7 ideas for school holiday things to do in New Abbey

7 ideas for school holiday activities in New Abbey #LoveDandG

Just 7 miles from Dumfries in South West Scotland, New Abbey is probably best known for the beautiful ruins of Sweetheart Abbey. The ruins are impressive but, on their own, they’re probably not enough to entertain most kids for very long.

So, what else is there to do?

Sometimes the best things are right under our noses. These are our 7 ideas for things to do in New Abbey, this half-term, or anytime.

Watch grain being turned into flour

Most us eat bread, but have we ever thought about how the flour is made? The water-powered Cornmill in New Abbey is exactly as it was 65 years ago. You can see it working at certain times of the day. The Mill is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and you can check the opening hours on their website.

Water wheel and cornmill New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway
The water wheel and New Abbey Cornmill

Climb to the top of a tower

There are lots of steps to get to the top of the Waterloo Monument (and you might want to bring a torch because it’s dark). When you get to the top you’ll have fantastic views over Dumfries, the River Nith to Caerlaverock Castle, the Solway. If the weather’s clear, you’ll even see the mountains of the North Lake District. The route to the Waterloo Monument is marked on a map in the village car-park, or call in at Abbey Cottage for a pocket map.

Waterloo Monument near New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway
The Waterloo Monument, near New Abbey

Feed the ducks on the mill-pond

You might want to give your legs a rest on the way back from the Waterloo Monument. Why not stop to feed the ducks on the mill pond? If you’re lucky, the sun might be shining!

mill pond New Abbey
The mill pond at New Abbey – a good place to look out for ducks

Find the geocaches

Geocaching is like going on a treasure hunt but using your phone. A great excuse for more exploring! See if you can find the geocaches in and around New Abbey. To get started, visit, download the app, register and then get exploring! Hint: you might not want to wander too far away from the mill pond! 

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Download the Geocaching app and head off on a ‘treasure’ hunt.

Find out about New Abbey’s historic royal connections

Can you find out who said: “If this is Scotland, I want more of it”? Do you know why he came to Sweetheart Abbey? If you look closely when you’re walking around the Abbey and the car-park there are some clues to help you!

interpretation panel Sweetheart Abbey history
The royal connections of Sweetheart Abbey – Scottish and English

Discover the truth behind the name ‘Sweetheart Abbey’

While you’re researching the King, you might just want to find out why it’s actually called ‘Sweetheart Abbey’. The answer will not be not quite as romantic as you thought. In fact, it could be a bit gory! The stewards at the Abbey are very helpful, and you can find out more about the opening hours on the Historic Environment Scotland website. 

stone effigy of Devorguilla at Sweetheart Abbey
The effigy of Lady Devorguilla at Sweetheart Abbey

And, finally, CAKE!

No day out is complete without cake, and maybe a well deserved hot chocolate? After all that exploring and fresh air, call in and see us at Abbey Cottage. Tell us about your day. Maybe you’ve found something else that we should add to our list?

Chocolate, marshmallow and cherry Rocky Road Cake
Delicious Rocky Road Cake, with chocolate, marshmallows, cherries and more!

Just a final few tips to help you plan your visit:

New Abbey is 7 miles from Dumfries on the A710 and the free car-park is next to Sweetheart Abbey in the centre of the village.

There is a noticeboard in the car-park with maps of local walks, and pocket maps for the local area are also available at Abbey Cottage Tearoom. Check our opening hours on the bottom of this webpage,

Please check the websites for the opening hours of the Cornmill and Abbey as they are closed on certain days.