From lochs to lighthouses, quaint coastal towns to dense forests and unrivalled stargazing – the South of Scotland really is a match for anywhere else in the country, even if it’s still Scotland’s best kept secret, for now…
And so, with its reputation on the rise and a busy summer behind us, we decided to take an Autumnal trip south to explore and unwind in Dumfries & Galloway.
Here’s our tips for where to stay, what to do and how to make the most of a restorative break in this quieter part of the country.
How to get to Dumfries & Galloway?
The Dumfries & Galloway area is quite a big one, so if you are looking to explore a few places while there then a car is advisable. It’s easily reached from Carlisle if you are coming from England, while also being only a few hours’ drive south from Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Where to stay in Dumfries & Galloway?
Accommodation choice depends on what type of break you might be looking to have. If it’s being immersed in nature, then there are plenty of great options around Galloway Forest Park including this amazing glamping dome beside Loch Ken. Complete with a cosy wood burning stove and views directly out to the water this is the perfect place to unwind in complete peace and quiet.
However, if you’d rather be closer to local amenities then pick a spot in one of the areas many coastal towns – Port Logan, Wigtown (more on there later) and Portpatrick all offer a great mix of Air B&B’s and hotels.
What to see and do in Dumfries & Galloway?
With accommodation sorted, it’s time to explore everything this area has to offer… And there’s a lot!
1. Galloway Forest Park
It’s hard not to start with Galloway Forest Park itself. With the Autumnal mist rising on Loch Ken on our first morning, we set off to explore as much as we could of Britain’s largest national park. There’s so much wildlife to see in this area (make sure to stop off at the Red Deer Centre, for example), as well as miles of ancient woodlands, cycling tracks and stunning scenery. The perfect place to slow down and switch off.
We’d recommend stopping for lunch beside one of the main rivers or burns along the Raider’s Road (a famous forest drive in the area), or taking a longer walk around the scenic Loch Trool. You can even take out kayaks on Loch Ken.
Night-time in the park also offers something totally new. Galloway Forest Park is an official dark skies park (one of only four in the world), so the opportunity for late night stargazing here is simply out of this world!
2. A castle for everyone
Away from the forests and lochs, the area is home to a tonne of amazing castles, which we found can be a great way to spend the day, whatever the weather. The moated Caeverlock Castle is worth a visit, while it’s hard not to be blown away by the grandeur of Drumlanrig Castle (as well as its 90,000-acre estate that you can explore). We also made it out to the ruins of Dunksey Castle, which sit alongside a stunning stretch of coastline. There’s a campsite right beside the castle for those planning a visit!
3. Crawick Multiverse
Whether with a big group, or just by yourself – this breath-taking land art installation is a great place to spend a few hours. Architect Charles Jencks has transformed the site from a former open cast coal mine into an outdoor space that celebrates themes of space, astronomy, and cosmology. Walking around the different installations was one of the best ways to get truly lost in the moment.
4. Become a bookworm in Wigtown
In search of a relaxing town where we could continue to enjoy the peace & quiet of the area, we also got to check out Wigtown – officially designated as Scotland’s National Book Town. It’s not hard to see why it received this recognition, packed full of dozens of incredible bookshops. Even the coffee shops and restaurants are filled with books – including the amazing Reading Lasses in the town centre. Just make sure to leave space for their delicious home-made cakes!
5. Reaching the Mull of Galloway
Finally, a trip to this area wouldn’t be complete without exploring its coastline and what better place to start than at the most southernly point of the whole of Scotland – the Mull of Galloway.
The road down to here hugs the coastline so there’s plenty of places to stop on the way and while the seabirds may have left by Autumn – the lighthouse and cliffs are worth the trip alone.
That’s our tips for how to make the most of a restorative Autumnal break in Dumfries & Galloway. If you have any questions about the area, or would like any more tips please let us know in the comments below or get in touch via Instagram (@TravelTwo_)
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