Now you’ve booked your Scottish Christmas break at Corsewall Estate Holiday Cottages, that’s one headache taken care of. All our holiday cottages come dressed for Christmas – with nicely decorated Christmas tree, fresh ivy decorations above the fire places and a proper wreath on the front door. There will also be home-made mince pies to greet you on arrival, as well as our usual and delicious Corsewall cookies.
Festive Food for Thought
Suspecting your car will be packed to the gunwales with suitcases and presents and space will be at a premium, we thought it would be useful if we put together a list of local shops and suppliers in Galloway so you can either order in advance or perhaps up pick things en route to help your Scottish Christmas and New Year go with a bang!
For decent fresh fish with everything from salmon and shell fish to scallops, order from Ferry Fish who will deliver to your cottage door just before Christmas (usually on 23rd December or Christmas Eve). They also do excellent turkeys for the Christmas roast, which are locally sourced from a farm in neighbouring Ayrshire.
How about treating your house party to some award-winning Loch Ryan Oysters – as we’re located right on the shores of Loch Ryan itself, you can’t get more local than that!
Alternatively, if you are travelling to us along the A75, it’s definitely worth stopping at Marrbury Smokehouse & Bistro at Carsluith Castle, which is just beside the road. If we’re passing, we often stock up on their excellent wild Cree smoked salmon and smoked Kirkcudbright scallops. Peppered smoked duck is another delicacy you can buy here.
A mile or so down the road at Carsluith just off the A75, you’ll find the Galloway Smokehouse, which is another excellent supplier of smoked Scottish salmon (as opposed to Scottish smoked salmon – but that’s another story!). They do a wide choice of smoke fish and meats, venison, steak and chicken pies and hampers. They have just opened a restaurant – the Galloway Fisherman, specialising in local fish dishes, which has lovely views over Wigtown Bay.
For meat, our favourite butcher in Stranraer is W M Frasers on Hanover Street – which has a wide range of fresh and cooked meats and where you can order in an excellent ham or turkey or steak pie.
The Fruit Bazaar on St Andrew’s Street in Stranraer is a good independent fruit and vegetable shop.
If you are organised and would like to do an online shop and have it delivered to your cottage, Asda, deliver to the area and Tesco provide a ‘click and collect’ service, enabling you to shop online and have it delivered to Stranraer, which can take the stress out of doing battle with the Christmas and New Year crowds.
Farm Shops En Route to Corsewall Estate Holiday Cottages
There are a few farm shops where you could pick up some Christmas treats en route. If you are coming from England, we would highly recommend stopping at Tebay Services on the M6, just south of Penrith, which is just under three hours’ drive from Corsewall Estate Holiday Cottages. It is the only independent motorway service station on the M6 and the only one to have a duck pond complete with ducks! It has a good farm shop for cheeses, meat, smoked fish etc and a great gift shop too – so you can’t fail to pick up a last minute present there.
On the A75, just west of Dumfries in a converted farm steading is Kilnford Farm Shop, which sells an excellent selection of Galloway reared meat, hampers, cheeses, fruit and vegetables. They have a great cafe too – so it’s a very pleasant place to stop for a break. It’s about 1.5 hours from here to Corsewall or to Cedar Lodge at Portpatrick.
If you are coming to us from the north via the A77, there’s a farm shop just north of Girvan – Dowhill. The shop specialises in a wide range of ready meals and has a butchers shop, which is run by Dalduff Farm Butchers and sells locally produced lamb and beef. They also have a restaurant/cafe if you’re looking to take a break.
Out and About in Dumfries and Galloway over Christmas and New Year
So much of Christmas is about food! When the eating is done and it’s time for some fresh air, there are many beautiful walks on Corsewall Estate to enjoy – we provide a guide to our walks in each cottage. There are also some pretty coastal walks nearby at Portpatrick, where the Southern Upland Way starts or up the Ayrshire Coastal Path, which starts just north of Cairnryan.
Alternatively, you could head for the hills – the Galloway Forest Park is walkers’ paradise, whether you fancy a gentle stroll or tackle the highest mountain in southern Scotland – the Merrick. There are three visitor centres located throughout the park – Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws and Glentrool. Kirroughtree is open for winter hours during December – 11am-2.30pm during the week and 10am-4pm at weekends and is open on Christmas Eve, but is closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Glentrool is open at the weekends in winter from 11am – 3.30pm, while Clatteringshaws is now closed during winter.
If you’re looking for a thrill, Laggan Outdoor is the place for you. They are highly professional providers of a number of activities from clay pigeon shooting and archery to reverse-steer jeep and segways. For the more extreme adrenaline junkie, they have one of Europe’s longest zip wires and they’ve just launched the human sling shot – which is proving extremely popular (for the latter you do have to be over 16 and under a certain weight – so go canny on the Christmas turkey and mince pies!)
Unlike many National Trust properties which shut their doors firmly for winter, Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire, which was rescued by HRH Prince Charles, is open during December. The Dumfries House Estate is a wonderful location for a fun and relaxing day out for all the family and is open free of charge, and the grounds are open 365 days a year. Previously a dumping ground, the recently restored 5-acre walled garden now has a magnificent mixture of terrace, greenhouses, formal areas and an education garden. This is also open all year round – but it is worth checking opening hours on the website before visiting. Just outside the walled garden, the Arboretum houses an impressive collection of over 500 specimens and a range of shrubs and woodland flowers. There are lots of woodland walks to enjoy around the estate and it’s free to explore the policies. Don’t miss the wonderful Avenue Bridge which connects the house to the walled garden and arboretum – well worth a photo opportunity. The Coach House cafe serves excellent lunches and snacks and is right next door to the amazing children’s adventure playground – children won’t want to leave! The cafe and main house are closed over Christmas from 23 December until 5 January.
You might want to consider a day trip to Northern Ireland between Christmas and New Year. The ferry port of Cairnryan is a 20 minute drive from Corsewall Estate/Portpatrick, so a day trip is easily do-able. The Stena Line ferry, which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, takes you right into Belfast (P&O only goes to Larne). They run up to six sailings a day and often offer deals for foot passengers. Visit the Titanic Museum while you are there and if you want to venture out of town, there are bus tours you can take to the spectacular Giant’s Causeway.
For indoor activities, the local leisure centre in Stranraer, The Ryan Centre, has a swimming pool with a flume and a two other slides plus it has a soft play – Ryan’s Den – for younger children. It is closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and 2nd January, but otherwise is open every other day over the Christmas holidays.
Church Services at Christmas
If you would like to go to Church of Scotland service, on Christmas Eve, there is an early evening Christingle family service in the neighbouring village of Leswalt and later that evening there is a Watchman’s service held at the parish church in Kirkcolm. On Christmas Day, the High Kirk of Stranraer on Leswalt High Road is a very welcoming option. For Catholics, St Joseph’s on Lewis Street in Stranraer has a number of services.
Eating out at Christmas and New Year in Dumfries and Galloway
All of our self catering cottages come with well equipped kitchens, but we know that everyone deserves at least one night off, especially at Christmas time.
Campbell’s Restaurant, which is right on the waterfront, overlooking the village’s picturesque harbour in Portpatrick, is our clear favourite. It serves excellent locally sourced meat, seafood and fish dishes. It’s extremely popular with locals and visitors all year round, so booking well in advance is a must. It has a special five course Christmas menu throughout December up until Christmas Eve. Campbell’s is open six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner and will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Henry’s Bay House on Cairynryan Road in Stranraer is right at the head of Loch Ryan and has wonderful views over the loch towards Corsewall Estate in the distance! It’s owned and managed by local chef/restaurateur John Henry and his wife, Jane, who runs front of house. Open for lunches and in the evening, the restaurant serves fresh locally sourced meat, fish and shellfish from Loch Ryan oysters to Galloway smoked Salmon. Henry’s is open 23rd & 24th December (last orders at 7pm on Christmas Eve!), Christmas Day, Boxing Day from 5pm, 27th and 30th and 31st December and 2nd January.
The Tigh na Mara Hotel in Sandhead is another excellent family run restaurant. The restaurant and bar are open for lunch and dinner throughout the festive period but closed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. It’s worth booking in advance as I suspect it will be popular.
The award-winning Knockinaam Lodge, near Portpatrick is 20 minutes’ drive from Corsewall Estate Holiday Cottages. Ignore the verbose drivel on their website, it really is a cut above the rest, with fantastic food and an amazing position on the shore looking out across the Irish Sea. The hotel is open over the Christmas and New Year period but it’s important to phone in advance to book a table.