Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
Located in the South West corner of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway is one of the country's best kept secrets. An easy trip from England and Scotland's central belt, it's an unspoiled haven of beautiful scenery, art, culture and history.
As anyone in the Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Information office would happily confirm, character-filled towns await throughout the region.
From Moffat in the east, a charming little market town and gateway to the borders via the Grey Mare's Tail and St Mary's Loch, to Stranraer in the West. This busy, modern port-town is the landfall point of the main arterial route between Scotland and Ireland.
In between, places like Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Newton Stewart and Kirkcudbright vie for your affections, each offering its own unique character and blend of Dumfries and Galloway charm.
There's a truly vast range of things to see and do in Dumfries and Galloway. Here are just some suggested activities below:
Amongst the less expected facts about Dumfries and Galloway is the fact that the bicycle was invented here by Kirkpatrick McMillan in 1840.
It's fitting, then, that Dumfries and Galloway is hailed a Mountain-biking country par-excellence, leading the way with 5 of the highly acclaimed 7 Stanes Mountain Bike centres.
Being the most established, Mabie and Dalbeattie stand out amongst them, with Mabie a veritable mountain biking heaven. Mile upon mile of top quality, well designed, well maintained routes promise to satisfy whatever mountain biking experience you're looking for.
Ranging from relaxing, family-friendly routes to exhilarating downhill and full on ultra-technical North Shore, Mabie attracts riders from all over the country, and it won't disappoint.
Dalbeattie too offers lots of variety, and is of course home to the legendary 'slab' - an imposing, rites-of-passage test of the nerves, its ultra-steep slope of solid granite, rising skyward from the forest and set amidst stunning scenery!
A study of Dumfries and Galloway would not be complete without touching on the vibrant tradition of arts and crafts in the region.
The unspoiled beauty of Dumfries and Galloway has attracted artists of all genres for years, with Kirkcudbright being an acknowledged hotspot over the decades.
The 'Kirkcudbright School' was founded here in the early 20th Century, forming out of artists' colony established by the likes of EA Hornel and Jessie M King.
Writers too have found inspiration here, with JM Barrie penning the magical Peter Pan after many childhood adventures on the banks of the Nith in Dumfries.
Robert Burns, too, found inspiration in Dumfries and Galloway, creating some of his best known works when living and working in the area. So taken with the region was he, that he made Dumfries his home, finally passing away and being buried in this ancient town.
Another very good reason to visit Dumfries and Galloway is the region's provision for activities in the Great Outdoors. The breath-taking scenery and landscape of Dumfries and Galloway, combined with its seclusion and lack of population make it an ideal destination for those with outdoors activity in mind.
The Galloway Forest Park b oasts fantastic views, hills and wildlife, with well established bothies, youth hostels and routes supporting first rate hill walking.
Fishing too, is very popular with top quality course and river fishing to be had throughout the region. There are some gems of golf courses hidden away too, for example New Galloway's 18 hole course, nestling quietly amidst stunning scenery near the head of Loch Ken, just waiting to be discovered.
Watersports are well catered for, from the activity centres at places like Loch Ken, to the Solway Coast and its combination picturesque coves, sandy beaches, cliffs and first rate wind-surfing. Charming little hamlets like Sandyhills, Kippford and Rockcliffe dot the coast and provide character-filled stop offs in which to unwind.
History and Museums
Dumfries and Galloway has played many important roles throughout history, from early establishment of Scottish Christianity at Whithorn, through Covenanters and Scottish Jacobites to artistic movements.
Right up to the present day, denizens of Dumfries and Galloway continue to make their mark. There are many fascinating sites to be seen from old to new. Not least is the beautiful Sweetheart Abbey near Dumfries.
Across the region there's a wealth of museums celebrating local achievements and ways of life, ranging from an engrossing account of lead mining at Wanlockhead, through the Aviation Museum at Dumfries to a whole range of galleries and museums of art.
Individuals too, are celebrated with places like the Robert Burns house in Dumfries, where the bard lived and penned some of his greatest works, right up to modern times with the David Coulthard Museum in Twynholm, the tiny hamlet near Kirkcudbright where the Formula 1 Ace's family have lived for years.
American visitors will doubtless be keen to make a bee-line for the John Paul Jones Museum at Arbigland, Kirkbean (near Dumfries). The 'Father of the American Navy' was born on the Arbigland estate in 1747. One of his more famous quotes 'I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way' Could be straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster, yet he is just one of a host of extraordinary people to hail from this inspiring area.
One of the great things about Dumfries and Galloway is its unspoiled nature, sparse population and beautiful landscape. It's one of the few places in the UK which are genuinely off the beaten track and there are few better places to unwind and recharge.
While the tourist masses flock from the Lake District towards Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Highlands, why not head west at Gretna Green and make for the uplifting heart of Dumfries and Galloway?
The gulf stream promises you warmer summer weather than you expect. This, combined with a moist climate mean there are bountiful gardens to enjoy across the region. Threave, in Castle Douglas, is world famous and well worth the visit, as is the Logan Botanic Garden at Port Logan in the west, near Stranraer. Here, you can experience exotic species from around the globe.
The Galloway Forest Park boasts beautiful scenery of hidden loch, majestic hills, and picturesque little villages along the way. It's another great way to unwind, with treasures like the Creetown Gemstone Museum providing engaging distraction when required.
Whatever the break you're looking for, Dumfries and Galloway has a huge amount to offer. Even a short trip will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to step back out into our hectic modern world. Why not plan your trip to Dumfries and Galloway today?
Days out in Dumfries and Galloway
An 18th-century house of the Murrays of Broughton and Cally, which was bought by E A Hornel, the renowned artist and member of the 'The Glasgow Boys'.
It was in this simple sandstone house in a quiet Dumfries street that Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, spent the last years of his brilliant life.
One of the finest castles in Scotland, Caerlaverock Castle is on a triangular site surrounded by moats.
Cardoness Castle is the well-preserved ruin of a tower house of 15th century date, the ancient home of the McCullochs.
Castle Douglas Art Gallery
Castle Douglas Art Gallery first opened in 1938 having been gifted to the town by Mrs Ethel Bristowe and now forms an excellent venue for an annual programme of temporary exhibitions running from Easter to Christmas.
Creetown Gem and Rock Museum
The Creetown Gem Rock Museum houses one of the finest privately owned collections of gemstones, crystals, minerals, gemstone objet d'art and fossils in Britain.
Drumlanrig Castle Gardens and Country Estate
Set on the 80,000 acre Queensberry Estate complete with Country Park and Victorian Gardens, Drumlanrig Castle presents one of the finest examples of late 17th century Renaissance architecture
Glenluce is a Cistercian abbey founded around 1192.
Logan Botanic Garden
In the far Southwest of Scotland on a peninsula washed by the Gulf Stream, Logan's mild climate allows a fine collection of exotic plants to grow out-of-doors.
MacLellan's Castle is a castellated town house, which was built in the 1750s.
New Abbey Corn Mill
New Abbey Corn Mill is a well-kept secret in the village of New Abbey, five miles south of Dumfries.
Newton Stewart Museum
The exhibits in The Museum have been gifted or lent by local people and each year sees many additions to the collections and displays.
Savings Banks Museum
In 1810 Dr Duncan opened the world's first commercial savings bank, paying interest of its investors' modest savings.
The Stewartry Museum
The Stewartry Museum was founded in 1879, and first occupied part of Kirkcudbright Town Hall. As the collections grew, the present purpose-built museum was opened in 1893.
The Tolbooth Art Centre
This award-winning Art Centre presents visitors with the story of the Kirkcudbright "art colony" through an audio-visual show and through the permanent display of some of the best Kirkcudbright paintings in the Museum Service collection.
The World Famous Old Blacksmith's Shop Attractions
When people hear the name Gretna Green their thoughts often step back in time to the history of runaway marriages. The Old Blacksmith's Shop is at the heart of this fascinating tradition.
Thomas Carlyle's Birthplace
Thomas Carlyle may have rubbed shoulders with Darwin, Dickens and Thackeray, but he never forgot his roots and insisted that his final resting place should be Ecclefechan, the village where his birthplace still stands.
Threave Garden has something to offer in all seasons. At 64 acres, it is best known for its spectacular springtime display of daffodils, but herbaceous beds are colourful in summer and the trees and heather garden are striking in autumn.
Threave Castle is a massive tower built in the late 14th century by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway.
Whithorn Priory & Museum
Whithorn Priory is the cradle of Christianity in Scotland, founded in the 5th century.
Places to Visit in Dumfries and Galloway
Castle Douglas is an important town in Dumfries and Galloway set beside the Carlingwark Loch.
Crocketford, once known as 'Nine Mile Bar', lies mid way between Dumfries and Castle Douglas. Its history goes back many years but it did not really exist as a village before the arrival of the strange sect in 1787...
Drummore is Scotland's most southerly village, which sits on the eastern side of the South Rhins of Galloway. Although it is a small village it has three pubs, all of which serve food.
Dumfries is the centre of the present day Dumfries and Galloway region and it has Neolithic and Roman origins, lying close to the English border; the history of Dumfriesshire was often bloody and turbulent.
Gatehouse of Fleet
Gatehouse of Fleet is situated in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland. This is a nice quite little town located at the mouth of the river Fleet.
The Dumfries and Galloway village of Gretna and its better-known neighbour, Gretna Green, are right on the border between Scotland and England.
Robert the Bruce lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. He died in 1329 aged 55. After the Battle of Bannockburn, loyal tenants etc who had fought for the King were granted lands in Greenhill, Heck, Hightae and Smallholm.
Langholm is situated in the South West of Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway. It is sometimes referred to as the ''uckle Toon'. The river which runs through Langholm is the River Esk.
Lochmaben is a Royal Burgh, a small town in the Southwest of Scotland just 8 miles from Dumfries and 4 miles from Lockerbie.
The sleepy little village of Mochrum is situated in rolling countryside some 2 miles from Port William.
Frequent winner of the Scotland in Bloom Award, Moffat is a gem in the heart of southern Scotland. It is a small and charming town on the River Annan, 24 miles north of Dumfries.
The pretty coastal town of Newton Stewart is in Dumfries and Galloway.
Situated at the head of the beautiful Loch Ryan, Stranraer is the perfect centre for today's active holidaymaker. Surrounded by 4 golf courses the town boasts several great attractions.
Waterbeck is a lovely small village in Dumfries and Galloway in the south-west of Scotland, it is well known for its farming.