Contents:

Introduction – Page 2

The Fairy Woods – Page 3

Day trip #1 – Kirkconnel – Page 3

Day trip #2 – Sanquhar – Pages 4-5

Day trip #3 – A Day of 2 Castles – Pages 6

Day Trip #4 – The Highest Village in Scotland – Pages 7-8

Day Trip #5 – Castle, Church & Cake – Page 9

Day Trip #6 – Over the border to Ayrshire – Page 10

Day Trip #7 – A Day of 2 halves – Page 11

Day Trip #8 – Seaside & Shopping – Page 11

Day Trip #9 – Robert Burns no.1 – Pages 12-13

Day Trip #10 – Something for all the Family – Page 14

Day Trip #11 – Coastal Road Adventures – Page 15

Day Trip #12 – A Hidden Gem & A World Heritage Site – Page 16

Day Trip #13 – Nature & Culture – Page 17

Day Trip #14 – Robert Burns no.2 – Page 18

Fun Trips for Kids – Page 19

Day Trip #15 – One of Scotland’s Finest Castles – Page 20

Day Trip #16 – Sunning Views – Page 21

Back to Rigg House – Page 21

 

 

Introduction

Let’s be honest; when people from outside of Scotland consider a holiday in Scotland they more typically head for the Highlands and the islands.  We know this because we used to do just that ourselves.  But now that we have ‘discovered’ South-west Scotland we feel that we have uncovered a treasure trove of secret gems, all woven with stories from the fascinating history, magical folklore and inspiring culture of the area.  And all this sits amid breath taking beauty spots which easily rival the Highlands.

When we moved here back in 2017 and started visiting all these places for the first time, we quickly realised just how much of an eclectic wealth of interesting and fun days out we have right on our doorstep.  This area offers pretty much everything a nature or history lover could possibly ask for with its endless forests and picturesque castles, and the wonderful dark star-filled skies.  If your passions include walking, mountain biking, bird watching, star gazing, horse riding, stunning beaches, or even gold panning, then you have come to the right place!

We see it as an honour to be able to share our new-found love for this beautiful area with our guests – in fact, we see it as our duty, and one which we are very grateful to have.  Over the last few months we have been putting together this booklet which highlights our Top 50 places to visit in South-west Scotland, and we have had the best times on our family ‘research’ trips finding new and interesting places to include.  It is of course a work in progress with this being the first draft – as we continue to discover more places to visit we will eventually update the booklet with our Top 100…and more.

The book is loosely organised geographically, with the first place to visit being the closest one to the house, followed with suggested day trip ideas which take you all over Dumfries & Galloway and right up along the beautiful Ayrshire coast.  But the best thing is that every place we have written about is no more than a 1 hour drive from Rigg House B&B!  We have included our favourite forests, castles, beaches and museums, as well as loads of fun day trips to keep small humans happy.  All the 50 locations in the book are arranged into groups of suggested places to visit all within close proximity to each other, giving you the option to pick and choose the ones which most appeal to you.

As you will see, another added bonus is that over half the places we have recommended in this book are completely free to visit.  It is easy to spend a week (or more!) here at Rigg House visiting 2 or 3 different places each day with your only costs being petrol and food.  For many of the destinations in the book we have also recommended our favourite tried and tested tearooms, cafes, restaurants and inns so let us know your verdict if you visit any of these – and please tell us about any good places to eat which you discover.  We also offer the option of a packed lunch made fresh each morning for you to take away on your adventures.

Thank you very much for choosing to stay with us here at Rigg House B&B and we truly hope that this booklet inspires you to have some wonderful and memorable days out in this very special corner of the world.

 

1 – The Fairy Woods – Admission – FREE!

Directly across the road beside Rigg House lies a magical little woodland which we refer to as The Fairy Woods.  Even though this little patch of trees is right next to a main road, it is like being transported to another world when you are down there.  Also, it’s a great spot to go and stretch your legs after a long journey when you first arrive here.

Between Rigg House and The Fairy Woods is the A76 which is, at times, a busy road used by big HGVs and has a 60mph speed limit.  Please take extra caution when crossing this road.   As soon as you are across the road you’ll see a path leading down through the trees to the burn.  This path is steep and is very slippery in wet conditions so, again, please take care.

But…after all the drama of crossing the road and descending the path you are rewarded with the sight of a picture-perfect woodland, complete with it’s little burn (stream) which leads into The River Nith.  The Fairy Woods are a beautiful haven throughout the year, with the intoxicating scents of the wild garlic and bluebells in springtime, through to the hauntingly serene atmosphere when this micro landscape is blanketed with deep snow.

There are mini adventures to be had for everyone down in this secret little world!

 

Day trip #1 – Kirkconnel

2 – Baker’s Burn, The Vennel & The Heritage Trail – Admission: FREE!

You can easily spend a whole day of exploring the local area without even getting in your car.  Our first suggested outing begins on our doorstep and takes in beautiful scenery, historical ruins and gives you a bit of an idea of the overall history of this part of the Upper Nithsdale region.  If the weather is kind, take a packed lunch with you and have a long and lazy picnic by the clear waters of the burn, or alternatively stop off at Poppy’s Tearooms in Kirkconnel for a yummy panini and a cheeky cake (or 2!).  We have walked these paths in waist-high snowdrifts and in Mediterranean-like heat and both experiences are a joy.

Walk down the road until you reach the cattery on your lefthand side. Go up the lane on the left and keep going up until you reach the ruins of the old church across the fields.  Loop round to join the road and go back down until you reach a signposted path on your left.  This beautiful trail leads you down to Baker’s Burn across a network of bridges and ending up in Kirkconnel village.  Go across the road to the little park and you’ll see the sign post for ‘Guildhall Bridge via Mavis Bank’.  This leads you on a ½ mile path along a picturesque stretch of the River Nith which ends up on the A76, just 5 minutes down the road from Rigg House.

You can easily do this whole walk in 2-3 hours, or you can take your time and stretch it out for a full day.  There are information boards dotted all along the route which offer facts about the history of the area and information about local wildlife – don’t forget to look out for the Red Kites flying overhead!

 

Day trip #2 – Sanquhar

Our second suggested day trip has locations which will appeal to both art and nature lovers, as well as a lovely little outing which young children will love.  And best of all, all the places are no more than a 15 minute drive from Rigg House B&B and are all completely free.  There are a couple of great places to stop for lunch in Sanquhar – we love both the Burnside Tearooms and the café in the wonderful A’ the Airts centre.

3 – Crawick Multiverse – Admission: FREE

Just a 10 minute drive down the road towards Sanquhar will take you to a whole new dimension – Crawick Multiverse is like no place you will have seen before.  Just before the bridge as you are approaching Sanquhar, take the road on the left signposted ‘Crawfordjohn’.  Follow this for about ½ kilometre and you will see the sign for Crawick Multiverse on your left.

If you are a lover of unusual places, astronomy or large-scale art (the Multiverse website describes it as appealing “to everyone from art enthusiasts and scientists to walkers and the wider community”), then this destination is an absolute must-do.  If we were ranking all the places in this book in the order of how much we love them (which we did try to do but it proved to be too difficult), then the Multiverse would certainly be in the top 3.  It is not a place that will suit all tastes but we love to hear our guest’s opinions after they have visited, so please let us know what you think!

Crawick Multiverse is a transformation of a former open cast coal mine, described as an ‘Artland’ designed by globally-renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks, and is a stunning representation of exciting discoveries and theories of the universe, linking the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology.  We don’t want to tell you too much about this place as it is an exciting experience if you visit for the first time with little prior knowledge of what you are about to see.  We hope you love it as much as we do.

4 – Holm Wood & Soldier’s Pool – Admission: FREE

For our next destination you will need to leave your car in the Multiverse carpark and continue on foot.  Turn left when you leave the Multiverse and continue another ½ kilometre down the road until you see a signpost marking a path to ‘Soldier’s Pool’ on your right.  Continue straight along this path, past the beautiful old gamekeeper’s cottage on your left where you will immediately enter the breath-taking Holm Wood.

This location is another one which we purposefully won’t write any more about so as not to ruin the nice surprise.  On a sunny day, take a picnic and a towel and you’ll be sure to while away a very happy afternoon.

5 – Clark’s Little Ark – Admission: FREE

This is our first suggested outing in the book which will appeal to young children – since we have kids ourselves we have included loads more kid-friendly places throughout the book, but this one is probably the most special.

Clark’s Little Ark began in 2013 in memory of the owner’s son and now provides a loving forever home for lots of ‘rescued’ animals (mainly pets taken in after their previous owners could no longer take care of them).  It is the most wonderful tribute to the boy whom the place is named after.  We love going to visit the donkeys, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, hens, sheep and ponies, but most of all we adore Percy the pig.  This absolute beast of a pig was found by the side of the road when he was no bigger than a rabbit and he has now grown to be the biggest pig you’ll have ever seen!

Local people formed the Friends (and Wee Friends) of Clark’s Little Ark group who organise meetings, fun days and fundraising events to support this lovely place and keep it growing.

 

Day trip #3 – A Day of 2 Castles

If castles are your thing, then this is the first of our suggested day trips which will really appeal to you.  The outing takes in two castles – one beautiful ruin and one magnificent stately home-type castle. Both these structures are historically linked so it is fascinating to visit them both.

6 – Sanquhar Castle – Admission: FREE

This little ruined castle sits just 10 minutes away from Rigg House, on the righthand side of the road just as you are coming out of Sanquhar.  We think the castle has quite a distinctive skyline so it is always a welcome sight to see as we are nearing the end of a long journey, especially coupled with the ramshackled ruins of the old farm which lies beside it.

The castle has not been made structurally safe so there is a sturdy big fence all the way around it, although you can walk up close enough to get some decent photos.  There is a lovely footpath close by which leads down along the River Nith and offers nice longshot views of the castle.

7 – Drumlanrig Castle

This is the first of our locations which does cost money, but it is definitely worth it.  You can opt to do just the gardens and parkland (Adult: £6, Family: £16), or take in the castle along with the rest of the estate (Adult: £10, Family: £28).  Please bear in mind that the castle is only open during July and August and for a few weekends in the spring – we advise checking the website if you wish to do the castle tour.

The Drumlanrig Estate offers so much – miles of footpaths and a network of mountain bike trails through the beautiful forest, as well as immaculate gardens and a great adventure playground.  If you are fortunate enough to be visiting when the castle is open then we definitely recommend doing the tour – if you are a history or art lover then you will enjoy the wealth of information you’ll hear from the knowledgeable guides.

You can easily spend an entire day exploring the grounds of this wonderful place – Drumlanrig is one of the locations in this book which we visit most regularly and we are still discovering new beauty spots and footpaths every time.

 

Day trip #4 – The Highest Village in Scotland

Our next day trip is one which will immerse you in the truly fascinating mining history of this stunning part of Scotland.  When we first moved here we were surprised to learn that the highest village in Scotland was just 25 minutes down the road and was in a spot filled with enough activities for many days of adventures.  We love nothing more than a drive up here and exploring this inspiring terrain.

8 – Mennock Pass – Admission: FREE

To find this incredible place just drive south down the A76 and turn left immediately after you go through the little village of Mennock – look for the signs for the Lead Mining Museum.  The winding road gradually ascends until it reaches the dramatic pass cutting through the Lowther Hills.  There are loads of spots to park up and scramble up one of the hills or have a picnic and a paddle in the burn.  Keep your eyes peeled for gold nuggets in the water!

9 – Wanlockhead & Wanlockhead Inn

If you continue up the Mennock Pass you’ll reach the highest village in Scotland, Wanlockhead.  This beautiful old mining village sits nestled in the Lowther Hills, steeped in its rich heritage and folklore.  The village is home to some beautiful buildings so it is worth having a little wander around before heading up to the Wanlockhead Inn for lunch.  We love the atmosphere of this former miner’s clubhouse, which now claims the accolade of being Scotland’s highest pub.  After lunch head down towards the Lead Mining Museum which is situated on the road below the Inn.

10 – Lead Mining Museum

The Museum is open every day between 11:00 and 16:30, from the 1st April 2018 until the 30th September 2018. Adult tickets are £12.50, Child: £7.90 and a Family ticket is £32.90 which gets you into the mine, cottages, library and museum.  Please note that the actual mine tour is not suitable for under 5s.

We really enjoyed all the attractions at the museum – it was a very interesting and humbling experience for all the family as we learnt more of what life was like for the miners.  There is enough to see and do here to easily fill 2-3 hours – and don’t forget to stop off at the museum café for some delicious homemade cake.

After your time in Wanlockhead, continue along the road to the next village.

11 – Leadhills/Narrow Gauge Railway/Teddy Bear Museum

Leadhills is a really fascinating little village further up the road from Wanlockhead.  Interestingly, Leadhills is actually higher than Wanlockhead but the latter village boasts the title of Scotland’s Highest Village because of one property which sits on a hill within the village – as you can imagine, this fact does not please the people of Leadhills!

Head up to the Narrow Gauge Railway which operates at regular intervals at weekends during its summer passenger service, beginning at Easter through to the last weekend of September.  Ticket prices are: Adult: £5, Child: £2.50, Family: £12

After your ride on the old railway, head back down into the village.  If you want to hear some really interesting stories about the history of the village and its many notable characters, then look for the Teddy Bear Museum along the main road – you can’t miss it.  This is an experience that is hard to describe, but if you like very quirky and unusual experiences then make sure you check this place out.  Despite the name, do not expect to see a museum – it is a room in a house and a special garden created with a lot of love as a way to tell some of the stories of Leadhills and its people.  We are quite certain there is no place quite like this on the rest of the planet.

 

Day trip #5 – Castle, Church & Cake

This eclectic selection of destinations covers a castle ruin, a church, stunning views and finished off with lovely cake!  All these places are within a half hour drive from Rigg House B&B.

12 – Morton Castle – Admission: FREE

This striking castle ruin lies off the beaten track, hidden in fields just outside of Thornhill.  It is one of the largest ruins included in this book and is located in a beautiful setting overlooking a small man-made loch in the forest (we call it the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves castle).  There is also a beautiful nature trail leading from the castle with loads of lovely picnic spots.

13 – Durisdeer – Admission: FREE

This tiny village, which can trace its history back to Roman times, was once described by writer Salman Rushdie as being ‘so small it has no pub’.  Durisdeer church is disproportionally big in comparison to the size of the village, built using stones from the demolished Durisdeer Castle and constructed by the same masons who built Drumlanrig Castle.  A side room houses the stunning Queensberry Marbles – a huge marble monument built for the second Duke of Queensberry.  It is a magnificent work of art and a surprising treat to find in a church on a hilltop in Scotland.

14 – Dalveen Pass & Carron Linns – Admission: FREE

After leaving Durisdeer, follow the signs to the Dalveen Pass for an awe-inspiring drive through the hills with spectacular views and waterfalls.  This spot reminds us of the Highlands, but with much less traffic!

We discovered a wonderful little gem of a woodland not far from the Dalveen Pass – look for a small signpost for Carron Linns and walk down to the beautiful little waterfalls.  This is a lovely secluded picnic and paddling spot.

15 – Thornhill/Thomas Tosh/Damn Fine Cheese Co

Drive back down onto the A76 and continue on in the direction of Dumfries.  Five minutes down the road leads you to Thornhill, a lovely town which straddles the main road and has ample parking all up the street.  We love to visit the Thomas Tosh Gallery with its wonderful range of giftware (including an excellent selection of children’s books), and the lovely café at the back of the shop.

Thornhill is the village with the most dining options in the area  which are all worth a visit including The Drumlanrig Café, The Farmer’s Arms and the upscale Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms.  But, after a day of adventures we love to finish off the afternoon in Jinty B’s Tearooms for it’s fabulous selection of cake.

 

 

Day trip #6 – Over the border to Ayrshire

One of the many bonuses of the location of Rigg House B&B is that we are just a few minutes from the Ayrshire border which opens up a whole other wealth of exciting days out.  The suggested places in this section are all about 10 minutes up the road from Rigg House, in the opposite direction from all the previous locations.

16 – Knockshinnoch Lagoons & New Cumnock Auld Kirk – Admission: FREE

Just 10 minutes up the road from Rigg House B&B takes you into New Cumnock, the first village across the Ayrshire border.  Turn left at the junction signposted Dallmellington.  Continue down for half a kilometre until you see the golden eagle and the gates to the lagoons on your right-hand side. This former mine site is a great spot to walk the dog or to do some bird watching.  If you walk right across the lagoons and over the walkways you’ll see the haunting ruins of New Cumnock Auld Kirk which are fascinating to have a wander round.

17 – New Cumnock Open Air Swimming Pool 

For opening times please check the website or call: 01290 33986.

Tickets: Adult: £3, Child: £2, Family: £8

18 – Lochside Spa

If you really want to treat yourself then we highly recommend a visit to this luxurious spa, although bear in mind that the prices range from expensive to even more expensive – this is definitely the costliest location in this book.  But if it isn’t a massage or facial that you are after, then it is worth visiting just for the relaxing Afton Restaurant for lunch or an evening meal.  It is advised to make a reservation if you wish to eat in the restaurant as it does get quite busy.

 

Day trip #7 – A Day of 2 halves

This day out offers two very different locations under half an hour away from Rigg House and are linked by a lovely footpath.  We suggest parking at the first location and spending an hour or two there before following the path which leads straight to the second location, or you can of course easily drive between the two.

19 – Barony A Frame – Admission: FREE

This colossal structure was once part of a huge coal mine and now stands as a monument to all those who worked and died at this pit.  It is an incredibly moving place to visit and one which gives you an understanding of how vital these mines were for the community and of the devastating impact the pit closures had.  If you are interested in knowing more about local history or the history of mining then we definitely recommend a visit here – there is a little playground to keep the kids occupied whilst the grown ups take in some of the information from the many boards scattered around the site.  When it is time to leave, look for the signpost for the footpath to Dumfries House and continue along for about 2 mile.

20 – Dumfries House – Admission to estate: FREE – House tour: Adult: £9

This is another of the locations in this book which we visit most regularly due to it having the two main things we look for as a family: beautiful grounds and gardens for the grown-ups, and an awesome adventure playground for the kids. Dumfries House certainly has both.  Take a big picnic with you and find a quiet spot by the river, or alternatively, head to the café for some delicious homemade soup and sandwiches – but be warned – the café can get very busy during weekends.  If you time your visit right then you’ll also find a wonderful farmer’s market at Dumfries House on the 4th Sunday of each month.

 

Day trip #8 – Seaside & Shopping

21 – Ayr

If the weather is good and you are in the mood for a proper seaside town day, or even just a shopping day, then head to Ayr.  This is another trip which will definitely satisfy the kids – the sea front playground is one of our children’s favourites, and the beach itself is beautiful.

 

Day trip #9 – Robert Burns no.1

Both Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire are proudly Robert Burns country with both regions offering dozens of places of interest to visit connected to the Bard of Scotland.  But there is no better place to begin with than his birthplace.  There is more than enough to see and do in the one village for our next trip, but you could combine some of the locations from Day trip #10 if you wish to give yourself a really fun and varied day of adventures.

22 – Alloway – Burns Cottage & Birthplace Museum

Alloway is just under an hour away from Rigg House, 2 miles outside of Ayr.  Park at Burns cottage and continue the rest of the day on foot.  You can purchase your ticket here which covers both the birthplace cottage and the museum – these attractions are National Trust properties so are free for all NT members, otherwise ticket prices are:  Adult: £10.50, Family: £24.50.

23 – Poet’s Path – Admission: FREE

This walkway links the Cottage with the museum but it is much more than just a path. We advise reading the Burns poem ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ before visiting Alloway as it will give you a richer experience as you walk in the footsteps of the eponymous character.  Poet’s Path is lined with a series of iron weather vanes which retell the story of Tam and his series of unfortunate events, cleverly done in silhouette snapshots.  The positioning of the Poet’s Path is perfect as it gives you the opportunity to learn the story of Tam O’ Shanter before going on to see some of the locations which feature in the poem.

24 – Auld Kirk – Admission: FREE

When you reach the end of Poet’s Path, cross the road and continue along until you reach the Auld Kirk. This is the location for much of the action within the tale of Tam O’ Shanter, as well as being the burial place of Robert Burns’ father.

25 – Burns Memorial & Gardens – Admission: FREE

After you leave the Auld Kirk, go back across the road and continue along until you see the sign for Burns Memorial & Gardens.  As well as being the site of the impressive Burns Memorial monument, these beautiful gardens also house some wonderful sculptures with a fascinating story of their own.

26 – Brig O’Doon – Admission: FREE

Immediately across from the gardens is the site for the dramatic climax of the tale of Tam O’ Shanter.  If you are acquainted with the poem, then this is a particularly exciting spot to visit.

 

Day trip #10 – Something for all the family

27 – Heads of Ayr Farm Park – Family ticket – £41

Not far from Alloway lies our next attraction aimed mainly at families with young children.  Although it is a nice day out, it can work out to be very costly as a lot of the extras, such as the quad bikes and boats, do cost more.  On the plus side, in good weather there is enough to do to keep the kids happily entertained all day.

28 – Dunure Harbour & Beach – Admission: FREE

Just along the coast from Heads of Ayr you will find the truly picturesque fishing village of Dunure.  We fell in love with this place the first moment we laid eyes on it and we visit as often as we can.  Spend time on the wonderful little beach with its wealth of beautiful pebbles and sea glass, before heading to the lovely Harbour Café for lunch.  This place is quite possibly our favourite place to visit out of all the destinations in this book.

29 – Dunure Castle – Admission: FREE

On the cliff top above the beach sits the beautiful crumbling ruins of Dunure Castle which you are able to properly explore.  Climb up the steps for stunning sea views out over to the Isle of Arran.

 

Day trip #11 – Coastal road adventures

30 – Electric Brae – Admission: FREE

Along the coastal road past Dunure you’ll find The Electric Brae.  This ‘gravity hill’ is an optical illusion where a freewheeling vehicle will appear to be drawn uphill by some mysterious attraction. The term “Electric” dates from a time when it was incorrectly thought to be a phenomenon caused by electric or magnetic attraction within the Brae (hill slope).  During the Second World War, General Eisenhower had an apartment close by and would take visitors to experience this phenomenon.

31 – Croy Beach – Admission: FREE

Your next stop is the beautiful expanse of Croy Beach.  This is perfect dog walking territory – or pick a spot for a beach picnic and a swim.  If the tide is out then it is possible to walk down the beach to the next location but always check the tide times if you want to attempt this.

32 – Culzean Castle

This is our second National Trust property on the list and therefore free for all NT members.  Ticket prices for non-members are: Adult: £16.50, Family: £41.

There truly is more than enough to see in one day here.  Explore the woods, beaches, parkland, cliffs, deer park and over 40 buildings and secret follies on this rambling estate.  On top of all this, Culzean Castle officially has the greatest adventure playground in the whole area (as far as our children are concerned!).

 

Day trip #12 – A Hidden Gem & A World Heritage Site

Our next day trip takes us away from the coast to the beautiful villages and scenery of rural Ayrshire.  All these locations are just under an hour away from Rigg House B&B.

33 – Glenbuck – Admission: FREE

This is another of our ‘hidden gems’ which we love to visit.  This now virtually non-existent village of just 6 properties has a huge history and legacy behind it, not least with it being the birthplace of the legendary Liverpool FC manager, Bill Shankley.  Liverpool fans come in their thousands every year to pay respect at the large memorial stone which details Shankley’s career achievements. It is quite a remarkable thing to see in such an unexpected spot.

There is also a beautiful 44 mile path which runs from Glenbuck all the way to Ayr which we would love to be able to do one weekend (if we ever manage to offload the kids!)

34 – New Lanark

After you have finished exploring Glenbuck, head north for about 20 miles, into Lanarkshire until you reach New Lanark.  This World Heritage Site is a unique 18th century mill where you can visit the recreated millworkers cottages, historic working machinery and the wonderful gallery with regularly changing displays and exhibitions.  There is also a truly wonderful Mill Shop selling locally made textiles, as well as a large café which we love to visit.

35 – Falls of Clyde – Admission: FREE

Follow the signposted path to the left of the mill buildings and follow for about a mile to reach these stunning waterfalls. There are four waterfalls, the first being the Corra Linn, which is nicknamed ‘the Clyde’s most majestic daughter’.  These magnificent waterfalls on the River Clyde have been impressing and inspiring visitors for centuries – from Wordsworth to Coleridge, and J. M. W. Turner to Sir Walter Scott.

 

Day trip #13 – Nature & Culture

Our adventures through South-west Scotland now take us back into Dumfries & Galloway for a day of forest adventures, antiques and great food.  All the suggested destinations in this section can be found all along (or just off) the A76 towards Dumfries and can all be reached in about 30 minutes.

36 – Ae Forest – Car Park: £4 all day

You’ll see the signpost to Ae on the A76 on your left-hand side as you are driving towards Dumfries. Head straight down this road until you reach the forest with the large car park, café and cycle hire shop.  This is a very popular location and is always busy with mountain bikers and walkers, but the forest is huge enough for everyone to find their own peaceful spots for picnics and nature spotting.

37 – Loch Ettrick – Admission: FREE

Not far from Ae Forest lies the stunning Loch Ettrick which provides a wonderful spot for a picnic and a swim in the crystal clear waters.

38 – Leslie & Baggot – Admission: FREE

If you are looking for a very different experience from all the other suggestions in this book, then we recommend stopping off at this quirky antique shop in a wonderful setting.  You’ll see the sign on the A76 directing you down a lane on your left.

39 – Garden of Cosmic Speculation

This is a bit of a bonus location which is only open one day a year in May, so if you are fortunate enough to be visiting Rigg House at exactly the right time, then we definitely recommend checking it out.  This is another spectacular Artscape designed by artist Charles Jencks, the same mind behind Crawick Multiverse.

 

Day trip #14 – Robert Burns no.2

This is your second Robert Burns day trip so if you enjoyed your visit to Burns’ birthplace then we recommend visiting some of the other places associated with the Bard of Scotland.  We have only mentioned a fraction of the many Robert Burns locations scattered all over South-west Scotland so please let us know about any other places you happen to visit.

40 – Ellisland Farm

Adults: £5, Under 16: FREE

Travel down the A76 towards Dumfries and about 30 minutes away you’ll come to Ellisland Farm, the one-time home of Robert Burns which he built for his family in 1788.  The farm has barley changed since Burns’ time.  You can easily spend 2 or 3 hours here exploring the many farm buildings and the study where Burns composed many of his works.

41 – Dumfries/Robert Burns’ House

After your visit to Ellisland is over, continue down the A76 until you reach Dumfries.  You can choose to spend your time wandering around this pretty town or sit by the River Nith in the peaceful area of the town known as White Sands.  If you wish to continue your Robert Burns trail then head up to Robert Burns’ House where he spent the last years of his life.  The centre’s fantastic exhibition is illuminated by many original manuscripts and belongings of the Bard as well an impressive scale model of Dumfries in the 1790s and a haunting audio-visual presentation. In the evenings, the centre becomes a film theatre showing the best in contemporary cinema.

42 – Burns grave

For your final Robert Burns destination, the logical place to visit is his grave which can be found in St Michael’s Church in Dumfries.  Robert Burns died in 1796 and was buried in the far north corner of the churchyard, although in 1815 his body was transferred to an impressive mausoleum which was paid for by public donations.

 

Fun trips for kids

This section of the book is dedicated to all the small humans who are staying with us.  As parents of two young kids we understand that as much as they do love a good castle adventure, sometimes they need to just do proper kid stuff.  We have tried and tested all these attractions and given our honest verdict, but it’s the kid’s opinions that matter so we’ve handed the reins over to Autumn (age 7) for this section.

43 – Dalscone Farm Fun

1 Adult & 1 Child £15, 2 Adults and 2 Children £30, Additional Entry £7.50

You’ll find this farm park along the main just as you approach Dumfries from Rigg House.

Autumn’s verdict: This is my favourite of all the farm parks in this book.  I liked the big tricycles which Daddy peddled and Sidney liked feeding the animals.

44 – Mabie Farm Park

The beautiful Mabie Forest lies just outside of Dumfries.  The forest is a lovely destination on its own, but if you’ve got young kids then the farm park is a great day out.

Adult: £8, Child: £7.50, Family: £30

Autumn’s verdict: There are loads of lovely animals here and I loved having a donkey ride.  There are also boats and go karts that you can go in which are fun.

45 – Dinopark

Adults – £3 Children 2 years and over – £6 Family: £17

Again, just outside of Dumfries you’ll find Dinopark which is a small attraction attached to a garden centre.

Autumn’s verdict: It was raining on the day we went here but we still had a nice day.  There are lots of dinosaurs to walk around, but I liked the secret fairy and elf woodland best.

46 – M&Ds

Family of 4: £57.95

Head north towards Glasgow and you’ll find Scotland’s only theme park exactly an hour away from Rigg House B&B.  It is perhaps a lot smaller than any theme park you might be used to but it is perfect for young kids.

Autumn’s verdict: We have been here once and we really enjoyed it.  I wasn’t tall enough for all the rides but there was still lots to do.  Me and Mummy did not enjoy going on the Waltzers and Mummy felt really sick.

 

Day trip #15 – One of Scotland’s Finest Castles

47 – Caelaverock Castle

This castle on the outskirts of Dumfries is free for all Historic Scotland members, otherwise ticket prices are: Adult: £6, Child: £3.60.

We absolutely love this medieval stronghold – it was one of the very first places we visited in Dumfries & Galloway so it is quite special to us.  This castle has a true fairy tale appearance with its twin towered gatehouse, wide moat and deep red sandstone.  You will also find the foundations to another older castle at the end of the nature trail through the woodlands.

48 – Caelaverock Wetland Centre

Adult: £8.70, Child: £5, Family: £23.30

The Wetlands are a rugged and beautiful destination offering open space and tranquil wildlife watching. Wander through wildflower meadows spotting orchids, butterflies and dragonflies, or see the winter migration spectacle.

 

Day trip #16 – Stunning Views

49 – Loch Doon – Admission: FREE

For your final Day trip you’ll be heading back into Ayrshire for a proper day of hillwalking and another ruined castle.  We love this destination for its relatively easy paths which afford fantastic views of the loch. You can easily spend an entire day exploring this wonderful setting – there is a little café close by, but in good weather we recommend taking one of our freshly prepared packed lunches and enjoy a relaxing picnic and paddle by the loch.

50 – Rigg House B&B

After your days of adventures, what better place to return to than Rigg House B&B?  In warm weather spend your evenings relaxing on the front lawn by the glow of chiminea, or in winter relax in our spacious guest lounge in front of the log burning stove.  Pick up a bottle of wine, order one of our delicious homemade pie suppers and enjoy a leisurely evening meal in the Dining Room before retiring to your room for the night.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our recommended day trips and we hope we have inspired you to have many days of fabulous adventures in this wonderful part of Scotland.  Remember – please tell us about anything that you discover on your travels and we’ll be sure to include it in our next edition of this book.

 

 

 

 

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