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The National Trust for Scotland

Robert Burns Birthplace

Culzean Castle south of Ayr [National Trust for Scotland]

Caerlaverock Castle [© Crown Copyright Historic Scotland reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland.]

Dundrennan Abbey [© Crown Copyright Historic Scotland reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland.]

Thistle Parks on a Google map
Thistle Parks on a Google map 

Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway

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Ayrshire, birthplace of Robert Burns
From Glasgow travel along the Firth of Clyde and into North Ayrshire. Along the coast are several Thistle Holiday Parks, from which it is easy to enjoy the beaches or head inland to explore the countryside. Ayrshire is the land of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet; In Alloway, just south of Ayr, is his birthplace, a modest cottage, and nearby is Alloway Kirk, in the graveyard of which Burns’ poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ is set.  East of Ayrshire, in the Clyde Valley is New Lanark, a cotton-making village in the 18th century;  as well as exploring the village and the visitor centre about the mills, you can walk along the glen to the Falls of Clyde...

Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway has miles of sandy beaches, miles of winding roads and thousands of acres of forest and moorland;  more than enough for a several short breaks!   The main town is Dumfries and there are several villages worth visiting; Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, Kippford, Creetown and Wigtown, Scotland’s Book Town.   Drive as far as you can down the Mull of Galloway and you will reach the most southerly point in Scotland and glimpse the hills of the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, Stop off en route at the Logan Botanic Gardens - the influence of the Gulf Stream means that the plants are tropical!

There is plenty to tempt you off the beaten track. The road south from Dumfries goes through New Abbey, with the graceful ruin of Historic Scotland's Sweetheart Abbey and New Abbey Cornmill.  If you're on a family holiday, then the place to go is Mabie Farm Park - plenty for kids to enjoy, both inside and outside.

The road runs along the Solway Firth to Kirkcudbright, then on to Gatehouse of Fleet, where the family can visit Cream o’ Galloway – a working farm which makes a range of tasty ice-creams. At Creetown visit the unique Gem Rock Museum and, nearby, the Galloway Smoke House.  A few miles south is Wigtown, Scotland's Book Town, with many second-hand bookshops to browse in, including one which serves good coffee and home-bakes. Then head for Whithorn, the "Cradle of Christianity", where the heritage centre traces the history of the settlement there from 450 A.D.

Those with an interest in gardens should visit  the beautiful Castle Kennedy Garden, Glenwhan Garden and Dunskey Garden.  Visitors interested in heritage will find plenty to attract them – Threave Castle (on an island in the river, so you have to cross in a small boat), In the west of the area are Glenluce Abbey, and Drundrennan Abbey, where, it is said, Mary, Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland before fleeing to England.  Another great place to visit is Historic Scotland's Caerlaverock Castle; with its moat and imposing battlements,  Not far from Dumfries, as you head towards the Borders is the Moffat Woollen Mill, where you can stop off to buy the woollen and tweeds and enjoy a snack or a meal.

Kirroughtree Visitor Centre in the Galloway Forest Park is the flagship site of Forestry Commission Scotland; it is purpose-built to offer top-quality food and drink, plus you can hire bikes and there is a shop and a fully accessible wildlife hde.  Not far away are the Clatteringshaws and the Glentrool Visitor Centres. The Galloway Forest Park is the UK's first Dark Sky Park and one of the best place to see the starsas there are no lights to spoil the view of the Milky Way, although you'll have to wait until the nights get darker in the autumn.

Historic Scotland:  When you plan your holiday in Dumfries and Galloway, be sure to get the Historic Scotland's Dumfries and Galloway Explorer Pass.  Two adults, plus up to 6 children pay only £44 for the Pass - which gives entry to 9 diverse attractions such as Glenluce Abbey,Whithorn Priorty, New Abbbey Cornmill and Threave Castle where you are rowed across the river on to the island.  The Pass is valid from April to September. . The Pass is available from HS properties in the area or online at

View the Thistle Holiday Parks in Ayrshire, Clyde Valley,  Dumfries & Galloway



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