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Must-See Places To Visit In Dumfries And Galloway, Scotland

Matt Crisp May 3, 2024

Scotland is a favourite tourist destination and is particularly beautiful in spring, when the winter chills have been replaced by more welcoming weather and nature is budding back to life.

It is an ideal region to explore by coach hire to make the most of those sweeping glens and coastal views. Sit back in comfort and enjoy a tailored itinerary, so that you don’t need to worry about navigating or scheduling, but can relax and savour every minute of your trip. 

Dumfries and Galloway is a popular destination in the south west of Scotland, which offers rugged coastline and unspoilt inland areas with forests and lush green countryside. It’s a mecca for outdoor activities, and it’s also an area that’s rich in historical and cultural interest. Here are a few of the highlights.

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is a Mediaeval fortress that has an intact moat around its distinctive triangular shape. Its well preserved twin towers and battlements mean that it is a popular location for filming TV and movie scenes. 

It has survived numerous sieges and captures over the centuries, until it was finally stripped of valuables in the 17th century to ensure that it would not be a target for further hostilities. Today it is a popular tourist attraction and it holds jousting events; the perfect opportunity to see some living history and admire the bravery and skill of the horses and riders. 

The castle grounds contain 15 nationally important wildlife habitats including semi-natural ancient woodland, swamps and ponds, and unimproved grassland, with many rare plant and animal species. It’s also next to the Caeverlock Nature Reserve, a coastal area with mudflats and saltmarsh that are a habitat for many seabird species and the rare natterjack toad. 

Galloway Forest Park

For those who love to be active in the great outdoors, Galloway Forest Park is a real adventure playground for people of all ages. It’s also a haven for nature lovers with the chance to spot native wildlife such as red kites, red squirrels, and pine martens. 

It’s also well worth making a night time excursion, because the forest is one of Europe’s handful of ‘Dark Sky Parks’, with the opportunity to do some seriously awesome stargazing. 

The park has three visitor centres where you can learn about the history, flora and fauna and geography of the area, hire mountain bikes, or discover scenic trails to explore on foot. 

Robert Burns House

Dumfries is home to Robert Burns House, which is where Scotland’s National Poet spent the last three years of his life until his death in 1796 at the age of just 37. It is open to visitors, and you can view original manuscripts, see the poet’s original desk and chair in his study where some of his finest work was composed, and view some personal artefacts.

The red sandstone house is just a short distance from St Michael’s Kirkyard where the Robert Burns Mausoleum is located, and it is a place of pilgrimage for dedicated enthusiasts of the great man. Burns was most famously the author of Auld Lang Syne and Address to a Haggis, and his legacy is woven into the fabric of Scottish culture.

He was born in Alloway in 1759, the oldest son of tenant farmers who were keen for their child to be well educated. Although he inherited the farm with his brother in 1784, he had no natural inclination for farming and his life was full of numerous passionate affairs and profuse literary outpourings. He died from a rheumatic heart condition, leaving 13 children. 

Dean Castle Country Park

Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock features a 14th century castle and hosts a variety of events throughout the year, making it a favourite family destination. The castle has been recently renovated and it houses world class collections that provide a fascinating insight into the rich heritage and culture of the area.

There’s a visitor centre and cafe, and a Rural Life Centre that contains information about the history of the estate and the surrounding woodlands, and has a feature on sustainable living practices. There’s also an adventure playground and baby changing facilities. 

The 400-acre country park has an extensive path network where you can enjoy the native woodlands and wildlife, with routes to suit all levels of ability.