From artists to speed freaks, bookworms to bike riders, the stunningly beautiful south western Scottish territory of Dumfries & Galloway offers visitors adventures aplenty.
The vibrant fishing port of Kirkcudbright is a great place to start, sitting on the north shore of the picturesque Solway Firth with its pretty pastel coloured houses and attractive shops. It has long been known as the Artists’ Town because it has supported generations of painters and craftspeople. Modern Kirkcudbright has an Arts Trail of 100 venues open August 3 to 6 and it has arty shops, galleries and events all year to absorb creative minds.
Nearby, Wigtown – the designated Scottish Book Town – has bookshops galore. Wigtown Book Festival from September 21 to 30 is a 10 day party of related events beginning with the written word including theatre, film and talks by top authors.
If you’d rather – or also – like to get your adrenalin coursing you don’t have to go far from Kirkcudbright to find the Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre. Adventuresome activities include an 820 metre double zip wire so you can share your 45mph buzz with a friend. Among the many other choices are mountain boarding, clay pigeon shooting, Segway touring and rolling downhill in a ball of water. Booking is required.
Mountain biking is stunning in these parts. Dumfries & Galloway has five of the Seven Stanes, world class centres with trails to suit everybody, at Kirroughtree, Forest of Ae, Mabie, Dalbeattie and Glentrool. Conditions range from flat to death defying.
Holmpark Holiday Cottages
Tourists are spoiled for choice at Holmpark Holiday Cottages in scenic south west Scotland. Based on a small stock farm on the banks of the River Cree, it has beautiful walks, activities and attractions in every direction to please everyone from young adventurers to older explorers.
This family business is 20 years old and cleanliness is the owner’s priority. Four of the six cottages are purpose built for the modern holidaymaker while Gate Cottage is the original farmhouse and has been extensively refurbished within the past two years. The sixth property, River Cottage, has one twin bedroom and overlooks the River Cree. The other five sleep up to four people in a double and a twin room.
Every cottage is fully furnished and equipped to high standards. They have central heating, spacious showers and comfortable living areas and are available to rent at good value, all inclusive prices from £290 to £360 per week. There is a laundry and drying room on site.
The cottages are only a few minutes’ walk from the pretty market town of Newton Stewart, with amenities including good shops, a cinema and plenty of excellent restaurants. Close by are a beautiful coastline with good beaches, golf courses, salmon and seafishing, the Kirroughtree Seven Stanes mountain biking centre, showpiece gardens, castles, historic houses and Wigtown ‘book town’.
Friendly, welcoming and modestly priced, the Eskdale Hotel sits in the heart of the historic town of Langholm, just north of Gretna Green, offering a wealth of accessible activities to guests of all ages and temperaments.
This popular 3 Star hotel accommodates single people, couples, families and groups in great comfort with high standards and personal service. Attracting many compliments on TripAdvisor, it offers immaculate en suite rooms with modern amenities including king sized beds, flat screen TV, free wi-fi and luxurious bathrobes, slippers and Scottish soaps.
Breakfast is hearty and appetising. The Eskdale makes the most of its Scottish heritage and culture for meals at any and all times of day, serving wonderful fare produced locally. Its Taste of the Borders dinner menu features specialities such as Eyemouth haddock, steak and stout pie or pork medallions cooked in Waulkmill cider.
Visitors find the Eskdale convenient for either heading deeper into Scotland or going south to the Lake District but they also find plenty to enjoy on the doorstep, including shopping and art galleries, mountain biking, fishing, shooting, golf and beautiful walks including Lanholm Moor. Gilnockie Tower, home of Clan Armstrong Museum, throws light on the Border Reivers and is a local ‘must see’. The Buccleuch Centre is southern Scotland’s premier performing arts centre, offering a stunning range of entertainment
Foodies fantasise about finding a place such as the Blackaddie Hotel in which to spend their holidays. This splendid 16th century country house venue near Dumfries sits on the banks of a beautiful river in wonderfully picturesque countryside. Inside, a celebrity chef serves up the very best of Scottish cuisine, honed to his own passionate standards.
Blackaddie Hotel is a friendly 4 Star hotel run by 2016 Scottish Chef of the Year Ian McAndrew and his wife, Jane, just outside the pleasant village of Sanquhar. Their restaurant has earned an international reputation for excellence and hotel guests can expect service which is high quality and personal.
Nothing is too much trouble for this hospitable couple to ensure their guests have a happy and memorable stay, from arranging special touches like flowers and Champagne on arrival to fixing a day’s salmon fishing. People can even become a Chef for a Day working directly alongside Ian, who was the youngest Englishman to gain a Michelin star and has since published several cookery books.
The rooms are superb, en suite, deeply comfortable and mostly with king sized beds, Jacuzzi-style baths and monsoon showers. Some are pet friendly and the largest, Grouse, has a four poster bed and views over the River Nith. Similar views grace three idyllic self catering cottages in the grounds.
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