I normally associate the noun ‘mile’ with the amount of tarmac covered on a road trip but on this particular adventure miles refers to the length of book shelving stacked with fascinating books that I had the pleasure of browsing.
The destination of this book paradise ……. Wigtown in the Dumfires and Galloway region of Scotland. Wigtown became Scotland’s National Book Town in 1998 and has subsequently become a thriving town attracting book lovers from all corners of the globe. It’s exceptionally high proportion of book shops dominate the main street.
Camper van packed, minus the usual hoard of books, ready for the drive from Yorkshire to the south west of Scotland, 210 miles of the norths wonderful scenery. Upon arrival in Wigtown I was greeted by a lovely town square with lots of green space, ample car parking spaces and most importantly circled by numerous book shops.
I jumped out of the camper van eager to begin my book shopping expedition. First stop The Book Shop, the largest second hand book store in Scotland stocking an impressive 100,000 books on over one mile of shelving.
If that isn’t book heaven I don’t know what is. Owned by Shaun Bythell the author of The Diary Of A Book Seller and home to wonderful log fires, handy step ladders to reach those sky scrapper shelves and a cat called Captain. You’re certainly made to feel at home with comfy leather armchairs and cozy lamps illuminating the titles. The only thing missing, a map when you enter, it’s easy to get lost in the endless maze of shelves, corridors, rooms and stairs where every spare inch of space is crammed with books on every subject that you can imagine. For those that haven’t read Shaun’s book beware of what you say and do, you’ll be under observation by Shaun’s watchful eyes and super hearing and likely be the subject of a comedy episode in his next book. You have been warned.
For those of you that love to study a paper map in the camper you’ll be pleased to know that these’s a great selection of old and new maps in the shop. Oh and don’t forget the hundreds of travel books nestled in the shelves. You could easily spend a whole day browsing the many fascinating books in this shop but I’m aware that there’s other book shops to explore.
Map of book shops in Wigtown to visit:
If at any point you need to seek refreshment, I can recommend the Craft Hotel in the main square, a roaring fire and a fabulous menu awaits accompanied by a great range of alcoholic drinks. If you’d like to remain clear headed and remain focused on your book shopping then head to Beltie Books & Cafe and enjoy a snack while browsing.
When your arms are weighed down with books and you need to make camp for the evening, head south east out of the centre down Harbour Road for half a mile. This will lead you to the bank of the River Bladnock with plenty of space to park up your camper for the evening.
A friendly local even wondered down for a chat when he saw the camper parked up. It’s a ten minute walk back to Wigtown centre. If you fancy exploring on foot get yourself a copy of the Ordnance Survey map for Wigtown and the surrounding area. There’s lots of great walks and a stone circle a short drive away.
If you don’t like the idea of camping with no facilities then theres a campsite a ten minute drive south from Wigtown called Drumroamin Farm Camping site, visit www.drumroamin.co.uk for more information.
Fifteen miles south of Wigtown lies the Isle of Whithorn, one of the most southerly villages and seaports in Scotland. The coastline is stunning and there’s plenty of places to park up in your camper if you fancy staying the night. We spend the morning exploring the village and coastline in the very breezy Scottish wind! Although the sun was shining and the sky was very blue considering our brave choice of camping in November!
There’s lots more to explore on the Scottish south coast, the coast road west takes you to the wild Mull of Galloway. Unfortunately, our trip is only a short one and we leave Wigtown, the camper a little heavier with it’s hoard of new to me books on board, while I mentally plan which book town I’ll explore next. For inspiration for your own trip to a book town I’d highly recommend Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word By Alex Johnson.
By Ana – The CamperVana