My local stomping ground, Dumfries and Galloway, is often overshadowed by the popular Highland areas. However, the south west corner if often more accessible and can offer just as many jaw-dropping sites as its northern equivalent.
Access to the area is easiest by car. It is the first region across the border but is around an hour and a half’s drive from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle airports. On the plus side, having a car will allow you to explore some of the lesser known areas of the region, which give the Highlands a run for their money.
Working for the local tourist board means I’ve visited every nook of the region and below are a list of recommendations to suit everyone. D&G is firmly established as one of the country’s top golfing regions, but in recent years has built up a reputation within the luxury travel industry. Its home to some excellent hotels but the bed and breakfasts in the area are of exceptional quality too.
Known as the Artists’ Town, Kirkcudbright has connections to renowned artists such as the Glasgow Boys. The range of bed and breakfasts in the town is exceptional and they are often solidly booked throughout the summer months. The town goes above and beyond to accommodate its visitor’s. A family favourite is the Scottish night which runs once a week in the summer, in the towns harbour square.
Also in the Galloway heartland, Castle Douglas has gained the title of the Food Town. The high street is a rare site, boasting over 50 independent businesses. Luxury delis are abundant and there is even a ‘Food Town Day’ held annually in June. There are several particularly excellent self-catering properties in the surrounding rural area.
A real hidden gem, Portpatrick is hidden in the far west of the region, near Stranraer. The selection of small independent hotels on the seafront rivals most other seaside towns. The Waterfront hotel is a particular favourite and always has a full outdoor seating area in the summer months. Again, self-catering properties here are arguably amongst the finest in Scotland. Because it is such a small village, it is an ideal weekend retreat for couples.
Probably one of the most loved and recognised towns in the region, Moffat has something for everyone. The town is home to some of the oldest businesses in Scotland, as well as the famous Moffat Toffee Shop. Moffat has also recently became recognised for its abundance of fine dining establishments. The Grey Mares Tail is a short drive from the town and is one of the best walking routes within the region. Recommended for beginners-intermediate walkers, the top of the hill displays a gorgeous waterfall.
A handful of gorgeous coastal villages make up the drive between Dalbeattie and Dumfries. Kippford is in a league of its own and is a firm favourite with sailors. Next is Rockliffe; a pretty little beachside village with excellent walks and self-catering accommodation. Balcary Bay Hotel looks over the Solway Coast and serves up excellent a la carte meals. The journey itself makes this area worth the travel and it is also where the majority of the regions top golf courses are located; including Colvend and Southerness.