Cavens Country House
Cavens is a beautiful spacious Georgian country house in the south-west of Scotland. Finds like this are rare, which is a crying shame because the activities and experiences on offer in this region are fantastic! A visit to Cavens is something rather special. I can happily confirm that the long list of accolades from Sawdays, Michelin and Scotland’s own Peter Irvine (Best of Scotland Guide) are very well deserved. As a small, independent boutique hotel, it is warm and welcoming with attention to detail paid at every level. Perfect for a very special weekend away for 2. Equally I’d love to spend a glamorous Agatha Christie-style weekend here with friends (obviously without a murder). There is a such a special ambiance about the place (difficult to convey in words and pictures alone), and an exclusive dinner party with drinks on the lawn would be a dream! Finished off with a nightcap in the private wine cellar. (Cavens can be hired out exclusively). Independently run by husband and wife team, Angus and Jane have been warmly welcoming guests for over 20 years. Cavens is a place with character and soul, and the glowing reviews attest to this. There is a focus on providing a homely and tailored experience that corporate giants just can’t match. You will be truly spoiled and looked after here, as if you were staying with friends. The restaurant experience within the beautiful large dining room is something which is very difficult to match, with food freshly prepared by chef Angus. (It may be worth noting that tables were already very well-spaced out in the dining room even before recent events. The amount of public space to bedrooms ratio is also extensive, and so you can enjoy your time a Cavens at a very pleasant sociable distance.) Part of this culinary success is due to the fact that Cavens’ food is locally sourced. Such is their commitment to local suppliers that you can find a list of them on the Cavens website. Their menu changes with the seasons too: you could be having pan-fried scallops or free-range duck depending. In addition, every dinner incorporates ingredients from the grounds, meaning you get the freshest produce and the lowest carbon footprint. Cavens gets even more eco-points for having their own biomass heating system. The house itself has an interesting history and is older that you'd think, given the great condition it's in. The property was built in 1752, notable guests to the house included Benjamin Franklin and Robert Burns, who visited the house but severed good ties with the family when he wrote a rather unflattering poem about his host, Mrs Oswald. Burns was like that though, and you can discover more about him by exploring the area around Cavens. There are 6 spacious bedrooms to choose from: my favourite has to be The Oswald with its blue Joie de Toile wallpaper and Roberts Radio by the bedside. The Estate Bedrooms are even more spacious than the Country rooms, but all come with beautiful views (that’s the benefit of being surrounded by beautiful lawns and countryside). As relaxing as the bedrooms are, you’ll probably spend most of your down time in the communal areas. There are two impressive sitting rooms where you can relax, with books to borrow and a good selection of drinks on the sideboard. After a busy day exploring the nearby coast and countryside, sink yourself into a plush armchair beside a roaring log fire, whisky in hand. As I mentioned, another hidden gem at Cavens is their 18th century wine cellar. They have an excellent collection of wines and frequently invite experts to hold tastings there. The cavernous cellar is full of character and you can’t help but feel you’ve stepped back into a period drama. Stay on a Bed, Breakfast and Dinner basis, or hire the house exclusively. And if you double check with Angus and Jane in advance, they’ll even let you bring your four-legged friends (good boys only)! Dog-friendly stays are often hard to find, but thankfully here you get great accommodation and can take your best friend on some of the beautiful walks around the area. Just keep an eye out for the resident red squirrels! Location Cavens is part of a small village beside Dumfries. This means it benefits not only from rugged unspoiled coastlines, but inland there’s the vast Galloway Forest Park. The latter offers a variety of trails to explore but is also known for being Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park. Its unpolluted skies make it one of the best places to stargaze in Europe! For Outlander fans a trip to Drumlanrig Castle is a day well spent. The impressive 17th century building is under an hour’s drive from Cavens and was used as a filming location in Season 2. It also boasts over 40 acres of beautiful gardens, mountain bike trails, cycling, an adventure playground, Land Rover tours and fishing. There’s an abundance of fishing opportunities in beautiful locations around Cavens. Fly fishing in the area could yield salmon, sea trout, brown trout, and pike. And I’m sure Angus would only be too happy to help you cook your catch! Finally, I have to mention the golf courses: there are at least 29 in the region and the internationally renowned Southerness Golf Club is just one mile from Cavens. So pack your clubs! Getting Around: Cavens is located just 13 miles south of Dumfries and is under 2 hours driving from Glasgow airport. You have to experience Cavens to realise how wonderful it is, so what are you waiting for?