Autumn in the south of Scotland
Autumn is upon us but rather than being disappointed at the end of summer we should be celebrating the start of a new season and all that it offers. The Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are fantastic at any time of year but make particularly attractive destinations when the trees start to shed their leaves and the evenings are cooler. Here are a few of our favourite things to do at this time of year and some of the best places to stay.
Art and landscape
Dumfries and Galloway is home to some of the most stunning and ambitious works of modern art. Crawick Multiverse is a spectacular transformation of a former open cast coal mine into a massive outdoor space to be enjoyed by future generations. This stunning work represents exciting discoveries and theories of the universe and links the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology. It is a truly inspiring landmark that will appeal to everyone from art enthusiasts and scientists to walkers and makes for a great family day out.
In complete contrast to the epic scale of the land art of Crawick the Rosnes Benches offer a more intimate and thought provoking way to interact with the environment. The vision of renowned artists Dalziel + Scullion, these installations encourage you to enjoy nature from a lesser-seen perspective, sit on them and reflect for a while or lie down for a whole new outlook. Inspired by mysterious ancient cup and ring marked stones, these are subtle pieces that blend into their surroundings so you will need a map and directions to the 12 rural locations around Galloway, where 30 of them are located. Seeking them out makes for a fantastic way to experience some of the most scenic, but seldom visited, parts of the countryside.
Braidwood Castle has a central location that is easy accessible from the central belt as well as being only a short drive from the attractions of the borders. It’s a perfect weekend escape from the city where you can relax in a completely unique property in the evenings and explore the countryside during the day.
A time for Books
Wigtown Book Festival is now one of the most famous in the country. Taking place in late September it is an undoubted highlight of the literary year. The line-up for this autumn, which is also the events 20th anniversary is still under wraps but judging by previous year’s highlights you can expect a huge selection of bestselling authors, media figures and celebrities. There will be a week of panels, discussions, children’s events and readings as well as signings and book launches. Despite its reputation it is still an intimate experience where authors and attendees rub shoulders at the town’s cafes and the whole village seems to be a part of it. The town itself, although small in size, has a huge number of independent bookshops leading to its moniker of Scotland’s booktown. If drinking coffee and slowly pottering round miles of shelves of specialist books is in anyway appealing then a visit is a must at any time of year.
Craigie Knowes sits further along the Solway coast in the equally appealing village of Rockcliffe. This Victorian villa sleeps 10 and has stunning sea views. The conservatory is bright and comfortable with amazing view over to Rough Island but it’s also the perfect location to spend an afternoon with a book before retiring to enjoy the warmth of the wood burning stove when the sun goes down.
Forest walks & autumn leaves
Autumn is definitely the best time of year to experience the variety of activities available in Scotland’s numerous forests and gardens. A personal favourite is the Glentrool Trail in the shadow of the highest peak in the south, The Merrick. Lose yourself amongst the trees and leaves for an hour or two, and gaze out across the tranquil waters of the loch as you follow the trail around.
You don't need to head to a remote woodland to enjoy the golden light of autumn though, take a trip to Dawyck Botanic Garden which is truly one of the world’s finest arboreta with foliage bursting into vivid hues of red, orange and gold. It is a haven of peace in which to appreciate the rich fiery colours and exotic and native plants such as the large Japanese Katsura tree which in early autumn fills the air with a caramel scent as its leaves turn a pale biscuit colour. If that turns your attention to confectionary then there is an award winning visitor centre for refreshments.
Keeper’s Cottage sits just over the border with England and is a stunning retreat at this time of year. Surrounded by farmland, forest and rolling hills it is close to Newcastleton Forest where there are a huge variety of activities including some of the best mountain biking trails in Scotland and Kielder Forest which at 250 square miles is the largest in England.