Dumfries and Galloway is one of Scotland's forgotten corners, forsaken by most visitors for the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow or the grandeur of the Highlands. But the southwest has much to offer for those prepared to leave the more-beaten track. Away from the main routes west from Dumfries to Stranraer and north to Glasgow, traffic and people are notable by their absence, leaving most of the region free from the tourist crush of more popular parts.
Some of the most beautiful scenery is to be found along the Solway coast, west from Dumfries to the Mull of Galloway. Here you'll find the romantic ruins of Caerlaverock Castle, Threave Castle and Sweetheart Abbey, along with Whithorn Priory, known as the 'Cradle of Christianity' in Scotland.
Also on this lovely coast is the beguiling town of Kirkcudbright, inspiration for some of Scotland's most famous artists and still a thriving artistic colony. Rising behind the coastline are the Galloway Hills which form part of the 150,000-acre Galloway Forest Park, a vast area of mountains, moors, lochs and rivers, crisscrossed by numerous trails and footpaths suitable for all levels of fitness. Running right through the heart of the Galloway Hills is the 212-mile Southern Upland Way, one of the country's great long-distance walks. The southwest also has strong literary associations. The great poet, Robert Burns, lived and died here, in Dumfries, and the town boasts several important Burns sights.
Things to do and see
Dumfries & Galloway walking festival
The Dumfries & Galloway’s walking festivals is the perfect way to enjoy the great views around and to meet the fun loving locals. The guided tours under a well experienced leader with ample knowledge on the history, archeology, geology and natural history would make sure that your walking tours turn out to be informative and fun filled alike.
The walks are suited to a range of walking abilities. Some of the popular walking festivals include:
The Newton Stewart Walking Festival – One of the biggest walking festivals in the south west of Scotland, it is held in the month of May. A good option to explore Galloway's wild heart and undiscovered coast.
Langholm Walking Festival: Held in June offers guided walks in the picturesque hills and river valleys of Eskdale, along with evening entertainment.
Dalbeattie Walking Festival: Held in August, and into the 5th year, it is a great option for an off-beat walking trail experience.
Moffat Ramblers' Walking Festival: Held in September, it offers a rage of walks for all experience levels. Right from a gentle amble to strenuous hill walks over the stunning rolling hills of Upper Annandale.
In addition to the above, Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Ranger Service runs a series of guided walks throughout the year. Forestry Commission, the RSPB and Cree Valley Community Woodlands also offer guided walks in Dumfries & Galloway.
The ruins of Caerlaverock Castle, by Glencaple, are great for the whole family. Set amidst a moat, lawns and trees, this stunning pink-stoned triangular castle looks solid and unassailable, however it was attacked many times. The current castle that dates from the late 13th century flaunts luxurious fittings and embellishments rather than defensive mechanisms. Tel: 01387-770244
Castle Kennedy Gardens
One of the most famous gardens in Scotland, the Castle Kennedy Gardens spreads over 30 hectares and are set on an isthmus between two lochs and the Castle Kennedy and Lochinch Castle. Located 3 miles east of Stranraer,it is easily accessible by buses (hourly).Tel: 01776-702024
Ruthwell Church is located a few miles beyond Caerlaverock in the name sake hamlet. One of Europe’s most significant early Christian monuments, the church has a 6m-high 7th-century Cross that has engravings of New Testament scenes and a poem called ‘The Dream of the Rood’; one of the earliest literary works in English. Tel: 0131-550 7612