I LOVE glamping and I LOVE Dumfries and Galloway, so I was a tad excited to receive an invitation to stay at Three Little Huts near Gatehouse of Fleet recently.
Three Little Huts are three (not so little) shepherds huts located on the fringes of the Galloway Forest Park and just off the South West Coast 300 touring route.
But more on them later, first let’s discover what’s on their doorstep.
Day one – Exploring the Galloway Forest Park
In 2009 Galloway Forest Park became Europe’s first official ‘dark sky park’, scoring 23.6 out of 25 in the International Dark Sky Association’s scale of darkness.
Clatteringshaws Loch and Visitor Centre
Clatteringshaws is one of a number of sites in the park popular with stargazers. We visited mid-morning which meant no stars, but we did get to follow in the footsteps of a Scottish hero.
From Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, we followed a trail marked ‘Bruce’s Stone’. It led us along the shore of Clatteringshaws Loch, before emerging in a clearing with a large stone in it.
Legend says Robert the Bruce rested against the stone in 1307, after defeating English soldiers in a skirmish.
After our walk, we popped into the visitor centre for elevenses. Grabbing a table with a loch view, we tucked into scones fresh from the oven.
Galloway Red Deer Range
A short distance from Clatteringshaws, we stopped to visit the Galloway Red Deer Range.
The deer roam around on a hillside and can be viewed from a hide.
We took refuge from the cold inside the hide and opened a viewing window. A stag appeared looking for carrots. We had none, but he hung around anyway and treated us to a bellow.
Unable to see what was going on, the Wee White Dug started barking. Exasperated by the noise, I popped him on a chair so he could see. He stopped barking immediately and watched the stag quietly.
Wild Goat Park
Leaving the Monarch of the Glen, it was time to meet some other residents of the park. The Wild Goat Park is located not far from the deer range. It’s a great place to see wild goats in their natural habitat.
As soon as we left the car, the greedy goats made a beeline for us. We had no food, so placated them with compliments -“That’s a very fine beard sir” and suchlike.
Tail wagging, the boy strained on his lead to say hello. Knowing goats as I do, I held him back. When a Billy goat head-butted the fence in front of him, he discovered Westies aren’t the only beasties with attitude.
Grey Mare’s Tail and Murray’s Monument
After cooing over wildlife, it was time for another walk.
Parking at Murray’s Monument car park, we crossed a bridge and wandered along a riverside path which led to a waterfall, known as the Grey Mare’s Tail. After weeks of rain, it was in full flow.
Next, we followed a trail marked Murray’s Monument. It led us up a rocky hill, topped by an obelisk.
Reaching the summit, we stopped to take in the bonnie view.
In 1775, Alexander Murray was born in the glen the monument overlooks. Murray (a shepherd’s son), received little formal schooling, yet he taught himself languages. His linguistic ability earned him a place at the University of Edinburgh. He later became a professor of languages there.
In 1825, Murray’s Monument was erected to celebrate the local lad done good.
Going uphill, I’m as sure footed as a goat, but downhill is a whole different kettle of fish. When mud and wet rock are factored in, I develop two left feet. Struggling downhill with two left feet and a Westie pulling on a lead is a challenge, so Mr G takes charge of the boy on those occasions.
This was one of those occasions.
Dragged from the summit by the boy, Mr G fell flat on his back. After checking to make sure he was ok (only his pride was hurt), I was safe to laugh. Who doesn’t love a bit of impromptu slapstick?
Mr G apparently.
It turns out his fall was my fault. If I’d been able to walk properly, he wouldn’t have had to take the boy and he wouldn’t have fallen over – FACT.
Bruce’s Stone – Loch Trool
After stopping for lunch in Castle Douglas, we were ready to explore some more.
The forecast had been for strong wind and heavy rain, but we’d avoided both so far.
As we headed towards our next destination, it appeared our luck would soon run out.
By the time we reached Loch Trool, the sky looked ominous. Parking the car, we set off to walk a short distance to visit another ‘Bruce’s Stone’. The monument celebrating Robert the Bruce’s victory against the English at the Battle of Glen Trool in 1307, stands on a steep-sided slope above Loch Trool. Even on a dreich day, it’s one of Scotland’s most beautiful viewpoints.
As we headed back to the car, the wind and rain arrived with gusto.
It was time to head to Three Little Huts to batten down the hatches.
Three Little Huts
Little Willow, Little Beach and Little Oak are luxury shepherds huts, located on a quiet hillside overlooking Wigtown Bay. The immediate neighbours are horses, so they’re neigh trouble.
The huts sleep two, plus four-legged friends. They each have central heating, a log burning stove, a lounge/kitchen with breakfast bar, a bedroom, bathroom and are equipped with smart TVs, digital radios and Wi-fi.
And for stargazing by night and staring out to sea by day, there’s an enclosed terrace.
Our little hut was Little Willow, which also had an outdoor copper bathtub for the ultimate stargazing experience.
I definitely planned to use it over the weekend, but not during a gale.
Spoiler alert – the photos below were taken on the second night of our stay.
As we struggled indoors with our bags, the wind tried to rip the door off its hinges. Door closed on the weather, it was quiet and cosy inside.
Pretty blinds, matching cushions and a lamp that emitted a warm glow, made Little Willow feel homely and welcoming.
Two armchairs by the fire, looked perfect for loafing.
The shaker style kitchen was both stylish and functional. It was equipped with a microwave/cooker combo, dishwasher and fridge.
Our bedroom had a large bed and soft furnishings with cheery accents of pink.
Underneath the bed, was enough storage space to delight even the most frenzied over-packer.
The bathroom was a good size too and had a proper shower cubicle.
A night of perfect relaxation
Unpacked and PJs on, we closed the curtains, lit the fire and popped the cork on a nice bottle of fizz.
Outside a storm was raging, but we were as snug as bugs in a rug on our armchairs (and blanket) by the fire.
We spent a relaxing night grazing, quaffing champagne, listening to music and blethering about our favourite topic – exploring Scotland.
Day two in Dumfries and Galloway
We had a sound night’s sleep (despite 70mph winds) and woke feeling refreshed. The storm had passed – yippee.
We were keen to get outside, but first breakfast.
Coffee, fresh orange juice and bacon and tattie scone rolls eaten, we were good to go.
A visit to Mossyard Farm Pottery
Before exploring the Machars Peninsula, we popped into Mossyard Farm Pottery near our accommodation. The paint it yourself pottery is located on a working farm. Owner Amy, also owns Three Little Huts.
Amy had invited us to the pottery, so the boy could try his paw at something artistic.
He seemed excited to be visiting and greeted Amy enthusiastically, before nosing round the pottery. He was even more excited when she presented him with a platter.
Realising Amy wanted to press his paw into the non-edible platter, his westietude kicked in. Sensing, getting him to cooperate would be a challenge, I took over. On the third snarly attempt he made a nice paw print and reverted to his usual, charming self.
We chose a colour for his handiwork, then left it with Amy to be glazed and fired. Here’s the end result.
We loved our visit to Mossyard Farm Pottery. It’s not something I’d have thought would be dog friendly, so it was nice to try something new with the boy.
Exploring the Machars peninsula
The Machars peninsula takes its name from Gaelic and means low-lying. The peninsula consists of beaches, fertile farmland and charming villages. It’s a delight to explore as it’s quiet, scenic and full of fascinating historic sites.
Our first port of call was Wigtown, best known for its bookshops.
Behind the ruins of Wigtown Old Kirk stand two graves known as the Martyrs Graves. They belong to Margaret Wilson (age 18) and Margaret McLachlan (age 63) who died in 1685. The pair were Covenanters (strict Presbyterians) who refused to swear an oath to King James VII, recognising him as the head of the church. They believed only Christ could be the head of the church.
As a punishment, the women were taken to the shore, tied to a stake and left until the tide rose and drowned them.
A monument marks the spot where they died – a poignant reminder of how they suffered for their faith.
After leaving Wigtown, we stopped at Sorbie Tower. The 16th century keep was a Clan Hannay stronghold. The clan society are currently carrying out restoration work on their ancestral pile.
The keep stands next to the site of a 12th century motte (wooden fort). You can still see the grassy mound it stood in.
Sorbie Tower may be one of Scotland’s lesser known castles, but it’s definitely worth visiting if you’re a history geek.
After castle exploring we were Whithorn bound.
The village was once one of Scotland’s most significant religious sites. Saint Ninian founded a church there at the end of the 4th century. A religious settlement flourished for hundreds of years afterwards, attracting pilgrims from far and wide. Shortly before his death, Robert the Bruce made a pilgrimage to Whithorn to visit St Ninian’s Shrine.
Today, you can explore the 12th century ruins of Whithorn Priory. A museum on site (open April to October), houses an incredible display of early Christian stones. Loving medieval stones as I do, it’s my kinda place.
After stopping for lunch in the colourful Isle of Whithorn (the Sunday roast at the Steam Packet Inn is superb), we were ready for another walk (with history thrown in for good measure – obvs).
A walk to Cruggleton Church and Castle
Cruggleton Church is a strange building, hidden in trees and surrounded by a wall. It stands alone in a field, but may once have served a village that’s since disappeared.
The church looks fairly modern, but it dates to the 12th century. It was extensively restored by the 3rd Marquis of Bute in the late 19th century. If the look he was going for was creepy, he pulled it off spectacularly.
Leaving the creepy kirk, we cut across the field it stands in, heading towards the coast. After following a farm track, crossing another field and climbing a style, we reached Cruggleton Castle.
The once mighty fortress stands on a site occupied since the Iron Age. The former home of the Earls of Galloway now consists of some grass covered foundations, the remains of a barrel vaulted cellar and a defensive ditch.
Perched on a clifftop, a visit to the ruin isn’t for the faint hearted, but the dramatic beauty of the place will soon make you forget any fear of heights.
We thought we had the castle all to ourselves, until we discovered we were being watched.
Thankfully, when we jumped out of our skin, we were well away from the edge of the cliff.
Torhouse Stone Circle
Loving standing stones as I do, I couldn’t visit the Machars peninsula without stopping at Torhouse Stone Circle.
The Neolithic stones are located in a lovely valley, close to other standing stones. Torhouse Stone Circle which consists of nineteen stones, is the most impressive. It’s really well-preserved.
Oh, to known what these mystical stones were once used for. They’ll remain an enigma, but for me that’s half the charm.
Another relaxing night at Little Willow
We arrived back at Little Willow, in time to catch a gorgeous sunset.
We watched from our terrace as the sky turned orange.
Even the boy got in on the action. Who doesn’t love a sunset?
And how good would it be to enjoy a sunset from a bubble bath?
It was early March and freezing cold, but nothing was going to stop me from indulging in an al fresco soak.
So, grabbing my book and donning my bobble hat (and swimsuit to preserve my modesty), I hopped into a bath filled with lavender scented bubbles.
Ahhhhhhhhhh, utter bliss.
Our second night at Little Willow was spent in the same way as our first – the perfect night in. AND we managed to fit in some stargazing too.
Time to say goodbye to Three Little Huts
After another great sleep, it was time to pack and say goodbye to Little Willow.
We’d really miss our cosy haven with its comfy bed, stargazing tub and sea view.
We were in no rush to leave Dumfries and Galloway though, so after checking out of Little Willow, we headed back to Mossyard Farm, this time to visit Mossyard Beach.
It costs £2 to park at Mossyard Beach, but the fee gives you access to toilet facilities too.
We arrived to find the beach deserted – woooooo.
The boy was in his element and charged around with the wind in his hair.
After his run, he clambered on some rocks. I joined him, so I could explore rock pools. Mr G did too, not because he likes rock pools, but because he’s obsessed with climbing.
Mossyard Beach was the perfect place to end a wonderful break in a fabulous corner of Scotland.
We stayed at Three Little Huts on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time ….