About the Ellangowan
The Ellangowan Hotel, Creetown, a former coaching inn, was designed by a Reading architect and was completed in 1898. It is one of the first dedicated tourist hotels in West Scotland. Creetown is just off the A75, 1.5 hours from M6/M76, and an hour from Stranraer ferry terminal. Creetown has been used for many years as an ideal stopover for travellers to and from Northern Ireland.
During its early history the Ellangowan was used by Christians, they caught the ferry across the Cree Estuary to visit St. Ninian’s cave and chapel. This is the site where the 6th century saint first brought Christianity to Scotland.
In 1973, the hotel used for the cult British Classic Film, The Wicker Man, staring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Brit Eckland and Ingrid Pitt. The bar was used for ‘The Landlords Daughter’ scene.
Facilities at the hotel include a licenced bar, games area, lounge bar/reception and 30-60 cover restaurant. Accommodation facilities includes 10 en-suite bedrooms, including doubles, twins and a single. There is a beer garden, and access to half an acre of Bayview’s (the owner’s) gardens.
Christian Pilgrims have been staying at the Ellangowan and travelling across to Wigtown and Whithorn for over 100 years. St.Ninian’s Chapel at the Isle of Whithorn does not have a roof, but the walls are well preserved. Just outside the Chapel grounds is a pile of rocks and stones. People have written messages on stones about loved ones who have passed. St. Ninian’s is another place where Christians have left a Palm Sunday cross, or others people have wedged money into cracks.
A new pilgrimage has opened up between opened up this year between Glasgow and Whithorn, some 140 miles, and leads to other interesting places, like the Iron Age Round House reconstruction, with its central hearth.
For major Christian Festivals, such as Christmas and Easter, the Ellangowan will be celebrating them. There is a Church in Creetown, so guests can enjoy mulled wine after Midnight Mass. No meat will be served on Good Friday, only fish.
Wicker Man experience and tours
The Ellangowan was made famous in the early 1970’s when it was chosen as one of the locations around south west Scotland for The Wicker Man movie. The story of the making and promoting of the movie was just as twisted and spectacular as the movie itself.
The hotel was used for the ‘Landlords Daughter’ bar scene and the Brit Eckland bedroom seduction scene in the movie.
There is a Wicker Man tour, which can take up to 2 days. From 2019 we plan to start offering a Wicker Man tour, where guests can fly into Glasgow Prestwick, they will be picked up, brought to the Ellangowan, and then taken around the sites by a guide.
I am building a 2 metre Wicker Man, which will be sighted in the bar. Having been inspired by the ‘Burning Man Festival’ in America, fans are welcomed to write down their troubles, sorrows or concerns and put it in the Wicker Man. It will be burned on Mid Summers eve, and the event will be posted on line.
For long distance cyclist, there is National Cycle Route 7. This runs from Carlisle to Glasgow and onwards. Through Dumfries and Galloway it runs along the abandoned Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Joint railway. Approximately 40 minuites away is the spectacular Big Water of Fleet Viaduct (disused).
For those who are more adventurous there is the 7stanes Forestry Commission mountain biking centre at Kirroughtree, which is about 5 minuites away by car.
One of our planned projects is to develop the outbuildings at the hotel. One will be turned into a drying room after a day out on the hills. The other will be turned into a lock up cycle store with a work bench and vice, so guests can fix their bikes at the end of the day.
There are specialist cycle and outdoor stores in Newton Stewart and Cycle Hire in Creetown, so nothing will spoil your holiday. Also by pre arrangement Ellangowan staff can prepare a pack lunch for your day out.
There are a number of easy and medium walks from Creetown. A very good day walk is the Cairsmore of Fleet, which is around three hours up and two hours back down for an average walker. It is 711 metres high and the car park start is around 10 minuites drive from the Hotel. It is a round rop ‘hill’ with a trig point and a spectacular view. By pre-arrangement we can make a lunch and a hot drink to keep you warm and well fed on the hills.
We also plan to run events where guests can walk up the hill and then have a piping hot Steak and Ale pie waiting for them when they get back.
For those who prefer lowland walks or young families, there are many other walks, such as heading up past the church, abandoned mill and water falls and up into the woods. For those who want to go to an event, there is the Newton Stewart walking festival between 10th and 16th May 2019.
The Ellangowan has also been used as a base for bird watchers. The close locality to the Cree estuary, the woodlands and hills provide rich pickings for ‘Twitchers’
There are many fishing opportunities around Creetown and the surrounding area. For Those who enjoy wild fishing, there is the river Cree. One of the popular areas for river fly fishing is where the Cree flows through Newton Stewart, or more locally there is Moneypool Burn in Creetown. In the surrounding area there are numerous well stocked lochs.
In Newton Stewart there is a fishing tackle shop and a number of outdoor shop, which will satisfy all of your requirements for an enjoyable fishing holiday. If fly fishing is no your thing then there are a number of other lochs, rivers and burns which can be used for course fishing or spinning.
There is a local smoke house, and we can arrange for your catch to be smoked, prepared, cooked and served in our restaurant.
Shooting and Hunting
As part of its heritage, the Ellangowan was a hunting lodge, and it is my intention to return the hotel back to providing this experience for our guests.
By pre-arrangement, we can speak to local contacts who organise hunting parties for people. These are skilled professional stalkers who are engaged in a planned deer management program on behalf of land owners.
If you book your trip at the right time of year, you may be able to enjoy the experience of stalking a stag. There is a skilled butcher in Creetown who we can put you in contact with.
One of the updates to the hotel will be the installation of a gun box. Dogs are welcome, provided that they use flea protection. The hotel has a lounge bar, with red leather Chesterfield Sofa’s, an open fire and single malts, for an enjoyable evening.
As seen on TV, there is currently a great interest in rediscovering the routes of closed railways. Those who enjoy their trains will certainly enjoy a visit to ‘The Port Road’
At the hotel we have a book on Britain’s Lost Railways. This describes the route that ran between Dumfries and Stranraer. This route was in terminal decline after WW2 and with the decline of steam, so came the closure of the railway in 1965.
Close to Creetown there are foot paths and cycle ways which go over the spectacular viaduct at Bigwater of Fleet and through cuttings from solid rock. Road between Castle Douglas and Stranraer has many bankings and former bridges to remind enthusiasts about this former transport link between the port at Stranraer, then Dumfries and the rest of the railway network.
There are many things to do in Creetown which guests can enjoy, meaning there is no need to jump back in the car:
• Creetown Green Bowling Club – One of the finest greens in the area, well maintained, with an active membership within the village, and hosting many regional competitions. Guests of the Ellangowan can get a day ticket by arrangement.
• Swimming – Castle Carey has heated indoor and outdoor swimming