Headline photo

Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Happy Birthday to the Rock-Ford Files

It came as a huge surprise that, as of 11 Feb, we have been writing the Rock-Ford Files - Kippford and Rockcliffe blog for one whole year... so I hope you will join me in singing 'Happy Birthday' to the blog!

This iconic wee cutie is seen regularly at Millbrae House or Riverview Lodge by guests. Red Squirrels seem to love it around the Colvend Coast and we are understandably proud that they choose to live here. (Could be something to do with the well stocked nut ad seed feeders)

It seemed that we should mark the occassion in some way so I thought I would change the type face to a more modern one and report on the success of the blog and key milestones

The blog now has 15 followers (Hello to you all and thank you for following, please encourage your friends and family to follow suit) and is read by lots of others on an ocasional basis world wide... YES! world wide, as this latest breakdown of recent readers shows.

United Kingdom
United States

This came as a (very pleasant) surprise to us as we thought that interest would be mainly from the UK. So a very special 'hello', hi y'all, 你好, привет, bonjour, guten tag, Hallå, Привіт to anyone reading from outside the UK. 

We are all-so celebrating another milestone. We have just hit 4000 page views and averaged over 330 visits a month!

Over the past year we posted 48 posts on a wide range of subjects from walks, recipes and events to concerts, local celebrities and charity fund raising, which included some lovely images of the area, who knows what we will be writing about this year? 

Mersehead Sands with the dune system in the foreground and Castle Point, Rockcliffe in the distance.

Our aim this year is to achieve at least one post per week (as you can imagine things slide a little around out busiest times of year) and we have some interesting and informative ideas in the pipeline including more local walks, recipes and events.

With 2013 being the Year of Natural Scotland and 2014 being Homecoming Scotland we have plenty of scope and are looking forward to welcoming lots of new visitors to the area!

Looking North from the peak of Screel.

If you have any thoughts on the blog, would like to contribute to a post or simply get in touch please do, it would be great to hear from you.

Best wishes
The Editor

NOTE: All images are copyrighted. Not for use or publication without written permission.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Enjoy Dumfries & Galloway with some of the best access rights in the world

As outdoor enthusiasts we are very lucky, here in Dumfries & Galloway, to enjoy some of the best access rights in the world. 

Which is fantastic for the many people who come here to enjoy the amazing biodiversity and recreational facilities Dumfries & Galloway has to offer. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the public the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education and going from place to place, providing they act responsibly. 

The "Scottish Outdoor Access Code" (as it's known) provides guidance on access rights and responsibilities but  it is not in it'self an authoritative statement of the law, although it has been approved by Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. As I understand it, the code is more of guidelines that, if followed, help you observe the law and are an example of good practice when out-and-about in the countryside.

Many of our guests are keen walkers, birders, cyclists or dog owners and most come from outwith Scotland. As Scottish access rights are different to other countries they are often  hesitant when going out and about, as I was when I first came here. I grew up in Yorkshire where the only option to explore the countyside was to use a permissive footpath so although I love the freedom,  I am still sometimes uncomfortable 'roaming free'. With this in mind I looked up the  Scottish Outdoor Access Code when I moved here and always check my rights over my chosen route before I go.

Guests often ask about the Scottish right to roam when exploring our beautiful countryside so I thought it would be a good idea to do a post about the "Scottish Outdoor Access Code" as a handy reference. This is just intended as a quick overview, there are links to official publications at the bottom.

The Land Reform  (Scotland) Act 2003 gives you the right to enjoy:

• Informal pastimes such as walking, camping, picnicking and sightseeing
• Active pursuits including cycling, mountaineering, canoeing and horse riding
• Dog walking, provided your dog is under proper control
• Taking part in recreational and educational trips
• Simply going from one place to another

NOTE: Motorised activities (unless for disabled access) and hunting, shooting and fishing are NOT included.

... over most of Scotland including:
• Urban parks
• Hills and woods
• Most grass fields and field margins
• Beaches
• Lochs, rivers and canals

However, in the interests of safety and to encourage goodwill between the public and to land owners and managers, it is equally important to note the places where you CAN NOT exercise this right. 

The main places where access rights do not apply are:

• houses and gardens, and non-residential buildings and associated land
• land in which crops are growing
• land next to a school and used by the school
• sports or playing fields when these are in use and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use
• land developed and in use for recreation and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use 
• golf courses (but you can cross a golf course provided you don’t interfere with any games of golf)
• places like airfields, railways, telecommunication sites, military bases and installations, working quarries and construction sites
• visitor attractions or other places which charge for entry

The Code: is based on three key principles which apply equally to both parties, the public and land owners or managers. These are simply, in my opinion, basic common sense and are second nature to most countryside lovers/users and wildlife enthusiasts so are not onerous to abide by.

1. Respect the interests of other people. 
Which means acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness. If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and the needs of other people enjoying the outdoors. If you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit. 

2. Care for the environment. 
If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

3. Take responsibility for your own actions. 
If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

There are also places where, although not specifically excluded,  you are expected to exercise basic common sense; these include bird nesting sites such as wetlands and shingle beaches which should be given a wide berth during the breeding season in late Spring. An example of this locally is Rough Island (an island bird sanctuary just off Rockcliffe/Roughfirth with nesting oystercatchers and ringed plovers. There are signs asking people not to visit during the breeding season in May and June.

I hope that this post is useful as knowing the code gives me the confidence to explore freely. 

You can get more extensive guidance and download several documents here:

These include:

I hope this helps you to enjoy the wonderful diversity Dumfries & Galloway has to offer to the full, particularly in this Year of Natural Scotland

Source: Scottish Natural Heritage - http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/