The South West 300 is a relatively quiet and very family friendly route in the south west of Scotland full of stunning natural beauty and historical sites. Driving around this part of the country was really enjoyable in one of Rockin Vans camper vans. With two small children, we opted for a VW camper van for its ease of driving, parking etc and its spacious interior. A short distance from the Rockin Vans main office in Kilmarnock, this route was close enough to get a full day of adventuring in from the get go.
St Ninians Chapel, Galloway.
Driving this loop was perfectly suited to us as we don't like sticking to the main trails. With picturesque villages and beaches in abundance you can veer off at any point and find a beautiful spot to set up for the night. Galloway Forest is situated roughly in the centre of this circular route. With great facilities and gorgeous surroundings, a night or two here is well worth a stop. Searching for magical forest creatures with our two youngs sons was easy in this enchanted forest. Home to the 'The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Observatory', moonlit camping felt very authentic. We even managed to see some shooting stars.
'The Dark Sky Observatory', Galloway Forest.
The coastal drive from Ayr to Girvan and on to Ballantree is peppered with lots of lovely coffee shops and small, quiet beaches to take a break from driving and dip your toes in the sea. With two little kids who regularly need bathroom breaks (not necessarily at the same time) it was easy to manage with plenty of facilites along the way.
On reaching Stranraer, we decided to explore the Portpatrick Peninsula which ended up being our favourite part of the trip. A real highlight for us was visiting the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse where we managed to catch a stunning, blood red sunset on a calm night followed by an equally gorgeous sunrise (being awake at the crack of dawn is just one of the many perks of having a two and four-year-old).
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse.
Our boys are a little too young for mountain biking at this stage but we did notice some excellent bike trails in the Forest of Ae, Maybe Forest and Dalbeattie Forest - Something we will keep in mind for future visits. The forests are also home to lots of very friendly red deer waiting to be fed by passer bys!
Exploring the beautiful town of Portpatrick and the local surroundings was so easy in the camper van as it allowed us to camp where ever we ended up stopping and eliminated the worry of organising accommodation. With everything we needed in-tow it made the trip stress-free.
The kids favourite part of the trip was without a doubt the Cream O' Galloway ice-cream parlour and amuesment park at the Gate House of Fleet. Complete and utter silence dominated the entire duration of ice-cream eating time and I can say with confidence that it wasn't just the kids who were heavy impressed by the flavours.
Cream O Galloway Ice-cream.
The Fleet Islands at low tide made for another fun adventure, running across the wet sand to the scattering of small islands. Wild camping looking out over the habour in the Isle of Whithorn and dingy sailing on Loch Ken were two more things I would reccomend for anyone thinking about exploring the South West 330 route. Being a rather sheltered loch, our amateur level of sailing was absolutely fine for the conditions. For a more relaxing day, walking around the Logan Gardens or the historical town of Newton Stewart both proved to be good ways to get a full day of gentle exercise whilst seeing the sights of the area.
Loch Ken, Galloway.
Taking full advantage of the sunny days we were lucky enough to get, we cooked most of our own meals in the camper van and ate on the beaches. On one particularly lovely day, we parked up near St Ninians Chapel and had a barbeque looking out over the water.
St. Ninians Beach.
A simple, affordable and fun trip for all ages, I will definitely be back to this part of Scotland in another VW camper van soon.