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Issue 32 - Bonnie Galloway

Scotland Magazine Issue 32
April 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Bonnie Galloway

Cally Palace Hotel Kirkcudbrightshire Tel: +44 (0)1557 814 341
A sylvan patchwork quilt of rolling, wooded hills and ‘dry stane’ dyke-framed fields is the glorious Galloway setting for one of the more gracious if rather old-fashioned grand hotels in Scotland. Few hotels can boast of being a focal point at the heart of 150 acres of landscaped grounds which include small lakes, specimen trees, old oak woods and a private golf course.

The Fleet Valley is designated a National Scenic Area and include the protected Castramont Wood where, in May, the display of bluebells will take your breath away. Sandy beaches are a short drive away, the village of Gatehouse-of-Fleet is pretty, while nearby Kirkcudbright, Scotland’s Artists’ Town, is much painted and for good reason. Britain's largest forest park is on the doorstep, too.

The hotel has some very grand public rooms – the portico itself sets the tone with its monolith columns. But the hotel won The Hospitality Award2007 thanks to the friendly staff led by kilted manager Douglas McDavid. At night a pianist entertains during dinner and guests dress rather smartly. During the day you could enjoy the indoor swimming pool if the beach sounds a bit too bracing.

Bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes. At the top of the portico is a round window, behind which is deluxe room 61. It has an away-fromit- all charm. Sit right in the ‘bullet window’ alcove and daydream while gazing out over the hills. It’s a little secret.

Knockinaam Lodge Wigtownshire Tel: +44 (0) 1776 810 471
At the southern end of a fairly remote landscape is one of Scotland’s finest small hotels. It has been voted Scottish Romantic Hotel of the Year 2007. Come to enjoy its character and charm which sit so well with the evocative qualities of its surroundings; indeed the hotel has its own private bay.

Although it has gone through a remarkable transition throughout the years, this delightful place still bears testimony to the golden age of touring and sporting activity and has carefully retained that unmistakable personality.

Enjoy wood panelling, wonderfully individual bedrooms and an ambience and atmosphere exuding grace, timelessness and tranquility. A regular and growing following of discerning visitors from all over the world return again and again to savour the hotel's therapeutic qualities.

During the World War II Knockinaam was the scene of a hush-hush meeting between Churchill and Eisenhower. Now part of the lore of the house, this rare tête á tête took place here thanks to the extreme westerly setting on the very edge of Scotland where the Rhinns of Galloway jut out like an axe head from the mainland.

Today’s guests enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine from chef Tony Pierce and lovers will not fail to find seclusion, luxury and delights to share together in a rather private place.

Cavens Country House Dumfriesshire Tel +44 (0) 1387 880234

Robert Burns knew well the rolling hills and indented coastline of the south west. For many years it was his homeland and he often wrote of its natural beauty. Cavens was built here for Sir Richard Oswald in 1752, whose estates stretched as far as Ayrshire. He was a friend of Benjamin Franklin and indeed of Burns who wrote An Ode Sacred to the Memory of Mrs Oswald upon her death.

Not far away is the village of New Abbey, dominated by the magical ruins of Sweetheart Abbey which stand testament to the enduring power of love. In 1273 Lady Devorgilla signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey in memory of her dead husband, John Balliol.

Her love for her dear departed extended to carrying his embalmed heart around with her in an ivory box with silver trimmings.

After her death she was buried in the sanctuary of the abbey church she had founded and the casket containing her husband’s heart was buried with her.

Cavens, run with charm and élan by Angus and Jane Fordyce, is a Wee Gem 2007 winner. The Guide stayed last summer and, along with guests from the States, we adored it. This singular hotel has genuine, top quality country house charms: spacious lounges, squishy sofas, tasteful colours, French doors leading to seating on the quiet terrace, big oil paintings, excellent beds, soft towels, books, superb dining… all that sort of wonderful stuff.

3 more ideas for you

Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel by Stranraer Tel: +44 (0)1776 853 220
Utterly unique as the UK’s only lighthouse hotel, Corsewall still beams out shafts of light each night to warn of the jagged rocks at the north of the Rhinns of Galloway. You can stay in the former keeper’s rooms, and in plenty of comfort.

There’s atmosphere aplenty and good food and drink, too. You can even get married here… on the rocks!

Hillcrest House Wigtown Tel: +44 (0)1988 402 018
Wigtown is the National Book Town and is also unique: around the spacious square and narrow streets of this pretty little county town are book shops and businesses galore.

Hillcrest House is a very welcoming, informal guest house offering mouthwatering organic ‘real food’ and an easy-on-the-pocket tariff. Hosts Deborah and Andrew are sweet.

Rickwood Hotel Portpatrick Tel: +44 (0)1776 810 270
High on the hill above Portpatrick – and, yes, you can see Ireland on a clear day – sits Rickwood. It’s a small, three star hotel / guest house with cheery owners who take pride in their hospitality. Reasonably priced rooms are fresh and offer good accommodation choices. A traditional option offering a grand view and homely comforts.

Some others worth considering...

Galloway is celebrated in song, poetry... and Cream O’ Galloway ice-cream. If you decide to visit this ancient, heritage-rich region of southern Scotland then don’t forget to visit the famous ice-cream centre near Gatehouse-of-Fleet.

There are many nice places to stay across the 100 mile width of Galloway. If you like country houses, a pleasant and quieter option is Kirroughtree House Hotel near Newton Stewart. Jim Stirling is the popular host there.

Craigadam is a working farm that offers a true taste of Scotland. Sophisticated accommodation and a lovely courtyard with fountain always surprise guests. The setting is grand and the food terrific.

Balcary Bay Hotel is further to the east of the region and sits along the Solway ‘riviera’ where pretty villages like Rockcliffe and Kipford are postcardperfect.

Balcary hotel is traditional and very relaxing.

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