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Dumfries and Galloway

Mull of Galloway courtesy National Trust for Scotland Dumfries and Galloway is a land of varied scenery with mountains, hills, coastline, and lochs. It is also full of attractions. In the wild and hilly Annadale area of north-east, the town of Moffat is separated from the rest of D and G by the A74. There’s a woollen mill with a weaving display, a museum with the town’s history, and trails by the river. This valley was a favourite spot for hiding cattle stolen by the Border Reivers. It was also a sanctuary for Covenanters in the late 17th century.

Galloway Forest Park by Barbara Ballard Grey Mare's walking trail by Barbara Ballard The Galloway Forest Park offers up wooded mountains, hills, lochs and streams. Deer, goats, otters, wild cats and other wildlife inhabit the forested areas. Climbing, walking, fishing, camping and swimming are available. The Galloway Deer Museum is in the park. The Grey Mare’s Tail is a spectacular 200-foot waterfall on a hillside. Wild flowers and wild goats inhabit the hillsides. There are guided walks in the summer, a good idea as it is extremely dangerous to leave the paths. Nine mile long Loch Ken is an added attraction with watersports, walking trails, and birdlife.

Drumlanrig Castle courtesy NT for Scotland In the north-east of Dumfries and Galloway, beautifully situated among wooded hills, is Drumlanrig castle, a Douglas stronghold, home of Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The elegant pink sandstone turreted castle was built 1679-91 around an original castle. A collection of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein and Rembrandt are enhanced with French furniture. Carvings are by Grinling Gibbons. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here on his retreat northwards on Dec 22, 1745, and there is a collection of his memorabilia. The gardens and woodlands are extensive.

Also in this area is Maxwelton House associated with the song, Annie Laurie. The house was originally named Glencairn Castle, but changed names in 1611 when Stephen Laurie bought the castle where his great granddaughter Annie Laurie, of the famous ballad, was born in 1682. There’s a museum of agricultural and early domestic life. In the ceiling of one room is an entrance to one of the priest’s hiding holes in the house.

Rammerscales House courtesy Lynne Kirton Geograph Britain and Ireland Rammerscales is a pink-stoned 18th century Georgian manor house designed in the Palladian style. There are fine circular staircases, Jacobite relics, and a library. Collections of 20th century paintings, tapestries and sculpture are on display. A walled garden, woodland walks and views over Annadale make for an enjoyable visit.

Robert Burns House courtesy James Denham Geograph Britain and Ireland Robert Burns Mill Museum courtesy John Lord  Geograph Britain and Ireland The major town in the area is Dumfries. There are two Robert Burns related places to visit. Burns House is where he spent the last years of his life. It contains relics, letters and manuscripts of the poet. The Robert Burns Centre on Mill road gives the story of Burns along with Dumfries in the 1790s in an av presentation. A Victorian nursery, early dentist’s surgery, and 19th century kitchen are set up in the Bridgehouse museum.

The Arched House by the busy A74 is where the writer and historian, Thomas Carlyle, was born in 1795. The interior furnishings are in keeping with his time. In the house is a collection of portraits and his belongings.

Twelve Apostles Stone Circle courtesy Steve's Ancient Sites Just north of Dumfries in a field is the Twelve Apostles Neolithic Stone Circle. Of the 11 remaining stones only five are standing, the tallest of which is about 3.2 feet high. South of Dumfries lies the Solway Coast, views of which are shared with Cumbria. Picturesque villages, sandy bays and rocky coves punctuate the countryside.

Caerlaverock Castle by Barbara Ballard Made from pink stone, moated Caerlaverock castle is near the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust centre. Although the castle dates from the 13th century, there were additions in the early 1600s. The Anglian sculptured cross in Ruthwell’s parish church dates from 7th century. It is considered a major monument of Dark Age Europe.

Sweetheart Abbey by Barbara Ballard Near the castle and the village of New Abbey are the ruins of Sweetheart abbey. Seen on a sunny day, the red sandstone backed by blue sky and the intense green colour of the grass on which it sits makes for a picture postcard view. Founded in the 13th century as a Cistercian abbey, it was named Sweetheart after Dervorguilla, wife of John Balliol, who carried his embalmed heart around for 22 years after he died, then had it buried with her at the high altar.

Shambellie House courtesy Peter Neal Geograph Britain and Ireland In the village is a renovated water-powered oatmeal mill in working order with demonstrations in the summer months. Also in New Abbey is the Shambellie House Museum of Costume, an outstation of the National Museums of Scotland. The baronial style Scottish house has a collection of the type of clothing worn in a small country house, displayed in room settings.

MacLellan Castle courtesy JThomas Geograph Britain and Ireland Broughton House Gallery courtesy National Trust for Scotland The harbour of Kirkcudbright, with its 17th and 18th century merchants’ houses, makes for a pleasant visit. MacLellan’s castle in the town is a castellated town house, built in the 1570s and complete except for its roof. Broughton House museum is the 18th century house and studio of artist E.A. Hornel. Besides a collection of his works and other paintings, it contains rare Scottish books.

Dundrennan Abbey by Barbara Ballard Dundrennan abbey, south-east of the village of Kirkcudbright, was founded as a Cistercian house in 1142 by King David I. Mary Queen of Scots, stopped here in 1586 on her flight to England. The transepts in the early Gothic style and the west wall are still standing. There are the remains of a chapter house with its beautiful cinquefoil arched doorway between two windows.

Threave Walled Garden by Barbara Ballard Inland from Kirkcudbright near the village of Castle Douglas is Threave castle. Sited on an island in the river Dee, the massive 14th century tower and artillery fortification is reached by boat and a long walk to the property. Threave garden, a different site on the mainland, provides a visitor centre and exhibition, a walled garden, glasshouses, herbaceous beds, a heather garden, and trees. Of special note is the collection of more than 200 varieties of daffodils. There are estate trails and bird hides.

Cardoness Castle by Barbara Ballard Near the small village of Gatehouse of Fleet is Cardoness Castle, a well preserved ruin of a 15th century tower house with good quality architectural details. Climb to the top of this home of the McCulloch clan for views over the countryside.

Further along the coast the Machars peninsula is an area of green pastureland. Here is Wigtown Bay nature reserve, a bird habitat and Torhouse Stone Circle, a Bronze Age circle of 19 boulders (no longer upright).

Whithorn Abbey ruins by Barbara Ballard Whithorn Abbey by Barbara Ballard At Whithorn is the fascinating Whithorn Priory, Visitor Centre and archaeological dig. The site of the first Christian church in Scotland, it was established by St Ninian in AD 397. It later became a place of medieval pilgrimage, then the cathedral church of Galloway. The doorway is in the Romanesque style. Exhibitions and an av tell the story. The museum contains a notable collection of early Christian crosses. The Latinus Stone, the earliest Christian memorial in Scotland, AD 450, is here. Four miles from Whithorn at the Isle of Whithorn is the 13th century chapel thought to be where St Ninian landed. A number of prehistoric monuments are scattered in the nearby countryside.

Glenluce Abbey by Barbara Ballard The main coastal road from Whithorn heading to Glenluce almost tumbles into the ocean. Set in a tranquil valley, Glenluce is an impressive ruined Cistercian monastery, founded around 1190. A 16th century Chapter house survives with part of the original tiled floor and water pipes still in place. The abbey was visited by Robert the Bruce, James IV and Mary Queen of Scots.

Logan Botanic Gardens by Barbara Ballard On the way to the Rhinn of Galloway, a narrow peninsula hanging on the edge of Dumfries and Galloway, is Castle Kennedy Gardens and castle ruins. The 75 acres of gardens were laid out in 1730. Located between two lochs, they provide vistas, sweeping lawns and tree-lined avenues. The treats include rhododendrons, azaleas, a walled garden, a lily pond, water features and conifers. On the peninsula is Logan Botanical Garden, an exotic southern hemisphere garden with a folly: a castellated keeper’s house.

The small village of Portpatrick on the peninsula’s west coast is a holiday resort. Much of the southern part of the peninsula is prime grazing land for cattle and sheep. An RSPB nature reserve sits at the very tip of the land, the southernmost point in Scotland.

Dumfries and Galloway Visitor Information Centres

Castle Douglas VIC
Markethill Car Park
Castle Douglas DG7 1AE
Tel. 0 1556 502 611
Open: April-June: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm; Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm

Dumfries VIC
64 Whitesands
Dumfries, DG1 2RS
Tel. 01387 245 555
Open: April-June: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10.30am-4.30pm; Sep: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 10.30am-4.30pm; Oct: 9.30am-5pm, Sun 10.30am-4pm; Nov. Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 9am-4pm; Dec-March: Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm

Gatehouse of Fleet VIC
Car Park
Gatehouse of Fleet DG7 5EA
Tel. 0 1557 814 212
Open: April-June, Mon-St 10am-4.30pm; Bank Holiday Sun 11am-4pm; July-Sep: Mon-St, 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4.30pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm

Gretna VIC
Unit 10, Gretna Gateway Outlet village
Gretna DG16 5GG
Tel. 0 1461 337 834
Open: April-Oct, daily 10am-6pm; Nov-Easter, Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun from 10am-4pm

Kirkcudbright VIC
Harbour Square
Kirkcudbright DG6 4HY
Tel. 0 1557 330 494
Open: Feb, March, Nov: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm; April-June and Sep-Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm

Moffat VIC
Moffat, DG10 9EG
Tel. 0 1683 220 620
Open: April-June: Mon-St 10am-5pm; July-Sep: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Newton Stewart TIC
Dashwood Square
Newton Stewart, DG8 6EQ
Tel. 0 1671 402 431
Open: April-June: Mon-Sat 9.30am-4pm; July-Sep: Mon-Sat 9.30am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-3pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 9.30am-4pm

Stranraer VIC
Burns House
28 Harbour St
Stranraer DG9 7RA
Tel. 01776 702 595
Open: April-mid June: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm; mid June-mid Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-4pm; mid Sep-Easter: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm

Dumfries and Galloway Attractions

For full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Aldouran Wetland and Garden
Leswalt village, by Aldouran glen woodland, on the A718, Rhins peninsula

Ardwell House Gardens
Tel. 0 1776 860 227

Broughton House and Garden
12 High St, Kirkcudbright
Tel. 0 1557 330437

Burns House
Burns House
Tel. 0 1387 255 297

Caerlaverock Castle
On the B725, eight miles (13km) southeast of Dumfries
Tel. 0 1387 770 244

Cardoness Castle
Beside the A75, on the B727, one mile (1.6km) southwest of Gatehouse-of-Fleet
Tel. 0 1557 814 427

Carlyle’s Birthplace: the Arched House
Ecclefechan, 5.5 miles (8.8km) southeast of Lockerbie
Off the M74/A74
Tel. 0 1576 300 666

Carsluith Castle
On the A75, 3 ½ miles (5.6km) south of Creetown

Castle Kennedy Gardens
Three miles (5km) east of Stranraer
On the A75
Tel. 0 1776 702 024
Web: Castle Kennedy Gardens

Castle St John
Charlotte St, Stranraer
Tel. 0 1776 705088

Clan Armstrong Museum
Lodge Walk, Langholm

Clatteringshaws Forest and Wildlife Centre
On loch shores in Galloway Forest Park, 11 miles from Newton Stewart on A712
Tel. 01671 402420 (Galloway Forest District)

Craigieburn Gardens
Craigieburn House, two miles from Moffat on A708
Tel. 0 1683 221 250

Creetown Gem Rock Museum
Chain Rd, Creetown, near Newton Stewart
Tel. 0 1671 820357
Web: Creetown Gem Rock Museum

Drumcoltran Tower
Seven miles (11.3km) northeast of Dalbeattie, among farm buildings
Off the A711

Drumlanrig Castle
Eight miles (13km) north of Dumfries
On the A76, near Thornhill
Tel. 0 1848 331 555

Drumtroddan Cup and Ring Marked Rocks and Standing Stones
Two miles (3km) north-east of Port William, on the A747

Dumfries Museum

Dundrennan Abbey
6.5 miles (10km) south-east of Kirkcudbright, on the A711
Tel. 0 1557 500 262

Dunskey Gardens
Dunskey, Port Patrick, Stranraer
Tel. 0 1776 810 211
Web: Dunskey Gardens

Galloway Forest Park
A712 from New Galloway or A712 from Newton Stewart

Galloway House Gardens
Garlieston, Newton Stewart
Tel. 0 1988 600 680
Web: Galloway House Gardens

Gilnockie Tower
2.3 km north of Canonbie, on west bank of River Esk in hamlet of Hollows
Tel. 0 1387 371 876 or mobile 0 7776 256 970

Glenluce Abbey
On minor road two miles (3km) northwest of the village of Glenluce
Off the A75
Tel. 0 1581 300 541

Glenwhan Gardens
Glenwhan House, Dunragit, near Stranraer
Tel. 0 1581 400 222

Gracefield Arts Centre
28 Edinburgh Road
Dumfries, DG1 1JQ
Tel. 0 1387 262 084

Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve
Adjacent to A708, 10 miles (16km) northeast of Moffat

Kirkcudbright Castle
Off Castle St, Kircudbright

Kirkmadrine Church & Stones
Kirkmadrine, Sandhead, Rhins peninsula

Langholm Castle
Opposite town of Langholm

Lead Mining Museum
Tel. 0 1659 74387
Web: Lead Mining Museum

Lincluden Collegiate Church
Abbey Lane, on western edge of Dumfries (A75/76)

Lochmaben Castle
1.5 miles from Lochmaben on B7020

Logan Botanic Garden
On minor road off the A716, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Ardwell; 14 miles south Stranraer
Tel. 0 1776 860 231

Logan House Gardens
Port Logan, by Stranraer, near Ardwell village
Tel. 0 1483 225 436

MacLellan’s Castle
Castle St, Kirkcudbright
Tel. 0 1557 331 856

Maxwelton House
Between Moniaive and Thornhill
Off the A702 and B729
Tel. 0 1848 200 385

Moffat Museum
Tel. 0 1683 220 868

Moffat Woollen Mill
Moffat on the A701
Tel. 0 1683 220 134

Morton Castle
Thornhill, off A702

New Abbey Corn Mill
New Abbey Village, Dumfries and Galloway, on A710 across from Sweetheart Abbey
Tel. 0 1387 785 260

Newton Stewart Museum
York Rd, Newton Stewart

Old Bridgehouse Museum
On the Devorgilla Bridge
Tel. 01387 256 904

Orchardton Tower
Six miles (10km) southeast of Castle Douglas
Off the A711

Five miles (8km) west of Lockerbie
On the A74, B7020
Tel. 01387 810 229

Repentance Tower
Annan, near Hoddom Castle

Robert Burns Centre
Mill Rd, Dumfries, in 18th century watermill
Tel. 0 1387 264 808

Ruthwell Cross
On the B724 at Ruthwell parish church

Sanquhar Tollbooth Museum
High St, Sanquhar
Tel. 0 1659 50186

Solway Coastal Drive
From Dumfries take the A 710 to Dalbeattie

St Ninian’s Chapel
Physgill, four miles (6km) south-west of Whithorn

Stewarty Museum
St Mary St, Kirkcudbright
Tel. 0 1557 331643

Stranraer Museum
Old Town Hall, George St

Sweetheart Abbey
New Abbey
On the A710, seven miles (11.3km) south of Dumfries
Tel. 0 1387 850 397

Thomas Carlyle Birthplace
The Arched House, Ecclefechan, Lockerbie
Tel. 0 1576 300666

Threave Castle
Three miles west of Castle Douglas
On the A75, reached by boat, then 11 minute walk
Tel. 0 7711 223101

Threave Garden
One mile west of Castle Douglas, off the A75
Tel. 0 1556 502 575

Torhouse Stone Circle
On the B733, 4 miles (6km) west of Wigtown

Twelve Apostles Neolithic Stone Circle
Off the A76, north of Dumfries and New Bridge

Whithorn Museum
Whithorn Priory, Whithorn, on the A746
Tel. 01988 500 508

Whithorn Priory
Whithorn, on the A746
Tel. 0 1988 500 508

Photos by Barbara Ballard and
Mull of Galloway, Drumlanrig Castle, and Broughton House gallery courtesy National Trust for Scotland
Twelve Apostles stone circle courtesy Steve's Ancient Sites
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Rammerscales by Lynne Kirton
MacLelland castle and war memorial by JThomas
Shambellie House by Peter Neal
Burns House by James Denham
Burns Mill by John Lord

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