Dumfries and Galloway is a place that many people just bash by on the motorway.
Scotland’s balmiest region, though, is a real southern charmer, awash with sweeping beaches, rolling hills and shimmering lochs.
Swirl in romantically ruined abbeys, the country’s only triangular castle and a swathe of picturesque coastal towns, and it’s ideal for a holiday.
A key draw is the region’s epic scenery, from the rugged hills of the Southern Uplands, through to the sweeping beaches and towering cliffs of one of Scotland’s most dramatic coastlines. It’s ideal for adventure – you can hike a section of the 212-mile Southern Upland Way. I recommend the beguiling first stretch, from Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse, a real treat as you ease along the cliffs enjoying the epic sea views.
Further walks, as well as mountain biking adventures, await in the Galloway Forest Park.
No fewer than five of the 7stanes mountain bike centres are tucked within Dumfries & Galloway, at Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Dalbeattie, Mabie and Ae.
They boast runs for the less experienced, right through to adrenaline-pumping routes for more experienced riders.
The Galloway Forest Park was recognised as the UK’s first ever Dark Sky Park’so it’s also a great for stargazing.
There are thrills and spills too at Laggan Outdoor at Gatehouse of Fleet, home to one of the UK’s longest zip wires. My wee girls were thrilled zooming down this whopping 820m ride.
Laggan Outdoor also offer archery, with the whole family able to fire arrows at deer and wolves on a forest safari. You’ll be relieved to hear they are fashioned out of rubber!
My girls also loved Cream o’ Galloway. The home of the famous ice cream – you will find lashings of it here in every flavour imaginable – has a huge adventure playground woven around it with slides, towers and climbing frames.
The whole family can enjoy visits to Dumfries & Galloway’s trio of dramatically ruined Historic Scotland abbeys.
Dundrennan and Glenluce are essential to visit, but it is Sweetheart Abbey that really catches the imagination.
Moving on to Dumfries, the region’s largest town, we are in Burns land.
It was once home to Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, with a museum now open in his old house.
An 18th Century watermill is home to the Robert Burns Centre, which brings his life and work alive with manuscripts and personal belongings.
You can also sup a pint with the bard’s ghost at The Globe Inn in Dumfries in the very seat he used to sit in and admire his verse etched on the windows.
An exciting new attraction this spring is Moat Brae- The Birthplace of Peter Pan. Inspired by the famous children’s tale it will be home to the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.
Kids and big kids alike can check out the magical garden that J.M. Barrie credited as his inspiration for his own enchanted land.
Beyond Dumfries lies a rich necklace of pretty towns and villages, including the artists’ favourites of Kirkcudbright and Portpatrick on the remote Rhins of Galloway.
Both are ideal for exploring wee shops, relaxing in cafés and tea rooms, and enjoying strolling along the waterfronts.
Kirkcudbright also boasts a flurry of festivals and art fairs.
We end our exploration of Dumfries & Galloway at one of its most breathtaking spots.
Go to the Mull of Galloway and it may well be just you and the seabirds on this bewitching headland.
You may be able to see Ireland and the Lake District across the water, but by now you will be more than content to be right here enjoying the delights of Scotland’s seriously underrated southern charmer.