Dumfries and Galloway
My husband and I love nothing more than a holiday with our dogs (two lively whippets) in the beautiful region of Dumfries and Galloway. Just over the border to the west, this area of Scotland is extremely accessible for us from the East of England, capturing that special feel and beauty of Scotland. Here we find utter peace… even in the school holidays (we are both teachers so travel in peak season), open spaces, amazing beaches, good food and an abundance of fresh air- what is not to love?
Top Places to Visit in Dumfries & Galloway
- Kilsture Forest
- Galloway Forest Park
- St Ninian’s Cave
- Rigg Bay
Click for Other UK place guides
Top 10 Things to do In Dumfries & Galloway
1. Go for a walk on Monreith beach
Do check the tide times! As previously mentioned, this is a small but perfectly formed beach which is so beautiful and peaceful.
2. Take afternoon tea at Knockinaam Lodge
Reflecting the seasons, enjoy sandwiches, savory bites, scones, and cakes- delicious.
3. Buy croissants (and fresh bread of course!) at The Earth’s Crust.
They are enormous and so tasty. You will not be disappointed.
4. Try Mountain biking at Mabie 7stanes in Galloway Forest Park
Which happens to be the best in the United Kingdom. Choose from marked trails to suit all levels of experience and ability.
5. Walk the coastal path
Head to Port Patrick to enjoy the stunning views and take in plenty of fresh air.
6. Visit the Crafty Distillery
Take a tour of the Crafty Distillery, enjoy a spot of lunch and take home some of their fabulous gin.
7. Climb the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse
Enjoy the beautiful elevated landscape below. You will also receive a certificate of achievement when you come back down the 115 steps!
8. Walk the cobbled beach to St Ninivan’s Cave
The beach near Whithorn is perfect for a spiritual and peaceful visit to the retreat of early Christian saint St. Ninivan.
9. Take a trip to Cream o’ Galloway
Here you must buy some delicious ice-cream. Flavours include cranachan, gingerbread, peppermint choc-chip and many more so stock up. You can also have a beautiful walk here, visit the farm and also the visitors center.
10. Take in some history
Enjoy the bloody battle tales at the great medieval fortress Caerlaverock Castle, now a popular film destination.
Food In Dumfries & Galloway
There are numerous opportunities to find fabulous fresh produce in this region. You are surrounded by wonderful and local fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, fish, etc.
Pick up some locally smoked Scottish salmon or Galloway Lodge preserves. Castle Douglas is known as the foodies’ town and probably a good starting point to get some supplies and just for a meander for those of us that love food browsing. In this town, you will find The Earth’s Crust Bakery, and award-winning pies at Ballards Butchers to name just a couple of the food producers in the town.
You may also be lucky enough to track down Ferry Fish here too but if you do miss them, you can call them to find out where their van will be or to book a delivery of fresh fish. Eating in has never been so good!
If you fancy eating out, Mr. Pook’s Kitchen in Castle Douglas is great choice. It received a glowing review in The Times and uses local produce to make some delicious dishes.
Alternatively (or in addition to if you really love eating out) head to the fabulous Knockinaam Lodge in Port Patrick for their tasting menu or for a seasonal afternoon tea.
Drink in Dumfries and Galloway
You are spoilt for choice with local whiskey and gin distilleries here- a good way to spend a rainy afternoon if you get one. We love the Crafty Distillery, the producer of Hills and Harbour Gin- this has become my favorite tipple.
Don’t worry- if you are not local you can restock via John Lewis when you get home. At The Crafty Distillery, you can go on a tour to see the magic happen. You can also enjoy one of their local producer picnic-style lunches with your drink.
Dumfries & Galloway Money Saving Tips
This is a great place to spend little on holiday as there is so much to do outdoors and for free. With plenty of fresh, quality produce locally, cooking and eating in is a real treat too so again, a low-cost option.
Accommodation tends to be extremely reasonable in Scotland, and in this region, but traveling out of peak season will reduce this cost further also.
Dumfries & Galloway Packing Advice
If you love the great outdoors this will be a heavenly break for you. Take into account the season and temperature at the time of your trip and adjust this list as appropriate.
Be prepared by taking:
- Your mountain bike and the appropriate related accessories (puncture repair kit/ helmet etc.)
- Good quality walking shoes– the landscape can be rugged so good grip and waterproof fabric is a must.
- Good quality walking socks to go with your walking shoes.
- A rucksack to take on long walks, handy for taking water, snacks and other essentials.
- A lightweight waterproof jacket and warm layers to go under for changeable weather.
- A warm hat and gloves for the cooler months.
plenty of comfortable clothes for a relaxing holiday- PJ’s are an absolute must!
- Smarter clothing if you are planning on eating out.
You can read Claire’s full UK packing list here.
Where to Stay in Dumfries & Galloway
There are many good quality cottages to rent in Dumfries and Galloway, some of which are more remote than others so choose carefully to suit your preference. If you are someone who prefers to have a phone signal and wifi, check availability with the property owners.
There are also bed and breakfasts and hotels in the area if you prefer a catered option.
Getting Around in Dumfries & Galloway
You will need to rent a car to really see the best of this region if you don’t have one. Many places are tucked away and traveling this way can allow you to take in the spectacular mountainous coastal views.
Touring here and sightseeing as you travel is entertainment alone.
The M6 takes you from easily from the south of the country, or the A74 (M) from the north. For public transport options, you will find a train and bus station in Dumfries and Stranraer to take you around the region.
Dumfries & Galloway Safety Advice
Dumfries and Galloway provides a real sense peace and safety. The local people are extremely friendly, and we have found them very willing to help if we have needed recommendations, travel advice, etc. Some places are very remote so awareness and preparation should be made for such conditions, particularly if traveling alone.
Please remember to never travel abroad without insurance. You can read Claire’s Insurance guide here.
The Best Time To Visit Dumfries & Galloway
This very much depends on your preference. We love all seasons in Scotland but with each, as with all UK destinations, comes pros and cons. The summer months can be less rainy but you may encounter midges. Do also be careful of ticks in woodland areas.
The winter can very low temperatures, snow and ice so do bear this in mind when booking.
We love visiting Scotland in Spring and Autumn and have been lucky enough to have had fine weather during these times- bright skies and very little rain.
Visiting during term time may be preferable for those seeking some serious isolation and wishing to encounter fewer other travelers.
Melanie Varey from Twoplusdogs. A lover of open spaces, exercise, fresh air and finding beautiful places to enjoy in the company of my family- my husband and our two cheeky whippets.
Food is an important part of our family life; in fact, our friends say we are eating, planning what or where to eat, or cooking our next meal! We love eating out and really value quality food and restaurants. A teacher and Reflexologist, I am passionate about health and wellbeing.
What to Read in The United Kingdom
Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist is a great companion on your trip to the UK. You can get it before your trip to help you plan out all of the best places to go. It’s a go to bucket list of the not to miss places to visit in the UK.
It’s full of beautiful photography and it goes much further than just the typical tourist traps and includes everything from coastal walks, music festivals, and hidden away pubs you must visit.
If you are interested in learning more about the upper echelons of the British aristocracy then this book abut the life of Anne Glenconner is a great read.
She has long been at the center of the royal circle as a life long friend of the Queen and her sister. Her father was the Earl of Leicester and controlled one of the largest estates in England.
Sadly Anne turned out to be “the greatest disappointment” to her father and she was unable to inherit his great estate and instead make her own way in the world while surviving the vipers of court life! And interesting read to see how the ‘other half’ live.
The UK that you will see today is a product of the post WWII industrial revolution.
Nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented series of changes in the wake of the war. Cities grew fast and revolutions in transports, communication, science, and the way people lived happened in quick succession.
Added to these changes was a growing skepticism of religion, a questioning of power resulting in political and social unrest.
In spite if these turbulent times Britain remained strong on a global level which saw it quickly rise as a global leader… this was of course before Brexit!
Us brits are legit obsessed with manners to a fault. Seriously we love nothing more that throwing as many please and thank you’s in to a sentence as we can make fit. And don’t even get me started with our obsession with apologizing for EVERYTHING!
But our obsession doesn’t just stop there, there is so much more to British etiquette most of which will confuse the hell out of visitors from foreign lands.
In this book you will get an illuminating insight in to all of the social rules we are governed by, from never putting your elbows on the table to holding open doors. But this book goes deeper and shines a light on where this crazy obsession with good manners comes from. Its a interesting and quirky must read.
Looking for a novel to sink your teeth into on those long cross country train journeys in the UK. White Teeth is it.
Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.