Need a few ideas for your next trip? Something a little bit different? Discover 22 things to do in Southwest Scotland in 2022 exploring fascinating landmarks and scenic routes to discovering unique history and heritage… away from the crowds and within easy reach of Queensberry House.
1 Admire a castle with a difference
Caerlaverock Castle (above) in Dumfries was built in the 13th century and this impressive medieval stronghold with a twin-towered gatehouse and moat has a triangular shape – unusual in Britain.
2 Raise your glass to a new distillery
Moffat’s first (legal) distillery, from Dark Sky Spirits, a ‘boutique blender’ of Scotch whisky, is set to open this spring across its 17-acre site. If you can’t wait till spring, be among the first to see it on a hard-hat tour.
3 Stargaze under truly dark skies
Moffat is Europe’s first dark sky town and now has its own observatory where you can see stars, planets and much more. Stargazing is free, fun and endlessly fascinating.
4 Be wowed by ‘unmissable’ Viking treasure
Follow the creative types to Kirkcudbright, the Artists’ Town, for the Galloway Hoard exhibition at Kirkcudbright Galleries. This is a thrilling – and free – show on until July. Excitingly, this is only the beginning of its research. There’s more to come…
5 Hike across ancient grounds
The Devil’s Beef Tub in Moffat is a striking landmark with jaw-dropping views. William Wallace was said to have arranged covert gatherings here in 1297. Now it’s a tranquil spot popular for hiking and birdwatching.
6 Eat out at one of Scotland’s best Italian restaurants
Claudios in Moffat is a family-run establishment serving up consistently delicious authentic fare in a friendly atmosphere. Try the antipasto: a mix of four tasty starters, for when you can’t decide.
7 Fly by the Moffat Spitfire
Where else would you find a full-size spitfire in a regular garden? It’s the talk of the town.
8 Walk up a mighty waterfall
The Grey Mare’s Tail in the Scottish Borders is one of the highest waterfalls in the UK with Loch Skeen at the top, a superb place to go wild swimming.
9 Discover the ‘devil’s porridge’
Arthur Conan Doyle coined the term the ‘devil’s porridge’ when he visited the world’s largest munitions factory in Eastriggs where women played a key – and dangerous – role. The Devil’s Porridge Museum is now a five-star attraction.
10 Seek out Moffat’s heritage
The historic spa town has some fine architecture including its two oldest houses (1723 and 1751) and Scotland’s shortest and narrowest streets. A walk around will reveal some interesting finds…
11 Be enchanted by the home of Peter Pan
Moat Brae in Dumfries is an architectural delight on the River Nith where JM Barrie was inspired to write his beloved children’s character. There’s much to thrill adults too.
12 Savour Scotland’s Chocolate Capital
Head to the genteel Borders town of Peebles for some choc therapy. Cocoa Black was created by the UK World Chocolate Master herself Ruth Hinks and draws in Michelin-starred chefs, celebrities, locals – and us.
13 Join the Robert Burns trail
Scotland’s national bard wrote some of his more famous works here in Dumfries and Galloway – among the most important and well-known verse in the world. Seek out his old haunts around Dumfries.
14 Dine out at an award-winning restaurant
Winner of many accolades, the elegant Brodies in Moffat offers a relaxed fine dining experience from a Sunday roast to afternoon tea. It also has a gin lounge with an exquisite and extensive menu.
15 Tour Scotland’s oldest inhabited house
Traquair House in Peebles dates back to 1107 and it’s here you can see the bed Mary Queen of Scots slept in. There’s also a maze, brewery, walled garden, chapel and woodland walks.
16 Be enlightened by land art
See astonishing sculptures up close depicting space, cosmology and astronomy at the Crawick Multiverse in Sanquhar in this land art installation created by renowned designer Charles Jencks.
17 Gaze in wonder at a Nepalese Garden
Tibetan prayer flags, mini waterfalls, woodland species… it’s all at Craigieburn Gardens and Nursery in Moffat. Run by a Sherpa, it’s a special space full of Himalayan plants that thrive in the local climate and provide a relaxing environment for you to stroll about in.
18 Dare to do a haunted theatre tour?
Some say the Theatre Royal in Dumfries is one of Scotland’s most haunted theatres. Time your visit during a tour by Dumfries and Galloway’s paranormal investigation team Mostly Ghostly.
19 Marvel at Scotland’s Tree of the Year
Carrifran Wildwood just outside Moffat is a magical place for a wander. Its famous rowan stands proud in an inspiring project to plant a million trees. How many so far? Six hundred thousand and counting…
20 Drop by for a historic knitting pattern
The petite town of Sanquhar is home to a high-quality unique knitwear design which dates back to the 17th century. Join a tour at the A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre to see how it’s made. The town also has the world’s oldest post office (1712).
21 Make a splash at St Mary’s Loch
The largest natural loch in the Scottish Borders was once loved by literary figures such as Walter Scott and James Hogg. It’s now a peaceful beauty spot for a gentle walk and water sports.
22 Wander in botanic gardens
Dawyck Botanic Garden in Peebles (part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh group) has a tree-mendous collection, from the oldest to the tallest, as well as species from all around the world.
And when you’re finished exploring these 22 things to do in Southwest Scotland, seek out Moffat’s independent shops. Start browsing here.
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