Heading north from England, many people drive straight up the M74, without so much as a glance to the left. But left of that road is Dumfries and Galloway, almost half the width of Scotland at that point!
Dumfries and Galloway hold some of our country’s best-kept secrets. It’s easily accessible from our biggest cities. Yet so wild and remote that it earned the honour of becoming the first of the UK’s Dark Sky Parks.
The Galloway Forest Park contains some of the most remote and beautiful terrain in Scotland. And yet, many visitors bypass it on their way to the highlands. Why not Head to Glen Trool and take a walk up The Merrick instead? At just over 800 metres, the highest mountain in Southern Scotland offers views of Ireland, the Lake District, and the Isle of Man on a clear day. Believe it or not, I’ve even been able to make out the faint outline of the hills of North Wales!
There are a multitude of activities to keep you busy in Dumfries & Galloway, rain or shine, winter or summer. Here are just a few of my favourites.
- Walk on the wild side at the Newton Stewart Walking Festival
Hosted by local walkers and members of Galloway Mountain Rescue Team. This small but popular walking festival provides opportunities to see Dumfries & Galloway with those who know it best. Ranging from easy strolls of a few miles to their annual ‘challenge walk’. There is something for everyone. It’s all in a great cause with funds going to support the mountain rescue team.
- Go for the Full Foodie Experience at Cream o’ Galloway
Who doesn’t love an ice cream?! Not just for kids, Cream o’Galloway are one of the UK’s leading artisan ice cream and cheese producers. All their products are made organically and sustainably. They generate their own energy and pride themselves on having happy cows! Why not take a look at their visitor centre, book onto the Food Tour, sample their wares and visit the herd. Then head to the adventure playground, the 3D maze, or the nature trails for some outdoor fun!
- Take a forage walk, with Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods
A lifelong foodie and devotee of all things wild, Mark Williams has been building Galloway Wild Foods for some years. His knowledge of the food that nature can provide us for free is encyclopaedic. In recent years he has worked with award-winning chefs keen to include wild ingredients in their dishes. He is Scotland’s only full-time foraging tutor, and a member of Galloway Mountain Rescue Team. Take a walk on Mark’s local patch in Dumfries and Galloway, and let him show you the riches it can bear. And you never know, you might just get him to cook up a storm, too!
- Explore the trails at some of Scotland’s best Mountain Bike Centres, the 7 Stanes.
Five out of seven of the ‘7 Stanes’ mountain bike trail centres lie within the boundaries of Dumfries & Galloway. Each has their own personality, giving all manner of fun and challenge to riders young or old, seasoned or new to the sport. They offer world class trails in stunning scenery, well waymarked. From a few miles to multi-day trips.
If you’re into your road biking, Dumfries and Galloway offers some incredible riding through winding countryside on quiet roads. It’s the final destination in our 5 Countries Road Cycling trip.
Not a biker? The Stanes themselves are works of art, sited in beautiful locations.
- Visit a Stevenson Lighthouse on the Mull of Galloway
The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point. This headland juts out into the Irish Sea, around which fast tides and big waves can create rolling seas. Atop the headland sits the lighthouse. Built by Robert Stevenson (pioneering builder of over 90 of Scotland’s most iconic lighthouses). It was first lit in 1830 and automated in 1988.
The light is now operated remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board headquarters in Edinburgh. Visitors can both climb the tower and stay in the keepers cottages! There are breathtaking views of the headland itself, and the geology and birdlife of the cliffs below. It’s a rare privilege to be able to enjoy the views once reserved for the men of the lights.
The headland itself, and the area around the lighthouse is now a bird reserve, run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It also houses a fantastic café with a panoramic view of the headland. Why not round off the day with some birdwatching, a cuppa and a slab of tasty cake!
Fancy Road Cycling through Five different Countries within Britain?
As well as gliding on the stunning roads of Dumfries and Galloway you will have the opportunity to explore Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England on our unforgettable Five Countries cycling holiday.