Wee Tam's Review
As we travel further and further west, we feel as though we are driving to the edge of beyond and indeed we are almost at the westernmost point of Galloway when we find Helensdale, a neat, whitewashed farm cottage, sitting on high ground above a rocky cove, overlooking the Irish Sea and Ireland in the distance. Helensdale promised to be in a peaceful and scenic spot, but with plenty to amuse the whole family nearby - and it has delivered.
The house is a bit of a tardis once you go inside, furnished with good quality, modern furniture, tastefully decorated, bright and spacious. Downstairs, an open plan kitchen/dining/living area allows everyone to congregate while meals are being prepared and enjoyed so that no-one need feel left out. The separate living room has an open fire and a fantastic sea view, so once the day is done and the kitchen cleared (or not!), we can relax in here and enjoy the cosy glow as the suns dips below the horizon. Tam is a real hearth dog when he's not galloping about outside and just goes out for the count once the fire is lit. Two downstairs bedrooms give a choice of watching the sun rise or set and these share the shower room while the master bedroom upstairs has its own bath and shower and wonderful sea views.
My aim has been to reach Scotland's southernmost point, the Mull of Galloway which juts out into the sea in a dramatic fashion. Nine tides race around the Mull, stirred up by witches; on a clear day you can see across to Ireland and down to England and best of all, the RSPB reserve provides a home to some wonderful birds - guillemot, razorbill and the clown of all birds, the puffin! These are all in residence at this time of year and the binoculars are a necessity, as is a head for heights as we peer down the cliffs to watch the nesting birds. Tam is allowed onto the reserve, but strictly on a lead as rock and meadow pipits are nesting on the ground and adders have come out of hibernation.
It is very windy indeed on the top of the cliff and Gallie Craig Coffee House with its huge windows, is the perfect place to regroup and warm up over steaming hot chocolate while enjoying the amazing view. Other highlights include the wonderful, quiet beaches which are dotted all along the coast - bring a map or ask Elspeth - and Logan Fishpond, a fascinating natural marine aquarium, created from an Ice Age blowhole as a larder for the Laird of Logan. There are great places to eat out in Portpatrick, which is only ten minutes away by car - we loved the local seafood at the Harbour House, which is completely dog friendly.
Location of Helensdale dog friendly holiday cottage