Holiday: Day 5: Scotland (2022) – Pollok House and Loch Lomond

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Madainn mhath!* ?

*Google Translate available HERE

Day 5 – Monday, 23rd May

It’s ‘Day 5’ of our Scottish break, and as we say goodbye to Troon, we’re now beginning Leg 2. We’re heading for the tiny village of Gartocharn (pop. c650) for its proximity to Loch Lomond staying at Eastcambusmoon Farm‘s: The Old Dairy.

Farewell Salt Lodge Apartments!
Farewell Troon Yacht Haven!

As is normal, we can’t check into our new accommodation until mid-afternoon, so we’re going to visit National Trust for Scotland’s Pollok House first. It’s en-route, just 30 miles away.

Pollok House

11.06am: Arriving at Pollok House was a challenge in itself. Although the majority of the car journey along the A77/M77 had been without incident, the last half-mile was a nightmare! How so? Well, for a start, the signage to the actual House was misleading/missing/inaccurate – and the post-code on their website didn’t take us anywhere near it!! ?

Not a great start then! In other circumstances, we might have said: “Sod this!” and gone somewhere else, but we were feeling generous in spirit this morning! ?. When we eventually ignored the directional signs and used my weekly allocation of common sense – we got there! In short, if you’re planning to visit, call ahead and get the latest instructions over the phone!

I’ll be the first to admit, I’d never heard of this House! Built in 1752, it’s an unusual arrangement in that the owner is Glasgow Council but looked after, on a day-to-day basis, by National Trust for Scotland.

The Maxwell family lived here for six centuries, but the main part of the present house was built in the mid-18th century – extended in all directions, by enlarging the entrance area and adding two small pavilions each side.

By far the most important factoid is the discussion to officially form the National Trust for Scotland was actually held here! I have no idea how they managed to find the place!!! ?

We caught the 11.30am guided tour where we learned quite a bit about the history of the House. Its major claim to fame is that the owner, Sir William Stirling Maxwell amassed an extraordinary number of Spanish paintings plus portraits of the Habsburg rulers of Spain to hang alongside powerful religious scenes – at a time when Spain wasn’t really in favour in the UK. For me, the strangest part was the size of the Servant’s area below stairs – it was massive in proportion to the rest of the house – and tiled too! We learned that at the point of them handing it over to Glasgow Council, it had 48 staff looking after 3 residents! Today, the family still live in part of the House.

We’ve visited a lot of stately homes in our time and this one firmly sat in the ‘smaller than we thought and in need of some repairs’ category. Worth a visit – if you can find it!!!

Pollok Walled Garden

Err, WOW!!! We weren’t expecting such a display!!!! I’ll just leave these here… ??

Balloch

1.45pm: We stopped in Balloch (the nearest town to where we’re staying) for a picnic and to get our bearings. We parked in Balloch Castle Country Park and saw a sign…

…and decided to find both…

The short unassuming footpath suddenly opened up, revealing a beautiful area of woodland, full of mature trees! ??

The Castle

2.05pm: I’m not quite sure what we were expecting, but seeing this grand building boarded-up with stunning views across Loch Lomond, just seemed wrong! Apparently, Glasgow City Corporation bought it back in 1915 and it had been leased out and also used as Council offices. It’s now officially on the Buildings at Risk Register. Maybe not surprisingly, it’s a category A listed building, but such a shame to see such an important piece of Scottish History wasting away! ??

Walled Garden

2.17pm: Another surprise! This was a hidden gem and looked absolutely splendid even today when the sun wasn’t really doing its thing!

Well, that was all very impressive! ? For such a small place, their Country Park (and their Walled Garden) had been a very pleasant surprise! The Castle needed some serious TLC though! ?

3.45pm: The weather was now turning cold and there was rain in the air. Back in the car, we to double-checked the post-code and headed for next accommodation…

The Old Dairy, Gartocharn

4.02pm: We arrived at the Farm and bumped into the owners Deborah and Steve. If we’d been spoilt with electric chargers in the past – this place just raised things by a few notches. Not just a SINGLE charger, but a total of FOUR – one of them for Teslas and the other three to fight over! ?. One of them was even a three-phase device too, meaning we could charge 50% faster than most other home-chargers! ??

The Old Dairy

The property itself – The Old Dairy – was eco-friendly and well-designed. We have everything we need here for the next six nights and they’d even supplied a washing machine too!

Whilst Ann got us unpacked, I set up ‘Jodrell Bank’ – and I noticed another ‘plus’ in the form of a stable internet connection! ??

This all feels very nice here!

No idea what we’re doing tomorrow! ?.

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