You’re on holiday at Coastal Kippford. Now you’re looking for things to do when you’re here. At Coastal Kippford, you can walk our scenic nature trails, or have a family day at the beach or a friendly get-together on your patio. And just a short drive away you can find monuments to eternal love, have a quiet afternoon tea and soak in the local atmosphere, or climb to the top of a summit. No matter your interests, New Abbey is well worth a visit.
For history buffs and hopeless romantics, there is Dulce Cor or Sweetheart Abbey. Monks named it Dulce Cor in memory of Lady Dervorguilla, who founded the abbey in tribute to her beloved husband, John Balliol who died in 1268. His grieving widow, Lady Dervorguilla of Galloway, had his embalmed heart placed in an ivory casket. She is said to have carried it with her everywhere.
She undertook many charitable acts in her late husband’s memory. These included founding the Cistercian abbey of Dulce Cor (Latin for ‘Sweet Heart’) in 1273. When she too died in 1289, Dervorguilla was laid to rest in front of the abbey church’s high altar, clutching her husband’s heart to her bosom.
Sweetheart Abbey’s origin as a shrine to human and divine love is as appealing as its setting. The graceful ruin nestles between the grey bulk of Criffel and the shimmering waters of the Solway Firth. Its blood-red sandstone walls are vivid against the lush green grass.
The abbey’s grounds have areas of architectural interest including the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The church ruin stands almost complete despite history’s ravages. It was constructed in 1273 and its resilience is remarkable given the events it has survived. These include decades of war with England and the dissolution of Catholic orders during the Scottish Reformation.
Watch The World Go By
When you’re done visiting the Abbey, replenish yourself at Abbey Cottage for afternoon tea. Enjoy its selection of savory and sweet items at any time of the day, not just at tea time.
Use the time to reconnect with friends and family or get to know the locals who are sure to know about the surrounding attractions, like the Corn Mill.
If you want something to talk with locals about, why not about Abbey Vale FC? The team competes in the local league and is sure to have its supporters.
A Short Walk Down The Street
Fortified with tea, make your way down to New Abbey’s other historic site, the Corn Mill. While the current site reaches back to the 18th century, historians trace its beginnings to the 13th century.
It’s believed that then, the mill may have been part of the Abbey and allowed it to earn an income. The mill itself is still operational and visitors can get a sense of what it might have been like for the monks who spent their days in quiet labour and contemplation here.
Wandering in New Abbey
Maybe yoga and meditation or art and craft is more your style? Pack your mat when you visit New Abbey and make your way to Shambellie House.
The Shambellie House Trust hosts a number of live events, lecturers and short courses if you prefer to immerse yourself in the arts, craft and culture. Courses include photography, textiles and quilting, wellbeing, creative writing, visual arts and drama just to name a few. There’s certainly something here to fascinate you or a member of your party on your day trip to New Abbey.
It’s advised that you call and arrange in advance to see what activities are available and any associated costs. Vouchers are also available if you’d like to gift any of your family or travelling companions a course.
The history of Shambellie House itself should titillate history buffs as well. The Stewart Family made the area their home in the 1500s. In case you were wondering, yes, it is a branch of the Royal House of Stewart/Stuart.
It wasn’t until the mid 1800s, when the family expanded in size that its then patriarch, William Stewart commissioned the building of Shambellie House. His descendents lived in the house until 1977. The House and a treasure trove of costumes collected by the family over generations is also available for scheduled tours and viewings.
Shambellie Forest and Garden
Beyond the Shambellie House, you can also explore the serene wooded area that is part of its grounds. The grounds would be perfect for an outdoor excursion in the summer, perhaps a picnic or family get together. The grounds feature an enclosed garden with a variety of fauna and flora.
For Hiking Enthusiasts
While New Abbey itself is picturesque, there are well-known nature trails nearby. One of them leads to the top of Criffel Hill. The other, to a monument harkening back to the days of Napoleon.
The path to the top of Criffel Hill will take you through old forests and fields of heather and boasts views across Solway Firth and the Lake District at the top. At a moderate pace, the trip up and down will take about 3 hours.
You can decide to start your day with a trip to Criffel, then down to New Abbey for afternoon tea at Abbey Cottage and then a visit to the Abbey and mill.
Or, you could continue to the Waterloo Monument. The monument is a 150-foot structure among the smaller hills around New Abbey. Built in 1816, the tower marks the British victory against Napoleon at Waterloo.
If you have a sense of adventure, you can climb the steps leading to the top of the tower, which also features spectacular views of the surrounding area. However, note the stairway to the top of the tower is narrow and there are no railings to hold.
Lots To “Catch” Up On
Like to fish? There’s Loch Kindar right at the bottom of Criffel. Instead of a bracing hike up the hill, how about a relaxing day angling? The lake is locally maintained and regularly re-stocked with two different types of trout.
Enjoy rowing out to an ancient crannog while you’re there. The crannog can be found on the most westerly island in the loch and is another site to pique your historical curiosity.
It’s another one architecture lovers will marvel at in New Abbey. It reveals how inhabitants of pre-historic Scotland would have built their homes and gives a glimpse into what their daily lives might have been like.
When you’re ready to make your way back to us, don’t forget to take a little something small and sweet with you. The Abbey Cottage has mementoes, art and craft produced by local artists. You can even find jewellery inspired by Lady Dervorguilla’s devotion to her husband.
After the day’s full itinerary, return to your holiday home at Coastal Kippford with pictures and happy memories to take back with you.
There’s always lots of stuff to do in and around Kippford. Check out our website.