The Dumfries and Galloway area in south west Scotland is an exciting holiday destination with many rewarding and surprising experiences within a relatively short distance. The area boasts a wealth of beautiful scenery for all ages to enjoy, including alluring woodlands, rolling hilltops and pictureque coastlines.
The region is bordered by over 200 miles of coastline along the north Solway Firth coast, with the Lake District of England beyond in the south and Northern Ireland in the west. The land gradually rises from the Solway coast with several river valleys rising to the Galloway Hills and others beyond to Ayrshire and Glasgow further north. The Scottish Borders region and Edinburgh are to the east.
Our climate is generally milder than other parts of Scotland due to the influence of the Gulf Stream - there are even palm trees at Logan Gardens!
Dumfries and Galloway region has over 450 miles of signposted cycle routes which were judged by SUSTRANS, a national cycling organisation, as the best maintained in the UK in 2004.
A recent measurement was 158 miles (256km) of the signposted National Cycling Route and 194 miles (312km) of more upland National Byways Cycling Route.
Our cycle tours combine these signposted cycle routes with a myriad of other equally good and sometimes better quiet roads and tracks of varying distances and features between small communities.
For cycling enthusiasts our unique star attraction is the former Keir Mill smithy where Kirkpatrick McMillan invented the pedal cycle in 1840 and at the nearby Scottish Cycle Museum at Drumlanrig Castle where you can see a replica. Some of our tours include these historical places.
Mountain Biking - Dumfries and Galloway region has five of the internationally renowned 7 Stanes mountain biking trails at Mabie, Dalbeattie, Kirroughtree, Glentrool and Ae forests along with another at Drumlanrig Castle.
We are ideally situated to access all of these cycling and biking facilities as the base of our operations is the market town of Castle Douglas in the centre of our region and also on the National Cycle Route.
Castle Douglas is indeed a 'Cycling Town' with two well appointed bike shops Castle Douglas Cycle Centre and Next Level Bikes as well as our Galloway Cycling Holidays business. The market town has the National Cycle Route No. 7 running through it. With the town's central location in the region, the Solway Coast is 7 miles away to the south, the 10 miles long Loch Ken is just 3 miles north and the edge of the Galloway Forest Park is 7 miles north west.
The market town is also themed as a 'food town', in recognition of the many food related businesses in the town. It is also a popular centre for shopping with many independent shops. The Sulwath real ale brewery or one of the towns tea rooms are ideal places to return to your day's activity.
In and around the town, there are many places of interest. Carlingwark Loch borders the south end of the town and just beyond is the National Trust for Scotland's Threave Garden. The Garden is part of Threave Estate which can be reached from the town by an old railway line walk. The Estate has several other walks, featured in our Galloway Walking Holidays and several bird hides near the River Dee with one of the best views you can see of an ospreys nest. Also on the Estate but manmaged by Historic Scotland is the iconic Threave Castle - situated on an island in the River Dee, accessible only by ringing the bell to summon the ferryman from the island.
For non cyclists who arrive with cyclists, there are walks and plenty of other things to do in and around the town.
Kirkcudbright is 10 miles from Castle Douglas and at the mouth of the River Dee estuary.
This former county town for The Stewartry area, is a picturesque fishing port with McLellan's Castle prominent in the town centre overlooking the harbour. Kirkcudbright is best known as an 'artists town', being a haven for artists since the 19th century. As well as several art galleries, the Stewartry Museum is worth a visit.
Kirkcudbright has various events taking place throughout the summer months including 6 'Scottish Nights'. We try to design our itineraries and tours as far as possible to include being in the town when events are on. We know a good chip shop which serves the locally landed scallops and two excellent restaurants in the town for an evening meal!
Dalbeattie is 6 miles from Castle Douglas with the Solway Coast and a National Scenic Area extending from the edge of the town along the coast. The town is in the River Urr Valley with the Dalbeattie Forest 7 Stanes mountyain biking trails also at the edge of town. Two nearby picturesque coastal villages which feature in our cycling and walking tours were known by the Victorians as 'The Scottish Riviera'!.
The Glenkens area is north of Castle Douglas at the other end of the 10 miles long Loch Ken. The hillside towns of New Galloway, St John's Town of Dalry and Balmaclellan are all within a few miles of each other in a picturesque setting beside the Water of Ken river valley.
Our itineraries also incorportate the area and also provide a nearby scenery contrast to the coastal landscape.
The new Catstrand arts centre and the only clog making workshop in Scotland are places to visit with two excellent tea rooms for refreshment.
Some of other places to visit within half an hour or so (by car)from our base in Castle Douglas
Gatehouse of Fleet
Another popular location, sometimes known as 'the wee toon' and only 15 minutes from our base. Cardoness Castle guards the town at the edge of the River Fleet estuary. The beauty of this area is marked by it being designated the Fleet Valley National Scenic Area including ther coast with the Cairnsmore of Fleet Nature Reserve only 6 miles away in the hills. Again our itineraries often include this part of Galloway. An ice cream farm and visitor centre, a childrens chocolate factory and uniquely a F1 racing car museum are just some of the attraction we can incorporate in a tour.
The 'Gateway to the Galloway Hills' is half an hour away and set beside the River Cree which flows from the Galloway Hills and Galloway Forest Park. Nearby Kirroughtree 7 Stanes mountain biking trails are popular as is Glentrool area and Bruce's Stone with magnificent views around Loch Trool.
The Machars peninsula stretches from the upland wilderness of the Galloway Hills to the north, edged by rugged smugglers coasts and sandy beaches with lush farmland to the south. History has shaped these lands, from stone circles of prehistory through the astonishing story of the earliest Chrisdtian settlement in Scotland at Whithorn. Small friendly villages and towns are spread every few miles in the Machars. The former county town of Wigtown is Scotland's national 'book town' and nearby is Bladnoch whisky distillery.
Dumfries and the Nith Estuary
Dumfries is the largest town in the region. The River Nith runs through the town to the Solway Coast where a wildlife centre, an unusual 3 cornered castle and the world's first savings back are not far from the coast. Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard lived his later life in Dumfries and is indeed buried there.
The Upper Nith Valley
The Upper River Nith Valley has Drumlanrig Castle as the jewel in its crown. There are various good walking and cycling localtions. Indeed, the world's first pedal cycle was invented in a smithy in the village Keir Mill in 1839 by Kirkpatrick Macmillan. A replica can be seen at the Scottish Cuycle museum at the Castle which has several other attractions including mountain biking trails.
Other Interesting Places
There are of course many other interesting places further afield in Dumfries and Galloway, including a budhist monastery on top of a hill (has a tea room) in the east of the region and the Mull of Galloway, Scotland's most southerly point in the west of the region, - which laso has a good tea room perched on the cliff top.
At Galloway Holidays we have an up to date knowledge of the most interesting p;laces to visit in the region. We use this knowledge to design our itineraries which are mostly tailor made to suit customer requirements.