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Nature & The Outdoors

3 Days Exploring Dark Skies and Natural Beauty of South West Scotland

MILES190
KM306
DAYS3

If you’re a lover of nature, then exploring the natural beauty and experiencing the spectacular dark skies of South West Scotland should definitely be on your bucket list!

This three day itinerary takes you to Britain’s largest forest park, Scotland’s most southerly point and Scotland’s home to heritage gardening. It also includes lots of opportunities (weather permitting of course!) to enjoy and to learn about the Dark Skies in one of the regions with the lowest light pollution in the UK.

Opening dates and times vary across attractions. Please ensure to check opening times and availability directly with each attraction before you visit.

Day 1
OVERVIEW

Day 1 - Getting Back to Nature

Kick off Day One by meeting some of our loveliest locals at Galloway Alpacas. Set in the gorgeous Galloway countryside, this place and these lovely animals will bring a smile to your face!

Next stop, Galloway Forest Park, Britain’s largest forest park and first Dark Sky Park. There is so much to explore, whether you want a gentle stroll with gorgeous views, a long hike through the forest or a challenging biking trail, it has it all. Kirroughtree also has a lovely cafe where you can grab lunch.

In the afternoon, head over to Crook of Baldoon Nature Reserve. This coastal reserve at Wigtown Bay is the ideal place to see lapwing and curlews as well as lots of other wildlife.

Round off your day by taking a Tour of the Universe, one of the many evening courses available at Galloway Astronomy Centre (booking required).

 
MILES 36.8
KM 60
STOPS4
 
Galloway Forest Park courtesy of VisitScotland / Damian Shields
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Galloway Alpacas

Nestled in the beautiful surroundings of South West Scotland, Galloway Alpacas is an alpaca farm providing alpaca experiences, trekking, therapy and private hire for corporate events, weddings and other special occasions.
 
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Stop 2 - Galloway Forest Park

The Galloway Forest Park has everything you need for a great day out, whatever the time of year. Meet red deer and wild goats, choose from two scenic Forest Drives, follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce or picnic beside a peaceful loch. This is also Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park – one of the best places to stargaze in Europe!
 
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Stop 3 - RSPB Crook of Baldoon Nature Reserve

 
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Stop 4 - Galloway Astronomy Centre

 
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EAT

Harrisons Coffee House and Beltie Books

Wigtown
Browse our selection of Books. Then have a well earned leisurely cup of Coffee, tea or chocolate accompanied by a delicious cake, scone or a bowl of soup or a snack.

Gather

Gatehouse of Fleet
Where good food and good views nourish the soul Gather, a glass fronted Bistro in a stunning setting
 
 
Day 2
OVERVIEW

Day 2 - Explore the Rhins of Galloway

Day Two begins at the beautiful Glenwhan Gardens. These family run gardens hewn from moorland are home to large collections of rare trees and shrubs.

Next, head over to Sandhead Beach, this beautiful sandy beach stretches for more than a mile and is a lovely spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

The Mull of Galloway is a must visit when in the Rhins, the lighthouse at Scotland’s most southerly point is surrounded by dramatic views. There is accommodation at the Mull of Galloway too, so if you stay until after dark you might get to enjoy some of the spectacular dark sky views.

 
MILES 45.5
KM 74
STOPS3
 
Mull of Galloway LIghthouse
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Glenwhan Gardens, Arboretum &Tearoom

The Gardens are a labour of love, hewn from rough moorland 40 years ago. With the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, Glenwhan grows many tender plants from around the Southern Hemisphere, together with large collections of rare trees and shrubs
 
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Stop 2 - Sandhead Beach (Luce Sands)

This beautiful sandy beach in Sandhead village near Stranraer stretches for more than a mile and boasts unlimited sand when the tide is out. Luce bay is designated a Special Area for Conservation for its dune, seashore and seabed habitats and the fantastic marine wildlife it supports. With ample car parking and picnic tables by the beach, the area is a great place for a picnic before walking on the beach.
 
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Stop 3 - Mull of Galloway Experience

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland's most Southerly Point. At the end of a narrow peninsula with stunning views in every direction, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Exhibition, the RSPB Visitor Centre and Reserve and the stunning Gallie Craig Coffee House comprise the Mull of Galloway Experience
 
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EAT

Henry’s Bay House Restaurant, Stranraer

Stranraer
The restaurant also boasts the finest sun terrace in the area for alfresco dining and views overlooking the picturesque Loch Ryan

Wigtownshire County Golf Club

Glen Luce
The 'County' is one of the most popular holiday golf courses in South West Scotland, an 18-hole, true links course situated on the shores of Luce Bay.
 
 
Day 3
OVERVIEW

Day 3 - Kirkcudbright to Dumfries

The final day of your visit begins at the Dark Space Planetarium in Kirkcudbright. Recently opened it is a must see for anyone who wants to learn more about our Dark Skies.

Your second stop is the beautiful Threave Garden and Estate. Home to the School of Heritage Gardening, if you are a fan of gardening, you will love this inspirational place.

Next, go and explore the beautiful Mabie Forest, with trails for all fitness levels, this is the perfect place to enjoy the tranquility of the forest.

And if you are staying another night, why not book a tour with the Dark Sky Ranger? He can take you to the best star gazing spots and teach you all about the night sky.

 
MILES 107.7
KM 174
STOPS4
 
Dark Space Planetarium
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Dark Space Planetarium

Welcome to Dark Space Planetarium, Where Science and Fun Collide
 
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Stop 2 - Threave Garden and Estate

Threave Estate is a garden for all seasons and a haven for wildlife, with an osprey platform and bat reserve. It has been home to the School of Heritage Gardening since 1960 and its beautiful 'garden rooms' offer inspiration to any keen gardeners.
 
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Stop 3 - Mabie Forest Park

Mabie Forest Park is a beautiful forest park just to the south of Dumfries offering spectacular views across the Dumfries and Galloway countryside and over to the Solway Firth. It is home to one of the 7Stanes Biking centres and offers walking and biking trails for all abilities.
 
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Stop 4 - Dark Sky Ranger

'Dark Sky Tours' in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park and wider Dumfries & Galloway. Learn about space and star gazing
 
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EAT

Selkirk Arms Hotel Restaurant

Kirkcudbright
"Our food - fresh, local, traditional and modern, Scottish Mediterranean with a twist."

The Old School House

Ringford Nr Castle Douglas
Snug and warm and A fantastic place to stop for a meal, or coffee and cake,
 
 

STAY

Cree Valley Lodges and Stables

Newton Stewart
Cree Valley Lodges and Stables can be found tucked away in an unbeatable location in Dumfries and Galloway.

Hazlefield House Country House B & B

Auchencairn
Relax in our quality rooms in an outstanding location with beautiful scenic views and a wealth of local attractions to suit every taste.

Kirkcudbright Cottage Holidays

Kirkcudbright
is a Victorian townhouse – located in the historic artist’s quarters – a stone's throw away from the former residence of E. Hornell who was one of the renowned “Glasgow Boys”.

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse Holiday Cottages

Mull of Galloway
Lighthouse holiday cottages at the most Southerly Point of Scotland.

Rosebank & Newbreeze, Port Logan Holiday Cottage

Stranraer
With a glass of wine, the fresh sea air you can relax and watch the sun setting over the sea – just what holidays are all about.

Tigh Na Mara Hotel & Restaurant

Sandhead
The hotel is within arms length of a beautiful clean stretch of sandy beach, boasting breathtaking views across the bay.
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