Five Beautiful Places in Dumfries and Galloway

Caerlaverock // Solway Firth // Scotland

Five Beautiful Places in Dumfries and Galloway

Here are five absolutely gorgeous places you can visit in southern Scotland! It’s perfect for a little road trip or a weekend away.

WWT Caerlaverock // Solway Firth // Scotland1. Caerlaverock Wetland Centre

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Caerlaverock is a truly spectacular place to visit at any time of year.

This vast protected area of wetlands in the Solway Firth is home to a great variety of wildlife including many wintering water birds like barnacle geese and beautiful whooper swans – pictured here – to resident barn owls and badgers.

As well as the wetlands and pools there are also meadows that bloom in spring and summer with wild flowers.

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There are strategic hides and observatories from which to view the wildlife and footpaths span the reserve out to the coast.

From the beach you can look across the Solway Firth to the impressive off-shore Robin Rigg Wind Farm

WWT Caerlaverock is a must see in Dumfries and Galloway, if the huge flocks of geese don’t impress you, the picturesque landscape surely will.

How?

WWT Caerlaverock is open 10.00 – 17.00 every day, throughout the year except Christmas day.

Entry is £7.99 per adult and there are concessions. (2015 prices) 

There is an on site cafe and gift shop.

WWT Caerlaverock is 9 miles south-east of Dumfries.
Loch Ken

2. Loch Ken

Loch Ken is a beautiful freshwater loch near to the south-eastern edge of Galloway Forest Park.

The loch is home to the Galloway Activity Centre where you can go sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding and windsurfing on the water.

There is also a picturesque campsite on the lake edge: Loch Ken Holiday Park. I can recommend this park as we stayed there in the old camper a couple of years ago and it was from there that I took the photos of the loch one frosty March morning.

If you enjoy walking there is the popular Parton Heritage Trail that heads off from the campsite through farmland and woodland to panoramic viewpoints over the loch.

At the northern end of Loch Ken is RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes (open all year – free admission) which is another great spot for seeing wintering water birds. 

Nearby Galloway Forest Park has been given official dark sky status meaning it’s an absolutely fabulous place to see the night sky in all its glory.

How?

Loch Ken is around 8 miles north of Castle Douglas.
Red Kites at Bellymack Hill Farm // Scotland // Dumfries and Galloway

3. A Sky Full of Red Kites at Bellymack Hill Farm

Ok, so this more of a beautiful bird than it is a place, but my goodness, it really is incredible to get so close to these magnificent birds of prey.

Red kites were hunted to extinction in England and Scotland in the 19th Century, just a few birds hung on in Wales – I even saw one of these few birds in 1990 of a childhood holiday! 

It was some Welsh landowners that set to saving the British population of kites and after the world’s longest wildlife protection programme the red kite has been reintroduced to England and Scotland, where they are now thriving again.

At Bellymack Hill Farm Red Kite Feeding Station the kites are fed daily and large flocks of the birds circle and swoop in for chunks of meat. It is quite fantastic to experience and it’s really exciting it see these once rare birds so close and so numerous. 

Red kites are easily identifiable with their russet plumage and forked tail: spectacular birds!

How?

The kites are fed daily at 14.00 and the feeding station is open 12.00 – 1600 every day, including Christmas Day!

Entry is £4 per adult (2015 prices)

There is a hide with binoculars and a scope set up. You can also experience the birds outside too.

Bellymack Hill Farm Red Kite Feeding Station is 6 miles from Castle Douglas in Laurieston.
Cairn Holy II Neolithic Chambered Cairn

4. Neolithic Wonders Near Creetown

Heading west along the A75 towards Creetown will bring you to some enigmatic ancient wonders: the neolithic chambered tombs of Cairn Holy.

On a hill overlooking Wigtown Bay are two remarkably complete 4000 year old burial chambers.

Cairn Holy I (below) has a striking stone facade which provided both a narrow entrance to part of the tomb and also a backdrop for an outer forecourt. Originally the tomb would have been covered over whereas now the internal areas are open to the sky.

Just a few metres away is Cairn Holy II, this tomb (in the top photograph) is different in design and the huge capstone covering the inner town is still in situ, balanced for millennia.

It is quite something to see and I find these ancient sites so atmospheric and captivating.

561794_3583184788491_1818695883_nOn a B road to the west of Wigtown stands one of Scotland’s most complete stone circles: Torhouse.

Torhouse is a neat wide circle of nineteen dumpy stones with a three stone feature in the centre.

Again, this historic site dates back around 4000 years.

How?

The Cairn Holy tombs are 6 miles south east of Creetown. There is parking off the A75 and it’s a walk up the hill to the tombs.

The site is managed by Historic Scotland and it is free to explore.

Torhouse Stone Circle is located in the side of the B733 4 miles west of Wigtown.

The site is managed by Historic Scotland and it is free to explore.
Wood of Cree

5. Woods of Cree

This lovely woodland –an RSPB reserve – is tucked away along a minor road north of Newton Stewart, it is the largest ancient woodland in the south of Scotland and makes a happy wander throughout the year.

Trails weave up through the trees over babbling burns and along tracks, streams break over waterfalls and birds twitter in the foliage.

In springtime the woodland is carpeted in bluebells when summer migrants appear while winter visiting birds head over in the autumn.  

How?

There is a small carpark for Wood of Cree 5 miles along a minor road above Newton Stewart, it is signposted to the reserve.

The reserve is free to visit and open throughout the year.

There is a picnic area and reserve map in the carpark. 


A map showing where all the beauty spots listed here are:

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Dumfries and Galloway // Scotland

Try these posts:

Killiecrankie: a walk into some Scottish history a Jacobite rout and a leaping soldier!

12 Ways Shetland Will Amaze You! Puffin gifs galore and a whole heap of Shetland wanderlust!

A Snowy Week in the Cairngorms Camping in our van in a Scottish winter wonderland!

Hiding Away Up A Scottish Glen The southern Cairngorms, Glen Clova and a dusting of snow.

5 Amazing Wildlife Experiences From white tailed sea eagles on Skye to tigers in India!

Have you any recommendations for Dumfries and Galloway? Have you been?

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

17 Responses

  1. hawthorn says:

    We regularly go to Dumfries and Galloway and I was delighted to see some of our favourite places in your photos, however I don’t know where your first image is – those tubular stones look incredible! Where are they?
    hawthorn recently posted…Strawberry Summer Solstice – one in 70 #30DaysWildMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thank you, it’s a gorgeous corner of the world isn’t it! Those stones were on the sands behind Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, looking out on the Solway Firth. We walked through the reserve to the ‘beach’ and there they were!

  2. Mila says:

    Scotland… so beautiful.

  3. Meghan says:

    Fabulous photos, Rachel. The frost photos at Loch Ken are particularly stunning! And I’m incredibly intrigued by the Cairn Holy tombs. If I ever make it to Scotland I think all five of these places will have to be on my list.
    Meghan recently posted…Sugarloaf Mountain, Big Bay Lighthouse, and More Lake Superior ShorelineMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Megan, I loved waking up to that frosty morning and wandering down to the glittering loch side. The tombs are wonderful, there are lots of cool neolithic sites like this around Scotland. I hope you head over one day, it is a spectacular country!

  4. Meghan says:

    Such fabulous photos, Rachel. The frost photos at Loch Ken are truly stunning and I’m incredibly intrigued by Cairn Holy tombs. If I ever get to Scotland I think sll these places will have to be on my list!
    Meghan recently posted…Sugarloaf Mountain, Big Bay Lighthouse, and More Lake Superior ShorelineMy Profile

  5. John says:

    Incredible photos – absolutely lovely!

    Have you heard of the North Coast 500? Might be doing that with friends next year…
    John recently posted…15 photos to make you fall in love with DresdenMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks John! I have heard about it and we are considering to make drive it early december! It depends on whether we get a house sit booking though. I’m excited to do it, although we have driven most of it just in general roaming around Scotland over the years!

  6. Bridget says:

    We spend one week in St Cyrus in a amazing house called the Ice House and had one of the best holidays ever. Thank you for sharing these beautyful pictures and great article. I cant wait to go back!

  7. Hi Rachel,

    Great article.! Dumfries and Galloway is one of my favourite underrated parts of Scotland, however most of your suggestions are areas of the region that I have yet to explore and now saved for a future trip…

    Thanks for another interesting post and fab photos

    Susanne

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Susanne! I can’t believe we bypassed this area for so long, it’s amazing and I’m glad to share new places to see.
      I can’t wait to go back and discover more!

  8. mimi says:

    Such beautiful photos. We spent 3 weeks in Scotland, and I still feel like I need to go back!
    mimi recently posted…Non, Je Ne Regrette RienMy Profile

  9. Keri says:

    If I’m honest I’d never really had any interest in visiting Scotland in the past – I always had this awful opinion that it was dark, cold and unappealing. Over the last few years, as more of my friends have visited different areas of Scotland and I’ve seen beautiful pictures like these my opinion has totally changed and I really want to head over the border and explore the wild side of Scotland. Lovely post! :)
    Keri recently posted…Eight great Harrogate attractions you don’t want to missMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      It’s not always cold and dark, I can assure you! I spent 5 years living on the spectacular west coast and yes, it’s predictably wet but when the sun comes out to play my god it’s incredible.
      I’ve been based on the east coast – Dundee – since 2009 and I can honestly say it’s the sunniest place I’ve ever lived! Seriously, St Andrews up to Aberdeen: sunshine throughout the year!
      The weather for most of Scotland can be unpredictable, it probably will rain but it is a stunning country that has so much to offer, and often a little Scotch mist just adds to the atmosphere!
      I’m so glad some great posts about Scotland have changed your mind, you won’t regret it!

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