On our trip into Dumfries on wednesday we passed a brown tourist sign indicating the forest of Ae. We hadn’t been able to give the dogs a good run off-lead for a while so thought this might be a good place to visit. We checked it out online and found that its one of the largest forests in Scotland, has a Cafe and, although mainly catering for Mountain Bikers, there were some walking trails as well.
Once again the weather was not in our favour. It had rained for most of the night and the morning had dawned with no change and not much chance of a respite later in the day either. The forecast was for more rain for most of the day with some wintry showers!
We decided that despite the weather, as it was our last day here, we should at least visit the place and try and give the dogs some ‘free’ time.
So it was after breakfast we headed down the A701 to the Forest of Ae.
First off let me say that the Forest of Ae is a stunning place for Mountain Bikers and from what we could see when we arrived they were setting up for a weekend event of ‘downhill’! Oh that I was 20 or 30 years younger, I would have loved to explore the various green, red and black routes on offer. However, with Thor’s propensity for lunging and barking at people on bikes, this was not the ideal spot for a bit of ‘off lead’ adventure, even with his muzzle on. Sadly the footpaths on offer were very close to the Mountain Bike routes and in some cases shared the same piece of forest, so this was not a suitable place for the dogs to have some freedom after all.
In the end we had a leisurely walk among the trees and by the river which, even with the persistent rain, was very pleasant. The dogs had ample opportunity to have a good rummage in the undergrowth, mark various trees (so they knew the way home of course!) and generally check out all the scents and smells of the forest. Fortunately we did not come across any ‘bikers’ so the issue of ‘conflict’ with Thor didn’t arise.
After our walk we adjourned to the bikers Cafe of Ae for some drinks. We enjoyed a very nice cup of coffee for me and a Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows for Irene!! We also enjoyed some home made carrot cake and some gluten free chocolate cake for Irene which she described as the best ‘home made gluten free chocolate cake I have ever had’, and all at very reasonable prices.
This place must be a real ‘mecca’ for Mountain Bikers and is probably exceedingly busy in the summer months.
Tomorrow we will be moving on to the Lake District for a few more days so if the rain clears at any time today, we will have to make the best of the dry to put the awning and other things away ready for the off tomorrow. Once again we will avoid the motorway as much as possible sticking to the B7076 which follows the line of the motorway perfectly and is largely free of traffic too.
One thing that has come up is that despite having a special sim card from 3 with 20Gb a month data allowance, it hasn’t been enough and we have gone over our limit last month and this. The cost of using the clubs Wi-Fi on site is also prohibitive as the data allowance is very poor. Not sure how we are going to resolve this in the future.