The south-western corner of Scotland is famous for its forests, sandy shores and star-studded night skies.
A scenic rail journey awaits you on your trip to Dumfries or Stranraer, with lots to do and see when you arrive.
Dumfries and Galloway is frequently referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’ and has lots to offer for every type of traveller. Whether you enjoy walking, cycling, active sports, or just a stroll along a sandy (or a rocky) beach, you’ll find it all here.
Wild areas of breathtaking scenery aren’t all you’ll find in Dumfries and Galloway. The area is steeped in history and peppered with picture postcard towns and villages. Robert Burns spent his final years living in Dumfries; his mausoleum is in the town’s St Michael’s churchyard.
Trains for Dumfries and Galloway leave from Glasgow Central station. Once you reach the holiday town of Troon, the journey to Stranraer takes you down Scotland’s scenic west coast. The route to Dumfries takes you inland via Kilmarnock, and the towns of Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel and Sanquhar, which lays claim to the world’s oldest post office.
Getting to and from Dumfries and Galloway by train
A day out in Dumfries
This charming town on the banks of the River Nith is an ancient royal burgh with an intriguing history – it’s said that Robert Bruce committed murder in the town’s Greyfriars monastery. Literary favourites JM Barrie and Robert Burns both have strong associations with the town. Burns’ former house is a museum, and you can enjoy a tipple yourself at the Globe Inn on Market Square, the Bard’s favourite pub.
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a 15-minute taxi ride from Dumfries train station. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular display of post-modern garden areas, enough to make you think twice the next time you cut your front lawn.
There’s plenty for kids too. Dalscone Farm Fun indoor and outdoor adventure park, Dock Park next to the River Nith which has plenty of space to run around, and the Dumfries Ice Bowl for the days that aren’t so sunny.
Just five miles south of Dumfries on the A710 is the 7Stanes: Mabie mountain biking centre. There are five courses to challenge every level of biker, and you can hire all the kit you need from the centre, where there are also facilities to relax at the end of a tough ride. The 7Stanes centre at Dalbeattie is further south but offers an equally rewarding experience for enthusiastic cyclists.
A day out in Galloway
Stop at Barrhill on your way to Stranraer and you’ll find yourself on the edge of Galloway Forest Park. Stretching from the sea to the mountain tops, the park is a haven for all sorts of wildlife – from badgers and roe deer to ospreys and even a golden eagle on a lucky day. It’s also a ‘Dark Sky’ park – perfect for stargazing long into the night. The Glentrool visitor centre is one of the main park entrances and is about a one-hour cycle from Barrhill station.
Stranraer is the gateway to the Rhins of Galloway, a hammerhead peninsula with miles of coastline to explore. Step off the train at the end of the pier and you’ll be on the shore of Loch Ryan. The castle of St John sits on the main street. This 400-year-old tower has been a home, a court and a prison and is now a museum. There are plenty of places to eat and drink in the town. Nearby Castle Kennedy Gardens is a beautiful landscaped garden with a shop and café, and occasional fun activities for kids.
Find out more
Travelling on from Dumfries?
Head south from Dumfries for Gretna Green – a popular wedding venue for over 250 years – and enjoy some retail therapy at the Outlet Village. It’s the last stop before you reach the border with England and the city of Carlisle.
Stranraer is just five miles from Cairnryan, the ferry port for sailings to Belfast and Larne.
Ways to save...
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass : 1-2 weeks of train, bus and coach travel covering the whole country
- Rail & Sail : combine train and ferry travel
- Kids for a Quid: for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards : see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard