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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.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The first sign of Spring at Sweetheart Abbey

Last week I spotted what must be the first signs of Spring: a people carrier full of visitors getting out of their vehicle at Sweetheart Abbey! 

I was driving to Dumfries on a glorious, clear, crisp Spring day and has chosen to take the coast road (the A710), which is my favourite route as the scenery is stunning, when I spotted them as I turned the bend next to the Abbey Tea Room in New Abbey.

How did I know they were visitors? Well the walking gear, cameras and binoculars were a hint, but the reason they caught my eye was that, even whilst getting out of their vehicle, they were already staring with wonder and awe at the towering red sandstone walls of the Abbey. 

View of Sweetheart Abbey from the carpark next to the tearoom

Their total focus was the amazing and evocative building in front of them, everything else was being done on auto setting. It reminded me of my first sight of this amazing place, not without a whiff of nostalgia I have to add, and reminded me that it is easy to take these spectacular places for granted and to forget that unique feeling you get when seeing something truly amazing for the first time. I have to admit I felt envious of them experiencing the Abbey, for probably, the first time.

And Sweetheart Abbey really is amazing as it is a place of personal devotion and a monument to the love of one person for another. 

In 1268, Lord John Balliol, husband of Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway, died. His grieving widow had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket which she carried with her constantly.

Lady Dervorgilla undertook many charitable acts in his memory but the most significant must be founding of the Cistercian abbey of Dulce Cor (Latin for ‘Sweet Heart’) in 1273. When 
Lady Dervorgilla died in 1289, she was laid to rest in front of the abbey church’s high altar, with her husband’s heart to her bosom.

View of Sweetheart Abbey from a distance
Sweetheart Abbey’s conception as a shrine to human and divine love is a deeply appealing concept as is its attractive, rural village setting. The imposing ruin nestles between the grey bulk of Criffel to the West and the shimmering waters of the Solway Firth to the South, whilst its dark red sandstone walls contrast with the lush grass of the pastureland at their feet.

For more information on Sweetheart Abbey follow these links:
Historic Scotland - access information and prices

History and background

As Spring is definitely here it's a good time to be thinking of getting out and about with the walking boots on so the next post is a great walk for orientating yourself along the Colvend Coast, great views and yes, a bit of a climb, but well worth it!

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