Warmed by the passing Gulf Stream, the weather in Portpatrick always seems to be better than in the rest of the region, this makes it perfect for the fabulous selection of formal gardens and open woodland estates that are nearby. The most exotic of which is Logan Botanic Gardens. Established in 1869, the garden is the most southerly of the Royal Edinburgh collection’s ‘Regional Gardens’. The borders and avenues boast an impressive range of subtropical plants, including specimens from New Zealand and Australia, South Africa, and Central and South America. Highlights include a colourful walled garden, Victorian style conservatory and fish pond, and children particularly enjoy hiding out under giant Gunnera and unearthing treasures at the Discovery Centre. There is also a cafe serving lite bites and and gift shop with a fantastic selection of gifts and plants for sale.
Other gardens in the area include Ardwell Estate, Glenwhann and Castle Kennedy. These are on the less tropical end of the spectrum but equally enchanting and will offer gardeners much food for thought in terms of their own plots.
Portpatrick itself is a peaceful seaside village with a Tobermory-style collection of brightly coloured shops, pubs and houses. It is the starting point of the 212m Southern Upland Way so walking, particularly along the coast, are very popular here. For a short stroll, the walk along the clifftops to Dunskey Castle is a great choice, but this can be incorporated into a much longer walk, from Killantringan Bay, or via Dunskey Glen and Sandeel Bay. There are 2 great little independent shops in Portpatrick, the Smugglers Cave and Lighthouse Pottery, a Pitch and Putt and a play park to entertain children. With boats regularly leaving the harbour, the town has a reputation for fantastic seafood, served at places like Connor’s, Harbour House and the Waterfront. Alternatively, you could attempt to catch your own from the town’s small sandy beach or the rocky outcrop known as Dorn Rock, located at the far end of the harbour.
The Mull of Galloway should not be missed, Mull of Galloway Lighthouse and RSPB Reserve. Built by Robert Stevenson and first lit in 1830, visitors can still climb the 115 steps to the top and, on a clear day, watch for gannets diving, and pods of dolphins, as well as looking out parts of Scotland, England, Ireland and the Isle of Man. The RSPB reserve has an informative Visitor Centre on what you might see while you visit the site. As well as gannets, the site is home to puffin, kittiwake and peregrine falcon. The Mull is home to a very unique cafe, the Gaillie Craig Coffee House. Encased in glass and looking out to sea, the coffee house looks almost to be built into the cliff-face itself, offering unparalleled panoramic views of the sea as a result.
Further round the coast is Port Logan Fish Pond, a 200 year old fish larder just off Port Logan beach. It’s a great place to take children, with separate fish tanks and feeding sessions, and the sandy beach alongside is a perfect for a picnic and some sandcastle building. Another local attraction, perfect for all the family and just 30 minutes from Port Logan, is Aldouran Wetland Garden & Woodland Trails. Aldouran Glen is home to the elusive Gruffalo and his friends Mouse, Fox, Snake and Owl. These life-size wooden carvings are scattered across a small area of woodland behind the wetland and wildlife hide, and seeing them up close is a real treat for young children!