A grand day out in Dumfries & Galloway

How to make the most of this spectacular – and surprising – landscape

MAKE FOR THE MULTIVERSE

Wander through the Crawick Multiverse (above), a former coal mine now an astonishing and enlightening work of land art. Themes of space, cosmology and astronomy are explored using stone sculptures, winding paths and lookout points. A truly special place designed by landscape architect Charles Jencks, who also created the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Go for the solstice festival. DG4 6ET

GAZE IN WONDER ON A SHERPA GARDEN

Discover rare plants from the Everest region of the Himalayas at Craigieburn Garden & Nursery and see them flourish in Moffat. The waterfalls, statues and Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags provide a relaxing sanctuary for visitors, while the nursery is well stocked with woodland species. DG10 9LF

WATCH OUT FOR WILDLIFE

Grab your binoculars and head for the Moffat Community Nature Reserve. This former gravel quarry is a haven for birds and butterflies. Its 35 acres of tranquil green space includes a lochan, water meadow, lint pool, wader scrape, magnification posts and wildflower meadow. Whatever time of year you visit there’s something to see: from swans and richly coloured insects to lapwing and curlew. DG10 9SF

GET A HEAD FOR HEIGHTS

A day out in Dumfries and Galloway wouldn’t be complete without visiting the highest village in Scotland: Wanlockhead (a short drive from Moffat). Its rival for the title is nearby Leadhills. Both of these remote spots are worth stopping at on the scenic drive up. Discover the Museum of Lead Mining and Scotland’s highest pub, the Wanlockhead Inn. You can pan for gold here too. Hop onboard a train on the Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, a 2ft narrow gauge railway that operated during 1900-38, and see a range of ex-industrial engines in this high moorland setting.

Sanquhar knitting pattern, a day out in Dumfries and Galloway

PICK UP A PATTERN IN SANQUHAR

Sanquhar is home to the famous knitting pattern (above). Your first stop will be A’ the Airts centre (DG4 6BL), a hub of community art and activities with a buzzing café and shop. Here you can see how the unique pattern, which dates back to the 17thcentury, brings hats, scarves and even pictures to life. Local artists and crafters also exhibit here. Learn more about the Sanquhar knitting traditions at the Tolbooth Museum next door. Sanquhar also has the world’s oldest post office (1712).

GEN UP ON HISTORY

Lose yourself in the past at the Devil’s Porridge Museum – a ‘top thing to do in D&G’ according to TripAdvisor. Modern, interactive and packed with artefacts, film audio, photographs and costumes to dress up in, it tells the story of the world’s largest munitions factory – HM Factory Gretna. A whole day out here would not be wasted. Eastriggs, DG12 6TF

EXPLORE WHISKY GALORE

Learn how single malt Scotch whisky is made at the Annandale Distillery (below) on a tour of this superbly designed building and its historic site in Annan. There’s a wee dram to sample – naturally – and a ‘driver’s dram’ to take home. The original cask is available to buy – for a cool £1 million. The Maltings Coffee Shop on site is worth a visit in its own right and all around is novel artwork to gaze upon. DG12 5LL

Annandale Distillery, a day out in Dumfries and Galloway

FLY TO NEVERLAND

The ‘enchanted land’ that inspired JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, Moat Brae house is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture. There’s also the Neverland Discovery Garden on the River Nith, which has a pirate’s ship, a gang plank, ‘speaking’ plants and stone crocodiles to hunt down. Plenty of fun for adults too. Dumfries, DG1 2EA

WALK UP A WATERFALL

Stroll alongside one of the highest waterfalls in the UK, the Grey Mare’s Taila spectacular nature reserve and hanging valley. Its magnificent waterfall cascades at 60m. At the top is Loch Skeen (45 minutes), where you’ll find dramatic scenery, craggy hillsides and geological interest, wild flowers and upland birds – and the perfect picnic stop. DG10 9LH

BEHOLD THE UKRAINIAN POW CHAPEL

Seek out a little-known treasure. This cheerful place of worship with its bright and beautiful altar, ornate religious statues and handmade ornaments (some with tinsel) tells the story of the Ukrainian prisoners of war who settled here in 1947 because they could not return home. Hallmuir, near Lockerbie. DG11 1BN

FEAST ON FARM FOOD

The award-winning farm shop Loch Arthur has a superb bakery, butchery, creamery, organic fruit and veg shop with sound eco standards. A superb lunch spot and host for occasional evening events, while artwork featuring local landmarks is for sale in the shop. Beeswing, DG2 8JQ

AND FURTHER AFIELD…

Have a city stop in lively Glasgow. Take the X74 bus (1 hour, 30 minutes) from Moffat high street right into the centre for a day of shopping, art and culture (the Kelvingrove and Riverside Museum are a must) and high-quality international food.

FIND FRINGE BENEFITS WITHOUT THE COST

Make Moffat your base for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (only a 90-minute drive away) and avoid pricey accommodation. Take the famous scenic route A701 – one of the top ten drives in the UK.

Read more blogs here.

Photographs: courtesy of Crawick Multiverse, A’ the Airts and the Annandale Distillery.

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SERVICES

TESTIMONIALS

Still one of the best B&Bs I know of

Adrian, Lincoln

Caroline and Miles were full of helpful tips to make my stay the best it could possibly be

Catherine C, London

We have stayed at this B&B for years with different owners but we can honestly say Miles and Caroline are the best. The porridge is a must

Nev & Joan, York

A warm welcome to a spotlessly clean room awaits you. A guest lounge proved invaluable as a retreat when waking early. Very good value for money in a super part of the world

John H, Ledbury

Ready to make the extra effort to turn good into excellent

John, Glasgow

I had the best night’s sleep for 20 years

John, St Helens

I strongly recommend staying here. It is definitely a six-star service

Nikki, Coventry

Simply first class. Couldn’t ask for anything more

Alan, Norfolk

If only all b&b accommodation could be like this

Jane, Liverpool