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Culzean Castle and our first BritStop

Despite the site being close to the A70 road the noise wasn't intrusive and we slept well - in fact we slept until quite late. We'd no need for an early start though, as out first stop of the day - the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) property of Culzean Castle - was only a few miles away.

On the way we passed a couple of campsites we'd used in the past. The first was The Ranch which is a Caravan and Motorhome Club affiliated site and has a decent indoor pool. The other was the Camping and Caravanning site at the entrance to Culzean itself, which was the first site we visited when we got our first motorhome in 2004. This time we found a nice quiet corner in the empty coach park, tucked away behind one of the trailers the National Trust use to ferry folks about. With greenery outside one window and a sea view from the rear it'd have made a great wild camping spot if that was allowed (which it's not!).

Culzean Castle is one of my favourite NTS properties with the house and gardens both being lovely, and with nice views out to sea on a clear day.

We spent a few hours wandering around the castle and gardens including a bit of time playing with my macro lens, trying to get decent pics of the flowers and bees (not the easiest handheld when there is a bit of a breeze).

From Culzean it was only about 50 miles to our overnight stop, which was to be at our first even Britstop. This is a UK scheme, inspired by France Passion, where you can stay in your motorhome for free overnight at pubs and other locations in exchange for buying a meal or a few drinks. The one we had decided to use was in Leadhills and the satnav navigated us along nice quiet rural roads to get there. The Britstop is in a car-park behind the Hopetoun Arms Hotel. The Britstops book says the approach to the car-park is steep however the owner has recently leveled it a bit and getting our 7m+ motorhome in was no problem. The car-park itself is very level and has plenty of room to get in and out - and even looks like it has electrical hook-ups although we didn't need them for the one night.

We spent quite a while chatting to the friendly owner of the hotel as it turns out his kids had attended the same school in Edinburgh as our kids, which was also a school that Fiona taught at for 14 years. I managed one beer before Fiona decided I needed to earn my next one by walking round the tourist trail in the Leadhills village. There are a few interesting places although this late the narrow gauge railway had already closed so the highlight of the route for me was actually in the graveyard of all places. That was because one of the locals buried there, John Taylor, was supposed to have lived until he was 137!

I wasn't all that convinced by the explanation of why they thought he'd made it to that age (especially given it'd have made him more than 20 years older than the oldest ever man that's been verified) but hey, it's a good story!

We were the only motorhome overnighting in the car-park so it was very quiet. Based on this visit I'm pretty impressed by the Britstops scheme and am looking forward to using more of the locations, as well as some of the France Passion sites as we've also joined that scheme.

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