Autumn in the Lowlands

14 September 2017

loch skeen

Loch Skeen by Ronan Cantwell via CC

Autumn is a brilliant time of year to visit Scotland. In particular, the south of the country has a huge variety of fantastic things to see and do. Here are our top tips for activities and days out for fantastic scenery, glorious colour and pop culture highlights.

Outlander has proved to be a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic. This time travelling historical romp returns to the nations screens in September, so what better time to get acquainted with one of the locations used for filming. Drumlanrig Castle is one of the grandest castles in Scotland so it is no wonder it was chosen as the backdrop to season two. It is a fascinating building and a fabulous day out with kids. Situated against the spectacular backdrop of the castle, adults can sit back and relax on benches while watching their children explore the aerial runways, slides, rope bridges and climbing frames of the estate’s fantastic adventure playground. Older children can take in the championship mountain bike trails and everyone can join one of the estate's knowledgeable rangers on a walk or Land Rover tour to discover the areas wild landscapes, diverse natural history and flora and fauna. Along the way keep a look out for otters, red squirrels and birds of prey.

If the Outlander books are not quite to your taste then fear not, you can almost certainly find some literary inspiration at the Wigtown Book Festival. This tiny village on the south coast of Dumfries and Galloway has gained a global reputation for its bookshops (and now it’s week-long festival which takes place this year in September and October).  Literary stars and broadcasters such as Gavin Esler, Chris Brookmyre and Denise Mina will be giving readings and doing signings and taking part in workshops and debates. One of the most famous and in demand places to stay in the village requires you to work in the downstairs bookshop in addition to paying rent. For those who would like a more traditional holiday then Craigie Knowes sits on the Solway coast just a short drive away. It has an amazing glass conservatory which makes the perfect place to relax and read. It is estimated that between all the bookshops in town there are over a quarter of a million books for sale so there is no excuse for returning empty handed.

Every visitor to the south of Scotland should try a ‘lowland lady’. This is the name given to the often overlooked single malts produced outside of the better known whisky producing areas. Characterised by their fruity flavour, lightness and dry finish these unpeated malts make excellent aperitifs. Annandale is Scotland’s most southerly distillery and is an essential stop for holidaymakers in the area, a variety of tours are available and there is a café and gift shop. For the ultimate collector, investor or whisky connoisseur then in addition to regular bottles you can sample and pre order a limited number of casks. Prices range from £1,000,000 for cask no.1 to a much more affordable £2100. Berryburn is just a short drive away, and is an amazing and luxurious place to relax with your newly acquired dram. On an autumn evening in front of a log fire there is simply nothing better than savouring a local single malt.

Autumn colours in Scotland are a photographers dream, for rich contrasts and fallen leaves then a woodland walk is a must. Galloway Forest Park is often referred to as ‘the Highlands of the Lowlands’ and is home to dramatic ancient woodland, magnificent scenery and an astonishing range of local wildlife. The park is perfect for the whole family whether you are walking, cycling, fishing, driving through the woods or just relaxing in the tearooms. It’s easy to lose yourself amongst the trees for an hour or two as you gaze out across the tranquil waters of Loch Trool in the shadow of the highest peak in southern Scotland, the Merrick. This is also a Dark Sky Park, meaning it's one of the best spots in the UK for stargazing, as we step into autumn you can be treated to a spectacular night time show without the chill of winter.