Your Spring Bucket List for the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 3rd April 2024
Paxton House | Scottish Borders
Your Spring Bucket List for the South of Scotland

Welcome to the ultimate guide to springtime adventures in the South of Scotland! As the world awakens from its winter slumber, it’s time to embrace the season of renewal and exploration. From rural farm visits to visual delights in our gardens and wild spaces, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Join us as we uncover must-try activities that promise to make this spring unforgettable. What will you tick off your bucket list this spring?   

Experience Rural Life

Gamboling lambs are surely one of the joyous views of spring and the South of Scotland has an abundance of farms where you can see them up close. May is Agritourism Month and what better time to go and stay on a farm? How about Balnab Farm in Whithorn, which offers animal feeding and farm tours, a wee shop selling flavoured milks and local ice creams and some seriously cool canvas tents to gather in with family or friends. Or check out our Rural Escapes blog for more ideas to see what rural life is really like. You can also book in for a farm experience for a taster of life in the country. Enjoy the spring fresh air while you visit Highland cows at Kitchen Coos & Ewes or trek with alpacas at Galloway Alpacas or Beirhope Alpacas. Jackson’s of Jedburgh have farm visits throughout April and May. And even if the weather doesn’t play ball you can head inside to see some animals and for active fun at the barn and soft play area at Ernespie Farm Centre

See and feed newborn lambs at farms around the region including Jackson’s of Jedburgh.

Witness a Floral Kaleidoscope

Carpets of bluebells take over our wild woods and forest glens as spring advances across the South of Scotland. Veritable visions of blue greet you as you head off to explore the woodlands across the region. If you prefer you floral delights more contained, there is a floral rainbow across the historic estates and at our multitude of gardens – the southwestern region of Dumfries and Galloway benefits from the warmth of the Gulf Stream and Logan Botanic Garden specializes in plants not normally found in our northern climes. There are spectacular displays of Rhododendrons and azaleas from Glenwhan and Castle Kennedy in Dumfries and Galloway across to the Azalea Terrace at Dawyck Botanic Garden near Stobo. Have a read of our Colourful Gardens blog for more inspiration.

Seek out bluebells in our wild spaces like the RSPB Wood of Cree in Dumfries and Galloway.

Visit for Spring Fling 

At the end of May more than 100 artists will open their doors and workshops and let the public see how they create their masterpieces across Dumfries and Galloway. Insightful and hugely popular, Spring Fling is now in its 22nd year and visitors can follow 6 routes across the region to find a range of artists practicing their craft. Plan a stop off in Kirkcudbright, while you are in the area too. This town is known for the artists called the Glasgow School, who lived and worked here in the 1920s. At Dalkeith Country Estate in early May is the annual Inception Art Show. Over 10 days art lovers can access artists and their works in a carefully curated collection of both new talents and returning favourites, with new works.

Spring Fling sees visitors of all ages able to get up close with artists as they open their studio doors for the weekend.

Find a fresh haven for your stay

Our accommodation landscape is continuously evolving offering new unique experiences for our visitors. Here are a few of the newer arrivals you may not have seen yet. There is B&B chic at The Murray Arms in Gatehouse, refurbished recently by the team at Laggan. Or superb eco-friendly self-catering options on the Caerlaverock Estate – Sleep in among the branches at the Treehouse or take in the far-reaching views over the Solway Estuary to the Lake District from the comfort of the stylish Curve? Accommodating larger parties can be tricky, but for a special occasion head to the luxurious Georgian Dabton House on the Queensberry Estate near Thornhill. Don’t miss our award winning options – these accommodations rank as the best in the South of Scotland and one or two were named best in Scotland last year! You might also like our favourite slightly quirky accommodations too!

The Treehouse
The Treehouse on the Caerlaverock Estate, Dumfries and Galloway.

Embark on a two-wheeled adventure  

As spring breezes warm the air it is time to get out and get active. Why not take up a challenge and explore new horizons? Try our ideas for Day trips for cycling or more experienced road cyclists may want to take on the Kirkpatrick C2C Explorer 8 stages and really experience the thrill of the journey and the beauty of the surroundings. Those with a competitive spirit may want to take part in one of the bike races or festivals such as the spirited Muck n’ Mac at Traquair House, the dynamic E24: Tweedlove’s Electric Weekend in Peebles, or the adventurous Gralloch , a UCI World Championship qualifying gravel bike race at Gatehouse of Fleet. And if you just want to watch, check out our round up of cycling events across the South of Scotland this year. 

Have a two-wheeled adventure this spring!

Seek out Scotland’s smallest theatre

The Swallow Theatre must surely be Scotland’s smallest theatre, a converted steading building set in a bijou garden just outside Whithorn. But don’t let that deter you – it offers variety of theatre and music and its intimacy and that of many of the regions’ arts venues are exactly what appeals to audiences. Try the Vault in Newton Stewart for its SpringGrass Bluegrass Festival in May or the CatStrand in New Galloway which will have performances during the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. This annual event brings world class performing artists to some of the region’s most rural areas. Various venues will host theatre productions from Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival and national tours, while the Scottish Opera will perform in Wigtown and Moniaive with bespoke shortened versions of Don Giovanni and the Merry Widow. Music, theatre and comedy shows will be on offer across the region from Stranraer to Moffat – don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to see shows in these superbly intimate venues.

In the Borders, Eastgate Theatre has a range of productions from comedy with Bafta award-winning Jack Docherty’s Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show David Bowie & Me: Parallel Lives to historic intrigue in James V: Katherine focusing on a turbulent period in Scotland’s history.

The Swallow Theatre, The Swallow Theatre
Check out the programme at the Swallow Theatre and other regional venues across the South of Scotland.

Indulge your palate 

Discover the tastes of the South of Scotland as you explore our gastronomic delights. From truly exceptional restaurants to our farm shops and superb producers there is much for an epicurean to enjoy! Stock up for your stay at local farm shops ensuring you get to savour the flavours of the region even if you are staying in! There are plenty of distilleries of whisky and gin offering tours and tastings – Crafty Distillery, the Borders Distillery, Dark Art Distillery, Annandale Distillery and Moffat Distillery to name a few. In the Borders you can sample field to fork at a meal out at Wilson’s Farm & Kitchen at one of their BBQ events. For all things chocolate, a stop in Peebles at Cocoa Black is a must. World Chocolatier Ruth Hinks offers courses to show you how to create your own creations, a café to sample them and of course a shop to take them home as treats and presents.

A selection of delights awaits at Cocoa Black in Peebles.

Traverse our Historic Halls

Explore the rich tapestry of history as many of our grand houses reopen their doors for the season, shedding light on the stories of the past. The Scottish Borders is blessed with a high concentration of gorgeous historic homes within a small georgraphical space. As the spring breeze breathes new life into these venerable estates, it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and embark on a journey through time. Mellerstain is a Robert Adam masterpiece and one of Britain’s best stately homes according to the Daily Telegraph. Welcoming visitors from early spring Mellerstain has glorious interiors and is set in 100 acres of grounds including formal gardens, Italianate terraces and parkland. Or you may prefer to wander by the Tweed and discover the delights of Sir Walter Scott’s home Abbotsford near Melrose. Why not head to Scotland’s largest inhabited castle and delve into the stories of the American Duchess of Roxburghe, May, who breathed new style into Floors Castle on her arrival in the early 1900s. Don’t miss the Chippendale and William Trotter furniture collections at Paxton House, or perhaps you will be drawn to the fabulous 18th century costumes from Patrick Home’s time at the court of Frederick the Great. In Thornhill, you may recognise the exterior of the magnificient 17th century Drumlanrig Castle from its recent appearance in Apple TV’s the Buccaneers. The gardens and adventure playground are open now and guided tours of the castle are available for the two May bank holiday weekends – booking essential. Or you could tie in a visit to Thirlestane Castle with the British Vintage Automobile Club Classic gathering in June.

The Chinese Drawing Room at Abbotsford.