The fantastic climate of the south-west coast of Scotland means that it is the perfect place to visit some fabulous gardens and the coastline is a great place to keep your eye out for wildlife both in the water and on the land.
Ballantrae is home to a bird sanctuary and there is a 55-acre site at the mouth of the River Stinchar which was established in 1969 to protect the little tern. Grasslands, mudflats and shingle provide both resident and migratory birds with a variety of feeding and nesting sites. The beach provides a great place to watch diving gannets and peregrine falcons can be seen on the cliffs between Ballantrae and Girvan. Ailsa Craig is a nesting site for puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmer as well as being famous for its gannets, see www.ailsacraig.co.uk for more details.
A walk through the Galloway Forest may reward you with sights of red deer, black grouse, red squirrels, otters and nightjars – arrange a guided walk with one of the rangers from June to September, see www.forestry.gov.uk/gallowayforestpark for more details.
Head out to the Mull of Galloway RSPB Reserve which not only offers fascinating wildlife but breath-taking views – you can see the Solway Firth and the Irish Sea with the Isle of Man in the distance and you will also experience the large cliff colony of seabirds from guillemots to razorbills and kittiwakes. See mullofgalloway for more details.
Ballantrae is excellently located for visiting many wonderful gardens, below are a few that are well worth a visit.
Castle Kennedy & Gardens – approx 17 miles from Ballantrae
- Castle Kennedy was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1716 and has been replaced by Lochinch Castle home to the Earl and Countess of Stair. The gardens date from 1720 and are famous for their rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias.
- See www.castlekennedygardens.co.uk for more details. Open April-October.
Logan Botanic Gardens – approx 30 miles from Ballantrae
- Close to Port Logan, plants flourish in this garden warmed by the Gulf Stream. There is a Walled Garden which is ablaze with colour throughout the season and a fishpond creates a good focal point.
- See www.rbge.org.uk/the-gardens/logan for more details. Open March-November.
Dunskey Walled Garden – approx 24 miles from Ballantrae
- These gardens were restored to their former glory in the 90s and you will find a wonderful walled garden with magnificent glasshouses. There is a new maze to entertain the children as well.
- See www.dunskey.com for more details.
Culzean Castle Walled Garden – approx 23 miles from Ballantrae
- A sunny hillside garden tucked away behind high garden walls, the Walled Garden is open all year and you will be sure to find something to catch your eye any time you visit.
- See Culzean-Castle-Country-Park for more details.
Glenwhan Gardens – approx 21 miles from Ballantrae
- Created out of bracken and gorse covered hillside this garden is formed around two small lochans and contains a range of seasonal blooms, exotic plants and rare species with gentle footpaths meandering throughout.
- See www.glenwhangardens.co.uk for more details. Open March-October.
Bargany Gardens – approx 19 miles from Ballantrae
- A woodland garden with lily pond, kitchen garden and rock garden.
- See www.bargany.com for more details. Open in May only.