We are a bit light on Scotland, it’s not that we haven’t been, it’s just that we went before we started travel blogging. To rectify this, we took a drive along the south-west coast from Stranraer to New Abbey.
The last time we were in Dumfries and Galloway, we camped in the grounds of Hoddom Castle, but our camping days are 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 drive back again along the coast. On route, we popped into Castle Douglas to pick up lunch, then carried on to Stranraer.
Well known as the ferry port serving Northern Ireland, Stranraer turned out to be a bit of a surprise. I thought it was a few shops and harbour, but it’s actually a pretty town surrounded by miles of gorgeous coastline and pretty harbours.
We spent half an hour or so on the shores of Loch Ryan, incidentally, I thought a loch was a lake, but apparently not, Loch Ryan is a sea loch!
If you want to explore Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway and the surrounding areas, check out these sites:
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 carpark of the Cock Inn, jumped out of the car and grabbed these shots.
We continued around Luce Bay along the coast road, everywhere you look there’s coastline to die for – 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 which is 18 miles offshore.
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.
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.
I literally can imagine this place in black and white…
I was able to use the wheelchair on the harbour, and there’s plenty of disabled parking for a small place.
You can pop into The Steam Packet Inn for a drink or just 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, I just 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.
At this point 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.
Whilst we were there, we had a little wander:
And we spotted Rapunzel, or at least I think it was Rapunzel?
Nearing the end of our Scottish road trip and on our way back to Gretna we made two more stops. One, at Kirkbean viewing point with its views over the Solway firth:
And two, at Sweetheart Abbey in New Abbey. Apparently, 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.
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 a 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.
Needless to say, we’ll be back and we’ll be spending a bit more time in some of these lovely towns and villages.