‘You have to go up high to get good views’, says Mike. He’s driving his minibus up a steep incline as we manoeuvre potholes and perilous ditches en route to our accommodation. The road curves abruptly, stone dykes marking our path, and finally the hillside eco-house falls onto our horizon.
Mike is totally right. The panorama from the 3 Glens is amazing, and the architecture of the building does everything to maximise it. Huge glass doors open onto decking from which the squares and lights of Moniaive village twinkle; the valleys of Craigdarroch, Dalwhat and Castlefairn seem close enough to touch as we stare from the soft sofas.
Even without the views, the 3 Glens is an amazing place. We are treated to tea and homemade cakes (pecan brownies and oat flapjacks) as we sit at the massive wooden table, or over with our backs to the fire. Owners Neil and Mary talk us through the story of their property. The building is totally self-sufficient, generating its own electricity from the wind turbine at the top of the hill.
Even the inside of the house connects to the land. The massive stone wall — a defining feature of the open-plan living area — actually links with the original dyke outside, so the wall appears to be an endless tribute to the rolling hillside. The clock is a reclaimed millstone, the chandelier created from wine bottles and the wood is recycled railway sleepers. Insulation comes from sheeps’ wool, the roof is padded with turf, the seats are soft cows’ hide. And all the while, the skies swirl and the land transforms beyond the glass doors.
We spend three nights at the 3 Glens, and this is our base for a whistle-stop tour of Dumfries and Galloway. It’s within reasonable distance from tourist destinations, but also fair enough away that the bright lights and bustle are easily forgotten. One of the most enjoyable moments of our stay is when we sit around the fire, chatting with a cuppa and appreciating the calm atmosphere that creeps in from the hills.
During our visit, we’re cooked breakfast each morning and have a choice of cereals and fruit. Then, on the final evening, Mary Ann (a local nature aficionado and one of the live-in staff) prepares us a three-course meal of smoked salmon pâté, roast mutton and veg and the most amazing lemon parfait with homemade shortbread. We have to try and not lick the bowl. What a weekend of indulgence!