This year, why not get away from the crowds to Dumfries and Galloway? The Southwest corner of Scotland is probably one of the country’s best kept secrets, yet it boasts some stunning scenery, including, reputedly, more lakes than the better known English Lake District, a wealth of history, including prehistoric standing stones, Norman castles and memorials to martyred Covenanters, and some fantastic wildlife, from red kites, ospreys and wild geese to red squirrels, red deer and wild goats! Garden lovers will find plenty of interest at places such as Threave, Castle Kennedy and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Logan, while star-gazers will want to sample the joys of one of the world’s few Dark Sky Parks in the Galloway Forest. Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, lived for many years in Dumfries and worked as an excise man along the Solway coast, while Peter Pan was invented in the region’s capital, and the more recent authors Gavin Maxwell and Ian Niall were natives of the region, so it is fitting that Wigtown is now designated Scotland’s Booktown, hosting a thriving Book Festival every Autumn. The quaint old county town of Kirkcudbright is celebrated as the Artist’s Town, with a number of galleries to visit, not to mention the annual Spring Fling open studio events across the region. And don’t forget to sample some of the fantastic local produce, recently featured on ITV’s ‘Countrywise Kitchen’, including beef from the unique Belted Galloway cattle, salt marsh lamb, venison, smoked salmon and award-winning Loch Arthur cheeses.
Idle Hour Holidays was set up in 2006 when owners Anthony and Joseph Duncalf moved to the area from Yorkshire. We now offer a choice of two four-star self-catering cottages, close to the beautiful Solway coast, both of which offer an ideal base to explore all the region has to offer.
‘Forest Edge’, in a quiet location on the edge of the small town of Dalbeattie, in the East of the region, is a traditional granite cottage, tastefully extended and modernised to accommodate up to four people comfortably in one double and one twin bedroom. The cosy lounge has an open fire to help you unwind after a busy day exploring all the area has to offer. The cottage is just a ten minute drive from the Colvend Coast – designated a National Scenic Area and sometimes known as the Solway Riviera – with picturesque villages, sandy beaches and cliff-top walks, while the rugged Galloway Hills are within easy reach, offering spectacular scenery and some challenging walks. Visit historic Caerlaverock Castle, explore the romantic ruins of Dundrennan Abbey (where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night on Scottish soil), go water skiing on nearby Loch Ken, or just unwind in the lovely cottage-style garden, backing onto acres of unspoilt woodland, forming part of the famous 7Stanes mountain-biking network. Guests also enjoy substantial discounts at nearby Dalbeattie Golf Club.
Further West, ‘Water’s Edge’ is a stylish modern townhouse, forming part of a tasteful new development on the harbour side of the sleepy fishing village of Garlieston in the Galloway Machars. The property itself is bright and spacious, with one twin bedroom and one double – en suite with a balcony enjoying stunning views across the bay to the old village and the hills beyond. With some lovely coastal walks starting right from the front door, this is a great place to escape the rat race and get away from it all. Visit the Mull of Galloway (Scotland’s most southerly point, with stunning views across to Ireland), sample the local whisky at Bladnoch Distillery, or explore the ruins of nearby Whithorn Priory, the earliest Christian settlement in Scotland, founded by St Ninian. Don’t forget to visit the prehistoric standing stones at Torhousekie and Drumtrodden, and the chambered burial cairn at Cairn Holy, near Newton Stewart. With a free boat park a stone’s throw from the property, you can even bring your boat and explore the coastline by sea!
Both our properties are fitted out to a high standard, rated 4 Star by Welcome Cottages, offering a comfortable home from home to make your visit to this idyllic area an enjoyable experience. Up to two dogs are welcome at a small extra charge, and we can provide a child’s cot and high chair on request. Both cottages are open all year round, with prices for a week’s stay starting at £280, with short breaks of 3 or 4 nights available out of season, from £60 per night, with special discounts available from time to time. Full details can be found at our website – www.idlehourholidays.co.uk – and we would be delighted to answer any particular queries you may have, and hope to have the pleasure of sharing the joys of this lovely part of the world with you very soon!