A friend of mine has the enviable job of conducting weddings in the runaways’ favourite wedding town of Gretna Green, and, as a proud Doonhamer, she regularly asks the happy couples if they’re planning to explore Dumfries and Galloway following their nuptials. I was surprised to hear that few couples seem to have given much thought to heading west from Gretna, and instead plan to take the roads north to honeymoon in the central belt of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
300 miles of glorious roads
While Scotland’s capital city and central belt has plenty to offer, South West Scotland has so much to do and see – and not just for honeymooning couples. Driving around Dumfries and Galloway is a joy. Our famously quiet roads offer up some amazing scenery and breathtaking views. We’re lucky enough to have it all – hills, lochs, rivers, sandy beaches, cliffs, big skies and even Botanic Gardens – thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream which allows the southern hemisphere plants to flourish in the Rhins of Galloway.
If you’re staying at one of our properties – Craigbittern in Sandyhills or Rosewall Cottage in nearby New Abbey, you’re on the route of the South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) – three hundred miles of glorious roads, land features and attractions that make South West Scotland the perfect region for pleasurable driving.
Inspired by the North Coast 500 – the famous touring road route in the Scottish Highlands – our very own smaller, more manageable South West Coastal 300 is a coastal and inland circular route taking in some of the most stunning roads in Scotland. Check out the Visit South West Scotland website for full details of the route, but here are some of the highlights you can’t afford to miss, and some that are slightly off the beaten track but well worth taking a short detour for. And if you love the drama of a good Pass, we’ve got plenty of those you can drive through too!
The Solway Coast
From Craigbittern or Rosewall Cottage continue along the Solway Coast to the marina at Kippford, and on to the Artists’ Town of Kirkcudbright before heading further west on the A75 to the Rhins of Galloway and the Mull of Galloway Experience – Scotland’s most southerly point, where you can climb the lighthouse and explore the RSPB Nature Reserve before enjoying a hearty lunch at the cliff top coffee house – The Gallie Craig. Stop and take in the Botanic Gardens at Port Logan on the way.
The Dalveen, Crawick and Mennock Passes.
The imposing Dalveen Pass is the most southerly pass and the longest. It runs from Carronbridge on the A76 just north of Thornhill to Elvanfoot near the M74. The road passes near the village of Durisdeer en route and reaches a height of 350 metres at the top of the pass.
The Mennock Pass carries the B797 which runs from the small village of Mennock on the A76 to Abington near the M74, passing through the historic lead mining villages of Wanlockhead and Leadhills. The B797 reaches to a height of 467 metres as it leaves Wanlockhead – the highest village in Scotland. There’s even something for ski fans!
The most northerly of the three passes is the Crawick Pass, which carries the B740 from Crawick to Crawfordjohn and on to the M74. The Crawick is the shortest of the three passes without the steep ascents and overarching hills that characterise the other two. The whole family will enjoy a visit to the incredible Crawick Multiverse, a land art project by landscape architect and designer Charles Jencks.
A bit of a detour off the SWC300, but well worth it, the A712, known as the Queens Way, through the Galloway Forest Park (you must stop and see the famous wild goats at Clatteringshaws!) and you’ll get up close and personal with the magnificent red deer at the Red Deer Range as well as enjoying the stunning scenery en route.
Driving Miss Daisy
Fancy travelling the route in style while you’re here? Kippford Classic Car Hire – run by husband and wife team Paul and Beth Ballamy, can fix you up with one of their fabulous rental vehicles, and we’ve a special offer that will save you money on your stylish rental. Paul and Beth’s vintage vehicles are often used by wedding couples who want something a bit different for their big day or for a honeymoon with a twist, and have featured in many a television programme!
- Snowdrop is a stylish 1950s Morris Minor 4 door saloon finished in ivory white with a beautiful burgundy leather interior. She is full of charm with all her original features including semaphore indicators and a starting handle. A day out in Snowdrop will take you back to a past era of motoring.
- Bluebelle, a lovingly restored Triumph Herald convertible which has starred in many a TV program and music video.You’ll love her 1960s styling and original features. She has a beautiful solid teak dashboard and a large boot for luggage and picnic gear for when you explore Dumfries and Galloway and beyond.
- How about a fully equipped and faithfully restored VW Campervan? Daisy is a gorgeous pale yellow classic 1970s VW Westfalia Continental campervan, lovingly restored with a refurbished interior and handmade curtains. You’ll love her classic hippy vibe and the unmistakable sound and feel of her VW air cooled engine.
Special Rental Offer
We’ve teamed up with Kippford Classic Car Hire to give you 10% off a classic car or campervan rental of a week or more when you stay at one of our properties. Just quote Galloway Escapes when you book. Call Kippford Classic Car Hire on +44 (0)1556 620 203 or check them out on Facebook.
Hopefully that’s given you a taste of what to expect from stunning South West Scotland’s roads, whether you’re planning to drive on two wheels or four. We doubt you’d want to try it on fewer than two – but don’t let us stop you from unicycling round South West Scotland if that’s your thing!