Walking off the mince pies

Christmas Day (doesn’t it already seem a long time ago?) poured with rain so I was more or less forced to stay indoors eating chocolate and mince pies and watching feel-good films. Boxing Day, however, was bright and sunny so there was no excuse not to head off with the DH on one of my favourite walks in Dumfries & Galloway – Balcary Heughs. This is a great walk at any time of the year, though not if it’s very windy as the narrow path goes along clifftops.

From the village of Auchencairn a single track road leads follows the shoreline to the Balcary Bay Country House Hotel, built in the 17th century by Messrs Cain, Clark and Quirk who ran a shipping – or smuggling – business. The area around this part of the Solway has an exciting smuggling history.

A car park for walkers is situated close to the hotel. It was almost full when we arrived so I guess I wasn’t the only one feeling the need to walk off those mince pies.

Mostly I do the walk in a clockwise fashion, taking in the coastal part first and returning inland. We chose to do it the other way so the winter sun would be behind us when we walked the narrow path on the cliffs.

Despite the hard frost overnight, the ground was still pretty boggy in places. Loch Mackie looked stunning even though there was a distinct absence of bird life

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Loch Mackie

The coastal path is a great place for bird watchers: guillemots, razorbills fulmars and kittiwakes. In summer, wild flowers form colourful ‘hanging baskets’ on the sides of the cliffs. There are stunning rock formations – Adam’s Chair, the Door of the Heugh and (below) Lot’s Wife.

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The sea stack named Lot’s Wife.

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The only ‘wildlife’ met on the walk were those donkeys.

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Looking out across the Solway. The little white dots on the cliff side are sheep! Sure-footed sheep to be sure.

As we neared the end of the clifftop walk we had fantatstic views of Heston Island. When the tide is out it is possible to walk over to the island – though best done with a guide who knows where to avoid the quicksands. It was once owned by monks, briefly a Royal residence (or hideout) and has smuggling links. The novelist S R Crockett used the island as the model for Rathan Isle in his novel The Raiders. I’ll do a post about it soon.

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Heston Island.

Still in sunshine we ended our eight-mile walk – and went home to finish the mince pies.

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79 thoughts on “Walking off the mince pies

  1. Absolutely beautiful, Mary! I SO long to walk along paths like those. And I can see poor Lot’s Wife, turned to a pillar of salt. A great post to start your new blog off right! I’m looking forward to more! (Sorry I was a day late in following. I got interrupted yesterday, and just now remembered to follow you.) And I can tell you, mince pies or no, if I had a walk nearby as lovely as this one, I’d be going all the time. I can’t imagine it would ever get old. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for following Marcia and for leaving such a lovely comment. It is a lovely place to walk and is different every time I go. I’ll include some of my other walks over time. Rushing out right now to give a talk to a group of business women!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ve surely already left, so I’ll say I just know it went well, and I hope you enjoyed every minute of it. I truly love getting out to meet people at various events, and always return feeling inspired and charged up. Hope you do, as well! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I have a treat for author Mary Smith fans.. She has a brand new blog and this is her first post which I recommend you head over and read. She shares the stunning scenery and coastal walk on her 8 mile walk, thankfully in sunshine.. and yes she deserved to go home and finish the mince pies. Please head over and follow Mary Smith’s Place – I think we will be in for a treat in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is gorgeous round here, Tina. I’m very lucky as the landscape is incredibly diverse so we have the coast nearby as well as hills and forests. I’ll try to remember to take photos when I go out for a walk. There are still goodies in the cupboard!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Debby, glad you like the photos from the walk. I am going to keep on the Goldfish blog and try to post more regularly on it. A few months ago we had a chat about what we wanted to do with the Take Five Authors blog. I knew I wanted to do something different, to have more freedom to blog about other things, not only books or writing-related subjects. We’re leaving the blog up and each of us can post on it if we have some news to share – a promotion or a new book out – so really it will only be two blogs I post on. The Goldfish one and this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary, I’m so glad to have found your new blog and to follow! 😀 This is a post of serenity and beauty and I felt as if I’d walked along with you …coastal paths are always stunning. Wishing you a very Happy and creative New Year…a wonderful start for you with the interview at Hugh’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year, Annika. I’m so pleased you found the new blog and delighted you are a follower. Glad you liked my first post. It is a lovely walk, especially when the sun is shining. And yes, 2018 kicked off very well with the interview and Donkey Boy & Other Stories being Hugh’s Book of the Month.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, eight miles, Mary! Good for you! That is a long walk but it certainly looks lovely with that gorgeous view and the air must feel good. After that walk you deserve some mince pies! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. Blessings in 2018! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like you had a great nature walk. And the pictures surely do paint a great picture for those who were not with you there.

    On the First Friday post you said something about not being able to see comments. Is that still the case? I’d try and help, but I’m not sure what your exact problem is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for finding me and for your lovely comments. It’s okay, I can see the other comments now and am working through them – slowly. I still can’t see how to comment. I can see someone posts a link and under it people have commented – are those comments which have been left on the blog? This is exhausting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It surely can be overwhelming at first, but you will get the hang of it. It seems like you figured out how to reply to the comments left on your site. (You can either do it by hitting “reply” under their comments on your site, or by replying in your dashboard notification area (bell icon in upper right).)
        As far as leaving comments on other blogs, just be sure to scroll to the bottom and you should find a “Leave a reply” box. Some posts might have that option disabled, or set the comment section to close after a certain time.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Just wanted to let you guys know that Mary Smith has a brand new blog you might want to check out. This first post has some absolutely gorgeous photos. I particularly like one of the sea stack named “Lot’s Wife.” Nice job, Mary, and best of luck with your newest endeavor. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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