Unique Winter Experiences Start Here

by Sara Barton, 14th December 2022
Viewing Venus with Dark Sky Ranger | Galloway Forest Park | Dumfries & Galloway
Unique Winter Experiences Start Here

Winter is a great time to throw yourself into something new. And where better to Start than in one of the world’s Best Destinations for 2023, as chosen by the Lonely Planet. The South of Scotland offers you a wonderful range of unique winter experiences just waiting to be discovered. Learn to cook Turkish food, blend your own gin, be guided around the stars in a truly Dark Sky or gather friends or family for a festive photoshoot. Great winter experiences Start Here!

Where: Kirkcudbright

Tired of cooking the same old thing and wishing you could add some zing to your repertoire? How about about learning how to cook Turkish food, or embark on an exploration of pastry? Whether it’s croissants or Middle Eastern Mezzes, chef Nick Morris and his team at the Station House Cookery School offer a wide range of cookery classes for all ages and tastes delivered by passionate and knowledgeable tutors. There’s a great focus on supporting local producers and ethical sourcing. Watch the experts before moving to your own workstation where it’s over to you to replicate the recipes. Everything is supplied, you just need to do the work! Best of all once it’s ready you and your fellow students sit down to enjoy a delicious meal.

Spend a day immersed in a new cuisine and eat the fruits of your labour at the end.

Where: Peebles

Who wouldn’t love to spend a day surrounded by chocolate? Get your tempering skills up to speed with a wonderful day out at the renowned Cocoa Black Chocolate School under the masterful tuition of UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks. Perhaps you want to understand the finer points of French patisserie or triumph with your truffles. Stay ahead of your baking commarades with a course highlighting emerging trends in chocolate or be the first to show off your financiers! A fabulous day out and an experience you’ll not soon forget – book with a friend or family member for a special shared experience.

Fantastic unique winter experience making truffles or patesserie at Cocoa Black in Peebles.
Whether you’re a novice or have some experience, there is always something to learn at Cocoa Black in Peebles.

Where: Rainton

New management took charge of Cream o’ Galloway recently and the visitor centre reopened in mid-October There are farm-friendly guided tours, crazy golf and crazy croquet and on selected dates in the half-term holidays there are ice cream making workshops. Who doesn’t love the idea of making their very own flavour of ice cream with the dairy’s delicious organic milk? The cafe is open with a variety of light lunches, baked goods and of course, ice cream!

Peppermint Choc Chip Ice Cream, Cream o' Galloway
Make your own ice-cream at Cream o’ Galloway.

Where: Hawick

Billing itself the cashmere, tweed and whisky town, Hawick offers visitors a luxurious tour with a twist! Journey through the factories and see how the weavers, knitters and distillers practice their craft. Some of the world’s finest cashmere and tweed is produced here and is available to buy at factory prices. Sample whisky with The Borders Distillery and finish with tea and cake at the Johnstons of Elgin Coffee Shop. Discover for yourself what fashion houses, designers and discerning visitors have known for more than a century, and source luxurious goods in the very place where they were created.

Try this for a unique winter experience: a tour of a mill, a weavers and a distillery all in Hawick, Scottish Borders.
The Famously Hawick tour offers the chance to see knitters, weavers and distillers practice their craft – and the chance to buy at the best prices!

Where: Gretna Green

For the romantics amongst you, why not start the New Year off with a trip to one of Scotland’s top 10 Visitor Attractions? Gretna Green’s history began in 1754, when runaway couples, seeking marriage outside of the legal restrictions in England and Wales, began converging on Gretna Green. Young couples would be married by the blacksmith over the now world-famous marriage anvil with the blacksmiths’ wife standing as witness. Explore this wonderfully romantic history when you visit the Famous Blacksmith’s Shop and see the anvil that was struck as part of the wedding ceremony, supposedly forging the lives of the young couple into an unbreakable bond. Today a wealth of wedding options are on offer from handfasting to wedding ceremonies with shopping, restaurants and hotels all on site to offer you the perfect romantic winter escape.

The Famous Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green offers a glimpse into the history of weddings and elopement.

Where: Dumfries & Galloway

Why not get your loved ones together for a festive photoshoot with a difference? The classic VW Ruby or convertible Love Bug offer wonderful backdrops for your holiday season snap – whether it’s for a Christmas greeting or thank you or just to capture the moment of a family day out. These sessions run throughout December and January – or surprise your loved one with a Gift Voucher in their stocking for a romantic Valentine shoot in early February.

You can also book a retro festive picnic with a hamper full of local drink from the Lowland Brewery, Crafty Distillery and Dark Sky Distillery and local food from bakeries, confectioneries and smokeries. The Love Bug focuses on local suppliers to offer you a wonderful South of Scotland experience.

Unique winter experiences in the South of Scotland: Festive photoshoot with the LoveBug.
How about a fun family festive photoshoot with the Love Bug this winter?

Where: Peebles

As gin has proliferated in popularity in recent years, so has the interest in how to arrive at the perfect distillation and exactly which botanicals make up your favourite taste. You can be the master of your next G&T with a tour of Peebles Hydro’s 1881 Gin Distillery. You will meet ‘Felicity’, the 150L gleaming copper still, which makes up to 220 bottles each day. Afterwards the distiller will guide you through a distilling class creating and crafting your very own bespoke tipple. Won’t that be a great story to tell your friends on your return?

Careful use of botanicals can create the perfect G&T experience at the Peebles Hydro Gin Distillery.

Guided Stargazing

Where: Galloway Forest Park

Did you know that the South of Scotland has the UK’s first International Dark Sky Park in the Galloway Forest Park? Here, more than 7000 stars are visible to the naked eye – as opposed to just a few hundred in cities and towns where light pollution obscures the less visible stars. To find out more check out our Dark Skies blog and information page.

Wrap up warm and book a Star Picnic with freelance ranger Elizabeth Tindall for experiences you won’t quickly forget. And if you want to head off solo, Moffat is Europe’s first Dark Sky town with dimmed street lighting to allow for optimum viewing and a community observatory to get an even closer look at the stars.

Stargazing At Clatteringshaws Loch, Galloway Forest Park, VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins
Learn more about the celestial bodies above us on a guided tour of the stars in the Dark Sky Park in Dumfries & Galloway.