umfries and Galloway is more than just a region - it encapsulates the very best of Scotland. From its magical coastline to its remote hills, and from its ancient history to its modern vibrancy, it is diverse and unique. Visitors are drawn to this south-west corner of Scotland for a whole variety of reasons. The single walker can head off into the hills or along pathways and see virtually no-one else all day; couples can find peace, quiet and romance; families are often amazed at just how much there is to see, do and enjoy. In short, there is as much or as little going on as you choose to get involved in. The region has its own cadence and character, distinct from the rest of Scotland yet remarkably easy to reach. Getting to the heart of Dumfries and Galloway takes little more than a couple of hours by car from the Central Belt. As soon as you turn off the M74, you find a different pace of life, with quiet roads and easy, unstressed motoring. Your holiday has started even before you’ve arrived. There’s also a huge wealth of accommodation, ranging from high quality caravan parks through to welcoming, homely guest houses and B&Bs. You can also go self catering and, if it’s luxury you’re looking for, you’ll find some of Scotland’s finest hotels set amid magnificent views. Accommodation providers in Dumfries and Galloway are represented by ADGAP, a not-for-profit organisation which helps to maintain high standards and through its website (www.visitsouthwestscotland.com) provides information on individual establishments of all types and their availability. ADGAP Chair Angus Fordyce says: “There’s a large diversity of accommodation available in Dumfries and Galloway to suit all types of person and budget.
“People who come here never stop being amazed at just how much there is to see and do. For instance, we have a whole host of wonderful wee towns, each one of them individual and with its own distinct offering. “Arts and culture are also well catered for, with everything from Wigtown’s heritage as a book town and Kirkcudbright’s reputation as an artist’s colony through to Spring Fling, which is one of the most successful open studios events in Scotland.” He continues: “I don’t think people from outside the area quite realise just how long and stunning the coastline is, with beaches to die for. And we’re also a haven for wildlife - you can see red kites flying here as well as red squirrels and red deer. There are also world-class bird reserves at places like Mersehead and Caerlaverock which people can easily visit.” History abounds everywhere in this beautiful region, which stretches from the pretty towns of Langholm and Moffat in the east, through the vibrant local capital of Dumfries and over to the remote Mull of Galloway - Scotland’s southernmost point. It’s said that from here you can see five different kingdoms: Scotland, England, Ireland, the Isle of Man - and Heaven. There is evidence that man has inhabited this region since earliest times, with well-preserved ancient remains including the magnificent chambered cairns at Cairn Holy, thought to date from 5000 years ago. Much later, early Christianity flourished here, with the 4th Century bishop St Ninian building his church, thought to be Scotland’s oldest, near Whithorn. The archaeological dig in the town has also yielded some of Scotland’s earliest and most exciting treasures. For the history enthusiast, another must-see is the Ruthwell Cross, in a church at Ruthwell just outside Dumfries. It is
said to be both the most famous and elaborate Anglo-Saxon monumental sculpture, containing on its surface what may possibly be the oldest surviving poetry written in English. In more recent times, Dumfries has strong associations with Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, who lived at nearly Ellisland Farm - which can be visited - and is buried in St Michael’s Churchyard. And Langholm was the birthplace of Hugh MacDiarmid, arguably Scotland’s greatest 20th-century poet. If you’re interested in sport, there are no less than 22 golf courses within 22 miles of Dumfries, and there are fantastic mountain bike trails at places such as Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Dalbeattie, Mabie and Ae. For those who like even more extreme sports, the UK’s longest zip wire - all 820 metres of it - is set to open this month near Gatehouse of Fleet. At the other end of the scale, those who seek simpler pleasures have a host of places to visit. You can potter about and visit interesting, eclectic shops in places like Castle Douglas, watch yachts coming over from Ireland into the harbour at Portpatrick, or enjoy beautiful local parks and gardens nurtured by the balmy air created by the nearby Gulf Stream. If you want the ultimate big picture, the Galloway Forest Park has been designated Britain’s first Dark Sky Park. Its remoteness and the lack of light pollution means even without a telescope, you can see 7,000 twinkling stars. All in all, Dumfries and Galloway is a Scottish gem, and it’s right on your doorstep.
What are you waiting for?
Thanks to the following for images: Leeming & Paterson Photography/Colin Tennant Photography/Destination Dumfries & Galloway.
Visit www.visitsouthwestscotland.com for more information