OUR first family holiday – a sleeping three-month-old boy in tow – was a trip beyond Robert Burns country to an eco cottage near the west coast.
It followed in the footsteps of a newly married couple who honeymooned near Loch Ryan more than half a century ago. The one-bedroom building they stayed in became known as the Honeymoon Cottage, and while growing up on a neighbouring farm, Elaine Hamilton dreamed of creating a modern holiday home in place of the ruin it had become. Dundream – the name comes from an iron fort in the North Rhins of Galloway – is her vision come to life, a luxurious green tourism retreat, perfectly positioned for views of the Irish coast, Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre. For our family it was a couple of days of glorious tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
It certainly feels boutique, with more creature comforts and stylish extras than many five-star hotels I’ve stayed in. But the price could comfortably be described as budget, particularly as there are four bedrooms, including three doubles and a twin, so the cost of staying here could be split between three or four couples.
WINING AND DINING
The cottage has some of the best disabled access I’ve seen, including a ramp around the building and a downstairs bedroom and bathroom.
That extends to the kitchen where everything is in easy reach and there is enough room to navigate a wheelchair. With two ovens, hobs, fridge and freezer and enough pots, pans, crockery and glasses for a banquet, self-catering visitors are well supplied. However, there is also a caterer, Maria – who we did not use – who can provide meals prepared to individual tastes. There is also a “honeymoon dinner” served with complimentary wines.
The whole house has fabulous views but the master bedroom, and living room, have virtually wall to ceiling windows which frame the sunset over Ailsa Craig. The master bedroom has an en suite with a Japanese bath – to match the Japanese garden and bonsai trees in the doorway – and you can order a massage or reflexology.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Once a couple of logs have been tossed on to the free-standing woodburner, instantly warming the living room, it is tempting to hunker down with the CD collection and multi-room music system and ignore the howling winds outside. But for those brave souls who want to venture out there are plenty of walking routes to explore, and Corsewall Lighthouse with its stunning views and restaurant makes an ideal destination. We popped in for a coffee and scone, with jam and cream, stopping on the way to let the farm vehicles, which easily outnumber cars, go by. If you want to venture further afield – which we briefly did – Portpatrick is a scenic coastal town with plenty of pubs and restaurants.
Elaine has also been keen to support local businesses with a welcome pack of Loch Arthur cheeses, John Mellis Scottish Heather Honey and Blandoch Scotch whisky. In the bathroom are products from the Bare Naked Soap Company.
This is a glorious spot to while away a few days. The modern comfort of this stylish cottage, with its Japanese garden and little artworks, contrasts happily with the ancient natural beauty all around it. Dundream’s two key commitments to accessibility for disabled people and environmentally friendly tourism – it even has its own water supply from a local spring – are admirable. We love to see new places, so it is rare we talk about going back somewhere. This was one of those exceptions.
Dundream, Kirkcolm, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway (Elaine Hamilton 07517 373470, www.dundream.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). Late availability offers available for £560 per week.
Maria Salzmann, chef and catering, 07818 042 050 or email@example.com.