From Rockcliffe on the coast with its wonderful nature reserve and bird sanctuary to Peter Pan's birthplace, and the UK's first Dark Sky Park, there's definitely something for everyone to do in Dumfries and Galloway.
The Crawick Multiverse near Sanquhar is a spectacular open air artwork designed by Charles Jencks and inspired by the cosmos. This unique site has transformed a former open cast coal mine into vast landmark featuring themes of space, astronomy and cosmology. Explore standing stones, walk through comet explosions and Milky Way spirals, or just enjoy the panoramic views of the Upper Nithsdale Valley. Situated just off the A76 (Dumfries to Kilmarnock road), some 25 miles north of Dumfries.
Moat Brae was acknowledged by J.M. Barrie as the inspiration for Neverland (Peter Pan). He played in the ‘enchanted land’ surrounding this grand Georgian house at Moat Brae in Dumfries. Thanks to the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, the house has been saved from disrepair and in opened to the public in June 2019. This is now the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling which is open daily (although closed on Mondays during school term time). Admission fees apply. This 'B' listed Georgian house dating from 1823 was one of the finest of its kind in Dumfries. You can also visit the Neverland Discovery Garden (free of charge). There is a cafe and a shop.
Galloway Forest Park has everything – there's archaeology with iron age roundhouses near to the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, abundant wildlife throughout the park from the seashore to mountaintop, for those who are patient, spotting red and roe deer, otters and red squirrels, nightjars and black grouse is possible (though probably not all in the same day). Visit the Red Deer Range (admission free, open all year) to see red deer in their natural habitat. Bike hire is available to explore the many miles of cycle tracks. Mountains, lochs and rivers are all there to be explored. Galloway Forest Park has 300 square miles of wonderful scenery and is known to have the darkest sky in Europe for watching the night sky. It was the first place in the UK to receive Dark Sky Park status and it's also in a designated UNESCO Biosphere.
B&Bs near Galloway Forest Park - Nithbank Country Estate near Thornhill
The Grey Mare's Tail is a spectacular 200ft waterfall tumbling down a steep drop from Loch Skeen to the valley of the Moffat Water below. It is part of the nature reserve run by the National Trust for Scotland, offering wonderful upland scenery and walking opportunities. The Grey Mare's Tail is the fifth highest waterfall in Britain and it so impressed Sir Walter Scott he wrote a poem about the falls. The nature reserve is a Special Area of Conservation as it contains not only rare upland flora and wild goats but bird watchers can spot peregrines and ravens. Walkers can also visit the Tail Burn Fort which is an Iron Age earthwork, also known as the 'Giant's Grave' although it is not a burial mound.
The Solway Coast Heritage Trail is a way marked driving route between the vast tidal flats of the Solway Firth starting at Annan and the towering sea cliffs of the Rhins. The drive includes Scotland's most southerly point at the Mull of Galloway. The magnificent coastline is richly endowed with estuaries, rocky headlands, sandy bays, stony beaches and cliffs with caves to inspire the imagination. Along the way there are three National Scenic Areas, recognised for their outstanding natural beauty – the Solway Firth, Luce Bay and Sands and Mull of Galloway are special areas of conservation for their habitats and species.
This is the most southerly point in Scotland. You can climb 115 steps up the lighthouse or enjoy excellent views from the cliffs over the Solway Firth and Irish Sea as far as the Isle of Man. Look out for thousands of breeding seabirds. This is a RSPB nature reserve. There are many walks including the Mull of Galloway Trail which stretches from the Mull of Galloway to Stranraer.
A great day out for children, Mabie Farm Park in Dumfries combines indoor and outdoor entertainment for children of all ages while still capturing the essence and feel of an original dairy farm. There's loads to see and do, from quad biking to donkey rides, rare breeds of pigs, sheep and goats to visit, as well as ponies and horses, guinea pigs, chipmunks, peacocks and quail are just a few of the smaller animals. There's a farm shop and restaurant to complete a great day out for all the family.