Whithorn, with its tree lined high street lined and pretty Georgian cottages and town houses, is a paradise for visitors interested in history, archaeology and architecture. It was Scotland's first Christian community and there is evidence of early settlements here dating back to the 5th century. The Whithorn Visitor Centre, a short walk from Mansefield House, has a core collection of artefacts plus a constantly changing exhibition programme which bring the fascinating history of this area to life.
No matter what age you are, there is a huge choice of things to see and do within easy travelling distance from Whithorn. If you're looking for peace and tranquility, there are stunning coastal walks, safe, pretty beaches, quiet harbour villages as well as some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK. We've highlighted some of our particular favourites below.
Galloway House Gardens
These unique gardens come as a huge surprise to most first time visitors. Only a few miles from Mansefield House, they offer unrivalled natural beauty and miles of both woodland and coastal walks within the estate of old Galloway House. The magnificent house itself is not open to the public but with over 50 acres of designed parkland, a marvellous collection of very special exotic and cultivated trees, some planted as long ago as 1770, as well as stunning views across Wigtown Bay and from Cruggleton Cliffs, a day here is sure to be unforgettable.
Essentially a private garden owned by Robin Nicholson who must take great credit for developing it from scratch from 1970. Claymoddie has been described as “the most romantic garden”in this part of Scotland. With its 'follies' and natural stone walls adding structure, form and indeed an air of mystery to this rambling hill side gem, this garden never fails to delight, regardless of the time of year. Robin and his wife Mary Nicholson welcome visitors from March - September on Fridays, Saturday's 2pm - 5pm. Other times may be possible by special arrangement. A good selection of plants - well acclimatised to this part of the world is usually for sale.
Internationally famous now as Scotland's first ever 'Book Town' nearby Wigtown is most definitely worth a visit. Its annual book festival featuring a host of top writers and speakers, takes place around the end of September. Tickets for this unique festival sell very quickly and we advise all our visitors to keep in touch with the festival through www.wigtownbookfestival.com if they are planning to come here for the festival itself.
Wigtown, like Whithorn, a former Royal Burgh, was once a thriving sea port. The old harbour and the handsome merchant's houses lining the main street still hold echoes of the past but rather than a busy sea-way, Wigtown Bay is now a national nature reserve - the largest in the UK. The bay is particularly important to the birds that migrate here in the winter. Integrating the aims of a bird sanctuary with the traditional activities here of wildfowling and angling has been a challenging process but it has been successfully achieved and these two sports along with birdwatching itself, also attract many visitors to this part of the world at different times of the year.
Isle of Whithorn
This lively village was an island many years ago - hence its name. Now it's on a tiny peninsula bordering a delightful harbour where local sailors and visiting yachtsmen drop anchor throughout the summer. The Steam Packet Inn with its outdoor seating on the harbour's edge serves local seafood and has a varied menu that focuses on locally produced food - well worth a visit.
The Swallow Theatre
The Swallow Theatre is a converted byre only three miles from Whithorn. It's one of smallest theatres in the country. Running more than twenty events per year ranging from drama, music, poetry, play readings and ‘theme nights.’Because the theatre is small and intimate, visitors often comment upon its ‘unique atmosphere.’ www.swallowtheatre.com