When it comes to Scotland, you cannot believe everything you hear on TV. Far from the stereotype of cold and rainy mountains swept with cutting winds all year round, the area of South East Scotland has not only a much milder climate but also spectacular views and locations so enjoyable that its very economy is comprised in no small part of tourism and its spoils. Golfers will already know the Galloway region and the market town of Dumfries as areas steeped in the essence of golfing greatness, but this article covers in a little more depth the many other spectacular areas of interest for both golfers and non-golfers looking to visit this incredible region of Scotland.
Galloway isn’t short of picturesque landscapes, nor is there a shortage of wildlife dwelling in the rich green fields you’ll see stretching to the horizon. In fact, the scenery is so beautiful that it has inspired many great works of literature and art. You can see the art it has inspired directly if you visit Galloway Forest, where you will find Matt Baker’s carved stone faces as well as Hideo Furuto’s sculptures that can be found in Creetown.
Taking at least one nature walk in Galloway is also a must, and the best place to start if you’re only planning on carrying out the one walk is Cairnsmore of Fleet, situated near Newton Stewart. This is a wonderful hill walk that starts near Graddoch Bridge and extends for 7.75 miles with an ascent of 691 meters.
Other must-sees of the Galloway landscape are the famous Rhins of Galloway (a hammerhead peninsula stretching 25 miles with the southern tip being the southernmost point of Scotland) and the Hills of Galloway. The latter of these must-walks isn’t for the faint-hearted however. The Hills of Galloway, located in the north, are classed as one of the few remaining wildernesses in the whole of the UK; walking here will provide you with some incredible views but the terrain is notoriously difficult to traverse.
Visitors young and old can enjoy the prospect of seeing a wide array of wildlife in their natural habitat throughout Galloway. Nature reserves are in abundance here, including Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve and the Mull of Galloway. The Wildfowl and Wetlands trust is also world-renowned and a significant location for birds passing through during migration periods. You’ll also find Wigtown’s nature reserve to be of interest, as well as the many open wildlife-viewing spots to be explored by the River Dee.
One of the more notable trails for birdwatchers is the Red Kite Trail. Here one can marvel at the specular species, which was introduced back to the region relatively recently. This trail attracts walkers, cyclists, bikers, and general wildlife fanatics from all over the country, and you’d be missing out if you were to give the Red Kite Trail a miss.
Towns, Markets, and Castles
One of the towns we highly recommend that you visit is Newton Stewart. This town is referred to as the Gateway to the Galloway Hills, an apt name considering that its beautiful buildings are set afore the beautiful backdrop of the hills. From Newton Stewart you will have easy access to the Galloway Hills and Galloway Forest Park. For the artists out there, there’s no better place to visit than Kirkcudbright where you will find a wonderful collection of galleries where one can spend hour after hour admiring all manner of pieces.
Seaside locations are also extremely popular for visitors to Galloway, and these include Stranraer and Portpatrick, with both of these locations hosting some of the most impressive gold courses in the whole of Scotland. Wigtown will also be of interest for avid readers since it is known as Scotland’s National book town and is home to around 30 related businesses – a great destination for literature fans!
Galloway and the surrounding area is also home to large number of farmer’s markets which take place regularly when the season is right. You can enjoy everything from the Wigtown Market to Creetown’s Produce Market through to the Gatehouse Country Market. For more information on these markets, visit http://www.dgmarkets.org/. Here you will find the dates and times of each market so that you can be sure your visit coincides with the times of your chosen market visit!
You can’t visit the Galloway region without passing one of its many historical castles, either. Your visit to Drumlanrig Castle could double up as an artist’s dream since the castle is also home to one of the UK’s most notable art collections. Caerlaverock Castle is one of the more uniquely-designed examples of castle design in Galloway, taking the form of a triangular shape. Finally, Dunskey Castle is a must-see (though not for anyone who doesn’t like heights) since it has the unique property of jutting out over the Irish Sea in its location at Portpatrick.
Finally, if you’re tired out after multiple days of sight-seeing, Galloway has a large number of restaurants offering a broad spectrum of cuisine from all over the world. One of the more well-known of these is the Corsewall Lighthouse Restaurant which has some high-quality food as well as breath-taking views. If you’re partial to a drink, you’ll also find Scotland’s southernmost distillery in Galloway: Gladnoch. Here you can enjoy a tour of the distillery and purchase some keepsakes from the shop.