10 things to do on a rainy day in Southwest Scotland
Come rain or shine, we highlight the best indoor attractions just a short walk or drive from Queensberry House. Rain won’t stop your play.
1. Get a taste of ‘Scotland’s chocolate capital’
Head to the genteel Borders town of Peebles and Cocoa Black – ‘Scotland’s chocolate capital’ – created by the UK World Chocolate Master herself Ruth Hinks. The bright café is filled with as much decadent choc therapy as you can handle. And you can learn how to make it at the classes held here. From the Hairy Bikers and Michelin Star chefs to celebrity foodies and royals, it’s a magnet for chocolate lovers. And a little chocolate indulgence on a rainy day is no bad thing.
2. History and shopping in Moffat
Discover more of Moffat’s heritage at this former bakehouse including the dramatic but little-known period of the Dark Ages during the 5th and 6th centuries, which played a role in Scotland’s history. You can also read up on the Merlin Trail here – part of it is in Moffat – before taking on the walk perhaps? Afterwards, why not go for a bit of retail therapy around Moffat. From the unique fare in Gorgeous Gifts and the fancy spirits in the Moffat Toffee Shop to the classy Manse Furnishings on the high street and the Moffat Bookshop, there are plenty of independent shops worth a browse.
3. Play along at Moat Brae
Take yourself off to the home of Peter Pan. Visit the Georgian house where JM Barrie was inspired to write his famous character. But Moat Brae is not just for children. There’s plenty to enchant adults here too. Take a seat in a wingback chair with speakers telling tales of Peter Pan. Gaze out on to the Neverland Discovery garden on the River Nith, a delightful spot where you can release your inner child and there’s a café for when you need a restorative cuppa.
4. Afternoon tea at Brodies
One of the best things to do on a rainy day is reward yourself with a treat that you can take your time over – such as afternoon tea. And where better to take tea than Brodies in Moffat. Sink into a comfy armchair in the welcoming lounge and contemplate – and then devour! – a cake stand laden with a dainty collection of cakes and sandwiches, plus scones and cream accompanied by the exquisite blend of Jenier tea. Irresistible.
5. A wee dram at the Annandale Distillery
Even non-whisky lovers will get into the, ahem, spirit of things here. Book a tour of this beautifully designed distillery on its historic site and discover how single malt scotch whisky is made. There’s a wee dram to taste of course (and one for the driver to take home). The grounds are full of quirky artwork and the Maltings Coffee Shop provides splendid refreshment. And if you are a fan of whisky, make a date to visit Moffat’s Dark Sky Distillery which is set to open next year.
6. Learn about the devil’s porridge
On a dreich day, pay a visit to this award-winning five-star attraction full of fascinating and interactive exhibits. The Devil’s Porridge Museum tells the incredible story of the world’s largest munitions factory. During the first world war, thousands of young women worked here preparing cordite (an explosive) or, as Arthur Conan Doyle, then a war correspondent, called it: the devil’s porridge.
7. Culture fix at Kirkcudbright art galleries
Visit the celebrated ‘artists’ town’ and you’ll see why it has attracted so many creative types. The historic town centre is compact (walkable) and features brightly coloured beach huts and many art galleries including the 18th-century town house once owned by EA Hornel – a member of the Glasgow Boys group of Scottish artists – now cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.
8. Seek out Sanquhar
Sanquhar is famous for its historic knitting pattern, which is said to date back to the 17th century, and its vibrant community arts centre A’ the Airts. Here you’ll find a warm welcome and a friendly crowd with local arts and crafts for sale and downright delicious home baking in its café. Just next door is the fascinating Tolbooth Museum where you can hear all about the Sanquhar knitting tradition and across the street is the world’s oldest post office which started out in 1712. Remember to send your postcards from here for that unique postmark.
9. Gen up on Robert Burns
Across the River Nith away from Dumfries town centre is a quiet spot and an 18th-century watermill that holds a wealth of information on Scotland’s national poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns. Burns spent his final years here in Dumfries. Read, see and hear precious artefacts and imagine yourself back in Burns’ time. Then retire to the Globe Inn, Burns’ favourite ‘howff’ – his rooms are restored beautifully – and where he conducted his ‘affairs of the heart’. See also Robert Burns House, which attracts Burns’ fans from all over the world. He died here in 1796 aged just 37.
10. Go back in time at Traquair House
This is not just any house. It’s Scotland’s oldest inhabited house and dates back to 1107. Take a tour and see its maze, brewery, walled garden and museum as well as the house and grounds. Its café has a solid reputation. Time your visit for the Traquair Medieval Fayre if you fancy a spot of jousting, jesters and cannon-firing.
And if you don’t mind a bit of weather (all you need is the right clothing!), check out our walking blog here.
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