Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sweetheart Abbey

Thoughts turn at this time of year to spring cycle trips. And where better than Galloway, with its quiet roads, rural charm, and coastal villages?

Roadside dell:

We took the bikes from Rockcliffe to New Abbey on a glorious spring day, intending to climb Criffel and visit the ancient abbey.

The streets of New Abbey:

But clouds were gathering as we climbed Criffel. A shame, as it must make a grand viewpoint over Galloway and the Lake District on a fine day.

View over the Nith from Criffel summit:

The main attraction after Criffel is Sweetheart Abbey, founded in 1273 by Devorgilla, who inherited the Lordship of Galloway. She had her husband's heart buried in the abbey grounds. He was John de Balliol, a member of the French-speaking Norman aristocracy who ruled much of Western Europe by this time, an elite who seamlessly traversed the single, rarefied establishment ruling the French, English and Scots courts.

Devorgilla's sons and grandsons would play an integral part in the Wars of Independence - her eldest surviving son was legitimate heir to the Scottish throne, but was opposed by de Brus, another half-Norman family with nearby roots. (Though the Bruces eventually triumphed over the Balliols, the legitimacy of Devorgilla's son, Scotland's hapless King John I, should not be lost in the glare of Robert the Bruce's fame.)

We headed back to the campsite in the teeth of a strong wind, a now wet and raw day. Spring is like that sometimes.

Carsethorn on the return journey:


blueskyscotland said...

Lovely part of Galloway. I,m just back from there myself but it was inland Galloway and tough going on a bike. It's nice around the coast though.

Robert Craig said...

Yes, very nice round coastal Galloway.

Hopefully the weather holds and we get out on the bikes again this weekend!