Table of Contents
- South West Scotland Itinerary
- Glasgow to Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway (1 hour 35 mins/55 miles)
- Dalmellington (18 mins/10 miles)
- Loch Doon (20 minutes/7 miles)
- Earlstoun Loch (35 minutes/22 miles)
- Clatteringshaws Loch in Galloway Forest Park (21 mins/10 miles)
- Murray’s Monument, Newton Stuart (12 minutes/6miles)
- Portpatrick (50 minutes/35 miles)
- Tor of Craigoch and Agnew Monument, Leswalt (20 minutes/8 miles)
- Stranraer (12 mins/5.6 miles)
- Port William and Luce Bay (33 mins/24 miles)
- Bladnoch (14 mins/9.7miles)
- Wigtown (3 mins/1.2 miles)
- Gatehouse of Fleet (35 min/24 miles)
- Castle Douglas (30 mins/18 miles)
- Our Road Trips Guides
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When you think of road trips in Scotland your mind automatically goes to North Coast 500 or the classic route to the Isle of Skye, right? Well, what if I told you there is a corner of the country that’s untapped and untamed and has road trippers who want to avoid the crowd’s name on it? This guide details an itinerary for South West Scotland which we have personally driven in our camper, Dita Van Tease. It takes in parts of the official South West Scotland 300 route and shares our personal tips and experience. Did you find this useful? Let us know in the comments below and share with your friends on social media. Interested in buying our camper? You can! Here are the full details.
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South West Scotland Itinerary
This itinerary will follow the stops and attractions on this map.
Glasgow to Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway (1 hour 35 mins/55 miles)
The first leg of the journey takes you from Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, to the UNESCO Biosphere reserve, Galloway Forest Park, not to be confused with Galway in Ireland.
Galloway Forest Park is known for its dark skies and secluded spots throughout its 300 square miles of forest and hills.
Since there is minimum obstruction from town lights, you can see up to 7000 stars on a good night.
If you are into stargazing, check out the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.
Coined ‘the Highlands of the Lowlands’, there are plenty of outdoors opportunities here including watersports and hiking.
You will enter the park again during this SW Scotland road trip!
Be prepared for an invasion as dusk falls during the midge season (May-September).
Dalmellington (18 mins/10 miles)
As mapping goes, you could pop into Dalmellington before entering Galloway Forest Park but we spent the morning here instead.
I instantly connected with the calm of this historic market town, but that could have been down to the time of day that we wandered about.
Today, it has more of a large village feel with a cafe and takeout shops. Its history is shaped by its involvement in textiles, the railway, ironworks and coal mining.
The Dalmellington Inn has indoor and outdoor seating.
Close to the Inn, there is a play park and green space which is part of the King George’s Fields, in memory of King George V.
There are over 400 of these fields in the UK and you can see the lion on the plaque as you enter.
There is a unicorn on the other side of the entry.
Loch Doon (20 minutes/7 miles)
Close to Dalmellington is the sought after photo spot during Scotland’s lockdown, Loch Doon!
Got to love the Scottish banter.
Earlstoun Loch (35 minutes/22 miles)
As you drive along A713, you can get lost in the low hills and heather, depending on what time of year you travel.
It’s a distinct difference from the high rolling hills of the west coast of Scotland that you see at the forefront of Scottish tourism.
Earlstoun Loch stopped our travels, we hopped out the camper to take some photos of the greenery.
The stark white Cumnock Knowes Country Retreat bouncing of the lush green fields might be of interest to photographers too.
Clatteringshaws Loch in Galloway Forest Park (21 mins/10 miles)
If you miss the above loch stop, there is an official car park and a visitor centre at Clatteringshaws Loch 17 minutes away.
From here you can grab a snack and sit by the loch looking at the highest hill in the Southern Uplands, Merrick.
Here you can also see Bruce’s Stone commemorating a spot where King Bruce took a rest. It’s a one mile, easy grade hike.
Murray’s Monument, Newton Stuart (12 minutes/6miles)
Atop a mossy hill is a tall statue called Murray’s Monument which was built in memory of a local shepherd boy called Alexander Murray.
There is parking to the side and the steep hike up takes around 10 minutes.
Portpatrick (50 minutes/35 miles)
Portpatrick is a busy wee town packed with locals looking for a pint, even on a rainy day.
There’s plenty of outdoor seating spread out over the three harbour view pubs and dogs are welcome.
We dined on pie at The Crown Hotel before a walk around the harbour.
Another popular walk is to the 16th-century Dunskey Castle.
Tor of Craigoch and Agnew Monument, Leswalt (20 minutes/8 miles)
If you are camping or campervanning, consider North Rhinns Campsite. Just outside of the site you can point out the Isle of Arran!
The campsite itself is very chill. We had a nice big spot next to the shower and sink.
This secluded campsite is close to Tor of Craigoch where you will find Agnew Monument.
It’s a steep five minute climb to the top but the views are panoramic so they are worth it.
Parking is available at the bottom of the path.
Stranraer (12 mins/5.6 miles)
Take on the bends of the hill as you drive to the big town of Stranraer.
There is well used waterfront called Agnew Park which has swans, a play area and a waterfront cafe.
Port William and Luce Bay (33 mins/24 miles)
The waters of Luce Bay by the side of the road were like a sheet of glass as we drove from the big town of Stranraer to Port William passed all the posh summer houses.
This leg was one of those ‘lucky to be alive’ moments you often get during a road trip. Real appreciation for what Scotland has on offer and proud to call it my home country.
There isn’t much going on in Port William, but there is a waterfront cafe, a few points of interests including a bronze fisherman looking out to sea by the award winning sculpture, Andrew Brown and signs pointing to different parts of the UK and Ireland.
Bladnoch (14 mins/9.7miles)
Driving over the bridge to Bladnoch you’ll find Bladnoch Distillery straight ahead and the Bladnoch Inn to your right.
The distillery is one of the handful of lowland distilleries in action and has been producing a single malt since 1817.
You can take a distillery tour of the 200 year old estate and enjoy lunch at the cafe.
Alternatively, grab pub grub across the road at the Bladnoch Inn.
Wigtown (3 mins/1.2 miles)
The next stop on your South West Scotland itinerary was a highlight for me, Scotland’s National Book Town, Wigtown.
The town centre is surrounded by wonderful book shops including the country’s biggest second hand book store, The Book Shop. You’ll spot it by the stacked books decorations at the entrance.
Wigtown plays host to an annual book festival where creatives meet and present to audiences.
This unique Scottish town doesn’t just sell stories, it has some of its own too. Pick up a map of ‘Wigtown Women’s Walk’ to locate where influential women left their mark.
I personally recommend Reading Lassies for food. You can either dine alongside the books inside or by the pink cafe in the small garden.
Gatehouse of Fleet (35 min/24 miles)
Cardoness Castle signals the entry to Gatehouse of Fleet, you can’t miss the 15th-century tower from the road.
This six-storey tower was built by the McCullochs and there is a ‘pit prison’ where the family’s enemies spent some time.
Attached is a smokehouse specialising in salmon.
There’s a grassy area by the castle with picnic benches.
We only stopped to stretch our legs at Gatehouse of Fleet but I messaged my friend instantly to tell them the troops would be back.
It’s a nice size with interesting architecture and a few pubs.
There’s an 18th-century cotton mill called The Mill on The Fleet which has an exhibition centre, cafe and bookshop.
If you like beaches check out the six bays of Cardoness Shore.
Into hiking? There’s a 7-mile (4-hour) Laghead To Lagg loop.
If visiting in May, don’t miss Carstramon Wood for the bluebells that take over the ancient woodlands. Red squirrels can be spotted all year round.
Castle Douglas (30 mins/18 miles)
Castle Douglas will always mean my dorm room besty, Dr Jen!
We lived together in halls at the University of Glasgow and have remained friends.
I first visited Castle Douglas during a weekend trip home with Jen and her sister. Fond memories.
If you are looking for a town with lots of food options, there are plenty of cafes in Scotland’s Food Town.
Cream of Galloway is not only a Scottish ice-cream maker, it’s also a day out!
The farm has crazy golf, an adventure park and nature trails.
South West Scotland Map
Please find a link to the above SW Scotland itinerary map here. It is free for you to use and adapt.
Save for later! Pin to your Scotland planning board
If this is your first time or a repeat trip and you are wondering where to visit in Scotland, SW Scotland is well worth considering for its expansive landscapes, quiet beaches, history and its UNESCO Biosphere.
Our Road Trips Guides
- How to plan a Scotland road trip
- Best road trips in Scotland
- Everything you need to pack for a road trip
- Road trip hacks that will make life easier
- North Coast 500 guides
- 24 hours in Glasgow
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