Scotland is a destination that rewards the most curious of travellers. Those more impatient visitors, who simply want to tick the northernmost country in the United Kingdom off their bucket list, tend to head to the most celebrated locales such as the Scottish Highlands or the contrasting urban experiences of genteel Edinburgh and vibrant Glasgow, perhaps stopping off at St Andrews for tee time – or one of the many other legendary courses to be found in the homeland of golf.

While that is all perfectly reasonable for first-time visitors or anyone on a short break, the fact is that these locations only reveal a very particular slice of this ancient land. Look beyond these (admittedly rather magnificent) jewels, and you’ll find a host of other areas and attractions to discover. 

The region of Dumfries and Galloway is a case in point. Located just over the border to England on Scotland’s west coast, it is far too often overlooked when planning Caledonian tours.

Part of the reason for that is the rival attraction of the majestic Lake District – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just to the south in the English county of Cumbria. Another factor is the region’s historical reality. For thousands of years, literally, this beautiful and scenic pastoral landscape was prone to turn into a bloody battlefield, as opposing armies met to decide the fate of the respective realms to the north and the south. The large number of castles – both ruined and still standing – scattered across the landscape are a visible reminder of this past.

The legacy of this history is an area (like the Borders region to the west) with a relatively low population density that has attracted generations of farmers willing and able to work the land. Today, this has contributed to Dumfries and Galloway generating some of the finest produce in all of Scotland, and earning it a growing reputation as a culinary hotspot. 

With stunning scenic routes to enjoy and a host of distinctive towns and villages to explore, both inland and along the coast, the region delivers a strong pull for anyone planning their next walking, cycling or driving tour.


Championing Dumfries and Galloway’s foodie credentials is the town of Castle Douglas, already being labelled as the region’s ‘Food Town’ with a concentration of over 50 independent shops selling locally grown and produced fare. This is supplemented by the Castle Douglas Producers Market on the third Sunday of each month, while a further option in the district is the Glenkens Producers Market on the second Saturday every month.

Though these might be the highlights, bringing providers together to sell their goods, curious foodies will also discover a host of exciting eateries. Scouting further outside the town, travellers will find farm shops and other sellers at virtually every corner. Whether looking for a local smokehouse, fresh game or the best in quality jams, chutneys and marmalades, patient exploration will be richly rewarded. And, if you’re not driving, then a visit to the restored Annandale Distillery is surely a must.


As with all of the most appealing foodie enclaves, Dumfries and Galloway offers a rich variety of other activities and experiences to also enjoy – perfect for working off any heavy lunches. In case anyone needs convincing of the region’s beauty, some 5,268 square kilometres of the Galloway (and South Ayrshire) countryside have recently been named as an official UNESCO biosphere, recognising the unique beauty and importance of these habitats originally formed by glaciers.

Another shining light – in every sense – is Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, which in 2009 became the first designated Dark Sky Park in the UK, allowing visitors to observe the stars in the night sky unimpeded by the light pollution so common in most of the world. Even occasionally offering a glimpse of the Northern Lights, the stunning skies are beautifully captured below on the YouTube channel of local photographer Alasdair MacLeod.

The outlook is clear, whether chasing culinary stars or the real thing, Dumfries and Galloway offers a scenic foodie hotspot like few others in the UK or beyond.

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