (alley or narrow lane) or pend (architectural term referring to a passageway that passes through a building, often from a street through to a courtyard)

Malaya Garnet Clematis
Malaya Garnet Clematis

Some very interesting houses and shops:

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Very interesting dormer windows
Very interesting dormer windows

Spectacular river views along the Dee:

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Art and Creativity

Harbour Gallery

Churches and Public Buildings, often in distinctive red sandstone

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The Town Hall

And what a delightful week we had, culminating in a little jazz  🙂