“starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent…..”
Because we were running the Keswick Buttermere 34K race on Sunday Ian and Jane kindly offered to put a few of us up in their cottage in Kippford, near Dalbeattie over night on Saturday. This would split the journey and save us the problem of having to leave Dunbar in the early hours to get down for the race.
Never been to this neck of the woods before and I was really impressed by what I saw.
In the evening, after our meal, we went for a walk down into the village.
Ian had been telling before hand that Dumfries has recently been awarded a “Dark Sky Park” status (first in the UK). Certainly it was a little overcast when we went our walk so we didn’t even have the benefit of star light or moon light to help us (though we did have a couple of head torches between us J ).
From what I could see of it Kippford it looks like a stereotypical seaside village. Only it isn’t really on the seaside – its by the estuary of the river Urr, which flows into the Solway Firth. But there are loads of sailing boats moored or dry docked on or near the water and lots of little rowing boats that are obviously used to get out to them.
At a few places in the wall by the river you could make out openings in the wall that led out to slipways running into the water.
It was quiet. Very, very quiet. Or it was until Millie, Ian and Jane’s dog, got sight of a couple of other wee dogs and then all hell seemed to break loose!!
The overall impression I got was of a place very much like Llareggub, the village in “Under Milk Wood” by Dylan Thomas, one of my favourite books. I couldn’t help but assume that all the cottages and houses would be inhabited by eccentrics (or what passes for eccentric in that neck of the woods).
Then, as if to confirm my suspicions, Ian took us a walk along a little pathway….
A local artist has created a sort of grotto or makeshift sculpture park full of bizarre carvings and statues that are embellished with, in some though not all cases, glass eyes and teeth. At one or two places faces are carved into the rock face and the viewer has to look into one of the carved eye sockets – only to find yourself looking into a sort of mini cavern right into the face of a creature staring back out at you. Crazy, wonderful stuff. I’d find it hard to define it but I’d suggest that it’s a sort of mix of Celtic and Voodoo.
Looking at these carvings and statues in the dark added to their sinister feel. Great fun.