Galloway Forest Park covers 300 square miles, so don’t rush your visit – in fact spend a whole day and night there. There are three visitor centres from where you can study maps and plan your day. Kirroughtree is family-friendly, with a gift shop, adventure playground, picnic area and tea room.
Save the afternoon for walking and in the morning drive to the popular Red Deer Range on the A712 Queensway. You can see these magnificent creatures up close and enjoy a guided walk with a wildlife ranger.
Next door you can see more animals at the Wild Goat Park. The goats are partial to the odd sandwich so if you’ve lost yours, head for the nearby Kenbridge Hotel for lunch to sample a locally-sourced snack.
Then put on your boots, head out to the hills and climb the Merrick, the highest peak in the South of Scotland. Start at Bruce’s Stone car park, then climb through woodland before reaching the summit of Benyellary, dropping down again and rising up to Merrick for wonderful views.
This area is just as spectacular – if not more so – in the dark, so stay around, perhaps go wild camping, and stare in wonder at the star-studded darkest skies in Europe.
Then put on your boots, head out to the hills and climb the Merrick, the highest peak in the South of Scotland. Start at Bruce’s Stone car park, then climb through woodland before reaching the summit of Benyellary
After a day of physical activity, make your second day one to visit the towns and villages along the stunning Solway coast.
Head to Dumfries first of all, the capital town of the region, where you have a wealth of choice for things to do. Buy your essentials in the modern Loreburne Shopping Centre, visit Robert Burns House or Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.
Then take lunch at The Globe Inn, the favourite haunt of Robert Burns. You don’t have to be a Burns enthusiast – the pub is still full of great characters and serves an excellent range of food and drink.
After that, prepare for a winding but spectacular road journey along the Solway Coast Heritage Trail, which actually starts at Gretna. Drive south from Dumfries to Kirkbean and you’re on the 200-mile route. Here you can visit the John Paul Jones cottage museum, honouring the founder of the US Navy, before driving another 30 minutes to Kippford, a beautiful, bustling fishing village.
Get arty in Kirkcudbright
After looking round there, head next to Kirkcudbright, a place favoured over many years by artists inspired by the landscape, evident by the many galleries there.
Decide whether to visit the most prominent landmark, MacLellan’s Castle, or the crumbling remains of Dundrennan Abbey, then you’ll just have time to drive another short distance to the gorgeous town of Gatehouse of Fleet.
Like Kirkcudbright, it has a thriving artistic community and also a live music and exhibitions venue, the Mill on the Fleet, so if you’ve checked ahead you might be able to take in a gig after sampling an evening meal at the Masonic Arms, giving you a choice of three dining areas to enjoy a great menu and fantastic memories.
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