Dumfries and Galloway, in the south west of Scotland, may not be as well known as it’s more northern neighbours but it has just been named as Scottish holiday destination of the year 2016, for not only the amazing food and drink producers but for these reasons too. Robert Burns, Scotland’s most well known poet, certainly thought so as he spent the last years of his short life enjoying Dumfries and the surrounding countryside. Another famous writer, James M Barrie, was inspired to create Neverland after spending time in a garden in Dumfries which is now, along with the house, being transformed into a Peter Pan attraction. If you are an Outlander fan you will know Sam Heughan also grew up in the area, as did David Coultard and Calvin Harris. I wonder which Galloway Ice Cream was their favourite?
I’ve recently found out this is the perfect place if you want a true Scottish foodie experience. With such a range of tasty places to visit it was only a matter of time before the creation of a Foodie trail. Me being me, it was also only a matter of time before I tried it! I explored the region last weekend with my daughter as part of a trip with the Scotlanders and loved every minute.
Drummuir Farm Ice Cream Parlour
Having drove down from Fife we were just a tad hungry by the time we arrived at the first stop on our itinerary – Drummuir Farm Ice Cream Parlour. So what if it was only breakfast time? Ice cream can be eaten at any time right? Only two miles outside Dumfries, in the beautiful countryside, this family run farm and ice cream parlour is in it’s 25th year. The cafe has over 20 flavours of ice cream available at all times which made my choice damn near impossible. Having settled on raspberry and my daughter picking a cookie cream we relaxed in the spacious and light cafe watching the baby calves jumping around in the field. If you’re bringing the kids there is a great play area outside with picnic benches or a wee play area in the corner of the cafe. Oh and take my word for it – the ice cream is to die for! They even do big fancy sundaes and floats. Mmmmmmm.
Loch Arthur Creamery and Farm Shop
I love a good farm shop and this is a good farm shop. Ok, the rain was so torrential I ran for my life, burst through the door and spent the next 20 minutes dripping water all over their spotless clean floor but while I dried out I had time to admire their range of handmade, organic cheeses that have been produced on the premises since 1985. It’s not only cheese either, they produce yoghurts, bread, cakes and all their own fruit and veg.
Castle Dougles is a quick 30 minutes away and is the next stop on the foodie trail. Scotland’s dedicated food town certainly lives up to its name! The pretty high street is lined with over 50 foodie places, traditional butchers, bakers, fishmongers and deli sit alongside top class restaurants, grocers and specialty food shops. I’m pretty glad I don’t live here, I’d be the size of a house! Although I didn’t have time to properly savour the flavours of this foodie haven my ideal scenario here would be to buy a selection from the shops for a picnic and sit by the Loch at the bottom of the high street in the sunshine. Cheese from the cheesemonger with a loaf from the bakers, salmon from the fishmonger and chutney from the deli. Chocolate from the chocolatier and beer from the brewery. Mouth watering yet?
In House Chocolates
In House Chocolates would be perfect to finish it off. Situated on the High Street owner Gillian Warden and her talented team hand makes and designs every chocolate and they have won a whole tonne of awards. We treated ourself to a wee box of six to eat at the hotel that night and didn’t regret it for a second, they were amazing!
I also treated myself to a couple of bottles of craft beer from Sulwath Brewery, just across the road. Made without concentrates, colourings or extranets these are traditional beers with a traditional taste. You can take them away or enjoy them in their laid back, rustic and very comfortable bar.
Bladnoch Whisky Distillery
Where else to go on a sunny Sunday morning but a whisky distillery? Unfortunately it’s not yet open to the public so I could only get photos from the outside. Scotland’s most southern distillery, which began production in 1817, has recently been saved from closure by Australian businessman David Prior. Along with master distiller and blender Ian MacMillan, David has set about refurbishing and restoring this historic distillery ready to start producing again in 2017.
Kirkcudbright Farmers Market
Kirkcudbright is without a doubt one of the prettiest villages I’ve laid eyes on and I didn’t need an excuse to delve into the local farmers markets. These farmers markets are held regularly throughout Dumfries and Galloway and are ideal if you want to see a whole load of local producers all in one place. The day I was there also happened to be the children’s fair and the vintage market so it’s no exaggeration when I say the whole village was buzzing. I LOVED this place! Even when the rain reappeared it didn’t dampen spirits and the organisers knew enough about the Scottish weather to erect marquees so I stayed dry this time while I was shopping for some pastries to take home.
Galloway Lodge Preserves
I had just enough time to squeeze in a visit to Galloway Lodge Preserves next and I’m glad I did. Situated in another utterly charming little village – Gatehouse of Fleet, this family run business cooks their famous preserves in small batches using traditional methods and the finest ingredients. If you’ve been anywhere in Scotland you’ll likely recognise these jars, they are extremely popular. In fact I may or may not be eating some of their delicious mustard at this precise moment!
Cream ‘o’ Galloway
I seriously saved the best until last here. Not only is their ice cream AMAZING but the award winning visitor centre is fantastic. We began with a tour of the farm and creamery with Bev, who was a true credit to the business. I really enjoy meeting people who have a passion about the job they do and Bev was excellent. We got to meet some very cute wee coos, see their mummies getting milked, learn about the process of both ice cream and cheese making and have a tour around the brilliant outdoor activity centre where you can climb the tower, play crazy golf, explore the 3D maze or bounce around their unique Go Boing! What’s really special is that most of this is made by the Cream ‘o’ Galloway staff themselves! I’ve marked this on my to do list to visit when it’s not raining.
We spent the night at Fernhill House Hotel in Portpatrick where not only did we have a huge window with views over the picturesque harbour and village, we were also treated to a three course meal in their lovely restaurant. This was an unexpected bonus, the food was delicious and the service first class. I enjoyed a Baked Brie in Japanese breadcrumbs followed by Braised high rib of Scottish beef with mustard mash. A welcome addition to my food trail.