Dumfries & Galloway

Area guide

Often described as “Scotland in Miniature,” South West Scotland’s Dumfries & Galloway region is characterised by its rich cultural heritage, stunning scenery, sweeping seascapes, towering cliffs, rolling agricultural land, and its wide, wild landscapes.


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Dumfries & Galloway is a rural, mountainous region with 320 kilometres of scenic coastline. Part of Dumfries & Galloway has been designated by UNESCO as a "biosphere reserve" and, due to the lack of light pollution, is home to the only Dark Skies Park in the UK.

With its low population density (24 people per square kilometre compared to an average of 395 in England) and light traffic, Dumfries & Galloway makes for a great escape from city life and is an ideal retirement destination or area to bring up a family.

The jewel in Dumfries & Galloway’s crown is the Colvend Coast, lying along the northern shore of the Solway Firth. Known as the Scottish Riviera for its mild climate, luxury estates, and first-rate watersports facilities, this region is the ideal base for a weekend retreat, second home, or private hideaway. It has long enjoyed popularity as a holiday spot amongst those in the know from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, and the North of England. The region stretches from the picturesque sailing village of Kippford in the West to Caulkerbush in the East with its quaint cottages and RSPB Reserve. It is this landscape that inspired Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard, who lived in the area more than 200 years ago, and has since served as an inspiration for all sorts of artists.

Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway

Sailing and watersports
Visitors to southern Scotland are never far from water, making it especially attractive to fishermen, sailors, and water sports enthusiasts of all ages. Sailing can be enjoyed at Kippford, Kirkcudbright, and the inland loch, Loch Ken, which also caters for canoeing, water-skiing, windsurfing, and dingy sailing.

The River Nith is regarded as one of Scotland's most productive rivers, both for salmon and sea trout. Dumfries & Galloway is one of the top coarse fishing destinations in Europe, boasting the greatest variety of species in Scotland and holds three Scottish records for the largest chub, bream, and tench ever caught.

Gourmet “foodie” culture
Chefs of the region have an abundance of award-winning ingredients at their fingertips including fresh salmon, organic farmhouse cheese and delicious local game. Scotland’s only dedicated Food Town, Castle Douglas, is home to more than 50 independently owned and locally-sourced food retailers and boasts strong market and farming traditions.

Southerness Championship Links course is located just 16 miles south of Dumfries and there are also two nine-hole courses and five 18-hole courses within a 30-minute drive.

The gardens of Dumfries & Galloway are amongst the most inspiring, unusual and colorful spaces in the country; keep your eyes peeled for Himalayan poppies, New Zealand forget-me-nots, and African daisies at the Logan Botanic Gardens, one of the most fabulous gardens in the area.

Climbing and Walking Trails
As well as the Coastal Paths, beach strolls, town trails, forest tracks and hill hikes along the Colvend Coast there is good access to the Southern Upland Way and six hills designated as Corbetts including Moffat’s Hart Fell (808 meters) and White Coomb (821 meters).

Why we love Dumfries and Galloway

It has a wonderful location close to the coast and to Loch Ken, and all the opportunities this presents for water sports and angling.

The area benefits from peace and quiet as well as truly unspoilt natural surroundings – ideal for nature spotting or simply enjoying the great outdoors.

The Strutt & Parker team recommends the following:

Annual event
The Wigtown Book Festival, incorporating over 175 literary events and activities over a 10-day period across September and October. The festival has been running for over 15 years, and has won numerous awards.

Del Amitri in Annan has a high end, interesting menu, created using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients ensuring that the results always achieve rave reviews from both punters and critics.

Secret spot
The Galloway Kite Trail offers an exciting opportunity to view spectacular red kites in lovely scenery and is a great attraction for walkers, cyclists, wildlife lovers and birdwatchers. Situated around the beautiful Loch Ken, the trail promotes the population of kites, re-established in Kirkcudbrightshire since 2001.

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Key villages & towns in Dumfries & Galloway

Schools in the area

There are a good number of primary schools in Dumfries

There are a good number of primary schools in Dumfries, as well as four secondaries: Dumfries High School, Maxwelltown High School, St Joseph’s College and Dumfries Academy.

In Newton Stewart, there are three primary schools: Penninghame, Minnigaff and St Ninian’s RC. There is also one secondary: Douglas Ewart High School. Stranraer has five primary schools: Belmont, Park, Rephad, St. Joseph’s R.C. and Sheuchan, as well as one state secondary, Stranraer Academy.

Moffat Academy teaches pupils of all ages, from nursery through to secondary level. Wigtown has a nursery and primary school, as well as Wigtown Grammar School. In Kirkcudbright, there is a primary school and an academy. There is also an academy in Annan.

Transport links

By train

Dumfries is also well connected to the major cities by train – Glasgow is two hours from Dumfries and Edinburgh is just under two and a half. Stranraer also has some direct services to Glasgow, taking less than two and a half hours.

By train

The Northern parts of the county are 90 minutes from Edinburgh and just an hour from Glasgow, via good road connections; the A75 (M) runs across the eastern side of Dumfries & Galloway and joins the A721 just north of the county.

There is fantastic food and drink at your fingertips, and you can learn how some of it’s made with a behind the scenes tour of Sulwarth Brewery at Castle Douglas and Bladnoch Distillery; Scotland's most southerly whisky distillery.