Towns to visit for half-term

by Sara Barton, 7th October 2022
Kirkcudbright | Dumfries & Galloway
Towns to visit for half-term

Have a brilliant half-term break with our suggestions of towns to visit across the South of Scotland and what to do while you are there. There are activities for children, adults and the whole family, not to mention walks and cycle rides. We’ve also given you some ideas of where to stay, so what are you waiting for, your half-term holiday Starts Here!


For the kids: Bouldover Climbing Centre – More than 400 square meters of climbing space awaits you at this purpose-built centre catering for all ages and abilities. New climbers can learn in a safe and fun environment and there is even an area for under 7s to have their first taste of the climbing world.

For the adults: Annandale Distillery tour – Established in 1836 and reborn in 2014, the re-awakening of Annandale Distillery means fine Single Malt Scotch whisky flows once more and tasting tours are available.

For the family: The Devil’s Porridge Museum – This 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.

Stretch your legs: Annan, Waterfoot & Summergate Lane – Try this 5km circular walk from Annan’s centre to the Solway Firth with stunning coastal views.

On two wheels: Mountain biking sessions for kids between 6-10 and 11-14 are on offer at Mabie and Dalbeattie forestry park venues from Trail Skills in nearby Dumfries.

Use Annan as your base this October half-term and enjoy the new climbing facitility Bouldover.


For the kids: Eyemouth Rib Trips  – On the stunning east coast you can speed along and see the gorgeous Berwickshire Coastline from the water with Eyemouth Rib Trips.

For the adults: Gunsgreen House – Take afternoon tea (gin is optional) at Gunsgreen House, which was designed by John Adam for the smuggler John Nisbet and ‘adapted’ to suit his illicit activites.

For the family: Paxton House – Special Halloween Trail is available for children on the grounds of this Palladian house built by James and John Adams. Pick up a trail sheet and have a spooky day – maybe include a stop at the Stables Café which is now open year round.

Stretch your legs: Download the Scotland Starts Here app – then follow the Smuggler’s Trail through the town.

On two wheels: Starting from Gunsgreen House, there are four colour-coded waymarked Cycle Routes.

Download our app and follow the Smuggler’s Trail through Eyemouth.


For the kids: Dark Space Planetarium – All aspiring cosmonauts should plan a day out with a bit of star gazing at the Dark Space Planetarium. There is a domed cinema screen to give you an immersive experience whilst taking a trip through the solar system. And interactive exhibits let you get up close with the experiences of astronauts in space.

For the adults: Dark Art Distillery tour – An hour-long tour around the distillery delves into the history of gin and includes the custom-built still, Peggy. At the end you get to taste the distillery’s premium product, Sky Garden Gin.

For the family: Kirkcudbright Art Tour – Learn why Kirkcudbright is known as Artists’ Town on this guided tour.

Stretch your legs: Head for St Mary’s Isle following in the footsteps of Robert Burns and Mary Queen of Scots.

On two wheels: Get Trailbrakes Biking Holidays to help you make the most of your proximity to three of the 7Stanes mountain bike parks in the South of Scotland.

Find out why Kirkcudbright is known as Artists’ Town on an art tour.


For a holiday with a difference, take on part of the long-distance Borders Abbey Way and have a two centre half-term with something for everyone.

For the kids: Jacksons at Jedburgh – This well-loved farm enterprise is running Halloween activities available on its Farm Day tickets for the month of October, with pumpkin carving and spooky slime on the last two weekends – a great option for families with younger children.

For the adults: Famously Hawick – Discover luxurious goods at their sources when you visit five world-famous producers on the Famously Hawick tour.

For the familyMary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre– Visit the 16th century towerhouse where Scotland’s most famous queen spent a month in 1566 and how it played a role in her and Scotland’s future.

Stretch your legs:  Take on a section of the Borders Abbey Way walking from one town to the next. You can split the walk and overnight in Denholm to make it less onerous.

On two wheels: Or if you are up for an even bigger challenge you can cycle the Borders Abbey route on the 4 Abbeys cycle route that runs through Jedburgh. Equally challenging is the Southern Borders Loop from Hawick.

Home to luxurious goods manufactuers and on the Borders Abbey way, a visit to Hawick is a must in the Borders.

Castle Douglas

For the kids: Ernespie Farm Centre In addition to the peddle karts, bouncy cushions, the zip wire and the cresta slide, there are seasonal activities including Pumpkin Picking and Spooky Walks so there is plenty on offer to keep children young and old entertained.

For the adults: Sulwath Brewery This is one Tap Room you shouldn’t miss and it’s a must on your tour of the food and drink establishments around Castle Douglas – it is dubbed as Food Town, so be sure to sample!

For the family: Whether it is archery, laser tag or whooping it up on a giant swing, there are plenty of activities on offer at the Galloway Activity Centre on the side of Loch Ken.

Stretch your legs: Threave Garden & Estate offers children’s trails, wildlife walks, fabulous gardens and a great cafe and plant shop when you can walk no more.

On two wheels: Galloway Cycling Holidays offer bespoke tours and you can head off to nearby Dalbettie’s 7Stanes forestry park.

Castle Douglas is known as Food Town and is a great base to explore this corner of Dumfries & Galloway.


For the kids: GoApe is a well-known adventure company, specialising in climbing and traversing through trees at dizzying heights. At Glentress Forest, it offers its Treetop Adventure. Even in the rain, if appropriately dressed, you can have a fantastic climb protected by the trees. The scenery is stunning and you will get a great dose of fresh air!

For the adults: Peebles Hydro Gin School – make your very own tipple after you’ve taken a tour of Peebles Hydro’s 1881 Gin Distillery. You will meet ‘Felicity’, the 150l copper still, making up to 220 bottles each day and, after the tour, the distiller will guide you through a distilling class.

For the family: Traquair House – visit Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, known for its links to Bonnie Price Charlie and the Jacobite cause and today offering tours, expansive grounds, cafe and microbrewery. And for one weekend, there is tree-climbing in the grounds!

Stretch your legs: Trek with a difference with Velvethall Alpacas. One of the more unusual options for a family walk is to take an alpaca along! Yes, these cute and cuddly South American natives can join you as you walk in the spectacular countryside of the Tweed Valley.

On two wheels: This is a great place for mountain bike enthusiasts. Brush up on your skills with mountain bike tuition and guided rides from Ridelines , or head out on your own to one of the UK’s top mountain biking centres, 7Stanes Glentress.

Peebles, SSDA
From mountain biking to alpaca trekking, swinging through the trees to taking afternoon tea, Peebles offers a wonderful family half-term holiday.