UK South Scotland Dumphries golden eagle Flickr sarniebill1The Dumfries and Galloway region’s tourist board markets itself with the tagline, “Naturally Inspiring”, signifying the area’s most important sights- its artistic background and natural landscape. The Dumfrieshire and Galloway regions were compounded to become one in the 19th century, bringing together the artistic heritage of both areas. This region is home to a great Robert Burns trail, as well as a community of over 400 dedicated artisans (especially in the town of Kirkcudbright). Its natural landscape is also worth exploring on foot or a bicycle as the region is home to great lochs (lakes) and forests that sheathe unique wildlife like the red deer, wild fowl and golden eagles.

UK South Scotland Stranraer ferry passing lighthouse Stranraer (pop 10,850) is a little town that is located on the western end of the Dumfries and Galloway region. There isn’t much here in terms of sights; hence the town is usually frequented by those looking to board the ferry heading to Belfast or the train terminal that services the Glasgow line.





UK South Scotland Dumphries Portpatrick Flickr EggybirdPortpatrick (pop 590) is a tiny port town that was once the main hub for travellers heading to Northern Ireland. These days, the area functions as a humble resort town and as the starting point of the famous Southern Upland Way trail.









UK South Scotland Dumphries Newton Stewart Flickr righteeNewton Stewart (pop 3,600) was quite literally founded as the “New town of Stewart” (William Stewart, 2nd Earl of Galloway). The town used to function as a burgh for the region in the 17th century; these days it acts as the ‘gateway to the Galloway hills’ as its cosy location along the River Cree, encompasses a beautiful, hilly landscape- ideal for hikers.







UK South Scotland Machars Peninsula Wikipedia Shaun BythellvThe Machars peninsula is a scenic stretch that is located south of Newton Stewart. The rugged coastline and green pastures were one of the starting points for the spread of Christianity in Scotland. Hence the area rightfully houses several ancient Christian sites, as well as the 25 mile long Pilgrims’ Way trial. The peninsula is dotted with quaint little villages, which can be accessed via a bus from Newton Stewart.


UK South Scotland Dumphries Wigtown Flickr righteeWigtown (pop 1,000) was once a bustling trading town in the medieval era. However, the town slowly lost its good fortunes as time went on, becoming run-down by the 20th century. Its revival came, when the town started developing its retail-publishing scene. Today, Wigtown is dubbed “Scotland’s National Book Town” as it is home to over 30 bookstores that offer everything from second hand books of famous names to more obscure titles.






Whithorn is hardly a tourist magnet, as it lacks the buzz and modern facilities. However, it is definitely worth a visit thanks to its long history. Considered to be one of the first towns in Scotland, Whithorn’s history dates back to the 5th century (when it was linked to Gaul communities). It is said that the town was founded around the first church that was set up here- a Christian church that was built by St Ninian (predating the St Columba church in Iona). This small settlement eventually prospered well enough to become a royal burgh of Scotland by the Middle Ages.
These days, Whithorn welcomes visitors who seek to find out more about its rich history, especially at the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre [45-47 George Street, +44 198 8500508 http://www.whithorn.com/]- a former priory-turned-museum that details the town’s religious importance and houses the Latinus Stone (said to be Scotland’s oldest Christian relic). This priory was once a pilgrimage site and is believed to sheathe the remains of St Ninian himself. 


The Isle of Whithorn is located south of Whithorn and is often confused with its namesake. The peninsula that was once an island is now home to a harbour and pretty waterfront houses. The St Ninian’s Chapel, which stands on a rugged headland, is probably the oldest sight in town.


The lonely square tower, which stands overlooking the River Dee, is the last remnant of the former Threave Castle [+44 771 1223101, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/, ad/ch £4.50/2.70]. Built in the 14th century by Archibald Grim, Lord of Galloway; this castle became the Black Douglases stronghold by the 15th century. You can get a combined ticket to visit the ancient tower together with its beautiful gardens.


Castle Douglas is a well-tended to day-tripping destination that flourished around the 18th century (when the Douglas family’s wealth peaked). It was one of the many cotton cottages to have sprouted along the Carlingwark Loch, during that era.

Kirkcudbright (pop 3 400) (pronounced kirk-koo-bree) was once a bustling fishing town that quickly rose to become a royal burgh in the 15th century. Located at the mouth of the River Dee, Kirkcudbright’s harbour still functions as a prominent economic contributor to the town. Kirkcudbright’s economic prowess peaked around the 17th and 18th centuries; hence, most of the town’s High Street houses date back to this era. The neat collection of pastel coloured residences provides a good base to explore Kirkcudbright’s coastal surroundings. The town saw the immigration of a group of artistes who were part of the Glasgow Art movement, in the 19th century. Their thirty year settlement in Kirkcudbright eventually created a thriving artist colony, earning it the nickname- “Artist Town”.

Kirkcudbright is great for a relaxing walkabout. The town also has a few interesting attractions to keep you occupied as you wander around. As you head close to the harbour, you will find the striking remains of a 16th century tower house, known as the Maclellan’s Castle [+44 155 7331856 http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk ad/ch £4.00/2.40]. This grey-stone structure was erected in 1577 and evolved to become the main residence of the Maclellan family. You can still find the narrow vaults where the servants used to stay; as well as a place known as the Laird’s Lug (a secret spy hole where the host could eavesdrop on his/her guests’ conversations).
You can also pop by the famous Stewartry Museum [St Mary Street, +44 155 7331643 Free ]- a Victorian museum that was founded in 1879, to exhibit the historical artefacts associated with the town, as well as a collection of one of the 20th century artistes, Jessie M King.