Guide to Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway is a peninsula South West of Scotland just over the Scottish borders. Given its location and nickname ‘the Lowlands of Scotland’ it can easily be bypassed for the lure of the Highlands. However, there are many gems and delights to be found on this rocky outcrop. So here at Self Catering Scotland we have compiled this handy guide to Dumfries and Galloway for all you need to know to plan and book your trip.



Dumfries and Galloway is so named as it has a main Georgian and Victorian town of Dumfries, where Robert Burns retired to and many of the other towns in this area were incorporated into his poetry. If you fancy following in his footsteps, the Globe Inn Dumfries is a good place to start.



Galloway takes its name from Galloway Forest Park which spans 774 square Kilometres and is the largest forest in the UK, enveloping Loch Doon. Guarded by the impressive 842m Merrick peak and Clatteringshaws Loch it offers up many opportunities for fishing, cycling, walking and mountain biking.


Galloway Forest was awarded International Dark Sky Park status in 2009, the fourth in the world to receive this prestigious accolade. A Dark Sky Park is a place with exceptionally dark night skies, where light pollution is strictly controlled


The Forest Park is so large it has three visitor centres, Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws, and Glentrool, a mecca for mountain bikers given its 2 mountain bike trail centres.


The Open Road

Emerging from the forest is the romantically named Raiders Road. This allows walkers, cyclists and horse riders a particularly scenic route to enjoy in Galloway. The road is open to motorists between April and October, a small toll is payable of £2 by card or coin. Stop off at Otter Pool car park for a picnic. The full forest guide and trails is downloadable here.


Glen Trool, Clatterinshaw Loch are also popular roads for those film star drives.


Culture and Climate

Glens, rolling hills and ghost stories aplenty make Dumfires and Galloway as magical and as mystical as the Hebridean islands four hours away. Also, like the Inner-Hebrides, Dumfries and Galloway enjoys a temperate climate being caressed by the passing Gulf Stream.


Key Dumfries and Galloway Visitor Attractions

  • Loch Ryan
  • Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
  • Gatehouse of Fleet – an 18th Century planned town
  • The Rhinns of Galloway
  • Logan Botanic Gardens
  • Castle Kennedy Gardens
  • St Ninians Cave
  • Cerdoness Castle
  • Threave Castle and Garden
  • Orchardton Tower
  • Rockcliffe
  • Sweetheart Abbey
  • Arbigland Garden
  • Caerlaverock Castle & Nature Reserve
  • Drumlanrig Castle
  • Culzean Castle and Country Park
  • Burns House
  • Creetown Gem Rock Museum
  • Glenluce Motor Museum
  • Robert Burns Centre
  • Galloway Red Deer Range
  • Kelton Mains Open Farm
  • Tropic House Newton Stewart
  • Wildlife Park
  • Castle Douglas Art Gallery
  • James Paterson Museum

Dumfries and Galloway Coast

For those who love the sea air, rocky coastlines with crashing waves and sea caves to explore, or rock pools to forage then Dumfries and Galloway will not disappoint. The main beaches to scout are Rockcliffe, Sandy Hills, Dhoon, Carrick Bay, Southerness, Luce Sands, Moss Yard, Powfoot, Monreith, Ardwell Bay.


Outdoor Pursuits

Rolling hills, green dales, fresh lakes and rivers make ideal holidays for outdoor pursuits with a myriad of opportunities for golf, walking, cycling or angling. Here are some highlights:



As well as Galloway Forest Park, popular walking routes are The Pilgrim Way and the Southern Upland Way.


Walking Britain

Walking Britain has picked out some of the finest yet moderate walks across Dumfries and Galloway. These include St Ninian’s Cave on The Machars Peninsual, Rockcliffe to Kippford, Mull of Galloway Circular, The Crown of Scotland and Grey Mare’s Tail and White Coomb. The shortest of these is 2 miles and the longest is 10 miles.


The Southern Upland Way

The Southern Upland way is a 214-mile coast to coast walk that is not as well known as other popular routes. A large part of it swathes through Dumfries and Galloway. More information on the routes and maps can be found here.

You will be treated to gorgeous scenery and undulating landscape that averages around 2000 metres at its peak. It is a challenging route and isn’t for the fainthearted, but you can always pick and choose sections to fit in with your available time and fitness. Some accommodation providers will offer a pick-up and drop off service, as well as a luggage transfer option. This would make taking on the challenge of completing the trail operate more smoothly.



There are wonderful opportunities for salmon and sea trout fishing  along the River Nith and its tributaries, including Cairn Water, the Annan and the Border Esk. Newton Loch is a course fishing lake and sea angling is available from the fishing ports along the coast.



Cycle hire and cycling guides are available to tour the miles of unspoilt country lanes perfect for cyclists. There are also plenty of routes in Galloway Forest Park.

MPG Cycles located 1 mile from the 7Stanes mountain bike trail.

The Break Pad – shop and cycle hire Kirroughtree

Galloway Cycling Holidays – either book a full holiday or hire a bike


Golf Courses

There are plenty of courses for Golf lovers


Tourist Information


Here is our choice of accommodation for self-catering in Dumfries and Galloway


Inchlonaig House Newton Stewart

Orroland Holiday Cottages Kirkudbright

Craigadam Castle Douglas

Cot Cottage Castle Douglas


Appreciate this humble region that is the gateway to Scotland. It has much to offer sea, beach, forest, hills.


Bookmark this guide for all you need to plan and book your trip to Dumfries and Galloway.




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