Newspaper Reviews


    From 'The Herald'

    Walking around Portpatrick, it is easy to feel as if you've known it all your life even if you are a first-time visitor.

    The village exudes a genuine charm with colourful picture postcard houses hugging the hills down to the breathtaking harbour. Portpatrick has a lot to offer: beautiful scenery, friendly natives and a relaxed atmosphere that makes visitors feel instantly at home and eager to return.

    Clearly the people behind the television show '2000 Acres of Sky' agree - they chose Portpatrick to act as a backdrop for many scenes. And where do the cast and crew choose to stay while they are filming? The Waterfront Hotel.

    As its name suggests, the hotel sits directly in front of the harbour and has a wonderful terrace area in which to relax, enjoy a drink or two, and soak up the atmosphere of this delightful port.
    Dating from the eighteenth century, the hotel has clearly been witness to some colourful and dramatic goings-on at sea.

    Tales of smuggling and shipwrecks, me hearties, are legendary in these parts, not least of all the night of June 15, 1850, when the steamer Orion came to grief on the rocks off the harbour mouth. Local fishermen raced to the wreck and brought survivors ashore, but 60 souls were lost. "Many of those who drowned are buried in the churchyard at the back of the hotel," explained our host for the weekend, David Hadfield. I should say at this point that David was pointing out that, should a sea-facing room not be available, the view to the rear is just as interesting.

    David and his son, Christian, are now in their third year in charge, having rescued the building, which had lain derelict for 20 years. A lot of hard work, sleepless nights and countless debates on design have paid off - big time.

    Stepping inside the Waterfront is like being instantly transported to the Mediterranean - and I don't mean Costa Highrise - a pleasantly modern tasteful design with bright terracottas, yellows and blues blends seamlessly with beech finishings. And when the sun shines which, thanks to the Gulf Stream influence, is more likely to happen here than other parts of Scotland, it can give the Riviera a run for its money.

    The rooms are, as you would expect, on the small side but much consideration has been given to maximising the space available. If you sit on the window seat in one of the bedrooms at the front and gaze out to the spectacular sea view, the room seems to triple in size.

    David and his team have created a truly welcoming atmosphere and a dining experience worth the trip alone. The chef has put together a mouthwatering menu sourced from the best of local produce, with seafood a particular speciality.

    For those who wish to work off some of the culinary excess, Portpatrick has lots to offer. The Southern Upland Way passes the village and even the most leisurely walker can easily manage a short stroll along the clifftop, passing romantic coves and stopping for tea (or something stronger) and home-made cakes at the walled garden at Dunskey. Golfers are spoilt for choice with several courses on the doorstep.

     
    Portpatrick - if you've not discovered it, then it's time you did!

    Gordon Stevenson
    The Herald



    From 'The Sun'

    It had just gone 8am. It was a Saturday morning... the time when I'm usually stopping the weans jumping on my head.
    I'm usually still in bed. It is a sacred time of the week. But not last Saturday. Oh no!

    Just past 8am last Saturday, I was beach-combing at Portpatrick - tide lapping at my ankles, pockets full of whelks and pebbles, my good winter jacket earning its keep warding off the stiff February wind blowing in from the Irish Sea.
    And three kids having the time of their lives with no amusement arcades or white-knuckle thrill rides in sight.

    Explore...

    It's amazing what a weekend away from the usual routine will do for you. This is a part of the world with its own personal travel brochure on prime-time TV every week. BBC1's Two Thousand Acres Of Sky shows off this wonderfully dramatic pocket of Scotland to full effect. The show's star Michelle Collins swapped grimy Albert Square for this Galloway gem. She must think she has died and gone to telly heaven.
    Which brings me back to last Saturday - it was 2,000 acres of sky that lured me out to explore. Lying in my bed, able to look out of the window to the bay across the road - the cold steel blue of the sky. You can't ignore that. Portpatrick - fictional Portree in the telly drama - is a hidden treasure. It's a picture postcard come to life, full of breath-taking vitality.

    This ancient fishing village is now a thriving tourist haven - hotels, B&Bs, bars, tea rooms and specialist shops in a cute arc round the harbour. And you spend hours exploring the weaving lanes in and around the town. The more adventurous can tackle the Krypton Factor-style clifftop path to the ruined Dunskey Castle - or, for the professional rambler, seek out the secluded bays of Sandeel and Morroch. Or you can just watch the occasional little boat come and go from the stone built harbour.

    We were based in the lilac-washed Waterfront Hotel, where the welcome from the staff is matched only by the mouthwatering food. The building, dating back to the 1700s, has been sympathetically modernised inside to offer sumptuously comfortable accommodation in eight en-suite rooms. Downstairs there's a restaurant with a lavish menu and snug bar. It's the perfect base for touring the area. And there are more than 2,000 acres to roam.

    Port Logan, which doubles as the Isle of Ronansay for the BBC drama, is just a short drive away. It's no more than a huddle of cottages built in a sweeping terrace round a half moon bay. But the beach is awesome, a vast expanse of crisp sands rolled flat by the licking tide - you've seen Ms Collins and Paul Kaye on it 100 times.

    The Mull of Galloway is worth the car ride - and snaking road - taking you to the very bottom of Scotland. This is our own Land's End - the tip of this jutting landmass stretching well into England.

    As you explore this area, you are reminded of a simpler - and better - lifestyle. There are little communities that make you feel all Mills and Boon like Whithorn, Sandhead, Drummore and Port William. I reckon you'd be hard pushed to go anywhere in the world and find a little corner as beautiful as this.
    But because it's just a few miles down the road we perhaps take it for granted.
    This is one hidden treasure hunt I'll be making again and again.

    Alan Muir
    The Sun Newspaper