Follow me on ... Facebook Twitter Google Plus Blogger Pinterest YouTube

Dumfries & Galloway

Dumfries & Galloway - Introduction

Dumfries & Galloway is the name given to the south-western region of Scotland which was originally formed in 1975 by the merging of the historic counties of Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire. The region contains a number of hill ranges including the Galloway Hills, Cairnsmore Hills, Lowther Hills and, in the east, the Moffat Hills which together form a large part of the Southern Uplands of Scotland.

Dumfries & Galloway Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Criffel can often be seen by walkers in the Lake District on a clear day
The view of Criffel from the other side of the Nith estuary
The Galloway Hills from the top of Benyellary
The Minigaff Hills
Merrick, the highest point in the Southern Uplands of Scotland
Loch Enoch from Redstone Rig
Mullwharcher at the head of Loch Enoch in the heart of the Galloway Hills
Loch Trool
Bruce's Stone at the head of Glen Trool
Clatteringshaws Loch
A popular coastal walk is from the beach at Sandyhills
An amazing beach of shells at Kippford
The cairn on the summit of Screel
Great coastal views can be had from the top of Bengairn
Carlingwark Loch makes a nice low level walk from Castle Douglas

In addition to its hills the area also contains long stretches of coast and numerous estuaries. Three of Scotland's forty National Scenic Areas are to be found in Dumfries & Galloway, all along the coast - these are the Nith Estuary, East Stewartry Coast and the Fleet Valley. There are lots of sandy bays and rocky coves to explore and some lovely little coastal villages such as Kippford which features an extraordinary beach made up entirely of shells. Situated near to the coast are a few hills of modest height compared to the inland ranges. These include Bengairn and Screel near Auchencairn and Criffel, a familiar sight to walkers looking across the Solway Firth from the northern and western mountains of England's Lake District.

Indeed it was Criffel that first piqued my interest in the area having seen it so many times whilst Wainwright bagging in the Lake District. Once I started looking at maps of Criffel I moved further inland and discovered the Galloway Hills. Immediately I was struck by how wild, remote and difficult they looked. Yet at the same time they promised to provide some utterly stunning walks.

One of the challenges facing walkers heading into the Galloway Hills is that much of area is covered by trees. This is because the hills lie within the Galloway Forest Park. Created by the Scottish Forestry Commission in 1947 the Galloway Forest Park covers a huge area of 300 square miles.

Unperturbed by the thought of fighting my way through miles of plantation back in 2010 I purchased the two OS maps covering the area together with Paddy Dillon's Cicerone guide to walking the Galloway Hills. The fact that many of Dillon's walks started from remote bothies reinforced how difficult it would be to access some of these hills.

However, it was not until 2015,when I took my family for a week's holiday based in Castle Douglas, that I finally got to visit the area. During the course of the week I only got to do one walk in the Galloway Hills but what an experience! If visiting the summit of Merrick, the highest point in the Southern Uplands was special the pathless descent to Loch Enoch in the heart of the hills was simply stunning. The Galloway Hills promised to be rough and tough but highly rewarding and they certainly delivered.

My initial interest in the Galloway Hills led to a broader interest in the Southern Uplands in general and now I entertain increasingly firm plans to try and complete the Donalds - a list of hills in the Southern Uplands over 2,000ft originally created by Percy Donald. There are 89 Donalds and 51 Donald tops and many of these are to be found in Dumfries and Galloway. If everything goes to plan I'll be spending a lot more time over the coming years exploring not just the Galloway Hills but also the Lowther, Moffat and Carsphairn hills as well.

Dumfries & Galloway