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A taste of south west Scotland in one weekend

© Supplied by Annandale DistilleryAnnan countryside

This accessible corner of Dumfries and Galloway is rich in awe inspiring history, fine food and offers a great wee dram too.

It’s true to say that Dumfries and Galloway is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Escaping the hoards of tourists that flood to the Highlands each summer, Scotland’s south-west retains an undiscovered feel that’s beautifully rural, wonderfully peaceful and totally unspoilt.

The South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) driving route launched in 2020 gives the perfect excuse to explore the region. Taking in the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, it’s a great starting point to allow you to discover the beauty of the area.

However, as with all driving routes, you risk missing unique attractions and experiences as you speed on down the road to get to your next viewpoint. In fact, if you follow the SWC300 route, you might bypass a great little area that’s super accessible.

Annan and Dumfries map © Supplied by Annandale Distillery
Take a short detour off the A75 and discover some great hidden gems.

Easily reachable from Glasgow and the central belt, take a day trip or overnight stay in the area around Annan towards Dumfries, and you’ll be surprised at what you might discover.

So, if you’re looking to explore somewhere different this summer, here’s a great hit-list for a fascinating day (or two, depending on how leisurely you want to be!) around Dumfries and Annan.

Step back in time to the medieval ages

You’re not short of castles in this part of the world; in fact there’s over 100 in the region. But the one that tops the list as being one of the most awe inspiring is Caerlaverock Castle located between Annan and Dumfries.

Caerlaverock Castle © Shutterstock
Caerlaverock Castle will transport you back to a time of sieges and battles.

The impressive 13th century triangular medieval stronghold features a moat, imposing battlements and towered gatehouse. It really doesn’t take much imagination to transport yourself back through the ages to the sieges and battles that took place here.

The grounds are also home to many rare animals and plants with the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve right next door to the castle too.

A short drive from the castle you’ll find another fascinating attraction of an entirely different ilk…

Discover the worlds very first savings bank

Did you know the world’s very first saving bank started life in a grain store in a small village in the rolling countryside between Annan and Dumfries?

Now a little gem of an attraction, the Henry Duncan Savings Banks Museum in Ruthwell is well worth the short trip off the beaten track. Telling the story of Rev. Henry Duncan, the minister who revolutionised finance for everyday people, you can explore the original savings bank in a fun, fascinating and informative way.

Henry Duncan Savings Banks Museum © Supplied by Henry Duncan Savings Banks Museum
The story of the world’s first savings bank is brought to life at the museum.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking banking equals boring. With lots of interactive elements and easy to follow tours, this little museum is even great for kids, offering inspiring hints and tips on saving your pocket money!

Enjoy a dram with a feelgood factor

Just a short hop from the A74(M), and in a truly idyllic setting, Annandale Distillery is a must to visit – even just for the coffee shop and beautiful surroundings alone.

Of course, being a whisky distillery, you’ll find a whisky afternoon tea on the menu alongside more traditional fare and home baking.

However, while you’re there don’t miss the chance to take a tour of the distillery. Painstakingly brought back from ruin, the distillery re-opened in 2014.

Annandale Distillery © Supplied by Annandale Distillery
Take a tour of the idyllic Annandale Distillery and be sure to visit the coffee shop for some tasty treats.

Renowned for its award-winning whisky, you can take in the sights, sounds and smells of the distillery while learning about the often ill-fated history of the building itself.

Now thriving thanks to the owners, husband and wife team Professor David Thomson and Teresa Church, Annandale Distillery is a wonderful example of how a business venture can bring so many benefits to the local area and community.

Indeed, you can’t help but experience a feelgood factor when you visit Annandale Distillery, and that’s amplified even more by sampling a wee dram and enjoying some delicious home baking in the coffee shop.

Fine dining at the Bard’s favourite inn

Every road trip requires the promise of a good meal. For a truly unique culinary treat, you need to visit The Globe Inn in Dumfries.

Once the stomping ground of Robert Burns and hailed as his ‘favourite howff’, The Globe Inn combines Michelin level food with a setting full of character.

The Globe Inn, Dumfries © Supplied by The Globe Inn
Enjoy a fine dining surrounded by history in Robert Burns favourite inn.

Booking in advance is advised for dinner, however, if you fancy an off the cuff lunch usually there will be availability. Needless to say, for a restaurant of this standard, the food is divine. But what makes The Globe Inn extra special are the touches that connect it so strongly to Robert Burns.

Book a tour of the restored Burns rooms where he once lived, loved and held court. Sit in his chair, see items he actually owned and read the verse that he etched into the windowpane of his bedchamber.

Don’t keep this hidden gem a secret

Really, there’s no reason not to visit this little corner of Dumfries and Galloway. An easy drive down the motorway, or even traveling by train to Dumfries, it’s a perfect spot for a day or two away this summer.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook what’s on our doorstep, but venture down to Dumfries and Galloway and you’ll be rewarded great food, a great dram and fascinating history.

Caerlaverock Castle Castle Road End, Dumfries, DG1 4RU

Henry Duncan Savings Banks Museum 2 Thwaite Cottages, Ruthwell, Dumfries DG1 4NN

Annandale Distillery Northfield, Annan, DG12 5LL

The Globe Inn 56 High St, Dumfries DG1 2JA