Travel: Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway

The delightful Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick in Dumfries

The delightful Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick in Dumfries

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LISTENING to crashing waves while partaking of a game of croquet on manicured lawns as red deer run playfully past, it feels like we are a million miles away from the daily grind.

In fact, we are on the outskirts of the picturesque harbour village of Portpatrick, in the often forgotten region of Dumfries and Galloway, just a three-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of the Capital.

We have checked into Knockinaam Lodge, the region’s only luxury boutique hotel, for an anniversary treat.

On arrival, we are greeted by friendly staff, who show us to our fabulous room complete with fantastic views of the sea and hotel grounds, with window seats on which to sit back and enjoy them.

We are invited downstairs to have a complimentary pot of coffee and home-made shortbread in one of the lounges as we get acquainted with our surroundings.

Afterwards, we explore the well-kept grounds - where the majority of the hotel’s vegetables are grown - and make our way to the private beach.

While unfortunately the Scottish weather cannot be pre-booked, the blustery conditions don’t spoil our enjoyment of the stunning scenery and the walk blows away the cobwebs before dinner.

We have time to fit in a few quick lawn games - readily available in the summer house - before retreating to the warmth and comfort of the country house hotel to prepare for dinner.

We peruse the Michelin star tasting menu - prepared by Scottish Chef of the Year 2008, Tony Price - in a comfortable, bright lounge as we nibble on aperitifs.

We order a bottle of £45 Sancerre. - it is our anniversary, after all - before being shown into the intimate restaurant, which also boats stunning views of the coast.

Our six-course extravaganza begins with a ‘surprise’ refreshing ratatouille which tickles and tantalises the taste buds for our next courses.

My personal favourite is the chicken and basil sausage starter with puy lentils and crisp pancetta, while my husband is still raving about the selection of cheeses he opted for for dessert.

After dinner, we relax on a sofa in a tastefully decorated lounge which boasts period features and quirky little extras such as old-fashioned bells which would have alerted servants to the needs of lord and lady of the house once-upon-a-time.

Nowadays, you wouldn’t need to ring a bell as the attentive staff are always on hand to make sure you have everything you need, though not in an intrusive or over-bearing way.

After finishing our wine and coffee and forcing the last of the petits fours into our mouths, we retire for the evening.

Despite it being quite a chilly night, we give in to temptation and keep the window open to listen to the relaxing sound of the waves.

The next day we venture into the beautiful village of Portpatrick, a popular tourist resort in the summer, which offers us a taste into the fantastic but little know delights on offer in Dumfries and Galloway.

Our desire to get to know the region better sees us hire a campervan from Wicked Campers, which has recently opened up a branch in Edinburgh’s Seafield Road.

We choose the multi-seater for extra space and take the opportunity to go to Dumfries and Galloway’s biggest music festival - The Wickerman - in style. All the campervans are fully equipped with cooking equipment, coolbox, camping gear and a table and chairs for sitting outside enjoying your surroundings.

With the van’s seats folding down to turn into a spacious sleeping area, Wicked Campers are incredibly comfortable and make for a decent night’s sleep.

Being lovingly painted in eye-catching ‘wicked’ artwork, they are ideal for festivals, especially one as unique, welcoming and family-friendly as Wickerman, which has seen a host of top headliners in its ten-year history including James, The Charlatans and Feeder.