See & Do
In South West Scotland, we like to have fun! And why not? We want you to feel good about, well, everything. So, whether it is high art or walking, food or jazz or books or kids or country and western or poetry or sailing or singing or Robert Burns or biking or running or rallying or mining or weaving or gardening or cycling or tree-felling or baking or growing or dancing or star-gazing or bird watching … there’s always something fun to do for everyone of any age.
From hill to woodland from coast to river valley, South West Scotland has it all when it comes to walking. Its most famous footpath is undoubtedly the challenging Southern Upland Way, which starts at Portpatrick and crosses the whole region, eventually ending at the North Sea. The most significant hill walking centres are Newton Stewart in the west of the region and Langholm in the east. From Newton Stewart the walking enthusiast has access to the highest peaks in Southern Scotland but also a beautiful riverside walk that offers poetry way markers along it route.
The coast can be very dramatic with numerous, fine cliff-top walks along its whole length. Nesting birds, vast views and fascinating waypoints are on offer. Check out the Mull of Galloway Trail to Scotland`s most southerly point – The Mull of Galloway. Riverside walks, which were the favourite of Robert Burns, are also plentiful and take you through woods and farmland and villages.
Deciduous and coniferous woodlands offer great walking with specially way-marked tracks that lead you safely through the thick of it whether outside towns such as Dalbeattie and Kirkcudbright or in the depths of the Galloway Forest Park. Why not take an evening stroll, sit and watch the sunlight dissolve into thousands of stars, enjoying Galloway’s special “dark sky” status.
Like action sports? Then try mountain biking in South West Scotland – the gradients can be head spinning. From rolling hills to steep sided valleys, from remote forest tracks to breathtaking coastal views there is mile upon mile of trails including some of the most demanding and technical single track mountain biking to be found anywhere in the world. The 7Stanes series of mountain bike trails is the crème de la crème but there are plenty of others.
Try Screel Hill for example near Auchencairn where the views over the Solway Firth are spectacular – if you get time to look as you hurtle over stones and ditches and curves round the slopes. Described as a “global superstar” of tracks, the 7Stanes has been specially designed to provide the best biking experience on tracks graded from easy to severe. There are biking centres where you can hire bikes, eat and shop.
For a more modest experience, head to Cream o’ Galloway where the visitor centre is the start of cycle tracks for all the family. The Cocoa Bean offers chocolate making experience for children age 2-up including a great play area.
As you would expect from the region that invented the bicycle, South West Scotland; Galloway offers great cycling, whether on the back roads that dip and weave through farms, farmland, by water, over old bridges, through villages and into ancient woodlands or along the National Cycle Route 7 which runs from Carlisle to Inverness via 114 miles of our region’s roads. National Cycle Route 74 runs for 44 miles and links to the Southern Uplands Way.
The Glenkiln Loop runs from Dumfries and circles the Glenkiln reservoir, so you can take in some of outdoor sculpture by Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein and Auguste Rodin as you pedal. Of course, there has to be a cycle route commemorating Kirkpatrick Macmillan, and you can follow in the wheels of the father of all cyclists. The KM trail runs between Dumfries and Drumlanrig Castle and Country Park which houses the Museum of Cycling.
Golf is a game of great views and the time to enjoy them. South West Scotland is a place of great golf courses. Why not bring your clubs and enjoy many of the excellent deals on offer for golfers? There’s New Galloway’s hilly nine hole course, designed by George Baillie in 1902, and Kirkcudbright’s eighteen hole hill and riverside setting. Test yourself on the 6309 yard championship course in Dumfries or its younger Doonhamer partner, The Crichton, established in 1972. Stranraer course, in the far west of the region, is described as “one of the jewels of Scottish golf”. It offers spectacular views to Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran. Also in the far west is Portpatrick – “Dunskey” on a cliff edge at the start of the Southern Upland Way with views of Ireland and the Isle of Man. Inland, in the east, the loch side Lochmaben golf course, where the second hole is next to the remains of Robert the Bruce’s castle, is famous for the abundance of its wildlife. For beginners there are also many par 3 courses attached to holiday centres or placed picturesquely in the South West Scotland countryside. In fact, there are courses everywhere, offering varied challenges and many have clubhouses serving snacks, drinks or full meals. Find out more about our wonderful golf courses at D G Golf
Yachting, watersports, pony trekking, hang-gliding, marathon running, scuba diving, rock climbing, sea angling, dog sledding, go karting, quad biking, clay shooting – the range of outdoor adventure activities in South West Scotland reflects the varied terrain that makes up the region.
On the banks of Loch Ken, Scotland’s longest inland loch, Galloway Activity Centre offers sailing, windsurfing, power boating, canoeing, archery, climbing and abseiling, orienteering and much more. The longest zip wire in Europe and the human slingshot are just two of the activities at Laggan Outdoor Center.
For divers there are many wrecks in the Solway Firth and Irish Sea, some dating back to the middle ages, others to the last two world wars. Sailing the enchanting coast around Kippford is a magical experience with Bengairn Hill rising into the sky inland.
Why not visit during regatta week in early August and watch the experts racing around Rough Isle.