Easter is a great time to get the family out and about and there’s lots going on in Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire during the school holidays. This year, with Easter being late, spring will have well and truly sprung.
I’ve picked out a few of the best events and visitor attractions in south-west Scotland.
My favourite destination and one that I will definitely be dragging our children to is an exhibition on at the Kirkcudbright Galleries: “Looking in Wonderland: Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations to the Alice Books”. There have been lots of illustrators of Lewis Carroll’s delightful books, however, John Tenniel is always considered to be the definitive illustrator of Alice’s adventures. The exhibition features a selection of some of the best-loved images from the books
We often have a day trip over to Kirkcudbright, insist on a bit of culture and then bribe them with lunch. The exhibition runs from January 19 – April 22 and is free. If you time it for Sunday, March 24, then the Kirkcudbright Farmers’ market will be on too, which is definitely worth a visit for lots of delicious things to buy.
Go mountain biking at the Galloway Forest Park. You’ll find one of the 7 Stanes mountain biking centres Kirroughtree Visitor Centre and it’s easy to hire bikes from the Breakpad shop there. They hire all sorts of bikes whether for kids, adults or electric ones too (is that cheating?) and you can rent them by the day or half day. It’s great to get out and about in the spring and there are a range of routes suitable for all standards.
Threave Castle near Castle Douglas, which is run by Historic Scotland, is a fun visit with the family. Archibald the Grim’s (great name) tower house was built in 1369 and was a stronghold for the Black Douglases and is five storeys in height.
The medieval ruined castle, which is located on an island on the River Dee is reached by a boat which is summoned by ringing the bell on the side of the river.
An Osprey viewing platform is to be found just along the river and if you’re in luck, the Ospreys will have returned to nest by April. There’s often a volunteer on hand with binoculars to point out the nest and answer any questions – they’re incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.
There’s also Threave Gardens and House – where there is lots to see in the walled garden from rock gardens and cascades to ponds and a bird hide.
From April 19-21 at Culzean Castle and Country Park you can go hunting for the Easter bunny – children are invited to follow the clues, solve the puzzle and their reward, is guess what, something made of chocolate. There’s an Easter Toddle in the Walled Garden for tiny tots, plus the extremely talented Maybole Pipe Band will be performing in front of the Castle on Sunday, April 21.
Also in Ayrshire is Dumfries House and April will be a lovely time to visit. There’s something for everyone here from the fantastic adventure playground and maze for children and a walk round the walled garden and arboretum to guided tours of the house. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t been on a house tour as yet – mainly because I felt it would be wasted on the younger members of the family – however given the youngest is nearly 10, I think the time has now come and I’ll definitely be putting it on the list for the Easter holidays.
The RSPB centre at the Mull of Galloway, located on the most southerly point in Scotland, is well worth a visit at Easter. The site is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and there are about 30 hectares of heathland on the coast to explore with dramatic views. Don’t forget to wrap up warm as even on the sunniest day the wind can make any walk quite bracing to say the least!
If you have a head for heights, take the opportunity to climb the working lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway – 115 steps later you can find yourself around the balcony at the very top – an absolutely breath-taking experience I can assure you. And for a fascinating insight into lighthouses and how they worked take time to visit the museum on the ground floor.
There’s also the Gallie Craig Coffee House and gift shop at the Mull of Galloway. Built into the cliff, with its turf roof, it has a unique architectural design and has spectacular sea views – on a clear day you can see Ireland, Isle of Man, Wales and the Lake District.
We still have availability during the Easter holidays at some of our luxury four star holiday cottages on Corsewall Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, south west Scotland – Stables Cottage (4), Garden Cottage (6), High Clachan Farmhouse (8) and Cedar Lodge in Portpatrick, which sleep 4, 6, 8 and 8 respectively, with prices from £520 for seven nights or £475 for a short break of 3 nights – you can book online here.