South West Coastal 300 – from Dumfries to Portpatrick

The South West Coastal 300 is a stunningly scenic 300 mile road trip around the South West of Scotland. If you are looking for breathtaking scenery, enchanting coastlines and new things to see and do, this is the road trip for you.

Whether you are a Nature Lover, an Adventure Seeker, if you’re into History and Heritage or Arts and Culture, if you’re looking for family fun or would like a Taste of the South West – I’m going to make some suggestions for things you might like to do when travelling the SWC 300 from Dumfries west towards Portpatrick and Stranraer……enjoy……

Places to Visit…….


Sandyhills Bay – This might look like the work of an artist, but an oil seascape this is not; it’s actually a photograph of Sandyhills Bay, near Dalbeattie. The tide goes far out into the Solway Firth, making the sea appear like a distant mirage. Near this sheltered beach is holiday park which accommodates tourers and tents. Bring a picnic and (on a warm day) enjoy a swim at high tide.



Auchencairn Bay – Once a hub for smugglers, the pretty village of Auchencairn is now a quiet coastal spot filled with whitewashed stone cottages. Beachcomb as you wander along the shoreline of Auchencairn Bay and gaze across to Hestan Island.



Kircudbright – Known as Scotland’s Artists Town, Kirkcudbright is a chirpy place, with its blend of medieval, Georgian and Victorian buildings and a busy working harbour. There’s plenty of independent galleries to browse as well as the newly opened Kirkcudbright Galleries and the 18th century Broughton House, (more detail below) once home to Scottish artist EA Hornel. In the summer months, you’ll usually find a packed programme of events.


Whithorn – To say Whithorn is rich in history is an understatement; it’s here you can discover a past of Vikings, early saints and royal pilgrimages. Delve further back in time through the finds from archaeological digs carried out in the area and visit the reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse.



Monreith – Lying south east of Port William on the Mull of Galloway is the tiny village of Monreith. Wander along the coastline above the church and see if you can spot a bronze otter. Sculpted by Penny Wheatley, this stands as a memorial to author Gavin Maxwell, who penned the novel Ring of Bright Water.



Things to see and do on the SWC 300 between Dumfries and Portpatrick/Stranraer

Rockcliffe – The South West Coastal 300 is a road trip around the South West of Scotland that allows you to escape back to nature amongst other things.  It features 200 miles of stunning coastline, including National Trust for Scotland Rockcliffe which is one of Scotland’s most beautiful coastlines, stretching along the Solway Firth on the southern edge of Dumfries and Galloway.  Part of a National Scenic Area, this nature reserve is fringed with wildflowers and dotted with sailing villages. Further inland the shells and shingle give way to patches of ancient broadleaved woodland and meadows, rich with flowers, butterflies and birds.


Threave Garden and Estate – If you would like to visit ‘A garden for all seasons and a haven for wildlife, with an osprey platform and bat reserve’ then you need to visit Threave Garden and Estate – approx 20 miles West of Dumfries.  Here you can enjoy stunning views over the Galloway Hills and the Ken/Dee valley, and keep an eye out for soaring ospreys, red kites and peregrine falcons over the wetlands nature reserve.  


Broughton House and Gardens – If art is your thing – at Broughton House and Gardens step into the Edwardian home and studio of Scottish artist E A Hornel.  Admire the large display of Hornel’s paintings, as well as those of his Scottish contemporaries. Learn how Hornel amassed one of the  world’s largest collections of works by Robert Burns and wander through the beautiful garden with its colourful blend of Eastern and Western horticulture. 


Galloway Forest Parkis one of the must sees for Nature Lovers on the SWC300. Explore the rolling Galloway glens and hills to discover picturesque forest trails, three friendly visitor centres, wonderful wildlife and a long and colourful history.

Here you can enjoy great walking, easy family cycling, exhilarating mountain biking or just sit back and soak up breathtaking loch and mountain views and starry night skies. The largest forest in the UK and the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, it has extremely low light pollution, so fans of astronomy can enjoy the night sky as never before. The park is also home to the breathtaking Loch Trool and the Wood of Cree, the largest ancient woodland in southern Scotland, it’s an enchanting place for a walk. 


For the more adventurous of you……

If you love adventure Scotland’s South West Coastal 300 is the road trip for you. Whether you’re a pro or a novice, you can try cycling, hiking, sailing or horse riding at various venues.. Or maybe you’re brave enough for an adrenaline filled ride down Scotland’s longest zipwire at Laggan Outdoor Centre.

Cycling – You’ll find five of the world class 7stanes mountain biking centres within easy reach of the route and have trails that cater to all skill levels.

Hiking – For hikers there is a wealth of choice too. Challenge yourself to

  • Climb the Merrick, Southern Scotland’s highest summit – with access from Glen Trool –  an 8 mile moderate level walk for those with country walking experience and average fitness level
  • Walk the Mull of Galloway Trail –  a 35 mile fairly strenuous walk for experienced country walkers with an above average fitness level
  • Threave Garden & Estate Circular Walk – a 2.5 mile easy walk for everybody to enjoy with minimal difficulty
  • Walk along Glenluce – Auchenmalg – a 9 mile moderate level walk for those with country walking experience and average fitness level

History and Heritage

If you’re into History and Heritage – The South West Coastal 300 is a road trip steeped in the rich history of Scotland. 


Follow in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots to Dundrennan Abbey where she spent her final night in Scotland before fleeing to England never to return. 



Or visit Loch Trool where Bruce’s Stone sits at the top of the hill on the north side of Loch Trool.  This massive granite boulder commemorates Robert the Bruce’s first victory over an English army in 1307 during the Scottish Wars of Independence.  For the more active, the stone is also a recommended starting spot for the challenging walk up Merrick (2764 feet), the highest mountain in southern Scotland.      


Taste of the South West

The South West Coastal 300 road trip will give you a real taste of the South West of Scotland. From the award winning Gin and Whisky distilleries, to the fantastic restaurants and cafés you will find some of the best places to eat and drink in Scotland!

This area is extremely proud of their local produce, from world class smoked salmon and seafood, to award winning cheeses and ice cream! You will find this fantastic produce in a lot of the hotels, cafés and restaurants across the region. You can also visit the local producers or stop by one of our outstanding farm shops or farmers markets and experience for yourself the delicious flavours of South West Scotland. 

Hopefully some of these things have whetted your appetite to come and explore the South West Coastal 300 – in the next blog I’ll have suggestions for things to do between Portpatrick and Ayr – I hope you can join me………………and please if you have any feedback I’d love to hear it……..just leave a reply below…..


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