Until Thursday night the plan for this weekend had been to drive to Germany after work on Friday – taking the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland (and back again on return).
Following the UK’s announcement that both the Netherlands and France would be placed on the UK’s quarantine list, we decided to stay in the UK instead.
Annoyingly I’ve since heard it confirmed on the radio (ironically on BBC Radio Scotland during our back-up weekend away), that if we were to drive from Germany straight to the Channel Tunnel without stopping we would not have to quarantine.
Having said that – it only takes one stop at the services….one stop for lunch….during the 5-6 hr drive to then mean we’d have to quarantine for 2 weeks. With many Brits now cutting their holidays in France and the Netherlands short, all the Channel ports would now be much, much busier than normal. By 10:30 Thursday night one caller to LBC’s late night show said that they were 5000th in the queue to get tickets to the Channel Tunnel online…..
So our backup plan was a weekend away in Scotland. We left home a little after 16:15 on Friday night, and set off for Ayr. Ayr is so far away from Cirencester (360 miles) that when I google “Cirencester to Ayr” instead of bringing up Google maps it shows me flights from Bristol to Glasgow.
But I like my driving. The Friday afternoon rush hour traffic meant much of the early part of the journey was rather busy. Not like the last time I drove up to Scotland when I was in a traffic jam from Gloucester to Manchester – but certainly busy. The worst stretch was the M6 just North of Stafford. There had been an accident and at one point queues were more than 9 miles long. By the time we got there the queue was only 5 miles long. We got bored and phoned Mum while we waited.
After that the roads calmed down a lot. We stopped at Tebay services for dinner, then continued on to Ayr, arriving just after 23:30. The last time I drove up to Ayr at rush hour I left home at 13:45 and arrived at 23:30.
On Saturday we started early and started by driving from the hotel in to Ayr itself. We had a walk along the beach, paddled in the Firth of Clyde, and had our breakfast.
Our next stop was the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, which only opened 3 days ago for the first time since March. I signed up to become a member of National Trust Scotland, which also gets me free entry and parking at National Trust properties all over the UK, not just in Scotland.
From there it was on to Culzean – the castle and country park. The castle is still closed but the park has large grounds so we had a good walk and a takeaway lunch from the café, as well as some time on the beach which can be accessed from within the park grounds. The weather was good enough that the beach was very pleasant, but not overcrowded, the water calm. This makes me want next week’s holiday to Greece now!
After we left Culzean we drove back to Ayr – the aim was to return to the beach there but the sat nav took us the scenic route; We drove the Electric Brae and then stopped at a nice looking beach near the harbour in Dunure.
In the evening we had a takeaway which we ate on Ayr’s main beach while we watched the Sun setting behind the Isle of Arran.
A packed day and we were lucky with the weather – Made the long drive worthwhile.
A second blog will follow with more photos from our second day in Scotland.