Dumfries with the wee ones

31 January 2017


Image: The Inn on the Loch

Dumfries and Galloway, tucked away quietly in the south-west corner of the country is often overlooked when people plan a holiday. It has beaches to rival the islands and mountains as challenging as the Cairngorms but it comes into its own when you consider its accessibility, scenery, history and the huge range of unique family-friendly activities it has on offer.

Dino Park is Scotland's best dinosaur experience and is now open for 2016. Step back 150 million years and discover the giants who roamed the earth. Take a trip through the Dino Mine, hear stories and facts in the Dino Den, dig for fossils, have fun on the bouncy dinosaur and much more.  It’s an educational as well as a fun day out, with the option for adults to retreat to the serenity of the adjoining garden centre and tea room while the kids explore.

Even the name alone would be enough to entice many children to The Devil’s Porridge Museum. This four star VisitScotland attraction is named after military slang for cordite, an essential ingredient in explosives which were produced in an enormous factory here during the First World War. The factory itself was 9 miles long and employed 30,000 people and the museum tells its story in an engaging and child friendly way with lots of interactive displays and special events. Berryburn is a spacious Victorian villa just a few miles away from both, a comfortable and relaxing place for all the extended family to stay.

Caerlaverock Castle is one of Scotland’s great fortresses. With its moat, twin towered gatehouse and imposing battlements, this awe-inspiring and unique triangular structure is the epitome of the medieval stronghold and one of the finest historical ruins in Scotland. Younger visitors can enjoy a siege warfare exhibition, a children's adventure park and a nature trail in the extensive grounds which are part of the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve. A short drive takes you to the luxury of Craigie Knowes on the shores of the Solway Firth, with great sea views and a tranquil location, but still close to all the local amenities.

What child wouldn’t want to spend a day in a chocolate factory? The Cocoa Bean Company runs chocolate making workshops 7 days a week. This unique and interactive experience for children is truly unforgettable as they make and decorate chocolate slabs, marshmallow treats and shaky shape animals, and best of all, everything they make is theirs to take home. In addition there is indoor soft play, an adventure playground outside and a café with the best chocolate treats for the adults. Knockbrex Castle and cottages can accommodate up to 22 guests and has no end of attractions to keep the wee ones amused in the evenings while the adults relax in the great hall. The turreted bedrooms, stone spiral staircase, garden play equipment, pool table and a games room hidden behind a secret door means the biggest problem will be finding the children and persuading them to leave.

Glendow is a drovers’ inn situated in one of the most beautiful and secluded Dumfries glens. It’s a great destination for outdoors families with amazing hiking and biking opportunities just out the door. It’s also only a short hop to Loch Ken which is a centre for watersports in the area. There are a number of activity centres here which offer a huge variety of sports for all ages and abilities. Families can do group activities or drop their kids off for a day sailing, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing or kayaking. In addition, The Inn on the Loch on the shores of nearby Loch Auchenreoch is one of the only places in the UK to offer flyboarding rental and tuition. This new high adrenaline sport involves being propelled above the loch on a water powered jet pack and has to be seen to be believed. If that is not intense enough for you then Laggan Outdoors at Castle Douglas offer a human slingshot where customers are attached to a giant catapult and shot through the air. With acceleration of 0-60 mph in under a second this is only for the adventurous. You can also try one of the longest zipwires in Europe here which is 820 metres long. It almost seems tame in comparison but it is much more suitable for younger children.

Lagafater is close to Galloway Forest Park which has recently been named as one of only eight Dark Skies Parks in the world. This prestigious award recognises the exceptional opportunities for stargazing that the area has to offer. To complement some night-time planet spotting curious children can also enjoy a trip to the nearby Creetown Gem Rock Museum.  Here you can see a stunning collection of unusual items such as a 4.5 billion year old, three kilogram meteorite, a crystal cave, the fossilised egg and dung of a dinosaur and the “Maverick” gold nugget, the largest natural gold specimen on display in the country. The Museum has also influenced the sculpture at the nearby mountain bike trail at Kirroughtree, one of the renowned 7 Stanes. The 1.75 ton stone centrepiece is made from Scottish pink quartz and shaped like a massive gemstone.

Countryfile recently awarded Dumfries and Galloway Holiday Destination of the Year so now is the perfect time to investigate further. Call us today to book your unique and luxurious accommodation.