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.
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 17th century, 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
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 Tail, a 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 P.O.W. 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.
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Photographs: courtesy of Crawick Multiverse, A’ the Airts and the Annandale Distillery.
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