Threave Garden & Nature Reserve and Rockcliffe teacher information

Threave's wonderful garden and wider estate are a haven for wildlife all year round. Rockcliffe is one of Scotland's prettiest coastal nature reserves.

Threave has many different habitats, including its beautiful and famous garden. On the Threave estate, farming is the main activity but there are also several woodlands, a wildfowl refuge with bird hides, wetlands (designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and the 14th-century Threave Castle (managed by Historic Environment Scotland). Threave House, built in the Scottish baronial style, can be found at the centre of the garden and has been restored to its 1930s appearance. Tours of the house, which can be booked in advance, tell the story of the Gordon family who built the house in 1872.

Rockcliffe is an attractive stretch of coastline (National Scenic Area) 7 miles south of Dalbeattie. The site includes an ancient hill fort and an island bird sanctuary that can be reached at low tide via a causeway (please do not visit during May/June due to nesting birds). The whole area is a mosaic of different habitats, and is particularly important for breeding warblers, butterflies, reptiles and plants.

The school programme at Threave and Rockcliffe offers many opportunities for engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. Ranger-led tours are available at both sites, and activities can be designed to match different Levels and pupils’ requirements. Secondary schools are also welcome – please call us to discuss your requirements in advance.

Possible themes

  • Freshwater and woodland habitats (Threave)
  • Meadow and seashore habitats (Rockcliffe)
  • Minibeasts and plants, as well as many other Science topics

Resources for schools

  • Pond-dipping activities can be arranged.
  • There is an Education Room at Threave.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please contact us on 01556 502575 for a booking form.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Maximum class size: 30, with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 10 pupils
  • Access: please phone us to discuss your pupils’ requirements. There is also information on the Threave and Rockcliffe webpages.
  • Parking: there is ample parking for school buses/coaches in the car park next to the visitor centre at Threave. There is ample parking for school buses/coaches in the Rockcliffe car park, which is a short walk from the beach.
  • Toilets: these are available at the visitor centre and Stables café at Threave. There are public toilets next to the beach at Rockcliffe.
  • Refreshments: there is a café in the visitor centre at Threave. Pupils are welcome to eat snacks/packed lunches in the gardens at Threave. There is also a wet-weather shelter for lunches (this needs to be pre-booked). There are places for picnics at Rockcliffe (including the beach). There is no indoor area at Rockcliffe and we advise you to arrange for the coach to remain on site.
  • Both sites have been risk assessed. Teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for their class visit.


  • For the latest charges, please contact the property.
  • Class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the sites.

During your class visit

  • Upon arrival: please report to the visitor centre at Threave (or to the rangers at the beach car park at Rockcliffe) unless otherwise arranged at the time of booking.
  • Trust staff will lead the school programme.
  • Timings for the school programmes vary according to your pupils’ requirements and will be agreed when booking your visit.
  • For the school programme, your class will be split into groups, depending on the size of your class.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils do not need to bring materials for the school programme.
  • Pupils may take photographs in many areas at Threave and Rockcliffe but not inside the mansion house – please check when booking.
  • Coats and bags can be left in the Education Room at Threave. At Rockcliffe, they can be left on the coach if you have arranged for the coach to remain on site.
  • Shop: pupils are welcome to visit the shop at the visitor centre at Threave, in small groups under teacher supervision.