Scotland, Chapter 3: In Search of Newton Stewart
“My parents were both Scotch, having been born and raised in the lowlands — my mother at Newton Stewart and my father at Wigtown. Mother was of the large Stroyan family, and I have gathered from her casual conversation, were trades people, and as she used to say, journeymen.”
-- Belle Laurie Waddell, daughter of John and Isabella Stroyan Laurie
It was in search of the early lives of these “journeymen” that, one hundred and sixty-seven years later, her great-granddaughter, Robin, and I, a fourth-generation Hamilton County resident, took our own journey to Scotland in search of Newton Stewart.
ROBIN's NOTES - 9/14/18
Before I fell asleep last night, I decided I would rent a car so we can see what we want to. I am a responsible, good driver, lots of Americans drive in the UK, why would I let something like that scare me? There are hidden gems that I don’t want to miss, like the standing stones near Wigtown, the Dunure Castle ruins, the countryside, Galloway Forest.
In order to make this happen, DawnMarie and I set out today to rent a car. Thinking we might have more luck finding an automatic rental in a smaller town that fewer tourists went to -- okay, I’m still a little intimidated at having to drive on the right and shift with my left hand. We headed out to the train station to travel to Newton Stewart, which has become one of the main focus locations of our trip. There is a museum there where we may find some insights.
Plan A: The Train
At the train station we found yellow tape across the entrance to the platform -- the aged hotel (behind us in this photo) at the train station was quite literally falling down, right onto the train platform, making it unsafe for passengers & trains alike. All the trains, north and south, have been cancelled for an unspecified time. No worries - we have a Plan B - The Bus!
Plan B: The Bus
At the bus station we found out the multi-stop bus ride to Newton Stewart would take up most of the morning and early afternoon giving us little time to spend there before we need to catch the bus back to Ayr, meaning no Wigtown or the sights in that area.
No worries - let’s take the bus to a town that has a rental car agency.
Plan C: The Rental Car
At the bus stop in Stranraer (pronounced Stran-RAWR), a port town about 2 hrs away by bus, we learned the rental car agency is at the port office - which the bus passed a few stops back.
No worries - let’s taxi back to the port.
The Rental Agency informs us that a manual rental car (with steering wheel on the right, and gear shift on left of wheel), advertised online that morning at about 200 GBP is really 400 pounds GBP (which translates to about $500 USD), and the only automatic over 1000 GBP (which translates to about $1300 USD). *GBP = Great British Pounds
The bus stop back to Ayr is at the OTHER port office...
...a mile and a half walk back in the direction we came, through the cold, drizzling rain.
Plans A, B and C are out, we have to rethink this.
Another long bus ride back to Ayr leaves us both a little car sick, feeling a little defeated, and utterly able to relate to the bus driver when he kicked a soda can (that some litterbug had left rolling noisily around the bus floor) clean out of the door onto the road. Even though we are staunchly against littering the countryside.
And yet - we were in Scotland.
Despite the frustrations of the day, I had to admit that through the bus window I had seen a flock of sheep way up on a very green hillside, enjoyed beautiful countryside dotted with stone walls and old farms, and marveled at Ailsa Craig, the huge domed rock just off the coast.
The bus made me realize how I take for granted just being able to get in my truck and go where I want to, when I want to.
Our dinner that night was delicious, but we were almost too exhausted to enjoy it. Almost.
Later on I'll post a blog devoted exclusively to the food we ate.
we'll always remember how Scotland waved at us through that bus window, with a sign that invited us to return.
Scotland Series links:
Scotland, Ch 1: Coming to America
Scotland, Ch 2: Scottish Naming Conventions
Scotland, Ch 3: In Search of Newton Stewart
Scotland, Ch 4: Finding Newton Stewart