Move over France, you might be surprised to hear that Scotland has its very own Riviera in the form of Wigtownshire. Enjoying a mild micro-climate due to the Gulf Stream this area of south west Scotland sees more than its fair share of burgeoning flora and fauna. A trip to Wigtown won’t disappoint those amongst you who enjoy a spot of twitching on your hols. It’s famous for its ospreys which have been spotted in recent years – just don’t forget your bins.
Wigtown is also known as Scotland’s ‘book town’ thanks to over twenty book shops and an annual literary festival every autumn. It would be rude to mention literature without a nod to national Bard, Robert Burns who hails from the area. As the ‘gateway to Scotland’ it’s fitting that Dumfries, in Dumfries & Galloway naturally, was once home to this famous poet and if you’ve a mind, and are of a literary bent, you can still visit Ellisland Farm which inspired some of his best-loved songs and poems. If you listen hard you’ll be sure to hear echoes of Auld Lang Syne, penned at the property and arguably his greatest success.
Before we pop across to the Borders a note about the 300 miles of wild parkland that formed Galloway Forest Park. As Britain’s largest forest park it’s a sight to behold with its heather-clad hills, tranquil lochs and scenic trails. It’s also worth extending the trip to sundown for a spot of star gazing – it’s the UK’s only designated dark sky park.
The triple peaked Eildon Hills lie at the heart of the Borders and are a must for ramblers. Below, in the valley of the Tweed, follow the river to discover Abbotsford, the home of writer Sir Walter Scott. We must also give a mention to the country town of Kelso which perches on the junction of the Tweed and Teviot. Take a breather, enjoy a pub lunch and survey the five arched bridge which was the model for London’s Waterloo Bridge across the Thames. For peace and quiet we know which view we’d choose!
45 minutes from Edinburgh, the genteel town of Peebles sits on the northern bank of the Tweed. Mostly untouched by the conflict that characterised Border life in the 15th and 16th centuries the same can’t be said of Hermitage Castle, near Hawick, who’s position on the Borders, and it’s sinister façade, earned it the title of ‘guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain’. Spooky…