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Discover the forgotten corner of Scotland: A family guide to Dumfries and Galloway

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Dumfries and Galloway: a family-friendly destination with something for everyone

We know how challenging it can be to organise a fun and relaxing family getaway, to disconnect and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Saturated beaches, full of people, can be quite disorienting and take away from the peace and quiet you are seeking, which is why we think Dumfries and Galloway may be just what the doctor ordered. Far from the madding city crowds, you will find a sea of calmness and relaxation.

Dumfries and Galloway is a region in South Scotland, poignantly known as the forgotten corner. With its dramatic castles, expressive coastlines, imposing forests and lofty hills, Dumfries and Galloway is the ideal destination for families because, simply put, it has something for everyone. Give your children the gift of nature – it's a holiday they will never forget.

Glamping in tented-cottages, where luxury meets nature.

If you want a holiday that combines nature and comfort, then look no further than Balnab Farm, tucked away in the beautiful Machars peninsula, a stone’s throw away from the Scottish coast. Glamping means that you will always have nature at your doorstep while being surrounded by comfort and luxury. Unlike setting up camp, however, glamping offers convenience, providing you with modern amenities such as a fully equipped kitchen, toilets, feathery beds and a hot shower.

Our Balnab Farm is a true delight for fearless youngsters. With an outdoor playground, a pony riding experience, a dairy farm, and tractor rides, what’s not to love?

🐶💞 Did you know that Balnab Farm is dog-friendly? That means you can bring your four-legged companion to enjoy the fresh air and spacious surroundings too.

Cliffs, bikes, gardens: an ideal nature-fuelled family escape

Turn off your phones and toss them to the sea, roars the ghostly voice of Robert Burns (but maybe don’t quote us on it!). By the time you are sitting on the precipice of the rugged cliffs, the noise of the city will have melted away, replaced with the gentle murmur of waves crashing against the ancient rocks.

Allow yourselves to be carried away by the majesty of the Isle Head Lighthouse, which you can reach in under ten minutes by car from Balnab Farm. You can explore the lighthouse and its surroundings, learn about its history and role, and take in the stunning scenery. It's a great place for a family adventure!

But the fun doesn’t stop there. One of the best modes of exploring nature is, of course, by bike. Did you know that you can appreciate the sensational and authentically Scottish vista by cycling the Isle of Whithorn route? This easy loop is sublime for a family activity. What’s more, half way through you can stop to indulge in tea and cake or ice cream to fuel up.

For the horticultural aficionados, the Woodfall Gardens is a must. Woodfall is known as Galloway’s ‘Secret Garden’ and with good reason. This 18th century walled garden is a hidden gem that abounds with a variety of plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. It contains a charming rose garden and a parterre interplanted with fragrant geraniums and characterful campanulas.

Finally, after you have visited the cultivated Woodfall Gardens, head towards St Ninian’s Cave for a breathtaking view of the coast and a glimpse of the past. You are certain to be amazed by the ancient carvings on the cave wall and the stunning pebbly beach, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing day, a picnic, and an astonishing nature walk.

If a sandy beach is more your style and ideal for sandcastle building with little ones, you'll find a secluded spot at Rigg Bay just a few minutes from Balnab farm. Take a wander through the stunning Galloway House Estate gardens and emerge directly onto the sandy shore in front of you. It wouldn't look out of place in Cornwall's busy seaside villages, but without the crowds and ice cream stands - perfect for enjoying the nature outdoors.

Scotland’s pulse: family-focused fun and a wee bit of culture

From ancient ruins and medieval castles to modern museums and art galleries, Galloway has a wealth of cultural attractions to explore and enjoy. Whether you want to learn about the history and heritage of the region, admire the art and creativity of the locals, or have some fun adventures with your family, you will find something for all ages in Galloway.

Threave Gardens is a series of stunning gardens, each with a different style and theme, created by the National Trust for Scotland’s School of Heritage Gardening. The Threave Nature Reserve nearby is also a haven for wildlife lovers, where you can spot rare birds, mammals and bats. A great opportunity to introduce your little ones to the diversity of wildlife and the importance of conservation. You and your loved ones can also engage in some gentle rowing in the River Dee to reach the ancient Threave Castle.

For our bookish enthusiasts, Wigtown is not to be missed. Just under 25 minutes by car from the Balnab Farm, Wigtown is a book lover’s paradise, with many independent bookshops and a famous festival each September. Your kids will love the exciting events and activities the town has to offer!

If you want to spend some time learning more about the cultural history of Galloway and Dumfries, then you will certainly benefit from a visit to Whithorn. With fun and engaging opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences, creative workshops, and outdoor activities, it's a great day out for everyone.