Visit Scotland – South West Scotland Road Trip

New Abbey

We are a bit light on South West Scotland; it’s not that we haven’t been. It’s just that we went before we started travel blogging.

We took a drive along the south west coast from Stranraer to New Abbey to rectify this.

The last time we were in Dumfries and Galloway, we camped on the grounds of Hoddom Castle, but our camping days were over, so we checked into the Days Inn in Gretna and set off from there.

I’m not going to lie; it was a long day but worth it… Our rewards were spectacular coastal views, quaint fishing villages and hidden gems many tourists won’t see.

The plan was to drive two hours from Gretna to Stranraer, then return along the coast. On route, we popped into Castle Douglas to pick up lunch, then carried on to Stranraer.


Stranraer View of Lock Ryan
By Rosser1954 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Well known as the ferry port serving Northern Ireland, Stranraer in South West Scotland turned out to be a surprise. I thought it was a few shops and a harbour, but it’s a pretty town surrounded by miles of gorgeous coastline and stunning harbours.

We were on the clock, so we didn’t get the chance to explore it all. I would have liked to visit Portpatrick and Port Logan… maybe some other time.

We spent half an hour or so on the shores of Loch Ryan. I thought a loch was a lake, but not; Loch Ryan is a sea loch.


If you want to explore Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway and the surrounding areas, check out these sites:

Visit Scotland

Visit Southwest Scotland

Discover South West Scotland


Heading out of Stranraer and before hitting the coast, we stopped in Glenluce for a wee.


We spotted our first real glimpse of beauty in Auchenmalg. I hastily parked up in the car park of the Cock Inn, jumped out of the car and grabbed these shots.


Auchenmalg Bay

Cock Inn Auchenmalg

We continued around Luce Bay along the coast road. There’s coastline to die for everywhere you look – extreme but true!

The good news is, there are plenty of viewpoints and rest areas on the coast. On a clear day, you can see the Isle of Man, 18 miles offshore.

Luce Bay Views

Luce Bay, Scotland

Coastal Views in Luce Bay

Although we made many impromptu stops, our next destination was to be the Isle of Whithorn, passing through Port William and Monreith on the way. The road we took from Monreith to the Isle of Whithorn went across the country with only fleeting glimpses of the coast.

The Isle of Whithorn

This is one of those hidden gems I mentioned. Do you know when you go somewhere, and you can feel the history? This is it! Standing on the harbour wall, with the little fishing cottages and the church as a backdrop, it’s not beyond your imagination to be taken back in time.

isle of whithorn

isle of whithorn

Visit the Isle of Whithorn

Isle of Whithorn Bay

I literally can imagine this place in black and white…

Isle of Whithorn Quayside

I could use the wheelchair in the harbour, and there’s plenty of disabled parking for a small place.

Isle of Whithorn Steam Packet Inn

You can pop into The Steam Packet Inn for a drink or sit on the quayside and absorb the place – recommended!


Garlieston wasn’t on our “loose” itinerary, but I have a habit of following brown signs. Bridget goes mad at me because when I spot a brown sign, I can’t help myself, and I have to investigate it.

It was getting late in the day, so we didn’t stop in the town, but we did take a few photos of the little harbour across the bay.

Garlieston Harbour

Garlieston Village Hall


We’d been on the road for a good few hours. One thing we needed was food. Specifically, we needed fish n chips, and Kirkcudbright didn’t let us down.

Kirkcudbright South West Scotland

Whilst we were there, we had a little wander:

Kirkcudbright Harbour

Loved One's Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright Main Street

And we spotted Rapunzel, or at least I think it was Rapunzel?

Rapunzel in Kirkcudbright

Rapunzel Throw Down Your Hair


Nearing the end of our Scottish road trip and back to Gretna, we made two more stops. One, at Kirkbean viewing point with its views over the Solway firth:

View Over Solway Firth

And two, at Sweetheart Abbey in New Abbey. The lady Dervorguilla of Galloway was buried here, her dead husband’s embalmed heart was buried alongside her, so the monks renamed the abbey Sweetheart Abbey.

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey Ruins

Sweetheart Abbey in Scotland

What a lovely tale, and place to end our Dumfries and Galloway trip.

Visit South West Scotland

Tired, stiff and sensory overloaded, it was time to head back to Gretna. I know Scotland is a beautiful country, but I thought we’d need to get up into the highlands to see it.

I rarely hear people talk about visiting South West Scotland, which is a shame because they’re missing out. Judging by the number of caravans and holiday homes along the coast, many people love the area, but more people should visit, even if it’s only a day trip.

We’ll be back, and we’ll spend a bit more time in some of these lovely towns and villages.

If you enjoyed our South West Scotland road trip, you might also enjoy The Fylde Coast and The Northumberland Coast.

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The Bimblers is a travel blog exploring the UK's best accessible holidays. Travelling with a chronic illness or disability just got easier as we share travel tips for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility.