Plenty to do in South West Scotland during the Winter months

Much of Scotland can be very cold during the winter months but here at Little Laight we are in the gulf stream so frost and snow are a rarity.  Many of us have New Year resolutions that we will take more exercise and live healthier lives.  In my case that never last long but why not come and enjoy Little Laight and the surrounding country side and all it has to offer.

The cottage is within a few hundred yards of the Scottish Coastal path (Core path so is ideal for walkers). It is also close to the route of the Southern Upland Way; a 212 mile walk from nearby Portpatrick on the west coast of Scotland heading east across Dumfries & Galloway and then on through the Scottish Borders until you reach Cockburnspath on the east coast. This might be one for the summer!

Or what about Galloway Forest Park.  Its heaven for walkers and provides something for everyone from a gentle stroll or if you prefer something tougher, there is The Merrick.  There are three visitor centres located throughout the park –Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws and Glentrool.  Kirroughtree is open for winter hours until March 2017 – 11am-2.30pm during the week and 10am-4pm at weekends  Glentrool is open at the weekends in winter from 10.30am – 3pm, while Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre is closed after the 18th December. 

If you’re looking for an adrenaline buzz, why not try Laggan Outdoor.  They offer a number of activities from clay pigeon shooting and archery to reverse-steer jeep and segways.  For the bravest amongst you, they have one of Europe’s longest zip wires and they’ve just launched the human sling shot – which is proving extremely popular (for the latter you do have to be over 16 and under a certain weight.)

Unlike many National Trust properties which shut their doors firmly for winter, Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire, which was rescued by HRH Prince Charles, is open until 23 December.  The Dumfries House Estate is a wonderful location for a fun and relaxing day out for all the family and is open free of charge, and the grounds are open 365 days a year.  Previously a dumping ground, the recently restored 5-acre walled garden now has a magnificent mixture of terrace, greenhouses, formal areas and an education garden. This is also open all year round – but it is worth checking opening hours on the website before visiting. Just outside the walled garden, the Arboretum houses an impressive collection of over 500 specimens and a range of shrubs and woodland flowers. There are lots of woodland walks to enjoy around the estate and it’s free to explore the policies. Don’t miss the wonderful Avenue Bridge which connects the house to the walled garden and arboretum – well worth a photo opportunity.  The Coach House cafe serves excellent lunches and snacks and is right next door to the amazing children’s adventure playground – children won’t want to leave!  The cafe and main house are closed over Christmas and New Year from 23 December and will re-open in January 2017.

For the golfers amongst you, why not try out one of the many local courses.  Portpatrick golf Course, Stranraer Golf Course and the recently redeveloped Trump Turnberry.

For indoor activities, the local leisure centre is in the Ryan Centre in Stranraer.  There is a swimming pool with a flume, two other slides and soft play, Ryan’s Den for younger children.

For the foodies amongst you there are lots of good local places to eat.  To name a few: Henry’s Bay House which is at the head of Loch Ryan and has great views and is managed by local chef/restaurateur John Henry and his wife Jane; The Tigh na Mara Hotel in Sandhead is an excellent family run restaurant.  Both these are worth booking in advice and serve fresh locally sourced meat, fish and shellfish.  If you really want to spoil yourselves try the award winning Knockinaam Lodge near Portpatrick.

Perhaps you would like to eat in at the cottage and enjoy its stunning views.  The owners also own the rights to the oysters in Lochryan, so if you are an oyster lover you are in the right place.  Or, what about calling ferry fish who would deliver shellfish, scallops or Cod to grill.  On your way to Little Laight you will pass several places where you can stock up with local favourites.  There is the Marrbury Smokehouse and Bistro at Carsluith on the A75.  Why not try their wild Cree smoked Salmon and smoked Kirkcudbright Scallops.  Not much more than a mile down the road you will find the Galloway Smokehouse.  They do a wide choice of smoked fish and meats, venison, steak and chicken pies and hampers.  They have just opened a restaurant – the Galloway Fisherman, specializing in local fish dishes, it has lovely views of Wigtown Bay. On the A75, just west of Dumfries is Kilnford Farm Shop, which sells an excellent selection of Galloway reared meat, cheeses, fruit and vegetables.  There is a great café too. Its about 1 ½ hours from Little Laight, so why not try it?

If you are coming to us from the north via the A77 there is the Dowhill Farmshop at Girvan which also stocks excellent locally produced lamb and beef.

Much of Scotland can be very cold during the winter months but here at Little Laight we are in the gulf stream so frost and snow are a rarity.  Many of us have New Year resolutions that we will take more excerise and live healthier lives.  In my case that never last long but why not come and enjoy Little Laight and the surrounding country side and all it has to offer.

The cottage is within a few hundred yards of the Scottish Coastal path (Core path so is ideal for walkers). It is also close to the route of the Southern Upland Way; a 212 mile walk from nearby Portpatrick on the west coast of Scotland heading east across Dumfries & Galloway and then on through the Scottish Borders until you reach Cockburnspath on the east coast. This might be one for the summer!

Or what about Galloway Forest Park.  Its heaven for walkers and provides something for everyone from a gentle stroll or if you prefer something tougher, there is The Merrick.  There are three visitor centres located throughout the park –Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws and Glentrool.  Kirroughtree is open for winter hours until March 2017 – 11am-2.30pm during the week and 10am-4pm at weekends  Glentrool is open at the weekends in winter from 10.30am – 3pm, while Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre is closed after the 18th December.

If you’re looking for an adrenaline buzz, why not try Laggan Outdoor.  They offer a number of activities from clay pigeon shooting and archery to reverse-steer jeep and segways.  For the bravest amongst you, they have one of Europe’s longest zip wires and they’ve just launched the human sling shot – which is proving extremely popular (for the latter you do have to be over 16 and under a certain weight.)

Unlike many National Trust properties which shut their doors firmly for winter, Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire, which was rescued by HRH Prince Charles, is open until 23 December.  The Dumfries House Estate is a wonderful location for a fun and relaxing day out for all the family and is open free of charge, and the grounds are open 365 days a year.  Previously a dumping ground, the recently restored 5-acre walled garden now has a magnificent mixture of terrace, greenhouses, formal areas and an education garden. This is also open all year round – but it is worth checking opening hours on the website before visiting. Just outside the walled garden, the Arboretum houses an impressive collection of over 500 specimens and a range of shrubs and woodland flowers. There are lots of woodland walks to enjoy around the estate and it’s free to explore the policies. Don’t miss the wonderful Avenue Bridge which connects the house to the walled garden and arboretum – well worth a photo opportunity.  The Coach House cafe serves excellent lunches and snacks and is right next door to the amazing children’s adventure playground – children won’t want to leave!  The cafe and main house are closed over Christmas and New Year from 23 December and will re-open in January 2017.

For the golfers amongst you, why not try out one of the many local courses.  Portpatrick golf Course, Stranraer Golf Course and the recently redeveloped Trump Turnberry.

For indoor activities, the local leisure centre is in the Ryan Centre in Stranraer.  There is a swimming pool with a flume, two other slides and soft play, Ryan’s Den for younger children.

For the foodies amongst you there are lots of good local places to eat.  To name a few: Henry’s Bay House which is at the head of Loch Ryan and has great views and is managed by local chef/restaurateur John Henry and his wife Jane; The Tigh na Mara Hotel in Sandhead is an excellent family run restaurant.  Both these are worth booking in advice and serve fresh locally sourced meat, fish and shellfish.  If you really want to spoil yourselves try the award winning Knockinaam Lodge near Portpatrick.

Perhaps you would like to eat in at the cottage and enjoy its stunning views.  The owners also own the rights to the oysters in Lochryan, so if you are an oyster lover you are in the right place.  Or, what about calling ferry fish who would deliver shellfish, scallops or Cod to grill.  On your way to Little Laight you will pass several places where you can stock up with local favourites.  There is the Marrbury Smokehouse and Bistro at Carsluith on the A75.  Why not try their wild Cree smoked Salmon and smoked Kirkcudbright Scallops.  Not much more than a mile down the road you will find the Galloway Smokehouse.  They do a wide choice of smoked fish and meats, venison, steak and chicken pies and hampers.  They have just opened a restaurant – the Galloway Fisherman, specializing in local fish dishes, it has lovely views of Wigtown Bay. On the A75, just west of Dumfries is Kilnford Farm Shop, which sells an excellent selection of Galloway reared meat, cheeses, fruit and vegetables.  There is a great café too. Its about 1 ½ hours from Little Laight, so why not try it?

If you are coming to us from the north via the A77 there is the Dowhill Farmshop at Girvan which also stocks excellent locally produced lamb and beef.

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