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Home » Itinerary » SWC300 Nature & the Outdoors
 

SWC300 Nature & the Outdoors

 

MILES356
KM573
DAYS7
 
Opening dates and times vary across attractions. Please ensure to check opening times and availability directly with each attraction before you visit.

If you are looking for a trip that will help you escape back to nature, then the South West Coastal 300 is the trip for you. Home to the UNESCO Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere, the area has been internationally recognised as a world class environment for people and culture.

Engage with wildlife, enjoy our hills, forests and beaches, take in spectacular vistas from our coastline and our hillsides. See the night sky as you’ve never seen it before in the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, Galloway Forest. And if you enjoy visiting botanical gardens, you are in for a treat with a wide variety to choose from!

 

 

Day 1
OVERVIEW

Day 1 - Langholm to New Abbey

Kick off your trip with a wildlife tour with Wild Eskdale in the breathtaking southern uplands. Or try your hand at coarse fishing at Broom Fisheries near Annan.

Then head to the beautiful Mabie Forest just outside Dumfries to enjoy a walk or a bikeride. And if you’re still feeling energetic, head south to take the newly redeveloped path up Criffel Hill and you’ll be rewarded with some gorgeous views over the surrounding countryside and the Solway Firth.

 
MILES 47.9
KM 78
STOPS 4
 
Black Grouse, Wild Eskdale
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Wild Eskdale / Wildlife Experiences

Offering a range of wonderful wildlife experiences and tours in Scotland. We are based in the beautiful southern uplands of Dumfries and Galloway with dramatic scenery all around.
 
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Stop 2 - Broom Fisheries

Broom Fisheries, home to Scotland’s leading coarse fishing lakes and waters, nestled away in a quiet, picturesque corner of South West Scotland. You’ll find us at Newbie, two miles from the nearby market town of Annan in beautiful Dumfries & Galloway, and less than 25 miles from Carlisle.
 
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Stop 3 - Mabie Forest Park

Mabie Forest Park is a beautiful forest park just to the south of Dumfries offering spectacular views across the Dumfries and Galloway countryside and over to the Solway Firth. It is home to one of the 7Stanes Biking centres and offers walking and biking trails for all abilities.
 
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Stop 4 - Climb Criffel Hill

Criffel may be less than 2000 feet high, but as this is the highest hill for some distance it is prominent in views of the Solway Coast, from the Lake District. Due to its relatively low height, most people used to hill walking would be able to get to the summit and back within about 3 hours so that it makes Criffel an ideal half day walk. On a clear day, there are great views from the summit of the Solway Coast and the Lake District fells beyond including Skiddaw and Blencathra.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Afternoon Tea in the garden at Abbey Cottage Tearoom with a view of Sweetheart Abbey on the South West Coast 300
Abbey Cottage Tearoom
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Easterbrook Bistro, Bar & Spa
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The Townhead Hotel
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

The Abbot’s Tower
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Criffel View Caravan Site
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Kinmount Hotel
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Mabie House Hotel
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Eskdale Hotel
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The Old Church Hall, Kirkbean
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Day 2
OVERVIEW

Day 2 - Southerness to Rockcliffe

Day two takes you to the breathtaking Solway Coast. Go for a walk on one of our lovely beaches, enjoy a spot of birdwatching at Mersehead, one of our RSPB Wildlife Reserves.

Or take a stroll along the beautiful Rockcliffe coastline, part of a National Trust Scenic Area.

 
MILES 17.6
KM 29
STOPS 4
 
RSPB Mersehead
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Southerness Lighthouse and Beach

Southerness beach is a vast expanse of sand and rocks offering breathtaking views across the Solway Firth towards the Lake District. At low tide mud flats and rock pools are revealed and at the western end of the beach stands Southerness lighthouse which was built in 1749. Unusually it is square in shape.
 
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Stop 2 - RSPB Mersehead Nature Reserve

Situated on the scenic north shore of the Solway coast, Mersehead is an extensive wetland and saltmarsh area, a haven for breeding waders, wintering waterfowl and year-round bird and wildlife-watching. Enjoy the birdsong of lapwings and skylarks in spring. See the young birds emerge in summer. Welcome the arrival of the Svalbard barnacle geese and pintails in autumn. And in winter, if you're lucky, witness the unforgettable display of the starling murmurations.
 
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Stop 3 - Sandyhills Beach

Sandyhills is a large sandy beach near Dalbeattie on the Dumfries and Galloway coastline. The beach lives up to its name and at low tide has a vast expanse of sand, backed by gentle sand dunes. The beach slopes gently so the water is shallow and it is a popular beach for paddling and exploring rock pools.
 
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Stop 4 - NTS Rockcliffe Coastline

Part of a National Scenic Area, the National Trust for Scotland nature reserve at Rockcliffe is fringed with wildflowers and dotted with sailing villages. Further inland the shells and shingle give way to patches of ancient broadleaved woodland and meadows, rich with flowers, butterflies and birds.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Cavens Country House
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Colvend Shop and Treats & Eats Tearoom
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Mr Pook’s Kitchen
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Cavens Country House
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Galloway Country Cottages
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Galloway Escapes- Craigbittern House and Cottage
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Grovewood House Bed and Breakfast
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Maxwell Arms Hotel
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Millbrae House B and B and Self Catering
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Day 3
OVERVIEW

Day 3 - Castle Douglas to Newton Stewart

Head inland on day three and visit Threave Estate, home to the School of Heritage Gardening, landscaped beauty at its finest and a feast of ideas for any keen gardener. Then try your hand at fly fishing at Glenquicken Troutmasters Fishery.

Explore the Galloway Forest, the largest forest park and the first designated Dark Sky Park in the UK. And, if you were feeling inspired by your trip to Threave in the morning, why not stop off at Elmlea Plants where you can pick up some plants to remind you of your trip when you get home.

 
MILES 50.3
KM 81
STOPS 4
 
Galloway Forest Park
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Threave Garden and Estate

Threave Estate is a garden for all seasons and a haven for wildlife, with an osprey platform and bat reserve. It has been home to the School of Heritage Gardening since 1960 and its beautiful 'garden rooms' offer inspiration to any keen gardeners.
 
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Stop 2 - Glenquicken Farm Trout Fishery

Glenquicken Troutmasters Fishery, a 4.5 acre fly fishing lochan situated amongst magnificent scenery in the shadow of Cairnsmore of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway.
 
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Stop 3 - Galloway Forest Park

The Galloway Forest Park has everything you need for a great day out, whatever the time of year. Meet red deer and wild goats, choose from two scenic Forest Drives, follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce or picnic beside a peaceful loch. This is also Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park – one of the best places to stargaze in Europe!
 
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Stop 4 - Elmlea Plants

Elmlea  is a small, family run nursery located in Old Minnigaff, specialising in herbaceous perennials and grasses.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Café at Clatteringshaws
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The Belted Galloway Visitor Centre
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The Old School House
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Brewery House Bed and Breakfast
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Cally Palace Hotel
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Creebridge House Hotel
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Sea View Snugs at Laggan
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Stables Guest House
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The Nether Barr
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Day 4
OVERVIEW

Day 4 - Wigtown to Port Logan

Day four kicks off with a visit to Britain’s largest Local Nature Reserve at Wigtown Bay. Then stretch your legs on one of the loveliest expanses of sandy beach in the South West, the Sands of Luce.

Gardening enthusiasts are in for a treat at Glenwhan Gardens, one of the best new gardens of recent times, it has been cultivated over two decades from bog, rushes and gorse. The last stop of the day is to spectacular Logan Botanic Gardens, this garden may surprise you with its collection of exotic plants that you may not expect to see in Scotland!

 
MILES 49.6
KM 80
STOPS 4
 
Logan Botanic Gardens
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve

Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve is the largest LNR in Britain. The estuary, with large areas of salt marsh and mudflats is vitally important for many of the species that live there, especially for salt tolerant plants and wintering wildfowl. The reserve is a popular venue for a range of recreational activities including angling and bird watching.
 
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Stop 2 - Sandhead Beach (Luce Sands)

This beautiful sandy beach in Sandhead village near Stranraer stretches for more than a mile and boasts unlimited sand when the tide is out. Luce bay is designated a Special Area for Conservation for its dune, seashore and seabed habitats and the fantastic marine wildlife it supports. With ample car parking and picnic tables by the beach, the area is a great place for a picnic before walking on the beach.
 
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Stop 3 - Glenwhan Gardens, Arboretum and Tea Room

The Gardens are a labour of love, hewn from rough moorland 40 years ago. With the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, Glenwhan grows many tender plants from around the Southern Hemisphere, together with large collections of rare trees and shrubs
 
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Stop 4 - Logan Botanic Garden

At the south western tip of Scotland lies Logan, unrivalled as ‘Scotland’s Most Exotic Garden’. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, a remarkable collection of southern hemisphere plants flourish, making this a plantsman’s paradise.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Beltie Books and Cafe
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Bladnoch Distillery
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Cool Licks and Hot Drinks Ltd
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Craigmount Bed and Breakfast
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Faldarroch Farm
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Fordbank House
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North West Castle Hotel
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Pend House
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Tigh Na Mara Hotel
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Day 5
OVERVIEW

Day 5 - Mull of Galloway to Stranraer

Day five includes some stunning walks in the Rhins of Galloway. From Scotland’s most southerly point at the Mull of Galloway, where on a clear day you can see Galloway in Scotland, Cumbria in England, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man! The cliff path walks at Portpatrick also offer spectacular views including Dunskey Castle and Killantringan Bay.

There’s another chance for anglers to test their skill with Stranraer and District Angling Association, which has five venues to choose from. Finish the day at the breathtaking Castle Kennedy Gardens, one of Scotland’s most important historical landscaped gardens with its collection of Rhododendrons, Championship Trees and rare species.

 
MILES 43.3
KM 70
STOPS 4
 
Duskey Castle, near Portpatrick
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Mull of Galloway Trail

This is probably the most scenic trail in South West Scotland. After the initial section from Stranraer to Luce Bay,the trail follows the coastline of the Southern Rhins of Galloway to end at the Mull of Galloway where there is a visitor centre with an excellent cafe with stunning views.
 
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Stop 2 - Portpatrick Cliff Path Walks

From Portpatrick there are excellent cliff paths in both directions, north and south. These offer a range of options for stunning walks with awesome scenery.
 
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Stop 3 - Stranraer and District Angling Association

Founded in 1947 Stranraer and District Angling Association offers visiting anglers a diverse choice, from remote wild brown trout fishing, to a well stocked user friendly loch especially suited to the younger and disadvantaged anglers as well as those wishing to explore the fishing whilst visiting the area.
 
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Stop 4 - Castle Kennedy Gardens

Castle Kennedy Gardens, one of Scotland’s finest gardens, set in 75 acres and offering something for everyone to enjoy. From stunning fauna, to beautiful scenery, sculptured landforms, magnificent walks and popular bird hides, the Gardens are a hidden treasure in South West Scotland and a perfect haven for relaxing and exploring.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Central Cafe
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Connors Restaurant
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Henrys Bay House Restaurant Stranraer
Henrys Bay House Restaurant, Stranraer
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Knockinaam Lodge Hotel
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Knockniemoak B and B
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Lochinch Castle Holiday Cottages
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Mull of Galloway Lighthouse Holiday Cottages
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Rickwood Bnb in Portpatrick
Rickwood House B&B Portpatrick
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Tigh Na Mara Hotel
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Day 6
OVERVIEW

Day 6 - Stranraer to Dalmellington

Everyone knows a visit to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without seeing some real life Coos, so start your day with a visit to Kitchen Coos & Ewes!! Then Journey up the Ayrshire Coast, if you’d like to stretch your legs, check out the Ayrshire Coastal Path, which stretches the length of the coast and covers 100 miles in total.

Culzean Castle Estate, is an absolute must see, with its spectacular clifftop castle, its gardens, beaches, woods, trails and playgrounds, there is something for everyone. And cross your fingers for a clear night and a visit to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory to see the night sky as you’ve never seen it before!

 
MILES 68.2
KM 110
STOPS 4
 
Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Kitchen Coos and Ewes

Learn about the interesting variety of different breeds that were carefully selected to utilise the different habitats on the farm before enjoying a traditional farmhouse spread of food and drink. Grab your camera or your sketchbook and charcoals, because there are so many highlights on one of these tours, you’ll want to capture them all.
 
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Stop 2 - Ayrshire Coastal Path

The Ayrshire Coastal Path from Glenapp to Skelmorlie runs 100 miles along one of the finest panoramic coastlines in the British Isles. Crowned with a superb backdrop of the ever-changing profile of the mountains of Arran across the Firth of Clyde, this coastline is steeped in history and teeming with wildlife.
 
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Stop 3 - Culzean Castle and Country Park

With a dramatic clifftop setting, Robert Adam architecture, fascinating history & beautiful surrounds, Culzean Castle and Country Park is one of Scotland's best days out. This glorious 260 ha estate was once the playground of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis. The park is planted with conifers and beech, sculpted around miles of sandy coastline dotted with caves, and finished off with a Swan Pond, an ice house, flamboyant formal gardens and fruit-filled glasshouses.
 
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Stop 4 - Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

Opening up the science, art and nature of the Dark Skies for all, The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory occupies a fantastic hilltop site on the edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. This publicly accessible educational observatory has some of the darkest skies in the UK and two large telescopes through which to observe the night sky.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Henrys Bay House Restaurant Stranraer
Henrys Bay House Restaurant, Stranraer
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The Coo Shed
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The Kirkton Inn
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Barrhill Holiday Park
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Craigengillan Estate
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Donnini Apartments | Bay View
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Glenapp Castle
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The Knowe Bed and Breakfast Scotland
The Knowe
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Wildings Hotel and Restaurant
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Day 7
OVERVIEW

Day 7 - Loch Doon to Grey Mare's Tail

There is so much to choose from on the last day of your visit. Try to spot some ospreys at Loch Doon Roundhouse. Or explore Crawick Multiverse where art meets nature. This amazing land art installation, where art meets nature, was created by the world renowned Charles Jencks.

Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate has so much to offer, its stunning castle, beautiful formal gardens, its parkland trails and an adventure playground. The Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall near Moffat is the perfect way to round off your trip, whether you choose to view it from the bottom or climb to the top to enjoy the stunning views of Loch Skeen.

 
MILES 78.7
KM 127
STOPS 4
 
Grey Mare's Tail
 
EXPLORE
 

Stop 1 - Roundhouse at Loch Doon

The Roundhouse Cafe and Osprey Lounge can be found on the shores of Loch Doon the largest inland loch in Southern Scotland with spectacular scenery. It is approximately 5 miles in length and 1 mile at it's widest point. It nestles in the Galloway hills with stunning views of the Rhinns Of Kells.
 
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Stop 2 - Crawick Multiverse

Crawick Multiverse, a spectacular Artland. Transformed by globally-renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks. The site which opened in summer 2015 links the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology, creating a truly inspiring landmark that will appeal to everyone from art enthusiasts and scientists to walkers and the wider community.
 
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Stop 3 - Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate

If you like delving deep into history, soaking up the finest culture, exploring beautiful countryside – or adrenaline-fuelled mountain biking – you’ll love a day at Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate. From activities for kids to salmon fishing, you’ll find a raft of activity awaiting you. The Castle has 120 rooms, 17 turrets and four towers and from your very first glance you’ll know you’re entering a special place. Special enough, in fact, that the producers of Outlander recently used the Castle for filming their second series! Please check opening times ahead of your visit, for much of the year, castle visits must be booked in advance.
 
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Stop 4 - Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall and Loch Skeen

The Grey Mare's Tail is a spectacular 60 metre waterfall plunging into the Moffat Valley from the breathtaking Loch Skeen at the top of the falls. You can follow the path alongside the waterfall up to the top of the hill, where you will find spectacular views of Loch Skeen and the peaks of Lochcraig Head, Mid Craig and the summit of White Coomb beyond.
 
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EAT

Food in this area

Carsphairn Shop and Tearooms
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Moffat Mill
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Roundhouse at Loch Doon
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STAY

Accommodation in this area

Blackaddie House
Blackaddie House Hotel
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Croftjane Cottage
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Self Catering on Drumlanrig Estate
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Muiryhill House. Walking, Equine and Cycling Accommodation
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The River Suite view
Nith Riverside Cottages
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Nithbank Country Estate
Nithbank Country Estate
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Queensberry House
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