Our pick of the best day trips in Scotland, all within easy reach of Queensberry House and Moffat, the crossroads of the southwest corner.

Discover quaint and quirky spots across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

1 Peebles

What to explore

Seek out nature’s finest at Dawyck Botanic Garden (above), part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh group.

Britain’s oldest and tallest trees are here as well as some excellent specimens from around the world.

Gentle woodland walks guide you round.

Where to eat

Indulge at Cocoa Black, Scotland’s Chocolate Capital, where UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks has created an irresistible café, shop and school with dainty and ornate cakes that are almost – almost – too good to eat.

The Hairy Bikers have been to visit. And so have we – many times.

Where to shop

We love independent shops.

And there are plenty here on Peebles’ delightful high street.

There’s the House of Gaia to satisfy all your senses, an interiors sanctuary of must-have pieces and statement creations at Time & Tide, and then there’s Tiger Lily Gifts with stylish and personalised items.

Where to get your culture fix

Eastgate Theatre has quality drama, film and music, while Breeze Art Gallery is full of covetable pieces.

2 Annan

Where to visit

Take a wee dram (or take one home if you’re the driver) at the historic Annandale Distillery.

Its ancient site has artworks dotted about and the tour is fascinating – even to non-whisky drinkers – where you see the distillery’s gleaming equipment for creating Lowland Single Malts.

Divine café too if you need to stop for lunch or a coffee.

What to discover

A short drive away is the Devil’s Porridge Museum, an award-winning attraction full of artefacts and intriguing finds.

It tells the story of HM Factory Gretna, ‘the greatest munitions factory on earth’ during WW1.

The ‘devil’s porridge’, a term coined by Arthur Conan Doyle, was cordite, an explosive.

Learn how this was instrumental in the young women’s lives who worked with it here during the war and after.

What to watch

The local Lonsdale Cinema hosts National Theatre Live broadcasts – see a London West End show for a fraction of the price.

3 Dumfries

Where to lose yourself: Neverland

Escape to Moat Brae, home of Peter Pan, a spectacular house and dramatic garden right in the centre of Dumfries looking out on to the banks of the River Nith.

JM Barrie found the inspiration to create his world-famous children’s character right here.

Settle down into a wingback armchair and listen to Barrie’s tales while looking out at the garden dotted with, amongst other things, stone crocodiles and even a pirate ship.

Where to visit

Gen up on Scotland’s bard at the compact Robert Burns Centre. Free entry.

Cross one of Scotland’s oldest bridges to get there.

This detailed exhibition is based in an 18th-century watermill on the Nith and tells the story of Burns’s time in the town.

Outside, you may see the resident otter posing for its public.

Where to eat

Dine at Pumpernickel cafe for its fresh and flavourful food, all home-made and vegetarian/vegan.

4 Biggar

Why visit

There are so many reasons to head to this historic town with a quaint medieval layout.

Go book shopping

Delve into Atkinson-Pryce Books, the brilliant and beautiful bookshop that’s packed to the rafters with books you never knew you wanted.

Also for sale are Moffat publisher’s Pocket Mountain guide books. Essential reading for walks in Southwest Scotland.

Join the heritage trail not least for the 450-year-old kirk (church).

Plus the town’s pretty high street is full of independent shops and welcoming cafes. 

Where to get your culture fix

Biggar Museum may be small but there’s much to explore including a Victorian street and shops, and an original telephone exchange.

The actual shop has many unusual gifts and knickknacks. 

Head to the arts festival – Biggar Little Festival – in October.

Where to eat

The Olive Tree Deli has home baking and tasty cakes and also sells fancy cheese and charcuterie.

5 Kirkcudbright – the Artists’ Town

Where to get your art fix

Just about everywhere in Kirkcudbright.

But make Kirkcudbright Galleries your first stop: a stunning building full of natural light and must-see exhibitions.

And Broughton House & Garden, once home of Glasgow Boy Edward Hornel, is a treasure trove of history and art.

Better still, explore the town with an expert guide – Fiona at Kirkcudbright Art Tours – and discover more about this artists’ colony and the creatives who were attracted to it.

Where to eat

The annual food festival is on in October.

Until then eat at Feast café – home cooking with a taste of the Mediterranean using local ingredients.

6 Sanquhar

What to see

The drive to this market town is a sightseeing tour all by itself taking you through Wanlockhead (Scotland’s highest village), Leadhills (famous for its Museum of Lead Mining) and Mennock Pass, a scenic road through the Southern Uplands.

The town is renowned for its antique knitting pattern, which dates back to the 17th century.

Discover all about it at Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum.

Where to eat

A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre offers great home baking plus art and crafts to buy, including items in the Sanquhar Pattern.

And now for something a little bit different…

Go on a peaceful walkabout at nearby Crawick Multiverse.

This is a spectacular and intriguing installation of land art depicting cosmology, science and art, designed by architectural historian Charles Jencks.

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If shopping is your bag, browse Moffat’s independent shops – we have the ultimate guide.

Discover more grand days out in Dumfries and Galloway.

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Read what previous guests have said in our reviews.

Photograph: courtesy of Alan Stones

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