Harbour Inn, Garlieston (1.5mi): cosy local pub serving good food | The Pheasant, Sorbie (3mi): authentic Italian cuisine | Steam Packet, Isle of Whithorn (6mi): harbourside inn, seafood and locally brewed beers | Knockinaam Lodge (38mi): fine dining with amazing views
The counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire in Dunfries Galloway are a wonderful outdoor playground, offering a range of activities for all ages and abilities. It’s not possible to list everything here, so do take a look at VisitScotland’s page for more links to activities and event in Galloway. We also keep an up to date collection of brochures in our cottages and previous guests will have made recommendations too.
If you just want to kick back, enjoy the view or catch up on some reading there are few better places. Scotland’s Wigtown Booktown is just down the road.
All our cottages are within easy reach of the Galloway Hills and Galloway Forest. An upland region of true wilderness dotted with lochs offering a range of walking experiences whatever your ability. Choose from a strenous ascent of the Merrick (2766 ft), part of the wonderfully named ‘Range of the Awful Hand’. Or opt for a low level stroll around Glentrool and experience the grandeur of the ancient oakwoods, especially beautiful in autumn. The Forestry Commission publishes a handy walking guide (PDF).
Cycling and mountain biking
Whether on or off-road, the region is a cyclists’ paradise. The peninsulas of Wigtownshire are criss-crossed by quiet country roads. It’s possible to ride for miles and not see a car. If offroad riding is your passion there are few better places in UK. The 7 Stanes mountain biking complex offers world class riding in stunning locations. All ages and abilities are catered for. (Local bike hire is available.)
There are some wonderful golfing opportunities in the region. One of our visitors rated the coastal nine hole course at St Medan (Scotland’s most southerly golf course) as the best in the UK.
Wigtownshire is truly rural so opportunities for wildlife and bird watching abound. The RSBP has a major presence in the area with reserves at Crook of Baldoon and Mull of Galloway. Species are too numerous to mention but you are likely to encounter red squirrels, badgers, otters and seals. Our ospreys are always a draw and can be observed remotely from the County Buildings in Wigtown. During the winter geese descend on the Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve in their thousands — a truly remarkable sight. Dolphins, seals and basking sharks are frequent visitors to Wigtown Bay and Luce Bay.
There is a wide range of fishing to be had in the region. If you wish you can fish from the hills right down to the sea and beyond: trout fishing in remote hill lochs; river fishing for trout, salmon, sea trout and pike; and coastal fishing for a range of species. Permits are available from D W Countryways and the Forestry Commission.
The Solway Firth has long been famous for its winter wildfowling. Licences are available for visiting guns. Contact Machars Action for more information.
On the sea
Wigtownshire features two peninsulas — the Machars and the Rhinns — so the sea is never far away. Slipways for day sailors are available at many harbours including Garlieston and the Isle of Whithorn.
Windsurfers are well served by exposed beaches at Luce Bay and Monreith Bay. Sea kayakers will find intricate coasts and caves to explore, and challenging headlands to round.
The waters around the Wigtownshire coast are also a top destination for sea fishermen. Try for cod, pollack, gurnard, mackerel, sea bass, smoothound, even tope further afield. Commercial lobster fishermen operate from a number of Wigtownshire harbours. This is good news for visitors as fresh lobster can be had for reasonable prices.
Here in Galloway we have some of the clearest night skies in the UK. And that’s why Galloway Forest Park is home to the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. Announced on 16th November 2009 in the International Year of Astronomy, it is a massive achievement for the UK and the south west of Scotland.
Painting, photography and sculpture
Galloway is also ‘big sky’ country. The landscape and the quality of the light has attracted many artists down the years. It is striking just how many artists of note were either born in or drawn to Galloway.
The ‘Glasgow Boys’ painted many works around Kircudbright towards the end of the 19th century. (Hornel lived at Broughton House in Kircudbright for 32 years.) And the most well-known of the Faeds were born at Gatehouse of Fleet. Find out more and plan your tour with a visit to the Artists’ Footsteps website. It follows, therefore, that Galloway has much to offer photographers too. From landscape to seascape, still life to wildlife, it’s all there for the taking. If you want art and exercise the Black Loch offers a walk to a lovely waterfall and Eye as well as ,
Galloway has a rich and diverse horticultural heritage. A fortnight would not be long enough to visit all that is on show. Given our climate, Galloway has some of the finest spring gardens in the UK. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has a base here at at Logan Botanic Gardens. Swept by the Gulf Stream, this garden grows a surprising range of exotic species, as does Galloway House Gardens, which is just over the wall from our own Pavilion Cottage.
Historic buildings and ancient monuments
From pre history right up to WWII there is much to interest archaeologists and historians in Galloway. From C2500BC there are numerous neolithic stone circles in the region, e.g., Drumtroddan and Torhouse. Pictish cup and ring marks are to be found at various locations and Bronze Age sites have been recreated including at Clatteringshaws Loch and at nearby Whithorn.
Whithorn is famously regarded as Scotland’s cradle of Christianity. It is said that Saint Ninian settled here in the fourth century AD around 200 years before Columbus reached Iona. The walk to St Ninian’s Cave rewards visitors with early pilgrim carvings in the stones.
Castles are plentiful and many have names beginning with the letter ‘C’ — Caerlaverock, Cardoness, Carsluith and Cruggleton. The area has strong associations with Robert the Bruce. One of his early skirmishes against the English took place at the head of Glentrool. Be sure to visit Bruce’s Stone at the top of the glen if you walk around the loch (recommended). Cruggleton Castle features on a clifftop walk from Garlieston Village.
The castle was an English garrison in Bruce’s day and was raided from the sea by Bruce and Stephen of Ireland. The walk can be continued to the Isle of Whithorn and the Steam Packet Inn (return transport required).
Remnants relating to later conflicts can somewhat surprisingly be found at Garlieston. During WWII, in preparation for the D-Day landings, Mulberry harbour prototypes were tested and developed on the beaches around this quiet village. Concrete remains can still be seen today, and have recently been scheduled by Historic Scotland as a national monument.