A peaceful treasure in Dumfries and Galloway
Exploring Threave Castle, Estate and Gardens
I’m having a bit of a fascination with Dumfries and Galloway these days. I’ve always been a fan of this under-visited part of Scotland but the recent terrific weather in the region makes it even more glorious. A daunting castle, nature spotting in abundance and the magnificent Threave Gardens make for one of Southern Scotland’s best day trips.
I’m history daft so it’s off to the Castle first of all. It’s on an island, always a great start. Amazing what thirty seconds in a boat can do for the romance of a place. A peaceful ten minute walk from the car park, the boat transfer over the River Dee and you might just have the small island all to yourself. The castle was built in the 14th Century for Archibald the Grim, a genius name. Apparently the man took on a rather fearsome look when preparing for a good scrap. The intimidating and pragmatically built fortress served as the stronghold for the Black Douglases. But its most impressive chapter came in 1455 when it was subjected to a two month siege. Even the brute canon Mons Meg was deployed on the resolute Threave walls. It only fell when the defenders accepted a bribe and were guaranteed safe passage. I’ve got such a high opinion of Threave that it makes it into my illustrious top 10 castles in Scotland.
Back on the mainland as it were, there’s an osprey viewing platform within a few feet of the dock. Following this path through the woodland is as peaceful as it gets. Alone with the birds, bees and the odd Roe deer….it’s no wonder this is one of the National Trust’s proudest properties. A five minute drive from the castle car park is the Threave Estate and House. Vast and stunning gardens, numerous wildlife spots and trails show how the Gordon family living here were on to a good thing. 200 daffodil varieties alone tell you something about the scale of it all.
Nearby Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas make for excellent bases for a Threave Castle and Estate visit as well as for the many other coastal fortresses that the south of Scotland is so famous for.
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