Make the trip for …

This harbour town on the River Dee is known as the artists’ town, thanks to the creative types who lived and worked there from the 1880s – and the artistic community that is still active today. Fiona Lee’s Kirkcudbright Art Tours are a great way to discover the compact town on foot (£12, from April).

She takes visitors to Broughton House & Garden, the Edwardian home and studio of the Glasgow Boy EA Hornel; Kirkcudbright Galleries, with work by the Faed family, Charles Oppenheimer and Samuel Peploe; and the Tolbooth Art Centre, which has an exhibition of Jessie M King’s work. Fiona may also introduce them to some of the contemporary artists who have studios and homes in the town, including printmaker Laura Boswell and landscape artist Richard Brinley.

Now what?

Drumlanrig Castle , AKA the Pink Palace, is well worth the hour’s drive north from Kirkcudbright, not least for its collection of paintings, furniture, silver, tapestries and porcelain. Its masterpiece is Rembrandt’s An Old Woman Reading, which now has pride of place above the fireplace in its own sitting room (£18/£9, opens 8 April).

When to goMore than 100 artists open their doors for the annual Art & Crafts Trail (4-7 August). There are plenty of summer festivities, from a children’s festival to a jazz weekend, culminating in the Kirkcudbright Tattoo and fireworks display (26 August).

Souvenir shoppingThere are lots of galleries and gift shops in Kirkcudbright, and bookworms shouldn’t miss Wigtown, 40 minutes away by car. Scotland’s national book town has a dozen independent and secondhand bookshops and hosts an annual book festival (22 September-1 October).

Get outside

The nearby Balcary Bay Hotel is the starting point for a circular walk to Rascarrel, across cliffs, beach, forest and farmland (five miles in total, with two shorter options). Keep an eye out for red squirrels near the start.

Drinks and dinner

The Masonic Arms, which dates back to 1790, stocks no fewer than 260 gins, including Sky Garden gin made by the Dark Art Distillery in Kirkcudbright. The cosy Selkirk Arms – where Robert Burns once stayed – serves local produce such as Kirkcudbright scallops, Galloway venison, vegan haggis and Cream o’ Galloway ice-cream.


The Selkirk is also the pick of places to stay, with 16 rooms (doubles from £99.75). It now has competition from the Garret, which reopened last month after a refurbishment, and has eight Georgian-style rooms (doubles from £120 B&B).

Getting there

The nearest railway stations are at Dumfries, Lockerbie and Carlisle, after which it is useful to hire a car.

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