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2000 Acres of Sky
On a perfect, cloudless, moonlight night in magical Portpatrick, Dumfries & Galloway, the sky is a mass of stars - a great unbelievable sweep of twinkling wonder. There's nothing particularly unusual in that, in this unspoiled part of the world, yet the power of the moment captures the heart of the former 'Eastenders' star, actress Michelle Collins, as she strolls on a silver-sand beach gazing in awe at the canopy above, after filming in this most special corner of Scotland.
The region is promoted by the Tourist Board, as Scotland's Best Kept Holiday Secret. But now the hit BBC drama 'Two Thousand Acres of Sky' is introducing viewers, captivated by the richness.
The series is set on the fictional island of Ronansay but most of the filming, in reality, took place in and around the peaceful coastal town of Portpatrick on the far South-Western shores of Dumfries and Galloway. The locals here will tell you that the very air they breathe is better than anywhere else in Scotland.
Michelle Collins, popularly regarded as a typical cockney, is quick to concede that the clean, fresh west Galloway air did wonders for her. "I have been lucky to work in many different countries but making Two Thousand Acres of Sky took me to the most beautiful places I have ever filmed," she commented. "I have never seen such skies and such extraordinary countryside."
So what are the ingredients that cause such interest in 'Ronansay'? Mostly, it's the wide open spaces in which to escape, the anachronistic towns and villages, each steeped in history and rich folklore - and the warmth of the locals themselves.
Cheerful, healthy people, who will stop and pass the time of day with visitors making you feel welcome in a good old-fashioned way. Their rural pride and enthusiasm keeps the region's many public gardens and nurseries looking their best during the mild summer months. In the high season there are many thriving attractions to overjoy the keen garden visitor, including the well-known Threave Estate (open periannually) at Castle Douglas, run by The National Trust For Scotland, where apart from the magnificent lawns, heathers and woodland setting, the restaurant does an excellent value lunch menu.
At Port Logan, visitors are often amazed at the wonderful display of exotic plant life to be found in the famous botanic gardens here. Recognised as one of the best of its kind to be found in the whole of Scotland, this Four-Star attraction draws enthusiasts from all over to see specimens usually found in sub-tropical environments. Just fourteen miles south of Stranraer, the gardens owe their unique environment to the mild Gulf Stream climate, allowing the most fragile species to thrive outdoors.