Great Days Out Start Here This Winter

by Sara Barton, 19th November 2021
Moat Brae| Dumfries
Great Days Out Start Here This Winter

Did you know that this winter you can experience a day out in the south of Scotland for up to half price? The Great Days Out special offer gives you the opportunity to try a new activity or check out a visitor attraction with up to 50% off entry prices. There are 10 businesses in the south participating so far. Look for the logo to see who is taking part in the scheme.

From historic houses to glorious gardens and tasty tipples, plan a great day out this winter. Try your hand at making cheese, discover the history of Scotland in yarn or challenge your family to an afternoon of laser combat in the great outdoors. The scheme runs until February 2022 – be inspired and explore the amazing South of Scotland this winter!

Please note: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety are of paramount importance. Stay safe and adhere to current government guidance. Closures and access restrictions may apply and will be lifted in line with government guidance. Always check with places directly and prebook where possible. Most events for children require an adult entry as well.


Threave Garden & Estate

Where: Castle Douglas

Threave Garden & Estate offers an excellent day out for young and old alike. The gardens include the Discovery Garden for children, glasshouses, a walled garden, and a bird hide in Kelton Hill Wood, where red squirrels are often seen too.

The wider estate has trails and woodland walks to enjoy, leading to viewpoints, the nature reserve and the River Dee. The nature reserve includes an osprey viewing platform. Peregrine falcons, red squirrels, waders, kingfishers and otters make their home here. At dusk, see if you can spot some of the rare beautiful bats in their natural habitat. Threave is Scotland’s only Bat Reserve.

If the weather is slightly inclement, be sure to book a guided tour of Threave House to get a fascinating insight into the story of the Gordon family. There is an excellent plant centre if you’ve been inspired and a café for lunch or afternoon tea.

Threave Garden , NTS
Threave Garden & Estate has interest year round outside and a tour of Threave House gives you insight into the Gordon family.

Traquair House

Where: Peebles

Why not visit Scotland’s oldest continually inhabited house for a day? Traquair House was originally built as a hunting lodge for Scottish royalty and has hosted 27 Scottish Kings and Queens. There are strong associations with Mary Queen of Scots and the Jacobites. During the winter the house is open for guided tours only and these are half price with the Great Days Out special offers scheme. The garden and grounds are open on the weekends. There’s plenty to explore with ancient woodlands, adventure playground and Scotland’s largest hedged Maze. There is also a Gift Shop, Brewery Shop and craft workshops in the grounds.

Great Days Out participant: half price tours of Traquair House
Get a tour of the oldest inhabited house in Scotland for half-price this winter.

Devil’s Porridge Museum

Where: Eastriggs

The Devil’s Porridge Museum explains the remarkable story of HM Factory Gretna, which was the largest munitions factory in the world during the First World War. More than 12,000 women mixed a lumpy white substance ‘like porridge but of a devilish sort’ as observed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a visit. This porridge was cordite and went into every bullet and shell used in World War I.

Nestled just 7 miles from the Anglo-Scottish Border, The Devil’s Porridge Museum tells the story of how this once quiet area flourished into a hub of wartime activity. New exhibits show its role in World War II as well. Find out about local female munitions workers, RAF fighter pilots, Munitions Depot workers and the coming of the Cold War and Scotland’s Nuclear age.

The latest addition to the museum is a fascinating 360° virtual reality tour of Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station. By donning a state-of the-art virtual reality headset, visitors will be able to pass into high security areas. They will tour inside of the British nuclear power station where plutonium and tritium were produced for the atomic bomb.

Mixing the devil's porridge aka cordite a propellant used in munitions during World War One., The Devil's Porridge Museum
More than 12,000 women were employed to make devil’s porridge – or cordite – for the bullets and shells of WWI.

Galloway Activity Centre

Where: Loch Ken

Do you fancy experiencing a moment of weightlessness followed by the thrill of your life as you pull the release cord and fly? The Galloway Activity Centre has a giant 3G swing, the biggest in Scotland and guaranteed to make you go wheeeee! And this is not all on offer at the centre through the winter months. The swing is part of a climbing and high ropes half day.

Or use the Great Days Out scheme to get a reduction on a guided mountain bike night ride in the Galloway Forest Park? The last Saturday of each month will see you kitted out and then boated across the loch to where your bikes await you – what a way to see the stars!

Giant Swing at Galloway Activity Centre
How high can you swing? Or do you fancy a guided nightime bike ride? Plenty of choice at Galloway Activity Centre.

Great Tapestry of Scotland

Where: Galashiels

What better way to while away a wintery day than exploring Scotland’s history in the beautifully crafted Great Tapestry of Scotland? Housed in a bespoke building, the tapestry explores Scotland’s past in 160 panels crafted by more than 1,000 stitchers. In addition to the tapestry is a gallery space for a visiting exhibit, currently Iconic Scotland, as well as a cafe. This is an excellent opportunity to see this wonderful national art treasure for just half price – the museum opens Thursday through Mondays.

The Welcome Panels in the New Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre, Great Tapestry of Scotland/Phil Wilkinson
Explore Scotland’s history at the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Cream o’ Galloway

Where: Rainton

Do you fancy making the perfect ice cream to go with your warm winter puddings? Or perhaps you would like to do a day of cheese making? Take advantage of the Great Days Out scheme at Cream o’ Galloway, an organic dairy farm, offering these courses. The farm is the largest Ethical Dairy farm in Europe. This means leaving calves with their mums longer, which reduces stress for the animals. You can learn more on the adult tour about the Ethical Dairy. Youngsters can go on the Hedgerow Safari or Pond Dipping.

Peppermint Choc Chip Ice Cream, Cream o' Galloway
How about making some mint chocolate chip ice cream to go with a warm chocolate fondant pudding?

Moat Brae

Where: Dumfries

Voted one of the world’s top 50 places to visit with children by Time magazine in 2019, the home of Peter Pan is certain to enthrall. Moat Brae is the National Centre for Children’s Literature and the gardens inspired JM Barrie (who lived in Dumfries as a child) when he came to write Peter Pan and Neverland. The garden allows children’s imaginations to run wild. Inside they can search for hidden messages and chase shadows of Peter Pan.

There are events going on at the centre throughout the winter months and the Lost Boys Cafe is open. Who wouldn’t want to get lost in Neverland?

Great days out participant: Moat Brae house and garden
Books galore to delight at Moat Brae House and Garden, Dumfries. Credit: VisitScotland/PRImaging

Crafty Distillery

Where: Newton Stewart

Take your taste buds on a tour at Crafty Distillery, voted The Scottish Gin Destination of the Year 2020 at the Scottish Gin Awards. This modern grain to glass distillery pumps out gallons of multi-award winning tasty stuff and delivers panoramic views over the Galloway Hills. The guided tour lets you in on the secrets of the process for their vibrant gins, pure vodka and Scotch Malt Whisky Journey. At the end of the tour there is a tasting – Hills & Harbour Gin, Hills & Harbour Distilled Gin Cocktail and 24 Seven Vodka.

Engaging tours
Learn how Crafty Distillery makes its award winning gins.

Abbotsford

Where: Melrose

Discover the extraordinary home of legendary Scottish novelist, Sir Walter Scott with the Great Days Out scheme. Abbotsford is at the heart of a landscape of folklore and legend. It began the craze for Scots Baronial architecture and inspired Scott as he became the biggest selling author of his day. It is the place from where Scott’s writing transformed how the world saw Scotland and Scotland saw itself. The Great Days Out scheme offers half price off all entry tickets to the house, chapel and gardens. Abbotsford is open 7 days a week. In addition there are several events going on prior to Christmas including a Christmas market, wreath-making workshop, gin tasting, visiting Santa and a special concert to celebrate this 250th anniversary year of Sir Walter Scott.

Great days out participant: Abbotsford
Abbotsford, home to Sir Walter Scott, is ideal for a day out this winter.

Glenwhan Gardens

Where: Dunragit

Glenwhan Gardens has been lovingly cultivated over the past 40 years, hewn out of the Scottish moorland. Visitors experience an exquisite garden encompassing tender plants from around the Southern Hemisphere and collections of rare trees and shrubs. There is a numbered tree trail along with a 17-acre moorland walk with 120 species of wildflowers, grasses, and ferns. Two small lakes are the focal point of these family-run gardens, with seats and meandering paths running along enchanting walks with interesting sculptures to discover.

If there’s a dry day, you could even pack a picnic and really enjoy the gardens for longer. The toilets in the cafe are accessible too, so you can make a day of it, marvelling at this delightful garden.

Snowy morning at Glenwhan Gardens, Glenwhan Gardens
Garden art at Glenwhan Gardens in a wintery white.