On a clear day, the view from Glenwhan’s highest point seems to go on forever stretching across two lochans down the glittering expanse of Luce Bay and across the Mull of Galloway.
Warmed by the Gulfstream, the spectacular 12-acre garden has an astonishing collection of plants from around the world. The winding pathways lead the visitor on a relaxing, yet vibrant tour until you reach some well-placed seats, many on viewpoints, where you can relax and enjoy the peaceful ambience and beautiful scenery.
In addition to the well-kept and tended gardens, there is also a 17-acre moorland walk which has around 120 species of wildflowers and grasses melded together in a way that is both wild and natural all at the same time. Or for something different why not follow the well-marked tree trail which winds its way all around the site.
If you’re a wildlife fan, then you won’t be disappointed as it’s in abundance at this location including red squirrels, a substantial number of birds along with various waterfowl in and around the pond areas. Look out for the peacocks and peahens strutting their stuff in the grounds.
The 17-acres of wild land that surrounds the gardens and Arboretum is a mosaic of moorland, wetland and bog. Paths lead you among Hawthorn, Willow and Rowan where you can smell the coconut scent of gorse in flower. Colourful native heather and wild thyme grow together among the rocky outcrops. You might also see harebells and orchids scattered throughout the grassland, dependant on the time of year you visit.
Over 120 species of grasses, ferns and wildflowers have been recorded – ask the teahouse for a list, and see how many you can find and tick off. It’s a great way of keeping the kids busy too while you sit and contemplate life!
Look out for different butterflies feeding on the multitude of flowers at the gardens. You might also spot dragonflies and damselflies darting and flitting across the ponds.
Ravens with their very distinctive call along with Peregrines soar across the moorland looking for prey. Snipe hide in the tall grasses, while Siskin, Goldfinch and Yellow Hammer dart in and out through the scrub.
Glenwhan has recently been described as the latest “gem in Scotland’s crown of beautiful gardens”, commanding what really are spectacular views over Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway. It is a Scottish Tourist Board awarded four-star garden and won a Taste Our Best award for quality assured food, is an RHS Partner Garden and has received a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence. And, I have to say, all are very well deserved wins and testament to the undoubted hard work and effort that must go in to keeping the site in such a pristine condition.
Started in 1979, the picturesque creation was hewn from a hillside covered in bracken and gorse. Two lakes were made by damming up bogs to provide a rich habitat for rare species. The rocky outcrops are home to a wide variety of alpines, scree plants, heathers and conifers. Given the importance of many plants to national collections, and their rarety please stick to the pathways and don’t go wandering aimlessly or tramping around the hillside. You have no idea what you may be damaging.
Marked trails lead through rose arbours to enchanting woodland walks with bluebells, snowdrops and daffodils in full bloom during spring. Rhododendrons, azaleas and shrub roses nestle together on the “Whinnie Knowes” in a blaze of colour.
Glenwhan has featured on the BBC Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden TV series and on Border Television.
The centre is open daily from April 1 to the end of September and outwith those times visitors can still wander the area with an honesty box being present at the car park.
Parties and coach groups can be catered for but management suggests that these are booked in advance. The gardens also have a lovely wee tearoom which supplies light snacks and a great selection of home baking, cakes, tray bakes along with soups, teas, coffee etc. It also doubles up as a small gift shop and book repository for those seeking to expand their knowledge of plants and horticulture. There is plenty of free car parking available and dogs are permitted as long as they’re kept on a lead. There is also a small plant centre available for those who may wish to avail themselves of some new stock for their own garden.
Disabled facilities are provided and wheelchair users are permitted free entry.
Glenwhan is located seven miles east of Stranraer, approximately one mile off the A75 at Dunragit.
We visited while on holiday in April. The gardens were in full springtime bloom and were a riot of colour. We managed to spend at least three hours simply wandering the marked pathways and stopping to take pictures at regular intervals from the viewpoints. I’ve been lucky to have visited many gardens over the years but Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum I have to say is one of the best.
The gardens also offer a marquee for wedding and other special events, and, if you are looking for some unique accommodation, why not try the shepherd’s hut, bothy or a caravan on the site. Further booking info and prices here.
“When my husband & I bought 103 acres of Galloway (site unseen!) in South West Scotland over the telephone in 1971, all we knew was that we had acquired land described” fit for afforestation”. Our first View of the land, on a gloriously sunny winter’s day consisted of bog, bracken & gorse, interspersed with the odd willow, surrounding the Georgian reservoir for the Dunragit Estate. It was not until our second visit that we discovered a ruin looming out of the mist, nestling like an eagle’s eyrie in the gully below. As we explored the ruins, disturbing a herd of cattle, I spied a rickety ladder leading up to the loft. Climbing up, I found myself looking out of a broken skylight at the vast expanse of Luce Bay with the Mull of Galloway stretching into the distance. I shouted down to Bill ‘THIS IS WHERE WE ARE GOING TO LIVE.'” – Tessa Knott, Founder of Glenwhan Gardens.
If you’re ever in the Galloway area, you really must make a point of visiting, and although we were there during springtime, I’m certain that no matter when you visit, there will be just as much colour to catch your eye.
For more information on the gardens and up-to-date admission prices, which, at the time of our visit were:
Adults £6.00, Concessions & Groups & Students £4.50 Season ticket £18.00
Family Ticket £13.00 (up to three children) at April 2019.
Click this link: Glenwhan Gardens