When holidaying with the hounds, we like to book something by the coast as a contrast to the countryside walks we have at home. The dogs adore the beach and we love seeing them running around like giddy kippers and rolling in the sand. We also tend to go out of season as so many beaches become restricted to dogs during the peak months. The hounds love a beach walk whatever the weather and often out of season we’ve had the entire beach to ourselves.
One of our favourite places which has a great combination of beach, countryside and woodland walks is Dumfries and Galloway just over the border in south-west Scotland. We’ve been to this area 3 times now just because we love it. If you’re looking for a simple week away walking in beautiful surroundings, ambling around small towns and generally relaxing – then this may be exactly what you’re looking for.
The first time we visited this area, we stayed at Newfield Cottage near Kirkcudbright (http://www.scottish-cottages.co.uk/southern-scotland/dumfries-galloway/newfield-cottage-24630?range=0). This was a beautiful cottage on a quiet lane with a fabulous large, enclosed garden surrounded by fields. However, we struggled with walks from the door meaning we were out in the car every day, which isn’t always what you want to do. We loved the area though so set about trying to find somewhere else nearby where we’d be able to walk from the door. And that’s how we ended up at Arbingland Estate (www.arbinglandestate.co.uk).
Arbingland is a coastal country estate on the Solway Firth about 15 miles from Dumfries. There are several holiday cottages dotted around the estate along with a B&B. It even boasts its own private beach which is a 5 minute walk (or 10 minutes if you’ve got Bassets!) down the lane from the cottages.
We have stayed in both Powillimount Cottage and West Lodge. Both were good but we preferred West Lodge only because it was detached rather than a semi. We do tend to look for detached properties when we go away because the hounds being hounds, like the sound of their own voices and if there’s the slightest noise from a neighbouring property, they find it highly hilarious to bark, very loudly, which has a tendency to spoil the peace and quiet for the other holidaymakers.
West Lodge is a 2 bed property all on one level. The living area is open plan but there’s a big square hall which was perfect for the dogs to sleep in. The wood burner in the lounge was essential in December! We even got snowed in for a couple of days whilst we were there (there’s a fairly steep hill leading from the access road up to the main road) and we’d certainly never seen a snowy beach before. The cottage has everything you need. It’s not 5* luxury but it’s tasteful and comfortable and the enclosed garden was brilliant for the dogs.
The holiday blurb said 2 dogs allowed but we actually had 3 dogs with us on this occasion. I emailed them to ask if we could bring 3 and, given that the bassets had proved themselves to be relatively trustworthy on our previous visit, they were happy to accommodate.
The big draw for this place is undoubtedly location. There are miles of walks you can cover without even leaving the estate. From the beach, tide allowing, you can walk to The Steamboat Inn at Carsethorn which was voted the best pub in Dumfries and Galloway in 2016. Turn in the other direction and you can walk to Southerness. Other than the pub, there are no amenities in walking distance. There are small shops within a couple of miles but you’ll need to go further afield to Dumfries or Castle Douglas etc. to find a supermarket.
Venturing slightly further afield, there is so much to see and do. Sweetheart Abbey, just up the road in New Abbey is stunning. Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and Gateway of Fleet all make for an interesting mooch around. There’s a lovely walk from the charming village of Kippford over to neighbouring Rockliffe. And if you’re feeling particularly energetic a climb up Criffel Hill is a must. The views from the top make the climb more than worth it although I’m not sure the Bassets appreciated them too much. They were just happy to have a sit down.
Every possible activity can be found in the local area –mountain biking, golfing, fishing, sailing, horse-riding. You can even bring your own horse if you stay at Arbingland.
I’ve deliberately not mentioned any places to eat as things change and new places are always opening. Because most holiday rentals ask that you don’t leave dogs unattended, we tend to just eat out at lunchtime where we can combine it with a walk. You certainly won’t struggle to find pubs and cafes anyway although we did find that not everything was open when we visited in December. If you’re travelling up the M6 though, one must is a stop at the fabulous Tebay services, near Penrith, where you can stock up on goodies at their farm shop and allow the dogs to stretch their legs.
All in all we would thoroughly recommend this area and Arbingland. If you choose to holiday here, it’s all about the great outdoors and you’ll never be short of places to walk, whatever the weather. To be able to stroll from the door to the beach is brilliant. The only slight downside is you can get quite a lot of rubbish washed up on the beach due to the tidal flows. No fault of the estate but just to make you aware.
Shropshire to Arbingland is 3.30 – 4 hours drive. A week at West Lodge in early December is £375. Peak season in August is £780.
More information on what to do in the area can be found at: https://www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/dumfries-galloway/