And we’re off.
I’m not good at getting up much before 11:00 so having to get up at 06:00 was a bit of a shock to the system…..but a mug of coffee and knowing I was off on a road trip helped to clear the cobwebs. I’d packed my 2 cases the day before and just had a few toiletries to toss into my toiletries bag, complete the last few outstanding tasks on my “to do” list, set the house alarm system and I was good to go.
In the car I did a final check of my necessities like credit card wallet, driving licence, passport, cash and that I still had the P&O email on my phone with the ferry details. The mp3 was loaded with music, the GoPro was locked in place as a dashcam and the phone was set up as my GPS. All the car’s trip settings were set to zero, the fuel tank was full and I was set.
I put the Cairnryan ferry terminal into the Waze app and at 07:05 I reversed out of the drive and started on my 3 week road trip. The weather was a bit overcast with the threat of rain later but on this leg of the trip, I didn’t mind too much.
But not for the first time over the next 3 weeks, the forecasters got it totally wrong.
By the time I made it onto the A1 northwards, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and yours truly was wearing his sunglasses and singing along to Adele. Just as well she couldn’t hear me. Just as well nobody could hear me !
At 09:30 and 127 miles from leaving home, the M6 became the A74(M) and I approached the sign that marked the crossing into Scotland.
At this point it’s probably a good time to say the only still photos I took on this trip were using my new Samsung S7 phone – apart from the GoPro for in car video, I had no other camera with me. So the quality of the photos will not be as good as with my dSLR but it was a deliberate decision to travel light and just enjoy the locations I went to without having a heavy camera around my neck. I got the S7 mostly for the quality of the camera and I can tell you it did not disappoint.
With only another 100 miles to go, I’d broken the back of the drive to the ferry, my stomach had processed the early morning porridge and I was ready to eat again. I already knew my choice of eatery, The Scottish Pantry in Castle Douglas, so only had another 43 miles to go.
The sun was still shining, the sky was still blue and I was loving the drive.
The A75 across to Stranraer is a much improved road these days with many sections of dual carriageway which helps when you get behind the numerous lorries or slow moving cars all headed to the ferries. So by 10:30 I was entering Castle Douglas and more than ready for my now traditional meal at The Scottish Pantry.
The big pot of tea was brilliant and I got 4 cups from it.
Full of stomach and rested from being on the road for 3.5 hrs, I set off again for the short 58 mile sprint to Cairnryan and the P&O ferry terminal. The skies were beginning to become overcast again with wispy cloud cover but overall the drive from home had been very enjoyable.
As it was early in the season and a long way from school holidays, there weren’t many cars waiting to board the ferry. As I pulled into the line, the ferry was approaching the dock and I only had a short wait before we were ready to drive up the ramp.
Given the lack of passengers, I was easily able to get a comfy seat onboard and settled down with my snackies and tablet and watched a movie to pass the time. The European Causeway set off on time and the 2 hr crossing to Larne in N. Ireland was as smooth as any I’d ever been on.
Please note my not-so-subtle product placement. Free samples can be sent to my home address. Thank you.
Shortly after 15:30 I was off the ferry and heading around the port of Larne on my way to Magherafelt, 40 miles away, where I was going to spend a few days with my cousin, Breid, and her family before starting the main part of my road trip around the coastline of Ireland.
9 hrs 26mins, 3 countries, 267 miles and one ferry crossing had brought me to their door and I can tell you I slept well that night.
Day 1 was over and I was really looking forward to what was to come, most of it unknown territory to me.
I hope you’ll come with me.