Impressions from the Road: Dumfries & Galloway

by Keith Savage · 5 comments

Daffodils at Threave Gardens

Hello from the road! As I type this I’m sitting on the sun-drenched veranda at The Three Glens watching a large red fox scour an empty field for subterranean prey. I’ve been on the road for a week now and passed through Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway on my way to the Scottish Borders. It’s a bit early for me to put together anything too in depth on things I’ve seen and done on this trip, but I do like to pass along thoughts that have struck me along the way.

Despite catching a short post-trip cold, the trip has been great with warm welcomes and generally good weather.


Dumfries & Galloway is hillier than expected. This swath of land north of the English border and south of Edinburgh and Glasgow is called the Lowlands, but I would excuse any folks brought up in Moniaive (Moniaivians?) from being confused at that designation. The region north and west of Dumfries is wildly hilly and reminiscent of passes in the Cairngorms National Park. This was a welcome impression as, to be honest, thinking of a place called the Lowlands never really inspired me. Adhere to monikers at your own peril. Those seeking the romance of the highlands could just as easily zoom south from Glasgow or Edinburgh and find a close facsimile in parts of Dumfries & Galloway.

The Galloway Forest Park is under-appreciated. Fully a quarter of the land that stretches from Ayr to Dumfries must be dedicated to the Galloway Forest Park. It is a massive expanse of old mixed forest, dramatic lochs, and towering hills that should be mentioned in the same breath as the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The fact that it’s under-appreciated makes it the perfect place to disappear in nature (but not actually disappear). I trekked for six miles around Loch Trool and saw only a handful of people near the Bruce’s Stone – I didn’t pass a single person on the trail itself!

Most tourism passes along the Solway Coast. This southern coast of Dumfries & Galloway slides into the Solway Firth, and the region’s main road, the A75 more or less mirrors the water. No surprise that most of the tourism (and traffic) pulses down this road. However, if a visitor would only venture a short ways off this path, say to Newton Stewart, Castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright, and Dumfries, it would give an incomplete picture of the greater Dumfries & Galloway region. On my first visit to the area in 2006 I missed the hilly upland region and more’s the pity. Don’t make the same mistake I made.

The area is overflowing with ruined abbeys and tower houses. If ruins are your thing, Dumfries & Galloway has plenty to keep you interested. There’s Castle Kennedy, Cardoness Castle, Glenluce Abbey, and Dundrennan Abbey just to name a few. Such are the dangers of being in that no-man’s land between the Scottish cities and the English border.

There you have it! Just a few thoughts from the road, hopefully some information you can use to plan your trip to Scotland.

Sofia RhodesNo Gravatar April 22, 2014 at 2:39 AM

Hey Keith, Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. You really motivated and forced me to visit that part of Scotland. I’ll love to explore and will definitely share my experience too.

KenNo Gravatar April 17, 2014 at 7:20 AM

Sounds wonderful. I haven’t seen that part of Scotland yet and it seems very inviting, and one must see the land of Robert Burns. (In my mind I’m hearing Breabach’s Rolling Hills of the Borders) The photograph makes a great illustration of the beauty of the area. I’m feeling Scotland calling.

Pam WoodsNo Gravatar April 16, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Hi Keith, thanks for your extremely positive first impressions blog of your Lowlands trip, great to read such appreciative views and we were glad to welcome you. Can’t wait to read more. PW

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 16, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Thanks Pam!

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