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The best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway

There are so many attractions in Southwest Scotland – if you know where to look – but what are are the best things to do in Dumfries & Galloway?

Let us be your guide…

Explore the universe in land art

Wander through the Crawick Multiverse (pictured above), a former coal mine now an astonishing and enlightening work of land art.

Themes of space, cosmology and astronomy are explored using stone sculptures, winding paths and lookout points.

A truly special place designed by landscape architect Charles Jencks, who also created the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

Go for the solstice festival.

Go wildlife spotting

Grab your binoculars and head for the Moffat Community Nature Reserve.

This former gravel quarry is a haven for birds and butterflies. Its 35 acres of tranquil green space includes a lochan, water meadow, lint pool, wader scrape, magnification posts and wildflower meadow.

Whatever time of year you visit there’s something to see: from swans and richly coloured insects to lapwing and curlew.

See Scotland’s highest village

Any list of the best things to do in Dumfries & Galloway wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the highest village in Scotland: Wanlockhead (a short drive from Moffat).

Its rival for the title is nearby Leadhills.

Both remote spots are worth stopping at on the scenic drive up.

Discover the Museum of Lead Mining and Scotland’s highest pub, the Wanlockhead Inn.

You can pan for gold here too.

Hop onboard a train on the Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, a 2ft narrow gauge railway that operated during 1900-38, and see a range of ex-industrial engines in this high moorland setting.

Find a historic knitting pattern

Sanquhar is home to the famous knitting pattern.

Your first stop will be A’ the Airts centre, a hub of community art and activities with a buzzing café and shop.

Here you can see how the unique pattern, which dates back to the 17th century, brings hats, scarves and even pictures to life.

Local artists and crafters also exhibit here.

Learn more about the Sanquhar knitting traditions at the Tolbooth Museum next door.

Sanquhar also has the world’s oldest post office (1712).

Dress up in the past at a modern museum

Lose yourself at the Devil’s Porridge Museum – a ‘top thing to do in D&G’ according to TripAdvisor.

Modern, interactive and packed with artefacts, film audio, photographs and costumes to dress up in, it tells the story of the world’s largest munitions factory – HM Factory Gretna.

A day out here would not be wasted.

Take a wee dram at this whisky distillery

Learn how single malt Scotch whisky is made at the Annandale Distillery on a tour of this superbly designed building and its historic site in Annan.

There’s a wee dram to sample – naturally – and a ‘driver’s dram’ to take home.

The original cask is available to buy – for a cool £1 million.

The Maltings Coffee Shop on site is worth a visit in its own right and all around is novel artwork to gaze upon.

Check out the Moffat Distillery.

Fly to Peter Pan’s place

The ‘enchanted land’ that inspired JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, Moat Brae house is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture.

There’s also the Neverland Discovery Garden on the River Nith, which has a pirate’s ship, a gang plank, ‘speaking’ plants and stone crocodiles to hunt down.

Plenty of fun for adults too.

Walk up (or just look at) one of the UK’s highest waterfalls

Hike alongside the Grey Mare’s Tail, a spectacular nature reserve and hanging valley. Its magnificent waterfall cascades at 60m.

At the top is Loch Skeen (45 minutes), where you’ll find dramatic scenery, craggy hillsides and geological interest, wild flowers and upland birds – and the perfect picnic stop.

Discover a most unusual chapel

Seek out a little-known treasure: the Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel in Lockerbie.

This cheerful place of worship with its bright and beautiful altar, ornate religious statues and handmade ornaments (some with tinsel) tells the story of the Ukrainian prisoners of war who settled here in 1947 because they could not return home.

Relax and wonder at a Himalayan garden

Discover rare plants from the Everest region of the Himalayas at Craigieburn Garden & Nursery (as seen on TV) and see them flourish in Moffat.

The waterfalls, statues and Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags provide a relaxing sanctuary for visitors, while the nursery is well stocked with woodland species.

That’s not the entire list of the best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway.

Read our blog Moffat’s ultimate shopping guide here.

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The biker’s guide to Moffat and around

Who’s up for a big fat biking adventure?

Planning a motorcycling trip? Of course you are. Let’s get you started with our biker’s guide.

First look out for the VisitScotland Bikers Welcome sign that recognises the ‘special efforts made’ by tourism businesses for motorcyclists. For example:

  • discover off-the-beaten-track biking routes
  • take advantage of local knowledge to have a unique experience
  • feast on a hearty breakfast at a time that suits you (within reason!)
  • gather with fellow guests in an elegant lounge
  • relax with a welcome drink on arrival
  • use the wash-down facilities for your motorcycle including visor cleaning
  • connect with free wifi throughout
  • place wet clothing in a drying/storage area

In addition, Queensberry House has been awarded four stars by VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme to give you the peace of mind that your accommodation has been personally inspected for cleanliness, hospitality, service, quality of rooms and food.

What about parking?

The most important thing is your bike. So don’t worry about parking.

Relax… Queensberry House is on a quiet road just a five-minute walk from town.

No restrictions, no parking charges and there’s very little crime in Moffat.

So many super-smart bikes and cars have parked here – and survived to tell the tale!

Our biker guests have been very relaxed about leaving their impressive vehicles outside our B&B.

There is also a side alley where bikes can be parked away from the roadside if you prefer.

How biker-friendly is Moffat?

We welcome all bikes from simple scooters to high-end Harley-Davidsons. The town is well set up for bikers. It’s a real hub.

Even the local police are biker-friendly, probably because bikers who come here tend to be great visitors – and characters! – and are warmly welcomed by the town.

Cafes easily cater for bikers and their bikes – you can park up right outside and spread out while refuelling with a drink and snack.

Call in at Ariete for a brownie (a must!) and a coffee. Or drop in at the Rumblin’ Tum and perch yourself at an outside table for some people- and bike-watching.

What is there to do in Moffat?

For your day-time adventure: there are plenty of quirky spots to visit along the open road, away from the crowds.

Moffat is the perfect starting point to explore the many scenic routes that’ll take your breath away – without using a huge amount of fuel.

And for your night-time adventure: Moffat has some terrific restaurants – offering everything from superb fine dining to cheap and cheerful suppers – all checked out by us.

Two of our favourites are Claudios, one of Scotland’s top 20 Italian restaurants, and the award-winning Brodies.

Pubs are cosy and friendly with good quality beer and the local whisky. Why not try a different tipple – how about the Moffat Toffee Gin?

Any interesting sights to look out for?

Take the A701 through the beautiful Scottish Borders – one of the top 10 drives in the UK – or head towards the Grey Mare’s Tail and on to St Mary’s Loch.

Or check out the Dalveen Pass – an amazing highlight – on the way to the two highest villages in Scotland: Wanlockhead and Leadhills.

Visit the Crawick Multiverse in Sanquhar to view the incredible land art.

Read more about how to have a grand day out in D&G.

Pick a route that goes north, south, east or west – it’s up to you – and away you go.

We have leaflets detailing more routes. Or read The Motorcyclist’s Guide to Scotland by John Fergusson.

What if my bike breaks down?

We have local contacts who can repair your bike and replace any parts including tyres.

Yes, that’s us on the bike!

We are the Queensberry House hosts: Miles and Caroline.

The bike is a 1998 Honda Fireblade.

Normally we are very camera shy but we couldn’t resist joining in the fun at the inaugural Moffat One Shot, a photography competition for motorcyclists organised by the Beef Tub Bikers back in 2018.

We thought we’d won… until a cute dog turned up.

Next time!

Need any help booking your trip?

Call us on 01683 478 341 or contact us here.

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Where to go walking in Moffat and around

Walking in Moffat and all across Southwest Scotland can be as challenging or as relaxed as you like.

Whether you want an all-day hike or just a gentle amble Moffat will be your perfect starting point.

Look out for the many way-marked routes around town.

Walking in Moffat and all across Southwest Scotland means: clean air, crowd-free spaces and vistas at every turn.

Which will entice you back again and again.

One recent visitor called it: ‘A hill walker’s dream.’

These are just a few of our favourite walks…

The magical walk

Join the Merlin trail and discover the real story behind the legendary wizard.

Merlin was one of the last great druids who lived right here in southern Scotland during the Dark Ages.

Now a major new trail uncovering the true story of Merlin and his ties to the South of Scotland has been revealed. Get close to his cave where he took shelter for over a decade.

But what’s fact and what’s fiction?

Find out about this little-known period in history at the Moffat Museum.

The woodland wander

Gallow Hill was once a commercial plantation and is now being replanted as a recreational broadleaf woodland with native species such as rowan, oak, holly, juniper and much more.

It’s now owned by the Moffat community for future generations to enjoy.

The mega march

It’s rugged, it’s steep, it’s 212 miles long… can you take on the Southern Upland Way?

Britain’s first official coast-to-coast, long-distance footpath is largely undiscovered by many walkers.

But ‘the Way’ has something for everyone. Hardy types love the challenge of the hill walking while the shorter stretches appeal to those who want to take it one step at a time.

The challenging circuit

The Annandale Way is 55 miles long and Moffat is its most northerly point.

Navigate steep climbs and rough ground as you follow the River Annan and discover delights such as a Roman watch tower and a classic U-shaped glaciated valley.

The dramatic trek

The Grey Mare’s Tail, a 60m waterfall and the fifth highest in the UK. This breathtaking nature reserve and hanging valley is home to stoats, goats and peregrine falcons.

Follow the falls all the way to the top on the well-defined path and you’ll discover Loch Skeen.

The hike with history

The impressive landmark that is the Devil’s Beef Tub is a 500ft deep hollow and its name refers to the practice of hiding cattle stolen during cross-border raids.

The high climb

Golf Course Hill is a short but fairly steep walk – you’ll need to put in some legwork.

And your reward?

The 180-degree panoramic vista of Moffat nestling in the hills of Upper Annandale and the Devil’s Beef Tub.

Plus you can practise your golf on an impressive 18-hole moorland course at The Moffat Golf Club.

The gentle jaunt

Walking in Moffat doesn’t have to be arduous.

Pick up the waterside walk following the River Annan which rises in the Devil’s Beef Tub and flows towards the Solway Firth.

And this walk is on the flat so no huffing and puffing is required.

 

And when you’ve had enough of walking, stop off at a pleasant eatery or cheap and cheerful cafe. Read more here.

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Where to go motorcycling in Moffat

Not a lot of people know this but… there are hundreds of miles of quiet, open roads often with good line of sight, jaw-dropping dramatic scenery and plenty of pit stops.

And Moffat sits amongst it all.

Get up close to Scotland’s fascinating history and seek out its curious landmarks and quirky place names.

The tourist crowds just stay on the motorway heading north – but they’re missing a trick.

Bikers are welcome

Moffat is a biker friendly town and Queensberry House is a biker friendly B&B.

We are situated in a quiet road just a five minute walk to the centre of Moffat and all its attractions.

You can park right outside and there are no restrictions.

It’s safe too.

To really appreciate this part of the world you should book a few days here.

Choose our Bluebell room and you’ll have a room with a view… of your bike.

Book your stay here.

Read our reviews on here.

Choose an iconic route

The Three Lochs run is a must. It will take you about 75 minutes and is around 42 miles.

Along the way you’ll see two of Moffat’s famous landmarks: the Devil’s Beef Tub, a cavernous hollow landscape with an intriguing history, and the Grey Mare’s Tail, one of the UK’s highest waterfalls.

Stop at Glen Cafe – which overlooks St Mary’s Loch and, most likely, a car park full of shiny bikes.

There are plenty of photo opportunities on your route.

Back at base

Once you’ve returned to Queensberry House we can take care of any wet gear or bulky items and store them in our drying area.

We also have a guest lounge where you can plan tomorrow’s trip or simply kick back and reflect on the day’s events.

Eating out?

When it’s time to fuel up, we can point you in the right direction for dinner.

Moffat is blessed with a fantastic choice of eateries – from great value fish suppers to award-winning fine dining.

Two of our favourites are: Brodies which also has a fabulous gin lounge, and Claudios, one of the best Italian restaurants in the whole of Scotland.

Read about the best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway – with or without your bike – here.

The landscape in Southwest Scotland is spectacular. Come and see.

Photograph: courtesy of the Beef Tub Bikers

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Need a reason to visit Moffat? We have 10

From hiking to biking, from shopping to star-gazing, this small town has a lot to offer…

1 A sensational landmark

The Devil’s Beef Tub owes its name to the practice of hiding cattle plundered during cross-border raids.

Walter Scott wrote: ‘It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.’

But don’t let that put you off!

2 A dramatic waterfall

The Grey Mare’s Tail is a spectacular nature reserve and hanging valley. Its magnificent waterfall cascades at 60m and is the fifth highest in the UK.

Take a walk up to Loch Skeen (45 minutes) and marvel at the dramatic scenery, craggy hillsides and geological interest, wild flowers and upland birds.

3 Independent shops

From speciality delis to antique emporiums and quirky stop-offs, Moffat is flourishing with independent retailers.

Check out Well Street and the High Street (a double high street no less) for all sorts of finds you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.

4 Birdwatching

Don’t forget your binoculars – you’ll easily spot birds of prey in Moffat with buzzards being a common sight.

Red kites were successfully introduced to the region in 2001 – head to nearby Castle Douglas where you’ll find a feeding ground for them.

Gretna is not just about getting married and shopping. You can also watch the dramatic murmuration of starlings here.

But most exciting of all?

The golden eagles.

To boost the population here in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, three chicks from the Highlands were released into the wild – at a secret location – in the Moffat Hills.

Moffat is now Scotland’s first Eagle Town.

5 Moffat walks

Moffat was the first ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town and there are plenty of way-marked walks to enjoy.

Whether you want to take a short stroll alongside the river or spend a day hiking, Moffat makes for a memorable walking holiday.

And when you stay at Queensberry House, it’s all on your doorstep.

The surrounding Moffat hills, renowned for their heather blossom, are a haven for walkers of all abilities.

The clean Scottish air, spectacular scenery and timeless beauty is awe-inspiring.

6 Uniqueness

Where else will you find Scotland’s narrowest street (Syme Street)?

And there’s also the added novelty of a full-size model spitfire in a regular garden.

7 Cycling and motorcycling

Some of the best motorcycling routes are right here in Dumfries and Galloway – and Moffat sits amongst it all.

There are hundreds of miles of quiet, open roads often with good line of sight, jaw-dropping dramatic scenery and plenty of pit stops.

Get up close to Scotland’s fascinating history and seek out its curious landmarks and place names.

Motorcyclists-in-the-know come from all over the world to this hidden gem.

The hills of Moffat are alive with challenging terrain for the serious cyclist and more sedate routes for those who like to take things easy.

Moffat is connected to the cycle network and one of the main stopping points for the Land’s End to John O’Groats route.

Moffat is also close to the National Cycle Route 74, running from Carlisle to South Lanarkshire along quiet roads adjacent to the M74.

Then there’s the serious challenge of off-roading on the world famous 7stanes Mountain Bike Trails, which spans the whole of the South of Scotland.

Wherever you take yourself, Queensberry House can offer a secure storage area for bicycles as well as a drying area for wet gear (boots, jackets, waterproof trousers).

8 The Classic Car Rally

One of the biggest classic car events in Scotland, this is hugely popular and attracts enthusiasts from all over UK for its vintage vehicles and show-stopping sights.

Needless to say, book your accommodation early.

9 Stargazing

Moffat is Europe’s first Dark Sky town so you don’t need a fancy telescope to see stars here.

On a clear night, just look up.

A short drive away is Galloway Forest Park is Europe’s first official Dark Sky Park, one of only 44 worldwide, in 78,000 hectares of wild beauty.

Elizabeth Tindal (aka Freelance Ranger) is our go-to stargazing expert for this area.

Her walks and tales will bring the sky alive – if the stars are out that’s a bonus but even on a cloudy night she can help you really experience the darkness.

Join her on a dark sky walk during the Moffat Walking Weekend in autumn.

10 Golf

When it’s tee time, practise your swing at the historic 18-hole Moffat Golf Course. Moffat Golf Club, formed in 1884, is a private members’ club with a relaxed atmosphere (and spectacular views) where visitors are welcome.

Check out our blog on the best gardens in Southwest Scotland here including a Nepalese paradise right here in Moffat – as seen on TV.

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