With winter just behind us – I am of course the eternal optimist – take the opportunity to get out and about in south west Scotland and see and do some exciting things on your doorstep – whether you’re on holiday or live in Dumfries and Galloway.
The skies over Galloway are exceptionally dark – there’s no light pollution from any major cities and towns, which means that conditions are absolutely perfect for some serious star gazing. Amazingly, when conditions are good, the naked eye can see some 7,000 stars and planets and the Milky Way. If you’re on holiday in Dumfries and Galloway, why not book a one-to-one session with Biosphere Dark Sky ranger, Elizabeth Tindal – either at Corsewall Estate or in the Dark Skies Park itself. Elizabeth really knows her stuff and she has countless stories to help you learn more about the planets and the moon.
Treat yourself to afternoon tea at the Old Colfin Creamery, just outside Portpatrick. You could book in on Mother’s Day on 22 March, but who needs an excuse? Choose from a wonderful spread of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam (the big question is, will you put the cream or the jam on first?) and homemade mini puddings. You can also opt for a mini bottle of Prosecco too. What’s not to like?
Walk the Southern Upland Way
Put a spring in your step and walk along the start of the Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse, which takes two hours, there and back. This has to be one of my favourite local walks. Picking up the walk from the playground by the harbour in Portpatrick, it leads you up over the cliffs, along the golf course and over a couple of beaches including Laird’s Bay. It’s worth stopping to enjoy Laird’s Bay as it has a waterfall and is being sandy, it’s great for paddling or swimming. The path follows the coast and leads you past a shipwreck and on to Killantringan Lighthouse. Killantringan has a fabulous sandy beach, called Knock Bay – when the tide’s out, there’s acres of beach on which to walk, play, picnic, and swim. Possibly not in March though.
Another beautiful beach along the Southern Upland Way
Visit Dumfries House
Book a tour of Dumfries House – Dumfries House is one of the country’s most beautiful stately homes. In 2007, the house and its contents of bespoke Chippendale furniture were rescued by HRH, Prince Charles. In March, tours of the house run on Saturdays and Sundays at 12 pm, with the ‘grand tour’ starting at 1.30 pm. You’ll have the opportunity to see some of the gems of the outstanding furniture collection, have a peek at some of the interiors, learn the history of the house and about its owners. Complete your trip with lunch afterwards in the Coach House Café.
Do a beach sculpture. Not being hugely artistic, I find this a highly rewarding activity as within a few minutes you can collect a number of stones, sort them and by trial, error and a bit of balance work, have a ready-made artwork. Or you could turn it into a competition to see who can build the highest tower of gravity-defying stones. Either way, it’s a good way to keep active and keep warm. Pick any number of beaches near to Corsewall – they all have a great selection of suitable stones.