Spring Fling gets out and about

Magical mystery tours, bike rides and guided walks are lots of fun ways to see great art while enjoying fabulous countryside during this year’s Spring Fling open studios event.

Every year large numbers of visitors flock to Dumfries and Galloway to see some of Scotland’s brightest and best artists and craft makers in their own studios. They are also attracted by the region’s fabulous landscapes, striking coastlines, charming towns and pretty villages.

What’s even better is that they can do all this at any pace that suits them – on foot, by bike or aboard a bus in the company of other friendly art-lovers. All take place during the Spring Fling festival which runs throughout the diamond jubilee holiday from June 2-5.

The Magical Mystery Tour adds another dimension as well: surprise. Four separate bus tours (one each day) will cover the north, east, south and west of the region. But only the driver will know which studios they will stop at. What is guaranteed, however, is that it will be a superb chance to see some fantastic arts and crafts, and to meet some fascinating characters.

Leah Black, Spring Fling manager, said: “The tours are an ideal way to visit some of the studios, with the mystery element adding some extra fun. And with someone else doing the driving it’s also a great way to relax and see fabulous countryside.

“The people on the tours tend to be a sociable crowd, so the tours are also an excellent way to have a good day out with new people who share similar interests.

“Anyone who wants a place needs to book their ticket as soon as possible as seats are limited and are already going fast.”

This year there will be three CTC-led bike rides (on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday) one taking in Tynron and Moniaive, another through the Machars and Minigaff and the last through forest and along the coast from Kippford through Dalbeattie to Rockcliffe. The rides suit most abilities (though the Sunday one, led by Ted Norfolk, is a little more strenuous) and will each stop at five to six studios – booking is essential, and people should take their own bikes.

Mike Gray from Dumfries, who will be leading two of the cycle rides, said: “They are a really sociable day out. The roads we go along are very quiet, you get to see some wonderful countryside, to meet interesting people and see some lovely art.”

The Spring Fling guided walk is on Sunday, June 3, and goes from Rockliffe, through Colvend, Barnbarroch and Kippford, taking in the studios of watercolourist Philippa Sinclair, ceramicist Christine Smith and wildlife painter John Threlfall. It will be led by Robin Hogg, who runs Galloway Holidays in Castle Douglas.

Robin said: “It was a great success last year with local people and Spring Fling visitors from far and wide taking part. This year we will be having a gentle walk of six or seven miles which will take us through the Dalbeattie forest and along some lovely coastline and through four very pretty little coastal communities. There is lots to see on the way, like the remains of an ancient fort, a garden full of driftwood sculptures, and fantastic views across the estuary.”

As well as visiting the artists’ studios, the walkers may drop in at one of several pubs towards the end for some refreshments.

Leah said: “The cycle rides and walks are tremendously popular, because they are such a pleasant way to spend a day with friends and family, while meeting new people and getting to see some of the best artists and craft makers in Dumfries and Galloway. What’s even better is that they are free, though places must be booked in advance.

“The walk is also a good way to relax after the excitement of the Spring Fling Ceilidh and Hog Roast which takes place the night before.”