Galloway is a walkers paradise, with walks suitable for all ages and abilities. Around Gatehouse of Fleet there are some beautiful woodland walks, including Cally Woods and Carstramon Wood. Glorious displays of snowdrops are followed by carpets of bluebells in spring, and the woods come alive with wildlife including red squirrels, roe deer, buzzards and tree creepers. You will encounter ancient coppiced woodland around the Doon of Castramont, and the remains of the 12th century Cally Motte and the 18th century Temple Folly in the Cally Woods.
Slightly further afield you can find wonderful coastal paths, as well as numerous trails through the Galloway Forest Park. There are also hill climbs such as Cairnsmore of Fleet and the more challenging Merrick, both of which provide stunning views across the landscape.
For more information about these and other walks, see www.walkhighlands.co.uk/galloway/
With the creation of the 7 Stanes mountain bike trails, Galloway has become something of a mecca for cyclists, but there’s more to it than just white knuckle rides. See the Cycling in Galloway page dedicated to all things cycling for more information about using the Ship Inn as the centre for your cycling holiday.
Galloway has a particularly mild climate thanks to the Gulf Stream which carries warm air from the Gulf of Mexico to our shores. This warm air allows the cultivation of plants that you would never normally associate with Scotland.
Logan Botanic Garden is not to be missed for its spectacular display of exotic southern-hemisphere plants, palm trees and the wonderful woodland garden. Nearby Logan House Garden is also worth a visit with its ancient shrubberies and avenue of monkey puzzle trees.
For more information about these and other gardens on and around the Mull of Galloway, see www.scotlandsgardenroute.co.uk/gardens.
In the opposite direction is the National Trust for Scotland owned Threave Gardens, just outside Castle Douglas. This vast garden is home to the National Trust for Scotland’s School for Heritage Gardening and features formal and woodland gardens, water features, a secret garden, glasshouses and a working walled garden to name just a few. You can easily lose a day in this wonderful garden!
There are some great attractions for families within easy reach of the Ship Inn.
Cocoabean Company is a chocolate factory that runs chocolate making workshops, as well as having a fantastic indoor and outdoor play area, and is less than 5 miles from the Ship Inn.
Also just 5 miles away is Cream O’ Galloway, an organic farm producing ice cream and cheese. As well as farm tours and ice cream tasting sessions there is a wooden adventure playground, pedal karts, flying fox and an indoor pirate themed soft play area.
Mabie Farm is another great day out for the family (and close to the 7 Stanes trails at Mabie). With a great variety of farm animals to pat and feed as well as loads of indoor and outdoor activities, you can easily fill a day here.
The Solway Coast has numerous clean and safe sandy beaches as well as some great rocky coves for rock pooling. The following are some of our favourites.
Just 3 miles from the Ship Inn to the west is Mossyard, which boasts three sandy beaches.
Phone: (01557) 840226 or visit www.mossyard.co.uk. There is a parking charge.
Also to the west of Gatehouse is Cardoness shore. There are six sandy bays at Cardoness, although some are only accessible at high tide to those living in the caravans or chalets there. There are two principle entries:
- By parking at the large lay-by near the Skyreburn Café, and walking along the shore. This is generally only possible when the tide is a quarter out.
- Driving into the Cardoness estate, and buying a day ticket at the estate office. The Cardoness Estate car park gives easy access to the main bay.
From the Estate car park, dinghies can by launched from trailers. There are also public toilets available at Cardoness Shore. Phone: (01557) 840288.
On the east side of the Big Water of Fleet estuary lies Sandgreen, a wide bay backed by a large caravan site. The bay is divided by buoys into sections for motor boats, sailing boats and wind surfers, and for swimming. Parking and toilets are available at Sandgreen. There is a parking charge, but if you have bikes, you can cycle the 4 miles to the beach through Cally Woods.
Phone: (01557) 814351or visit the website at www.sandgreencaravanpark.co.uk
Carrick is another fine sandy bay, backed by chalets, with a rather stoney bay on each side of it. It has exceptionally easy access for launching dinghies, surf-boards, canoes, and so on. It also has free parking.
There are many beautiful 9 and 18 hole courses within easy reach of the Inn, including the 9 hole course at Gatehouse, which has lovely views over Wigtown bay. The championship courses at Turnberry, Ayr, Prestwick and Troon are also all within driving distance.
The area is steeped in history and guests have a myriad selection of ancient sites to choose from.
There are stones circles and chambered cairns, of which Cairn Holy’s Neolithic chambered cairns and Torhouse Stone Circle are fine examples.
You can also visit the cradle of Christianity in Whithorn, where you will find the oldest Christian church in Scotland, Whithorn Priory, founded by St Ninian in 390 AD. Close by is St Ninian’s cave, which is believed to have been used by St Ninian as a retreat.
There are also abbeys rich in folklore, such as Sweetheart Abbey, which was founded by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway in 1273 in memory of her husband Lord John Balliol. Lady Dervorgilla was heartbroken when her husband died, and had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket, which she carried with her everywhere she went. When she died in 1289 she was laid to rest in the abbey, with her husband’s heart clasped to her chest.
There are also numerous ancient castles to visit: Cardoness, Threave, Caerlaverock and Drumlanrig to name a few.
Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park is the largest forest park in Britain, covering over 300 square miles, and is teeming with wildlife. It includes a red deer range, a wild goat park and red squirrel feeding stations. There are numerous walking and cycling trails in the park, as well as forest drives.
It is also the only Dark Sky Park in the UK. Light pollution in the forest park is extremely low, which means that over 7000 stars are visible with the naked eye, and the Milky Way is clearly visible.
- Hunting and Fishing
- Horse Riding and Pony Trekking
- Clay Pigeon Shooting
- Painting Classes