Where to stay in Galloway and South West Scotland
This is a paid partnership with Visit South West Scotland to promote Galloway, south west Scotland and the SWC300
Describing South West Scotland as one of ‘Scotland’s hidden gems’ might be a clumsy cliche, but the area has long been left off the list of places to visit in Scotland. Let’s change that! Here’s where to stay in Galloway and South West Scotland.
Stretching from Scotland’s most southerly point to its highest village, South West Scotland has endless deserted beaches, cute Beltie cows, incredible moated castles, world-class mountain biking and a dark sky park – and maybe soon to be a National Park! Whether you are road-tripping the South West Coastal 300 or looking for a great base to explore, from the Mull of Galloway and Dumfries to the Southern Uplands and the Machar Peninsula, here’s where to stay in South West Scotland.
Ready to visit? Let’s go!
5 reasons why you will love Galloway and South West Scotland
- The South West Coastal 300 – The South West Coastal 300 is one of Scotland’s best road trips, taking you along the stunning Solway Firth, down through the Machar Peninsula to the remote Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point, along the Ayrshire Coast, through the Galloway Forest Park and to Wanlockhead – Scotland’s highest village!
- Beltie cows – Galloway has its own breed of cows – the ‘Beltie’. Black & white and fluffy with a big belt around their chubby waists, they are as cute as any Highland Coo – if you can find them, they are pretty rare!
- The beaches of the Solway Firth – south facing and often deserted, the Solway Firth has some of the most gorgeous beaches in Scotland. I love Mossyard Beach near Castle Douglas, the walk between Kippford and Rockcliff and the sweep of sand at Sandyhills.
- The Galloway Forest Park – Scotland’s largest forest park, Loch Trool is one of southern Scotland’s most beautiful lochs and the 6-mile walk takes you along the Southern Upland Way to a memorial to Robert the Bruce with a great view.
- You can ride 5 of the 7stanes – The Lowlands of Scotland offer up incredible days out on your bike – try the 7stanes, world-class mountain biking centres in Southern Scotland including Kirroughtree and Glentrool in Galloway and the Forest of Ae, Mabie, Dalbeattie, near Dumfries.
1/ To visit Scotland’s most southerly point – stay at Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel
Explore the Rhinns of Galloway by indulging your inner coastal geek by staying in a real live working lighthouse, complete with quirky decor and warm welcome.
Perched out on the Rhinns of Galloway with views to Northern Ireland, Campbelltown and the Isle of Arran is Corsewall Lighthouse. Built-in 1817, the lighthouse protects the mouth of Loch Ryan – and you can watch the ships pass by on their way to and from Belfast and Larne. The lighthouse is now automated from Edinburgh, with the working buildings now converted into hotel accommodation including unique suites overlooking the Solway Firth.
We stayed in the Hotel’s Mull of Kintyre room which sits right behind the lighthouse and has access to a balcony with epic views of Ailsa Craig – the volcanic rock which sits off the Ayrshire Coast. Other suites have conservatories overlooking the crashing waves. Dinner is served in the hotel’s wood-panelled, ship inspired dining room and offers up a locally sourced and traditional 5-course fine dining menu.
Stay at Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel*
5 Things to do at Corsewall Lighthouse, Dumfries and Galloway
- Discover Logan Botanic Garden – explore this gorgeous botanic garden complete with palm trees, ferns, koi carp and even its own ruined castle. Logan Botanic Garden is part of RBG Edinburgh and was also the set of the famously creepy movie, the Wicker Man. Logan also has a lovely cafe for lunch.
- Visit Scotland’s most southerly point – climb the 100 stairs to the top of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, and watch the sea birds and dolphins from the RSPB reserve’s cameras.
- Head to Portpatrick – the pretty town of Portpatrick with its small harbour is a great place for a stroll and a pint of real ale overlooking turquoise waters.
- Explore Culzean Castle – explore this giant National Trust for Scotland castle and estate perched out on the edge of the Ayrshire Coast, high on a cliff. There are lots of walks around the estate.
- Don’t miss Dumfries House – gorgeously restored by the Prince’s Foundation, Dumfries House is chock full of Chippendale furniture and has beautiful grounds – including an arboretum, walled garden and Chinese bridge.
2/ For the Southern Uplands – stay at Blackaddie Country House Hotel
Love fine dining? Then the Blackaddie Country House Hotel is for you. Owned by former Michelin Star Chef Ian McAndrew and his wife Jane, Blackaddie is a small luxury hotel with service so friendly it feels like you are being cared for in someone’s home – and with two AA rosettes there is rather good food on offer too.
We stayed in The Partridge, a contemporary room with a huge bathroom, complete with a spa bath, and a seating area overlooking the hotel’s market garden. If you like things traditional, The Grouse has a four-poster bed, and the River Suite has uninterrupted rivers of the River Nith, complete with outdoor seating to watch the sunset over the river.
However, it is the food for which people come to Blackaddie for. Serving up a new menu every night, Chef Ian McAndrew pulls from 45 years of experience as a chef. We dined on the fine dining five-course menu which included fennel ice cream, pulled pork, delicious venison, and pear tart tatin – completely fabulous!
Stay at the Blackaddie Country House Hotel*
5 Things to do at Blackaddie Country House Hotel
- Explore Galloway Forest – Scotland’s largest forest park, the Galloway Forest covers 300 sq miles of Southern Scotland. Hike around beautiful Loch Trool to find Bruce’s Stone, a memorial commemorating Robert the Bruce’s first victory in 1307 over an English army. From Bruce’s Stone, you can climb The Merrick, the highest hill in southern Scotland. Not feeling so energetic? Take a stroll up the gorgeous Ness Glen near Loch Doon. Love a long-distance walk? Britain’s first official coast to coast long distance footpath, the Southern Upland Way takes you 214 miles from Portpatrick on the west coast of Scotland to Cove on the east through the Galloway Forest. The Blackaddie Hotel is on the route.
- Walk around the Crawick Multiverse – a huge art installation designed the late Charles Jencks, visit Crawick Multiverse for a stroll around the universe. Go for sunset – the light over the landscape is quite incredible.
- Visit The Lead Mining Museum – a true hidden gem, take a journey into the Lowther Hills to hear about Scotland’s gold rush. Take a tour into a mine shaft heading deep into the hillside. Visit the Museum of Lead Mining.
- Drumlanrig Castle – on a 90,000 acre Estate sits one of Scotland’s grandest castles, Drumlanrig Castle has 120 rooms, old masters, and was used in the TV series Outlander as the Duke of Sandringham’s estate.
- Climb Grey Mare’s Tail – Descending 200ft into the Moffat Valley, Grey Mare’s Tail is one of Scotland’s most spectacular waterfalls. For a real sense of its scale, take a walk up the hillside to find the hidden Loch Skeen at the top, the Dumfriesshire scenery is something rather special.
3/ For exploring Dumfries – stay at Mabie House Hotel
I love a quintessential Scottish country house hotel, and Mabie House Hotel has it in spades – along with a parrot! Surrounded by the beautiful woods and hills of Mabie Forest – complete with douglas firs, redwoods, giant sequoia and red squirrels. Muddy boots and bums are very welcome here – well the hotel is surrounded by one of the 7 Stanes – South Scotland’s world-class mountain bike centres. Mabie Forest has miles of tracks to explore, both by bike and on foot.
Bedrooms at Mabie House Hotel are palatial and grand – fitting for a house built for the landed gentry in the 17th century – and come with ensuites and very comfy beds. Dining is in the hotel wood-panelled drawing room and is locally sourced, very tasty and comes in huge portions – try the chicken & haggis in peppercorn sauce – you won’t be disappointed. Service is incredibly warm and welcoming – pull up a bar stool after tea, choose a whisky and while away your evening. You’ll soon see why Mabie House Hotel is so popular with returning guests!
Stay at Mabie House Hotel
5 Things to do around Mabie House Hotel
- Visit Sweetheart Abbey – built in memorial to John de Balliol by his widow Lady Dervorgilla (who carried his embalmed heart around with her until she died) Sweetheart Abbey sits in the pretty village of New Abbey. Pop into the Abbey Cottage Tearoom for cake.
- Discover Dumfries’s castles – Scotland’s only moated, triangular castle, Caerlaverock Castle is nestled on the Solway Firth south of Dumfries in its own National Nature Reserve, and perched out on an island, Threave Castle is only accessible by boat.
- Discover Robert Burns – Scotland’s poet was born in Alloway near Ayr and lived in Dumfries – where you can visit a museum dedicated to his life.
- Walk between Rockcliff and Kippford – walk the Jubilee Path between these two lovely coastal villages.
- Dine at Mr Pooks – don’t miss a visit to genteel Castle Douglas – South West Scotland’s foodie town. My pick? Mr Pook’s Kitchen where they serve up imaginative relaxed dining – and brilliant burgers.
4/ For Wigtown and the Machar Peninsula – Stay at Fordbank House
The Machar Peninsula stretches from Newton Stewart to the Isle of Whithorn and has a long history – complete with standing stones and rings, and finding fame as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. Today the peninsula is also known for Wigtown – Scotland’s book town.
To discover the peninsula, stay at Fordbank House*, a grand Victorian B&B built in 1817 by the McLelland family who set up Bladnoch Distillery just down the road. Fordbank House offers three comfy bedrooms (a king-size, double, and twin) overlooking the rolling countryside of the Machar Peninsula outside your door.
Owner’s Lesley and David Miller are working to restore the house to its finery – starting with the 1 acre garden outside the front door. As with all good B&Bs, breakfast is plentiful, the delicious bread and cakes homemade – and the coffee, drunk whilst watching the world, and the sheep go by, rather good.
Stay at Fordbank House*
5 Things to do at Fordbank House
- Explore the Wigtown book shops – Scotland’s book town, Wigtown is just five minutes away by car from the B&B and hosts Scotland’s National Book Festival. There are over a dozen book shops to explore – we love Beltie Books and cafe (named after the famous Galloway cows) and ReadingLasses for its books “by and about women” room.
- Visit Whithorn Priory – visit Whithorn Priory, home of the Latinus stone – which dates from around 450AD -the first inscribed Christian monument.
- Walk the Whithorn Way – the 149-mile Whithorn Way takes you from Glasgow to the Isle of Whithorn. The last section takes you along the dramatic cliffs at Burrows Head.
- Hike to St Ninian’s Cave – stroll down to the Solway Firth to find a beautiful pebble beach and the curious St Ninian’s Cave once used by monks as a retreat.
- Dine at the Steam Packet Inn – a real local’s pub, the Steam Packet Inn in the Isle of Whithorn serves real ales and fresh seafood – try the locally caught dressed crab – a complete treat!
How to get to Galloway and South West Scotland
South West Scotland is made up of the country Dumfriesshire, with Dumfries the county town, and Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire, which makeup Galloway. Other towns include Newton Stewart, Castle Douglas, Stranraer, Moffat and Lockerbie. To the north of Galloway is Ayrshire, with the coastal towns of Girvan and Ayr.
- Driving? South West Scotland is best accessed from the A75 which takes travellers to the ferry to Northern Ireland or travel south from Glasgow through Girvan or Ayr. Have more time? Drive the A702 which winds its way through the forest park
- By ferry – you can reach south-west Scotland by ferry from Belfast and Larne. The ferry from Belfast takes around 2 hours.
- By train – the are train stations in Dumfries, Lockerbie and Stranraer. Book your train tickets with trainline.com*.
- By Bus – local buses run right across the region from the main hubs
Are you ready to explore South West Scotland? Why not drive the South West Coastal 300 and discover all the best bits this gorgeous part of Scotland has to offer.
Love, from Scotland x
This is a paid partnership with Visit South West Scotland and contains affiliate links
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.