TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
We’re no strangers to Scotland but neither Dougie nor I had ever been to Dumfries & Galloway, a beautiful region of South West Scotland. It proved to be the perfect place for a holiday for many reasons:
1. It’s not too far to travel. On the same latitude as the North East of England, It’s very accessible from South Lincolnshire.
2. It’s surprisingly quiet with an excellent road network and lots of free parking in the towns.
3. Castles galore. One reached by boat (Threave), one triangular (Caerlaverock) and another quite magnificent in size (Drumlanrig). Add a number of beautiful abbeys to the mix and you have an area steeped in history.
4. Scotland’s national book town is here: Wigtown has its own literary festival, this year starting on 23 September. It’s like Hay-on-Wye but with added whisky.
5. Robert Burns spent his final years here. In the town of Dumfries you can stop off at a fascinating free museum about his life before visiting his old house, his favourite pub and his final resting place.
6. Kirkudbright is called The Artist’s town as many painters flocked here in the 19th century. A pretty harbour town, it’s home to The Selkirk Arms where Burns wrote his famous Selkirk Grace in 1794.
7. It has a beautiful coastline. The Solway Firth, once a smuggling route, has picturesque headlands and bays. On the west coast you can look across to Northern Ireland or pick up the ferry and go for a visit.
8. If you love to walk or cycle, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Southern Upland Way begins in Portpatrick and crosses the region on its way to the east coast. There are cycle trails in the Galloway forest and excellent cliff walks along the coast.
9. It’s a foodie paradise. The mild climate and grassy hills are perfect for sheep and cattle so it produces fantastic meat plus fabulous ice cream and cheese. It has a fair smattering of top-notch chefs too, including Scotland’s Chef of the Year, Ian McAndrew, providing exquisite food at his Blackaddie Hotel.
10. There are lots of places to stay for all budgets. Choose from great value caravan parks to historic hotels such as Knockinaam Lodge where Churchill met secretly with Eisenhower to plan the D-Day landings.
When you drive through towns in Scotland, there are many signs saying ‘Haste Ye Back’ . We had such a wonderful time in Dumfries & Galloway, we’ll certainly take them up on this.
You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk