Kirkcudbright yacht marina has some long pontoons which run parallel with the channel of the River Dee. If you want to progress upstream take the outside as the access pontoon blocks the inner passage. In case you have just joined the story in this blog, I should clarify that this is the Galloway River Dee. There are four River Dees in Britain: this one, one in Aberdeenshire, one in Cumbria and one in Wales. The Kirkcudbright Dee rises in the Galloway Hills in the catchment area of Cairsnmore of Carsphairn and Cairnsmore of Dee. There is an old Galloway saying:
Having set off from the estuary of the River Fleet and now entered the estuary of the River Dee, our kayaks had been wetted by the run off from the watersheds of three fine Galloway mountains.
The slipway can be seen just to the right of the yacht. I have...
near the access pontoon for the marina. We changed out of our dry suits into attire suitable for dinner. Then I tied the boats to a tree with my tow line because...see above!
In the early 20th century Kirkcudbright attracted many authors and artists. Those who stayed here include Dorothy L Sayers, E A Hornel, Jessie M King, E A Taylor, S J Peploe and Charles Oppenheimer.
Selkirk Arms Hotel. These inconspicuous signs mark the site of the 15th century "Meickle Yett" which was the gate through the town's defensive wall. This was built to keep English pirates and trouble makers out of the town. As the town grew the Yett was moved in 1780 to the nearby church yard where it still stands today.
Anyway enough preamble we had come to Kirkcudbright to visit the Selkirk Arms Hotel. We were in good company, the poet Robert Burns stayed here in 1749 when he was working as a customs officer in the area. It was here (and not in the town of Selkirk) that he wrote the Selkirk Grace:
When it comes to food the Selkirk Arms hotel prides itself on using local producers and suppliers. Mike and I shared Alan Watson's Galloway Smokehouse board while Ian had a local goat's cheese salad. But this was just for starters we each followed up with hot Galloway beef with roasted tomato and rocket served in a sour dough roll which was simply scrumptious. Note the blackboard which gives the provenance of the steak as Todd Hill Muir farm, in nearby Lockerbie which had been butchered at Carsons in even nearer Dalbeattie. There are no Airmiles for the food served here. If it had been in season, I would have ordered....
I asked the waitress to let the chef know that three hungry sea kayakers had arrived. Within seconds, part owner, chef and fellow sea kayaker, Chris Walker, appeared in his whites for a chat for a chat. We shared tales of camping on Little Ross and of rough conditions in the Little Ross tiderace before Chris had to dash off to cook the next order. A very posh sounding lady guest could be heard asking the waitress why the chef had spoken to "them" and not to her. We had noticed she had moved from the table next to us earlier in our meal...I can't imagine why!
At 500m from the sea (at high tide) the Selkirk Arms is at the upper distance of what is normally considered as acceptable to be considered as a sea kayaking pub. However, the welcome, the exceptional food, ambience and service mean that this is this is a sea kayaking par excellence. On a score out of 10 Ian and I are unanimous in awarding it 13/10!