Farm-focused activities in the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 12th May 2023
Jacksons at Jedburgh | Scottish Borders
Farm-focused activities in the South of Scotland

Did you know more than 80% of Scotland’s land is used for agriculture, making Scotland’s farmers custodians of much of the natural beauty around us? Agritourism – farm-based activities designed to entice, celebrate and inform those wanting to know more – is growing apace. From farm tours meeting furry beasts to food nights featuring produce grown locally to festivals celebrating the harvest of crops, a trip to the farm can offer a multitude of activities. Make sure to seek out these super experiences from enterprising farmers across the South of Scotland on your next visit.

Where: Kelso

If you want your food local than the 25-mile BBQ at Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen is definitely for you. As the name suggests, only meat or seafood sourced from within a 25-mile radius of the farm is cooked on farmer Robert’s The Beast BBQ or in the smoker. Fresh salads, locally made bread and pudding follow the main event, which starts with an optional tour by Robert of the farmyard and garden which produces many of the ingredients for the meal. Running from May until September, guests can enjoy their meal picnic style on the grass under the willows or can opt to book a Wee Bothy with a firepit for up to 8 friends. And in case of bad weather there’s the option to decamp to the Hay Shed or the Stables – seating is communal and there’s a relaxed social feel. Booking essential and BYOB – glasses provided!

Beef Tasting & BBQ at The Wee Tin Bothies, Craig Stephen Photography
Book in advance for the 25-mile BBQ and expect a sociable evening with friends, new or old at Wilson’s Farm & Kitchen.

Where: Castle Douglas

The McMiken family decided to diversify in 2019 and today Ernespie Farm Centre offers an indoor soft play, outdoor play areas including a combine harvester transformed to a climbing frame! In addition, the outdoor area has everything from peddle karts, bouncy cushions, a zip wire and the cresta slide. Inside, the soft play area features slides and ball pools keeping the kids occupied and giving you time for a coffee in the on-site café. Once they are played out, children might enjoy a trip through the Animal Barn, investigating who is currently in residence, as it changes regularly. Or take a wander to find the bee hives on the Woodland Walks – the honey is for sale in the gift shop. Of course all this activity makes for hungry tummies and there is the Farmhouse Kitchen for refreshments when the time comes. There’s also a newly opened Garden Centre featuring plants from Scottish nurseries.

Ernespie Farm Centre offers indoor soft play and outdoor playground features for children of all ages.

Where: Jedburgh

How about a birthday party on a farm? If one of your little ones is celebrating while you are visiting, this is the latest offering from this wonderfully down to earth family farm, Jacksons at Jedburgh. There is already a party weekend waiting list so be sure to grab your slot early! Or you could go for one of the very hands on, real life, farm experiences as the Jackson family shows you how their Scottish Borders beef and sheep farm works on a daily basis. Activities follow the farming calendar so lamb feeding is in full swing in the spring while come October you can expect Hallowe’en themed activities such as carving the perfect jack o’ lantern.

Jacksons at Jedburgh offer seasonal activities such as lamb feeding and pumpkin picking.

Where: Newton Stewart

Winners of last year’s regional Thistle award for best Outdoor Experience, Kitchen Coos & Ewes gives you the chance to get up close and personal with their Highland cows and Beltex sheep. This farmer-led Highland cow safari is conducted in their specially made farm tour trailer – it’s wind and water tight with padded seats, so you can get up close and personal and don’t even need to bring your wellies!  Various tours exist but if you want a really memorable experience go for the half day bespoke Haute Coo Tour which takes you up to where the cows graze, includes optional Highland cow grooming, and delivers a sumptuous picnic lunch with stunning views of this part of southwest Scotland.

Happy coo view, KC&E
Get up close and personal on your own Highland Cow safari in a customised comfy trailer.

Where: Kelso; Gatehouse of Fleet

One of the more unusual options for a family walk is to take an alpaca along! Yes, these cute and cuddly South American natives have reached Scottish shores. Whether you fancy a walk or just a meet & greet there are options in both the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. Check out the views in the Cheviot Hills at Beirhope Alpacas, or walk in the UNESCO Biosphere with Galloway Alpacas. Both have a range of treks and offer different activities associated with the animals.

Kids of all Ages, Galloway Alpacas
Go alpaca trekking for a family walk with a difference. Pix: Galloway Alpacas.

Where: Rainton

Cream o’ Galloway offers a Morning Milking tour where you can understand the daily rhythm of a dairy farm. Unlike most dairy farms, here milking is done only once a day and on this tour you’ll find out why. Your guide will explain what is happening at each stage, point out areas of interest within the milking parlour and answer any questions you might have. The dairy shed and milking parlour is overlooked by a viewing gallery, so visitors can see what’s happening without interrupting the work of the dairy or causing stress to the cows and calves. Cream o’ Galloway is famous in the region for its excellent ice cream and you have the opportunity to learn how to make your own on a visit. There is a family-friendly hour and a half course for adults and children over 5, which takes place during school holidays. Or for a whole day out, try your hand at making cheese under the watchful eyes of the cheesemakers of Cream o’ Galloway’s sister company, The Ethical Dairy.

Cream o’ Galloway offer a Milking Tour, ice-cream making workshops and a full day’s cheese making.

Where: Creetown

Glenquicken is a working farm in the shadow of Carinsmore of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway. It’s home to sheep, horses, hens, pedigree Galloway cattle and working dogs. But of particular interest to any fly fishers will be its 4.5-acre lochan, stocked with rainbow, blue and brown trout. The lochan is fed from three natural springs at its centre and the farm’s own burn. Lessons for novices available to book in advance and experienced fly fisherman will be keen to take part in the national Troutmasters fishery competition – sponsored by Trout Fisherman magazine – Glenquicken’s monthly winning fish is normally in excess of 14lb! The fishery is set within the UNESCO Biosphere and is also within the Dark Sky Park of the Galloway Forest, guaranteeing superb star gazing when the day’s casting is done.

Escape from it all and focus on the fish at Glenquicken.