I’ve just returned from an epic long weekend around Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland – and it’s fair to say I’m missing it terribly. I’m currently sitting at my desk, eating my Scottish shortbread and sifting through the hundreds of photos I took during my trip.
Having crammed in so much in just four days, I can’t wait to bring you some stories of what I got up to. Before then, however, here’s a little round-up of all the things I fell in love with around Dumfries.
1. The Food
OH GOD THE FOOD. From the soft pan-fried sea bass at the Casa Mia to the amazing risotto cooked for me at my accommodation at the Three Glens, each and every meal left me wanting even more. I’ve put on around 5 stone* in just four days, but who cares when you’re tasting food this good?! We tucked into many dishes that were included in Scotland’s #Tasteourbest scheme, where restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions are required to have at least 40% of Scottish produce visible on the menu.
* slight exaggeration
2. The Wildlife
Despite all the cold weather we still managed to see our fair share of wildlife, including rabbits, sheep and cows. From April 2015 you’ll also be able to take part in Nocturnal Wildlife tours using thermal imagery devices to spot even more animals in their natural environment.
3. Burns Night Celebrations
Part of the reason why I travelled up to Dumfries in January was to take part in the Burns Night festivities, held every year to celebrate the life and works of the national Bard, Robert Burns. The Big Burns Supper, held in Dumfries, is the world’s Biggest Burns Night celebrations. We took in one show – Le Haggis: The Second Coming – which involved burlesque dancing, comedy, live Scottish museum and, of course, haggis. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, so look out for a post all about this!
4. Robert Burns’ History
I’m not sure whether it was the fact we were visiting during Burns Night celebrations, or whether the Scots really do love him that much, but absolutely everywhere we visited seemed to be infused with some semblance of Robert Burns. We took in the history of Ellisland Farm, home to Burns for around three years at the end of the 18th century, where he wrote such classics as Auld Lang Syne and Tam o’ Shanter. But even in places like Annandale Distillery the respect for ol’ Rabbie Burns was evident, with one of their new whiskies being named ‘Man O’ Words’ after the poet.
5. The Views
From verdant rolling hills to the snow-capped mountains in the distance, the countryside views of Dumfries and Galloway often left me incapable of saying anything other than “Wow”. Glens, lochs and dry stone dykes were a frequent feature of our views as we made our way between each event. The rural views of my beloved Essex are nothing compared to this.
6. Farm Shops
Over the course of the weekend we stopped by two farm shops: one was Loch Arthur Camphill Community, and the other was Kilnford Farm and Shop. Both places offer a space for locals to meet up, sip some coffee or even tuck into a meal, but what really impressed me was the huge selection of organic, local produce on sale in the shop. Vegetables? Honey? Tea? You name it, it’s there – and it’s so much satisfying feasting on something that you know the origins of. I would have bought so much in here if I had the room to cart my wares back to London!
7. The Distance from London
Speaking of London, if you’re wanting to travel via train, Dumfries isn’t completely out of reach for a quick weekend away. Just a smidge over four hours away, if you catch the plush Virgin train from London Euston at 9:30am, you’ll be basking in the Dumfries sun (…or rain) by 2pm, ready for an afternoon and evening of exploring.
8. The People
In my experience, the further North you go in England, the friendlier the people are, and the more people just love to talk to you. This rule even extends beyond the England/Scotland border, where absolutely everyone we met made us feel extremely welcome.
Many thanks to Visit Scotland for hosting my trip to Dumfries and Galloway.