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Three Sided Castle by Paul Stevenson, flickr, 2011.Photo by Paul Stevenson licensed under CC

Dumfries and Galloway is Scotland’s most south-westerly county. Steeped in history and home to some of Scotland’s most famous figures, there’s plenty to do and explore in this bonnie Scottish land.

Fall in love with Sweetheart Abbey

Built from the deep red sandstone that is found in the local area in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, Sweetheart Abbey was the last of the 12 Scottish Cistercian monasteries to be established. The Abbey gets its ‘Sweetheart’ name as it was founded by Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, in memory of her husband John Balliol.

The story goes that Devorgilla was so in love with her husband that she carried around his embalmed heart in a silver and ivory casket as a constant reminder of him after his death. After her own death, Devorgilla was buried in the presbytery with the casket, and the monks at the Abbey renamed the Abbey in her honour. Today, apart from the abbey church, the principal feature is the well-preserved wall, enclosing the abbey precinct.

Marvel at exotic Logan Botanic Garden

Situated on the south-western tip of Scotland, Logan Botanic Garden displays a surprising and impressive array of exotic plants one would normally expect to see in warmer climes. The reason this unusual garden can nurture such plants is due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream on the local microclimate. The Garden is a riot of colour all year round, and you can also witness trees you wouldn’t normally expect to see in Scotland – such as groves of eucalyptus trees. Some of you also might recognise Logan as the backdrop to the 1970s cult television programme 'The Wicker Man'.

Step back in time at Caerlaverock Castle

With its moat and twin towers, Caerlaverock Castle is a surviving example of the quintessential medieval stronghold. Lying just north of England, this fortress was caught up in many border disputes over the years, giving it a varied and turbulent history. Today’s visitors can learn about this chequered past at the siege warfare exhibition. There are also some great walks through the beautiful ancient coppiced woodland that surrounds the castle, which lead on to a National Nature Reserve.

Watch wildlife at Galloway Conservation Park

Stretching out over 27 acres of mixed woodland, Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park has been set up to promote better understanding animals and their environment they live in. Visitors to the Park can enjoy seeing nearly 200 animals from all over the world in specially designed large and imaginative enclosures, including over 50 species of threatened and native animals.

Visit some of Dumfries and Galloway’s many historic sites

Dumfries and Galloway also has many sites of historic importance you may be interested to visit. You can explore the birthplace of the influential 19th century writer and historian, Thomas Carlyle, discover the cave where Robert the Bruce went into hiding during the wars of Independence, or read the verses the poet Robert Burns scratched on to the window of a tiny Hermitage with a diamond.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174