There’s more to Scotland than the Highlands. The region of Dumfries and Galloway has stunning scenery, endless walking opportunities, and plenty of activities to keep you and your dog busy.
Dumfries and Galloway is situated in the south-west of Scotland, and stretches all the way from Gretna Green in the east to the seaside town of Portpatrick in the west. So, make this the year you discover what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.
Days out and attractions in Dumfries and Galloway
- Majestic Drumlanrig Castle, in Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, is regarded as one of the finest examples of 17th century Renaissance architecture in Scotland. The castle has been the seat of the Douglas family for generations.
- Dogs are not allowed inside the house but can go anywhere within the grounds and gardens as long as they are on a lead. There are several waymarked trails which follow the original paths built during Victorian times. For further information visit www.drumlanrigcastle.co.uk or call 01848 331555.
- For something a little bit different, why not visit Cream o' Galloway near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire? The family attraction offers tours of the working dairy farm, rides, and nature trails. Dogs are welcome in some areas inside the visitor centre. There is also an enclosed dog-walking area in a seven-acre wood, where four-legged friends can enjoy an off-lead run. Owners can also take their pets on the green and purple nature trails, which are about two miles long. Owners and dogs are welcome to use the outside sheltered picnic area. A spokeswoman for the attraction said: “There is plenty of space to exercise dogs, and water bowls are put out for dogs in the picnic area.” Cream o' Galloway is open every day until November 1. For further information visit www.creamogalloway. co.uk or call 01557 814040.
- Dumfries and Galloway is home to a number of beautiful gardens. Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum, near Stranraer, Wigtownshire, warmly welcomes dogs but they must be kept on a lead due to ground-nesting birds. Dogs are allowed in all areas of the tranquil garden; there are nearly 30 acres to wander and you will be rewarded with views over Luce Bay, the Isle of Galloway, and the Isle of Man. Water is provided for thirsty canine explorers. For further information visit www.glenwhangardens.co.uk or call 01581 400222.
- Another haven worth discovering is Dunskey Estate, two miles from the fishing village of Portpatrick, which has a woodland garden, walled garden, and maze. Dogs are not allowed in the walled garden, but the site has circular walks which owners and pets can enjoy. There is also a picnic area where people can take food from the tea room and sit outside with their dogs. It is open between April and October. For further information visit www.dunskey.com or call 01776 810211.
- Caerlaverock Castle, south-east of Dumfries, is an imposing medieval castle with a moat and a twin towered gatehouse. It is unique among British castles for its triangular shape. Four-legged visitors are allowed around the castle on leads, but not in the café. There is a nature trail around the castle moat and through the woods. For further information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
Dog-friendly places to stay in Dumfries and Galloway
Looking for a truly pet-friendly hotel in Dumfries and Galloway? The luxury Trigony House Hotel, located near Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, welcomes guests with dogs. Set in the beautiful Nith Valley, it is one of the finest luxury hotels in the region, and has more than four acres of woodland and gardens.
Canine guests are allowed in all rooms inside the hotel apart from the dining room. There is a bar area where owners can eat from the same menu with their dogs by their sides. Dogs staying at Trigony receive a welcome pack, which includes a treat, a map of walks from the hotel grounds, and a welcome letter.
Dog wash facilities, shampoo, and a hose are also provided. Towels, food bowls, beds, and food are available on request. The hotel can also arrange a dog sitter if enough notice is given. The hotel produces a monthly newsletter ‘written’ by the owners’ retriever, Roxy.
A stay at Trigony House Hotel costs from £110 per double room per night for a classic room, with breakfast included. Dinner, bed, and breakfast packages are also available. There is a charge of £7.50 per dog per night, and there is no limit on the maximum number of dogs.
Chapel Outon Farmhouse B&B, Whithorn, is located in rolling countryside and has easy access to the coast. Dogs are welcome to stay with their owners at no extra cost. Canine guests are provided with a water bowl, dog treats, and rugs for use during their stay. The B&B has a large garden and paddock. Owners Kath and Tim Annison have their own dogs, Hamish and Toby.
It costs from £30 per person per night for a double room including breakfast. For further information visit www. chapelouton.co.uk
Dog-friendly places to eat in Dumfries and Galloway
If you are after a real dog-loving pub, look no further than the Steam Packet Inn, on the Isle of Whithorn. The small, family run hotel sits right on the harbour and is known for its fresh seafood. Dogs are welcome in all areas of the pub except in one of the dining areas. Bowls of water are kept behind the bar for thirsty canines. Dogs are also allowed to stay in the hotel rooms with their owners free of charge. For further information visit www.thesteampacketinn.biz
The Cross Keys Hotel, New Galloway, Castle Douglas, welcomes four-legged visitors in the bar and smaller dining areas, where owners can order from the main restaurant menu. Dogs are also welcome in some of the hotel bedrooms. You might even spot resident dogs, Oscar and Lily, who are very hospitable to visitors.
It costs £42 per person per night B&B to stay at the Cross Keys, and £10 per dog per stay. For further information visit www. thecrosskeys-newgalloway.co.uk or call 01644 420494.
Dog-friendly beaches in Dumfries and Galloway
If you fancy stepping away from rural areas, Dumfries and Galloway boasts a number of magnificent beaches. Sandhills is a large sandy beach near Dalbeattie, with a café and small shop. Dogs are allowed all year round. Other beaches with no restrictions for dogs include Rockcliffe Beach, also near Dalbeattie, which is a great area for walks and has several waymarked routes; Sandhead beach, near Stranraer, which stretches for more than a mile; and Marine Lake Beach, also near Stranraer.
Galloway Forest Park
Dumfries and Galloway is famed for its unspoiled natural beauty, and there’s nowhere better to explore the countryside than Galloway Forest Park. You and your dog can discover the rolling glens, hills, and picturesque forest trails. The park has three visitor centres and lots of wildlife.
Dogs must be under control at all times within the park, especially during animal breeding periods. Keith Muir, head of tourism, recreation, and communications, recommended the Loch Trool circular walk and the Glentrool yellow route for dog owners, as both walks are a good length and give variations in vegetation and wildlife. Kirroughtree visitor centre also has a number of different trails but it is the busiest part of the forest so walkers will encounter more people and dogs. Glentrool and Kirroughtree sites both have lochs or burns — great for dogs to take a cooling dip.
“Over and above the waymarked trails is the huge variety of forest that often leads you to some spectacular areas and features, if you are up for a little adventure and map reading,” said Keith. “The big thing about Galloway Forest Park is the sheer variety on offer to all visitors.”
For further information visit www.scotland-forestry.gov.uk
St Ninian's cave coastal walk
St Ninian’s cave is west of the villages of Whithorn and the Isle of Whithorn. According to legend, St Ninian — acknowledged as Scotland’s first saint — often retreated to the cave for contemplation. Since his time many pilgrims have visited the site. This coastal walk through farmer’s fields follows the same route to and from the cave.
A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council asked that dog owners keep their pets on a lead at certain times of year when there’s livestock in the fields.
At a glance
Distance: 3 miles.
Time: 2 hours.
Terrain: Generally easy walking, but take care when near the cliff edge.
How to get there: Start beside the reception area at the caravan site on Burrow Head; this is signposted on the right as you enter the Isle of Whithorn. The Isle of Whithorn is on the B7004 heading south from the village of Whithorn.
- From the parking area, to the right of the reception area at the caravan site on Burrow Head, go right, heading for the shore. Near the cliff edge bear right to walk along a path which leads to a gate and a signpost for the coastal way. You can look out towards the Isle of Man from here. Continue along the clear path, stepping across three small streams. Continue on to where the path moves outside the cliff fence. It is narrow at times, so take care and keep dogs on a lead.
- After a mile and a half of cliff walking, you will reach another signposted gate. Beyond, keep to the path nearest the sea to descend the cliff to join the pebble beach of Port Castle Bay. Ahead, in the far cliff face, you can see St Ninian’s cave. Aim for it, finding the easiest way over the boulders. Keep to the shore side to avoid crossing the burn issuing out of Physgill Glen. Rarely, the tide might be so high that it prevents you from crossing the beach to the cave.
- A small ramp of boulders and shingle brings you to a rock platform in front of the shallow cave. St Ninian chose well as the craggy boulders must have sheltered him from most winds off the sea.
- Once you’ve finished exploring and taking in the views, re-cross the beach and climb the signposted cliff to return along the path to the caravan site.