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Issue 2 - Dumfries & Galloway – forget the cliches

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 2
June 2002


This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Dumfries & Galloway – forget the cliches

Secret? Not for long. Dumfries and Galloway is bursting at the seams with everything to make a family holiday, romantic break or anything in between

It’s often called Scotland’s best-kept secret – even in this issue of Scotland Magazine – but that doesn’t really tell you much about the area or the wealth of places of interest, historic monuments, ruins, castles, important religious sites, beaches, forestry reserves, festivals – you name it, Dumfries and Galloway has it.

Why is it considered to be such a ‘secret’? Mainly because many people see Scotland as beginning with Edinburgh and Glasgow then melting into the Highlands. Perhaps also because, oddly enough, of the shape of the county: there’s really only a fairly narrow area attached to England, but over the border it flares out into 200 miles of coastline. If people had to travel right through it to get to the likes of Edinburgh and Glasgow, perhaps they would know it that much better. But then, perhaps it would lose much of its unspoiled charm and laid-back appeal, details so important to those looking for a break.

A visit to Dumfries and Galloway is a great way to relax, leave the stresses and strains of the city or work behind, and it won’t break the bank. There’s something for everyone, from mountain biking and cycling trails to the succession of almost year-round festivals, hill walking and simply relaxing on one of the many small, secluded beaches and coves.

As you can see from our pictures, it’s a beautiful area – no wonder the BBC used it as a location for the fictional Hebridean island Ronansay in the successful series 2000 Acres Of Sky, filmed in and around Port Logan and Portpatrick.
So why not try it? If you’ve never been to one of Scotland’s many jewels, we’re sure that after just one visit you’ll be back time and again.

For more information on Dumfries and Galloway accommodation, events and areas of interest, contact Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Information Centre on +44 (0) 1387 253 862, or visit on the web at

Dumfries and Galloway Festivals

Here’s a small selection of the events taking place in Dumfries and Galloway in 2002. There’s much more than this – visit or contact the organisers directly (see below) for more information.

24th May to 2nd June: Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. Classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, literary events and childrens’ functions. Events take place county-wide from Stranraer to Langholm.
Call +44 (0) 1387 260 447 or email for more information.

19th and 20th July: The Wickerman Festival, East Kirkcarswell Farm, Dundrennan, Kirkudbrught. Features live music, cult cinema, land art, willow structures amd willow workshops. The weekend is to climax with the burning of a 20-foot high wickerman. Beer and food tents are on-site, and there is room for camping and parking.
Call +44 (0) 1557 331 281, email or visit the web site for details.

8th to 11th August: The Border Gathering, Borderland. Four days of celebrating border history and heritage. Each day is full of choices, things to do and see and places to go: re-enactments, pipe bands, banquets and much more.
Email or visit on the web for further information.

16th August to 30th October: Gaelforce 2002, Dumfries and Galloway. An umbrella for a host of other festivals, making the entire region a celebration of Scottish culture, energy, youth and the arts for more than two months. There is far too much going on to list it all here!
For more information, call Ruari McNeill on +44 (0) 1387 260 335 or email

The weird and the wonderful: fascinating facts about Dumfries and Galloway

The first steamboat sailed on Dalwinston Loch in 1788, with Robert Burns rumoured to be a passenger

In 400AD Scotland’s first Christian Church, Candida Casa at Whithorn, was founded; St Ninian was its first bishop

The first transatlantic cables were laid in 1866 by James Anderson of Dumfries

The Star Hotel in Moffat is Britain’s narrowest hotel

The best preserved Norman motte and bailey earthworks in Britain, The Motte of Urr (12th century), is near Dalbeattie

Scotland’s last witchcraft trial (1701) and last public execution (1868) were carried out in Dumfries and Galloway

Britain’s oldest Douglas fir (measuring 132ft) and largest sycamore can both be seen at Drumlanrig

Robert Burns lived at Ellisland Farm in 1788 then Dumfries from 1789 until his death in 1796

John Buchan’s thriller The Thirty Nine Steps features a chase set on the moors at Cairnsmore of Fleet

Sir Walter Scott based characters on Dumfries and Galloway locals and set parts of his novels in the county

Author J M Barrie’s story of Peter Pan was inspired by a local garden

Lochmaben Castle was owned by Robert the Bruce’s family

Mary Queen of Scots made three documented visits to the county

Merlin the wizard is linked to Hartfell near Moffat

Caerlaverock Castle is Britain’s only triangular castle. It was beseiged by Edward I in 1300 and taken back by Robert the Bruce in 1313

Britain’s only coast-to-coast footpath, The Southern Upland Way, covers 212 miles, from Portpatrick to Berwickshire

Portpatrick is named after St. Patrick, who stepped across from Ireland but was decapitated by savages. He retrieved the head and swam back to Ireland.

Knockinaam Lodge at Portpatrick was the location for secret talks between Churchill and Eisenhower during WWII


D&G offers a range of different accommodation, from top hotels to self-catering and holiday parks. This is just a selection of the many great places to stay across the county – there are many more! For a full selection, check out the Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Board web site on

Knockinaam Lodge Hotel, Portpatrick
A famous five-star hotel (see page 28, this issue), with 10 en-suite rooms (nine double, one single) in a beautiful water’s edge setting. Rightfully famed for its cuisine. Also stocks a splendid selection of single malt whiskies!
Tel: +44 (0) 1776 810 471, fax: +44 (0) 1776 810 435. Web:

Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel, near Stranraer
An unusual luxury hotel in a converted lighthouse, set in 20 acres with spectacular views – but not too far from Stranraer. Midweek and special breaks are offered, with transport available by arrangement.
Tel: +44 (0) 1776 853 220, fax: +44 (0) 1776 854 231. Web:

Beechwood Country House Hotel, Moffat
Another stunning location, this Victorian house was originally a boarding school for girls. Excellent accommodation, fine food and a healthy wine list.
Telephone: +44 (0) 1683 220 210, fax: +44 (0) 1683 220 889

Reiver’s Rest, Langholm
Family-run, this inn is situated in the centre of the historic town, and serves real ale along with dishes made using fresh seasonal produce.
Telephone +44 (0) 1387 381 343. Web

Portpatrick Hotel, Portpatrick
Commanding a magnificent position, the hotel overlooks picturesque Portpatrick fishing village, and was the chosen abode of actress Michelle Collins during the filming of the BBC’s 2000 Acres of Sky.
Telephone +44 (0) 1786 436 600. Web

Craigadam, near Castle Douglas
The excellent facilities of this B&B include en-suite bedrooms and a spa bath. The country house is furnished with antiques, has an oak-panelled dining room, and the menu includes local venison, pheasant and salmon.
Telephone +44 (0) 1556 650 233. Web

Benutium, Kirkcudbright
Enjoy dishes made with local produce, a peaceful location and spacious rooms. With views of Kirkcudbright, the River Dee Estuary and the Galloway Hills.
Telephone +44 (0) 1557 330 788. Web

Braemar, Near Rockcliffe
Make the most of cliff-top walks from a location 200 feet above sea level. This tranquil guest house is situated in the tranquil hamlet of Portling, between Rockcliffe and Sandyhills.
Telephone +44 (0) 1556 630 414, fax +44 (0) 1556 630 414.

Nether Barr Steading, Near Newton Stewart
A great base for riverside walks and picnics, the accommodation comprises six individually designed lodges with views of the Galloway Hills and Cree Valley. Traditional Scottish and Irish dishes are served in the restaurant.
Telephone +44 (0) 1671 404 326, fax +44 (0) 1671 404 860. Web

Mrs Fiona Kerr, Rockcliffe
This converted mill cottage is ideal for those interested in outdoor pursuits such as sailing, golfing or birdwatching. Situated near the shore, it has a secluded garden with patio and burn.
Telephone +44 (0) 1461 203 368, fax +44 (0) 1461 201 492

Cairnyard Holiday Lodges,near Dumfries
This is a small, uncommercialised site of comfortable, well-insulated lodges, five miles from Dumfries, with views of Mabie Forest and farmland hills.
Telephone +44 (0) 1387 730 218. Web

(Caravans etc)
Brighouse Bay, near Kirkcudbright
Covering 1200 acres, facilities at the park include an indoor pool, jacuzzi, golf course, 10-pin bowling, sea and coarse fishing and pony trekking. It is situated next to a beach and bluebell woods.
Tel: +44 (0) 1557 870 267, fax +44 (0) 1557 870 319. Web

Kippford Holiday Park, Kippford
The caravans and bungalows are all double-glazed and heated, and tents and tourers are welcome. The pretty seaside village of Kippford is only 15 minutes’ walk away with friendly pubs. The surrounding countryside is hilly and in places wooded, with views of up to 20 miles.
Tel: +44 (0) 1556 620 636, fax +44 (0) 1556 620 607. Web

Brandedleys, Crocketford
Chalets, cottages and luxury caravans.
Tel: +44 (0) 1556 690 250, fax +44 (0) 1556 690 681. Web