New Abbey is famous for its Cistercian abbey, dating from 1273. This splendid shrine to human and divine love was named Sweetheart Abbey by the monks in memory of its founder Lady Dervorguilla, daughter of Lord Galloway and Margaret of Huntingdon, and mother to a future King of Scotland. She founded the abbey to commemorate the death of her husband John Balliol, the man after whom one of Oxford University’s most renowned seats of learning, Balliol College, is named. On her death she was laid next to her husband’s embalmed heart. It is described by Historic Environment Scotland as ‘a graceful ruin nestling between the bulk of Criffel and the shimmering waters of the Solway Firth, its red standstone walls vivid alongside lush green grass’. Set against a backdrop of the majestic Criffel, the village of New Abbey looks like a location for a film. There is a picturesque watermill, a general store, inn and tea-room. Walk around the area and on a clear day you can even see as far as the Lake District!
More about the locality and activities
You can take your pick of visiting a museum, playing a round of golf, frequenting one of the arrays of eateries from restaurants and cafés to pubs and bars, or maybe be biking and fishing in the nearby Galloway Hills and forest. Colvend Bay boasts an 18-hole golf course, and then there is a championship course, no less, at Southerness which is very popular. Enjoy the amazing wildlife, birdwatching in the Solway Firth or at the RSPB reserve at Mersehead - visit in the Autumn and you can see the incredible spectacle of thousands of Barnacle Geese arriving. Follow the Red Kite Trail and catch one of the frequent sightings of ospreys in Dumfries and Galloway or take a road trip to the Galloway Activity Centre on the stunning banks of Loch Ken, also ideal for a spot of wild swimming. If you want to “get on ‘yer bike” and partake in mountain biking, then take a spin on the award-winning 7stanes Trail. For those with gentler pedalling in mind, there are plenty of quiet country roads to explore.