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Home » Heritage » Heritage sites

Heritage sites

  • Heritage sites

    The heritage of Dumfries and Galloway is rich and varied. We have the memories of St Ninian at Whithorn the founder of Christianity as well as the Tibetan Buddhist Monestary and Meditation Centre in Eskdalemuir. We have Drumlanrig Castle which houses one of Europe’s best art collections and is very much lived in and host to many tourist activities; in contrast to the  ruins  and history of Sweetheart Abbey,  founded in 1273 by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John Balliol, who founded Balliol College in Oxford; the ruins of Dundrennan Abbey, once host to Mary Queen of Scots, and those of Threave Castle, accessible only by boat, and the superb Threave House surrounded by the beauty of Threave Garden.

    Dumfries & Galloway gave birth to some of the nations great scientists and inventors; James Clerk Maxwell, the famous physicist; The Reverend Henry Duncan – founder of the first Savings Bank in Ruthwell; Kirkpatrick Macmillan – inventor of the first bicycle. These are all remembered in museums in the region as is D & G’s contribution to World War 2 at the “Devil’s Porridge”.

    Our art and literature are boundless; everyone knows of Robert Burns, but did you know that John Buchan’s Richard Hannay chased around the region in “The 39 Steps” and Dorothy L Sayers’ “Five Red Herrings” is set around the town of Kirkcudbright, which is well known as the artist’s town having housed many of the famous Glasgow school of artists.

    We have internationally renowned potters, sculptors, artists and photographers who exhibit in the plethora of our museums and galleries. Much of our art is exhibited in natural beauty of our wonderful forested landscape. The celebration of this is the “Spring Fling” festival held every year.

    For more information click here.

  • Loch Skerrow Halt


    One of the most remote and isolated points on the line from Dumfries to Portpatrick, and later Stranraer, Loch Skerrow halt is accessible only via the trackbed from either Mossdale or Gatehouse Station. (more…)

  • Galloway Red Kite Trail

    Red kite © Angus Hogg

    The Galloway Red Kite Trail (or Galloway Kite Trail) is an exciting nature watching opportunity to view the spectacular red kite in lovely scenery. Situated around beautiful Loch Ken, the trail promotes the population of red kites, recently re-established in Kirkcudbrightshire, and stimulates nature-based tourism to benefit local communities in the area. In so doing, the trail helps to strengthen the ‘ownership’ of these birds of prey by local communities and tourist operators.

    The trail is an anticlockwise route of some twenty four miles around Loch Ken (all year) with an additional sixteen miles of forest drive in the Galloway Forest Park (April to October).  You can collect a trail guide leaflet at business outlets on the trail or download the leaflet from the official website at

    Cycling is a great way to spot red kites and the trail follows a fairly level route, with cycle racks provided at Boat O Rhone, New Galloway, RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes reserve and Mossdale. The west side of Loch Ken is particularly quiet and attractive for cyclists. It is also visited by families, walkers, wildlife lovers and birdwatchers from across the UK and overseas.

    There are viewing points with interpretation boards; several walks,(from a few hundred metres to 5km); viewing hides; a feeding station; information boards in various outlets around Loch Ken; independent visitor centres; and even two red kite sculptures! (at Parton and Mossdale).

    The trail is signposted with brown road signs in an anticlockwise direction and there are information points at Castle Douglas, Crossmichael, Parton and New Galloway, for additional guidance en route.

    A feeding station, with visitor centre has been established at Bellymack Hill Farm near Laurieston, and over 100 kites have often been seen together around feeding time (2pm). These now include very few of the birds released between 2001 and 2005, as well as birds fledged in Galloway, with the odd visitor from elsewhere. Please note that directions for the feeding station are not signposted.

    An RSPB Scotland Community Liaison Officer is often present to provide information on the kites and other wildlife in the area.

  • Joseph Thomson Local Heritage Centre

    Joseph Thomson Local Heritage Centre

    The Joseph Thomson Group manages the Local Heritage Centre in Sundial Cottage, Marrburn Road, Penpont, the birthplace of Joseph Thomson, Victorian African Explorer.

    The story of Joseph Thomson’s  life and legacy is told as well as the cottage being the heritage base for the communities of Penpont, Keir and Tynron.

    Joseph Thomson (14.2.1858 – 2.8.1895) is Penpont’s most famous son. He was a geologist, a geographer and  explorer who played an important part in the ‘Scramble for Africa’. He led six expeditions into previously uncharted lands. Excelling as an explorer rather than an exact scientist, he avoided confrontations with indigenous peoples, neither killing any natives nor losing any of his men to violence. “He who goes gently goes safely, he who goes safely goes far” was his mantra.  He is revered in the areas of Africa he explored by, particularly by the Maasai.

    Joseph was probably born in the bedroom with the box bed where the exhibition celebrating his life and legacy is sited.  The other downstairs room is known as the villages room which has information, archives and artefacts from the three communities of Penpont, Keir and Tynron.

    The cottage itself is of architectural interest. Joseph Thomson’s father, William Thomson was a master stonemason. In the cottage he built the cantilever stone staircase and outside the armoury building, pigsty and privy.

    The Group holds  information about the three parishes and welcomes visitors keen to explore the surrounding area. Activities such as History Walks, and film shows are regularly organised by the group throughout the year.

    The Centre is open weekends (2.00pm – 4.00pm) from Easter to the end of September. Appointments can be made to come to the centre outwith these times. We have a number of guides who are happy to meet with visitors and share information or respond to queries.  Contact via e-mail – or tel. 01848 330700 (answer machine) or Mrs Sophia Harkness, Chairperson, 01848 330411.

  • St Ninian`s Cave

    st ninians cave whithorn galloway

    St Ninian`s Cave – a journey back in time.

    On the shores of Luce Bay in the Machars of Galloway, slightly to the north of Burrowhead (famed for the burning of The Wickerman) lies St Ninian`s Cave. (more…)

  • Sweetheart Abbey

    sweetheart abbey near dumfries

    Sweetheart Abbey is on the eastern edge of the village of New Abbey, just 5 miles from Dumfries. Sweetheart Abbey is very photogenic. It is one of the main historical attractions for those on holiday in Dumfries & Galloway in South West Scotland. (more…)

  • Kirkmadrine Stones


    Some of the oldest early Christian memorial stones in Britan are to be found at Kirkmadrine Church just a few  miles from Sandhead on the Rhins of Galloway.

    While the current church was built in the late 1800s, some of the stones date back as far as 400-600 AD.

    The stones are displayed behind a glass door on the church building and, on a sunny day, the views from the churchyard are outstanding.


  • The Mill on the Fleet

    The Mill on the Fleet, Gatehouse

    The Mill on the Fleet is a restored 18th century cotton mill on the bank of the River Fleet in Gatehouse of Fleet.  Now an exhibition centre it is spread over three floors and houses core displays about the development of the town of Gatehouse and the natural history of the Fleet Valley.  There is also an annual programme of temporary exhibitions.  On the ground floor the regional arts collective PA Pop Up representing artists and craft-makers from around the region has an outlet for their varied work.  On the top floor is a popular second-hand bookshop.  The café offers a range of home-cooked fare – soups, paninis, salads, sweets and a selection of cakes and bakes.  On a fine day the riverside terrace is the perfect place to relax.  The Mill also welcomes well behaved dogs!

  • Threave Castle

    threave castle

    Threave Castle
    Visit the Castle on an Island – former home of Archibald ‘the Grim’ (more…)

  • Robert Burns’ Ellisland Farm


    Discover Robert Burns’ family home “His Domicile for Humility and Contentment”, built for him in 1788 and where many of his greatest works were inspired. Tam o’ Shanter, Auld Lang Syne and Ae Fond Kiss were all penned within its walls.

    Enjoy the audio visual story of the three and a half  years that the Burns family spent at Ellisland, explore the story of the Burns family and wander the bonnie banks of the Nith that inspired Scotia’s national Bard.

  • RSPB Crook of Baldoon Reserve

    Crook of Baldoon in summer

    The view that opens up in front of you as you approach the car park is breathtaking. Cairnsmore of Fleet and the Galloway Hills act as a backdrop to wild saltmarsh and mudflats and the coastal wetland positively oozes with birdlife. Watch thousands of golden plovers, lapwings, knots and dunlins wheel in the sky in a mesmerizing display.

    Between December and March the Crook plays host to thousands of winter visitors such as pink-footed and barnacle geese and a large number of shelducks, whooper and mute swans that feed and roost on the merse. In the hawthorn and crab apple trees you might see hundreds of redwings and fieldfares. Other birds that can be seen are oystercatchers, curlews, ringed plovers, pintails and wigeons.

    Along the upper saltmarsh there are wheatears, meadow pipits and skylarks, as well as linnets and goldfinches.

    The vast amounts of visiting birds attract birds of prey like peregrines, merlins and sparrowhawks. Ospreys can sometimes be seen fishing in the bay, but these are better viewed from the comfort of the osprey viewing room in the county buildings in Wigtown, with its live camera feed from a nest site.

    The wetland reserve is open all year and it’s free, but we’d love it if you made a donation to help us continue our work here.

    Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds – some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.

    This nature reserve is important for wildlife. RSPB Scotland welcomes responsible access, in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. During the ground-nesting bird breeding season (1 April to 15 August) and in areas with livestock we would ask that you keep your dog close to you, preferably on a short lead and please clean up after your dog.

  • NTS Threave Garden

    copyright eDGe ImaGe

    Threave’s spectacular gardens have been created over the years by students of the National Trust’s School of Practical Gardening. It was recently voted second in The Independent’s ’10 Best Gardens to Visit in the UK’. (more…)

  • Scottish Industrial Railway Centre

    Picture 1171

    The Scottish Industrial Railway Centre is a ‘living museum’.  Here unique and historically significant industrial steam and diesel locomotives are restored and can be seen working in an authentic setting. We are the only Steam Railway in the south west of Scotland. Travel behind one of our restored steam engines along a short section of track.
    Want to come and visit? See our website and select ‘Steam Days’ for more information on open days, times and admission costs.

    Scottish Industrial Railway Centre is located at Dunaskin, Waterside, Patna, near Dalmellington, KA6 7JF

  • Caerlaverock Castle

    caerlaverock castle dumfries

    Caerlaverock Castle in Glencaple, near Dumfries is most unusual having a unique tri-angular ground plan. Caerlaverock Castle is one of the most popular castles and historic sites to visit in Dumfries & Galloway. (more…)

  • Mull of Galloway Experience

    Mull of Galloway

    Mull of Galloway Experience

    Visit ScotlandThe Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most Southerly Point. At the end of a narrow peninsula with stunning views in every direction, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Exhibition, the RSPB Visitor Centre and Reserve and the stunning Gallie Craig Coffee House comprise the Mull of Galloway Experience, a Four Star Visit Scotland Visitor Attraction. The Mull of Galloway Trust purchased the land and buildings at the Mull of Galloway, with the exception of the tower, in a community buyout in 2013.

    The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

    The Lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway is perched on the end of a 260 foot cliff. It was built by Robert Stevenson and first lit on 26th March 1830. The Lighthouse remains operational and is managed and monitored by Northern Lighthouse Board.

    The Lighthouse Tower is open to the public during the main season by kind permission of the Northern Lighthouse Board. A climb up the narrow, spiral staircase with its 115 steps to the viewing platform is rewarded by stunning views over Luce Bay to the Galloway Hills, the Fells of the Lake District, over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland – four countries from one viewpoint! Friendly and knowledgeable staff from South Rhins Community Development Trust are at the top of the tower to answer any questions you may have and you will be awarded with a certificate of achievement for climbing the 115 steps. For members of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers’ the Mull of Galloway participates in the Lighthouse Passport Scheme.

    The Lighthouse and Exhibition open for the season on Saturday 8th April 2017 until Sunday 22nd October 2017. Please check the calendar on the website for the days of opening.

    Opening times are 10am until 4pm with last entry to the top of the Lighthouse Tower at 3.30pm.

    Lighthouse Exhibition at the Mull of Galloway

    The Exhibition is based in the former fuel store workshop and engine room next to the Stevenson Lighthouse. The original diesel engines that powered the fog horn can still be seen in the engine room.

    There are many interesting artefacts on view along with a wealth of fascinating information about the life and work of the Lighthouse Keepers’ in such a remote place and their families that lived there with them.

    Please check the website for the days of opening.

    Entry Charges for the Lighthouse & Exhibition for 2017

    Admission charges: Lighthouse Exhibition – £2.50 for adults and £1.00 for children under 14.
    Lighthouse Tower – £2.50 for adults and £1.00 for children under 14. Access to the Lighthouse Tower is by guided tour only.
    Combined visit to both the Lighthouse and Exhibition– £4.00 for adults and £1.50 for children under 14.

    RSPB Nature Reserve at the Mull of Galloway

    The nature reserve at the Mull of Galloway is a 30 acre site and contains a huge variety of wildlife. There is a visitor centre where you can view the colonies of sea birds on the cliffs from cliff mounted cameras including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. You may even see a puffin or two. On the nearby Scare or Scaur Rocks are enormous colonies of gannets

    On the clifftop heathland, there is much to be seen as well. Rare butterflies, birds such as the linnet and the stonechat and maybe some hares or a deer. Peregrines are also regular visitors.

    Guided walks are held every  Wednesday from 1pm to 3pm throughout the open season (April to the end of October).

    Opening Times –   The nature reserve and walks are open all year round. The RSPB Visitor Centre is open from Easter to the end of October.

    Gallie Craig Coffee House

    Gallie Craig is Scotland`s most southerly coffee house and gift shop and is named after the Gallie Craig Rock protruding from the sea south of the Mull of Galloway.

    The coffee house and gift shop have been designed in a most environmentally manner with a grass roof and predominantly glass walls enabling it to blend into the cliff side into which it is set.

    There is also a viewing platform right on the cliff edge from which you can enjoy a coffee whilst admiring the views and watch the seabirds and tides swirling below you.

    Visit the Mull of Galloway Experience at Scotland’s most Southerly Point in the far west of the region of Dumfries and Galloway. Dumfries and Galloway has been voted BBC Countryfile Magazine Holiday Destination of the Year for 2015/16.






  • Easterbrook Hall

    Easterbrook Hall

    Full of grandeur with a historic soul, the Easterbrook Hall and Crichton Memorial Church is a hidden treasure situated on the 100 acres Crichton Estate in Dumfries, South West Scotland.

    The red sandstone buildings on the estate date back to 1834 with the Easterbrook Hall dating back to 1938. The building has been lovingly modernised whilst retaining its original charm and Art Deco features. The Crichton Memorial Church is more like a mini Cathedral and is considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in South Scotland. The ceiling is of carved oak and the floors a remarkable pattern of white, red, green and black marble imported from Italy and Ireland

    Established from the very beginning of the estate, acres of beautifully manicured lawns and impressive flower beds are maintained by our dedicated grounds keepers. The Rock Gardens have a wide variety of plants, miniature waterfall, ornamental pond and numerous seats and alcoves. Visitors are more than welcome to walk around our grounds, there are Heritage leaflets available from reception detailing walking routes around the estate. Why not have lunch at Neuro’s afterwards?

    Should you have an occasion to celebrate, our team has a wealth of experience in event management ranging from intimate family events to large scale celebrations, the talented and creative Kitchen brigade will tantalise your taste buds and our friendly events team will be on hand to make sure your event is everything you’ve dreamed of.

    Perhaps you are looking for live entertainment whilst visiting the region? Please see our sister site for details of upcoming events.

  • Cardoness Castle

    cardoness castle gatehouse on fleet

    Cardoness Castle is set in an imposing position above Gatehouse of Fleet. This six storey tower house is well preserved and dates back to the 15th century. (more…)

  • Culzean Castle & Country Park

    culzean castle visit south west scotland

    Culzean Castle is on the Ayrshire Coast of South West Scotland between Turnberry and Ayr. This magnificent castle and country park is extremely popular with visitors staying in the towns and villages in the west of Dumfries & Galloway and is the nearest National Trust property to Stranraer and the Rhins of Galloway (more…)

  • Dunskey Castle near Portpatrick

    portpatrick dunskey castle south west scotland

    Dunskey Castle is a spectacular ruin on the cliff tops a short distance from Portpatrick

    The castle can be reached by climbing a flight of steps to the cliff top above Portpatrick and following a good footpath for less than a quarter mile. (more…)

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