With its mile upon mile of scenic coastline, historic Wigtownshire, or the County of Wigtown as it is also known, is a hidden gem in Scotland’s southern reaches. With its rolling hills, small unique towns and landmarks steeped in history, one almost has the impression of stepping back in time. Popularly known and referred to as The Shire, it borders the Irish Sea to the west, with sweeping views of Northern Island and the Isle of Man readily available on clearer days. One of the most appealing elements to Wigtownshire is the peace and tranquillity one will experience there. Scotland’s southern regions are largely uninhabited and therefore offer uninterrupted diverse landscapes, awash with nature at its most wild and beautiful.Accommodation is affordable and can more often than not be booked at the last minute and the roads surrounding the area are largely devoid of traffic. Those with a passion for history will adore all of the abbeys, castles and historic sites located in the region, while those who love the outdoors will revel in the dozens of scenic walks available. Standing stones, grand houses and traditional shops are just a few of the highlights waiting to be discovered in this jewel of the Scottish South.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
While milder than most parts of Scotland thanks to its southerly location, Wigtownshire can still experience chillier temperatures, even during the spring and summer months, thanks to its proximity to the Northern Hemisphere. We would therefore recommend packing suitably warm attire, ideally waterproof since the area does experience rain at certain points of the year. For those who plan to explore the area on foot, do bring walking boots or something similar, to ensure you can can make the most of the picturesque hikes available.
We also highly recommend bringing your own hire car to the region, in order to experience as many of the stunning coastal roads and hidden gems as possible.
From the South
Follow M6 onto the M74, leave the M74 at Gretna (junction 22) and follow the signs for A75 Stranraer (drive time approx. 1.5 hours). At Newton Stewart roundabout, pick up the signs for Wigtown, 1st exit on the left. From there, follow the A714 (which then becomes the A746) to Kirkinner. The plot is on the A746 and B7004 intersection.
From the North
From Glasgow – follow the A77 to Ayr. From Ayr take the signs for A713 Castle Douglas. At New Galloway pick up the A712 ‘Queens Way’ to Newton Stewart then onto Wigtown. From there, follow the A714 (which then becomes the A746) to Kirkinner. The plot is on the A746 and B7004 intersection.
From Edinburgh – follow the M8 to Glasgow and then pick up the A77 (as per directions from Glasgow). Alternatively, head south on the A702 to Abington and onto the M74, exit at Moffat (junction 15) at follow the A701 to Dumfries. Follow the signs A75 Stranraer, at Newton Stewart roundabout, pick up the signs for Wigtown, 1st exit on the left.
BY BUS / COACH
From the South
The National Express coach service travels across the region on a daily basis with a pick up and drop off at Newton Stewart (6 miles from Wigtown). To find out more about timetable information, prices or to book the Ulsterbus service 920 click on www.gobycoach.com or call 08705 80 80 80
From the North
For further information click on www.stagecoachbus.com or call the TravelLine 0870 608 2 608
In the Region
Local stage services operate on a daily basis, with regular bus services across the region from Dumfries. For further timetable info, see the D&G Council website or call TravelLine 0870 6082608.
From the South
Scotrail services operate on a daily basis from Carlisle to Dumfries. Click on www.scotrail.co.uk or call 0870 606 2031 for further information.
From the North
Scotrail services operate on a daily basis from Glasgow to Stranraer via Ayr stopping at Barrhill to connect by bus to Wigtown. Click on www.scotrail.co.uk or call 0870 606 2031 for further information.
Prestwick, the nearest airport, operates regular Ryanair flights from London Stansted, Dublin, Belfast and Bournemouth, as well as most major European cities. The airport has its own bus and train stations with connections via Ayr.
WHERE TO STAY
Hillcrest is set on the southern edge of Wigtown, overlooking Wigtown Bay & the Solway Firth. Built in 1875 as a private house, this charming six-bedroom Bed & Breakfast, is an imposing Victorian villa that retains many original features, while simultaneously provide all the modern facilities expected by guests.
A beautiful 19th century former manse in Wigtown, this delightful Bed & Breakfast offers a true home away from home experience, with four charming en-suite bedrooms.
Choose from a plethora of enchanting self-catered accommodation in the surrounding area – with the option of renting either a room, or the entire property.
WHAT TO SEE
Wigtownshire has mile upon mile of coastline to explore with highlights such as St Ninian's Cave near the picturesque harbour of the Isle of Whithorn and the Mull of Galloway, Scotland's most southerly point. Climb the lighthouse and soak in the views, taking in the 4 countries of the United Kingdom and marvel at the abundance of seabirds. As a result of the mild climate there are a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit, as well as some excellent golf courses.
Scotland’s Book Town, as it is known, is home to a vast array of book shops, where one can lose oneself in the wonders of literature. It is also host to the annual Wigtown Book Festival, which takes place for ten days over September and October. Attracting many renowned authors, visitors can enjoy an immense selection of events for both adults and children, including author recitals, theatre, film and music.
The historic harbour village of Portpatrick offers secluded sandy beaches, stunning cliff top walks and even a lighthouse, alongside a number of good pubs, restaurants and cafes. It also hosts a busy farmers market in the village hall from April-September and December, on the third Sunday of the month, where visitors can find a delicious selection of local produce and treats. For those who enjoy hiking, The Merrick; the highest mountain south of the Highlands, can be climbed from here.
A historical market town in western Wigtownshire, Stranraer is the second largest town in Dumfries and Galloway and consequently has an excellent selection of shops, restaurants and cafes in the town centre. It is a bustling location, with a host of things to do in and around the town.
A 15-minute drive north is the pretty market town of Newton Stewart, which sits on the River Cree and offers excellent fishing. A favourite with hillwalkers and cyclists, it has a fine selection of shops, cafes and pubs.
A short drive away from Wigtown is the charming market town of Castle Douglas, renowned for its culinary offering. The self-styled food town of South West Scotland, it will appeal to the gourmet traveller.
Mull of Galloway
Scotland’s most southerly coast, the Mull of Galloway offers spectacular sea views, with the Lake District, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man all often visible from this unique vantage point. Climb the 26-metre-high tower of the Mull’s working lighthouse, built in 1828, for breath-taking vistas of the surrounding area. Discover the RSPB nature reserve at the Mull of Galloway, home to an incredible variety of birds and wildlife.
Galloway Forest Park
A 300 square mile paradise for walkers, cyclists and nature enthusiasts, the magnificent Galloway Forest Park offers a host of activities, many of which are perfect for families. From fishing and hiking to an outdoor adventure park for children, it is also a wonderful base from which to explore the Galloway Hills.
Logan Botanic Garden
A short hop south of Wigtownshire lies Scotland’s least known tropical paradise. Overflowing with exotic plants from around the world, Logan Botanic Garden (rbge.org.uk) is a true hidden gem. Complete with walled garden, discovery centre, bistro and gift shop, it’s a memorable day out for all the family.