The Ken Bridge Hotel
Deep in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway runs the wondrously named Water of Ken. At the elegant Ken Bridge, just 10 miles from the river's source, it already demands five full spans to cross it, having by then incorporated the rivers Dee, Doon and Deugh. Beside the Ken Bridge stands an 18th-century coaching inn whose lovely diminutive beer garden extends, apparently unwittingly, into a small riverside field. This, it turns out, is the campsite, and the combination of river, welcoming pub and surrounding hills makes it a little cracker.
There are otters in the river and if you wish to compete with them for food, including the invasive crayfish, the fishing is free for campers. Bird-lovers, meanwhile, can look out for kingfishers and ospreys on the Ken or follow the nearby Galloway Kite Trail, a circular route that takes in the best places to see these magnificent birds of prey, which have recently been successfully reintroduced to the area.
New Galloway (the smallest royal borough in Scotland, fact fans) is only a mile away and, though just a wee village, it boasts a highly regarded arts performance space called CatStrand (01644 420374) whose varied programme is always worth checking.
Further afield Wigtown (25 miles) is Scotland's 'National Book Town' (look out, Hay). There's an annual 10-day literary festival at the end of September (www.wigtownbookfestival.com) and, as you might expect, the place is bursting at the seams with book-shops, both secondhand and new.
a: The Ken Bridge Hotel, New Galloway, DG7 3PR
t: 01644 420211
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