South West Scotland Road Trip: Itinerary, Attractions + Map

Loch Doon Galloway Forest Park South Scotland West_

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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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Book Bench Wigtown, Scotland

South West Scotland Itinerary 

This itinerary will follow the stops and attractions on this map.

South West Scotland 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

Loch Doon Galloway Forest Park South Scotland_

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). 

If you are planning a road trip to SW Scotland, here’s our packing list and road trip hacks.

Loch Doon From Camper Galloway Forest Park South Scotland_

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.

Dalmellington Inn Scotland pub building

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. 

Loch Doon Sign Galloway Forest Park South Scotland_

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. 

Earlstoun Loch Scotland

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. 

Portpatrick boat in water

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.

Campsite South West Scotland

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.

Tor of Craigoch Agnew Monument South West Scotland

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. 

Boat Stranrear South Scotland_

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. 

Port William South West Scotland

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. 

Fisherman Statue by Andrew Brown 1999 Luce Bay Port William

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.

Bladnoch Bridge South West Scotland

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.

Bladnoch Inn South West Scotland

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. 

The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland
Scotland's National Book Town Sign Wigtown, Scotland

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. 

Wigtown Gardens Bowie, Scotland

I personally recommend Reading Lassies for food. You can either dine alongside the books inside or by the pink cafe in the small garden.

Readinglassies Food Platter Book Shop Wigtown Scotland

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. 

Cardoness Castle South West Scotland_

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. 

Cream o Galloway Wigtown, Scotland

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

The South West Scotland 300 road trip is a quieter alternative to the NC500 and takes in popular Portpartick, foodie Castle Douglas, Galloway Forest Park and the unique book town, Wigtown. Here are the best places to visit including lochs, hikes and towns.

Final Words

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.

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