Holiday: Scotland (2022) – Carlisle

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We’re heading north to Scotland for two weeks- more specifically, Ayrshire, Loch Lomond and the Borders.

We’re dividing the holiday into three chunks (see the map below) and being a motoring holiday, we’re going to be using Scotland’s electric car-charging network.

It’s a heck of a drive from home to ‘chunk 1’ (Troon) and in my youth, I might have covered the 350 (ish) miles in a single trip – but not these days! ? Instead, we’re staying over in Carlisle for a night.

9.05am: We’re off! ?

11.01am: After a trouble-free journey via the A14 and M6, we arrived at Knutsford Services having covered 120 miles. Time to top up the tank, courtesy of Gridserve.

Spot the eNiro!

Next stop is Carlisle! ?

1.47pm: We’ve arrived in Carlisle! Although it wasn’t essential, we took advantage of the local ASDA and its InstaVolt chargers. This added another 120 miles meaning we didn’t need to use the much slower charger at our hotel. ?

Carlisle Castle

3.05pm: Here we are at Carlisle Castle – it was only around 10 minutes from ASDA. There was a very large car-park nearby, so no problems at all in parking.

…or so we thought! ?

The simple act of acquiring a ticket from the ticket machine outfoxed BOTH of us. We failed at the first prompt on the screen: “Select your Tariff” as there was no way to do this! Luckily, in the opposite direction, the other side of the car-park was another machine that took cash (remember that?). A single pound coin later, we were all sorted!

We then took the short walk to the Castle.

As you can see from the picture above, unfortunately, the Castle Keep was covered in scaffolding – we wondered why? It therefore wasn’t a great start!! ?

If you like looking round Castles as much as we do, and you planning to visit this one, it’s best to check the entry requirements before turning up! In what seemed like total English Heritage bureaucratic overkill, we had to book in advance. No specific time slot was needed (which surely defeats the object), but they apparently needed to know we were coming! Weird. ?

Anyway, enough of the red-tape! Matthew introduced himself as a Volunteer Guide and did an enthusiastic job of describing the main features of the Castle. It’s certainly OLD – dating back to the 12th century (although there’s evidence of an earlier Roman fortification here too!) – and eventually closing, as the home of the Border Regiment, in 1959.

We learned why the Keep was covered in scaffolding: They were addressing an issue of the porous walls that was letting in water. It looked like massive long-term project. This limited our access, but we were able to get a great view from the top and look around the ground floor.

I think all-in-all we were a bit disappointed with our visit. The location seemed to lack any sort of atmosphere and there wasn’t an awful lot of signage nor explanatory boards to explain the details of the rooms. The £4 book is therefore, in our opinion, a ‘must-buy’ and includes a lot of detail that wasn’t obvious just by wandering around.

Hhhhm! Not one of our most enjoyable visits. ☹️

No time for Carlisle Cathedral, Old Town Hall nor Birdsoswald Roman Fort, so they’ll be at the top of our list next time! ?. It was now time to head to our first stop-over…

Willowbeck Lodge

We’ve covered around 250 miles (of the 350 to Troon) and the journey has been as straightforward as it gets. No drama at all charging the car and the roads were jam-free!

3.53pm: Willowbeck Lodge in nearby Scotby was our ‘bed for the night’, and anywhere with an e-Type parked outside, gets my vote! ?

Our Hotel was described as a ’boutique hotel’ and we were looking forward to checking in.

At around £125 for our single night’s stay, it had everything that we needed and looked very tasteful. We were booked into their ‘Maple Lodge’ and it was probably one of the smallest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. However, it was very comfortable and we’ve got a full breakfast thrown in as part of the deal before we leave tomorrow.

A good start to our holiday then (well, apart from the parking challenge and the castle itself in Carlisle!). Even the Sun came out – and stayed there! ????

Tomorrow, we’re off to Troon for 4 days and then the holiday can really begin! ?

See you tomorrow! ??

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