Last year we found out that the UK's first Dark Sky Park is in Dumfries and Galloway, in Galloway Forest Park to be precise. So we've been trying to get there and see some stars for a little while. Our efforts around mid term weren't too successful as it appeared that every single B&B was booked up, so Easter it was to be. Again, we found it hard to find a B&B that would accommodate 2 children. We were also keen to find a farm to stay on.
Eventually we got lucky and found Boreland Farm. While not exactly around the corner from Galloway Forest Park, we figured that it looked remote enough to have the same dark skies, and the description just sounded perfect.
And so it was. An extremely friendly welcome, a lovely newly converted annexe of the farm for our night time quarters, countless animals, newborn lambs and even pony rides. The B&B is listed as a 3 star, which is surprising as it was really quite high quality. The room had a double and 2 single beds, so it would easily accommodate a family of 5, with en suite facilities and an amazingly hot heating system (I mention this because we don't have this at home, so it was pure luxury having a really warm and cozy room for a change). Breakfast was had in the main farmhouse, which is also the family home, prepared on an Aga in a beautiful dining kitchen. The kids loved to visit the newly born lambs (and Cubling still talks about holding one that was only 2 days old), the ponies, the rabbits and the dogs, or to try and find one of the 3 cats hiding away.
On the second morning we were even treated to proper German waffles, because surprisingly the owners had spent a few holidays in Germany, and not in the usual places where you'd expect people to visit, but actually near my own family's home.
We spent most of the day travelling to various villages nearby and further away. It was still the start of the season so lots was shut or being developed. We loved Kirkcudbright, and the main visitor centre of the Galloway Forest Park (Kirroughtree Visitor Centre) which had an adventure playground, as well as some of the beautiful villages of Dumfries and Galloway, like Moniaive and Thornhill. Moniaive has the most amazing Green Tea House and we definitely have to be back to test their wonderfully looking cakes. In the artists town of Kirkcudbright we went for a little walk and found a wee gallery with a tea shop, but had a picnic lunch outside after much driving. The kids enjoyed the green spaces dotted about the colourful, Balamory-houses, town. Gatehouse of Fleet has an old cotton/bobbin mill which really inspired the kids' imagination. They loved to explore and touch the bobbins of all kind of sizes, get dressed up in old clothes, and explore what the town looked like in the 18th century.
The weather was fully with us, with wonderful sunshine and one night of clear dark sky so we even were lucky enough to see the dark skies. Because of the continuing cold spell there was still a lot of snow around which made our short walks around the farm fields a long adventure. Just the right pace for a 2 1/2 year old who won't walk unless it involves balancing.
Sometimes badly planned trips work out just perfectly - we didn't have a plan, or any knowledge of what we were doing/seeing. All we had was a map and a car and we discovered some really wonderful places at a slow pace without racing here or there to manage this or that. There were so many little moments that the kids enjoyed that couldn't have been planned anyway, like riding a pony, climbing a tree, finding a treasure or stroking a dog (a big thing for Snowflake who has never ever touched a furry animal before), or simply enjoying their imaginary play in the rare Scottish sunshine. Oh I forgot to mention the sticks. They were very important too. I'm not sure what for, but they were. I think they may have been ponies, and given the names of Beau and Willow.