Walking at the Mull of Galloway

Outdoors

7 Days in the South of Scotland

Spend seven days in the south of Scotland, and you'll enjoy a relaxing break with days spent exploring historic attractions and out amongst the wonderful countryside. Made up of Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, there's plenty of things to do in southern Scotland. Follow this south of Scotland itinerary for great ideas on what to pick on your week-long break.

Transport

Car

Days

7

Miles

150

Route

South Scotland

Highlights

Open countryside, historic homes and beautiful landscapes

Areas Covered

Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway

Day 1

overview

Scottish Borders

Head south down the road from Edinburgh, or up from the north and across the border, and you'll soon be amongst the rolling hills and lush green beauty of the Scottish Borders. For the next three days you're spoilt for choice in terms of where to stay - all of the main towns and villages are centrally located. So you can book your ideal accommodation in the Scottish Borders, and make day trips to see the adventures this region has to offer.

This first day sees you head east to the coast, to St Abbs and Eyemouth.

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St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve

You'll be blown away on arrival - not by the wind, but by the truly epic views out across the dramatic cliffs to the crystal-clear seawater below. This wild beauty spot is also home to thousands of seabirds, with plenty of perfect vantage points to watch them going about their daily business.

In the summer, there's a carpet of wildflowers across the grassland with sea pinks, rock rose, wild thyme and purple milk vetch. Further inland, take a walk around the Mire Loch in search of the resident swans, ducks, damselflies and butterflies.

St Abbs Visitor Centre

St Abbs itself is a small but picturesque fishing village with an important landscape, supporting wildlife both above and below the waves. Situated in the old village hall, the visitor centre tells the story of St Abbs' past and present with a main exhibition, but will also fill you in on the wonders of the geology and wildlife of the area.

Don't miss the high-powered telescope for a closer look at the cliffs and wildlife, and the local photographs, artwork and crafts on display around the centre.

Eyemouth RIB trip

Complete your seaside trip with the third magical way of seeing this cliff-side landscape - heading out on a powerboat experience! Running from the nearby town of Eyemouth, the experienced skipper will take you around the cliffs and coves to see the seabirds and seals.

There's even a choice to suit your pace - the Fast Blast for those wanting the thrill of wind, spray and speed, and the Coastal Exploration, which is a more leisurely sea safari and scenic trip.

Once you're back on dry land, look out for a little van where you can pick up some seafood to feed the seals that bob around Eyemouth harbour!

Day 2

overview

Melrose

Not only is this an area filled with history - it's an area which is lucky enough to still have many examples of that history, so you can experience it for yourself and get a good picture of what life was like hundreds of years ago.

Today we'll visit one of four abbeys, and one of the many historic houses in the Scottish Borders. There are plenty of other houses well worth a visit, either on this trip or your next.

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Abbotsford House

As soon as you arrive, you'll be able to see what a grand attractive historic building this is. But the building has even more tales to tell - as this was the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century novelist and poet of Waverley, Ivanhoe and Lady of the Lake.

Sir Walter Scott is described as the man who popularised tartan, saved the Scottish banknote and rediscovered his country's Crown Jewels. Abbotsford House is filled with intriguing objects across the many grand rooms including the library, the Chinese Drawing Room, and Scott's Study where he sat to write his later novels.

Melrose Abbey

The Scottish Borders is home to not just one, but four grand abbeys, which still give you an inspiring idea of how magnificent they once were. Melrose Abbey is possibly one of the most famous ruins in Scotland, founded back in 1136 by David I, largely destroyed by Richard II's army in 1385, and beloved by Robert the Bruce.

See how many unusual sculptures you can spot around the exterior: hobgoblins, cooks with ladles and even a bagpipe-playing pig. Make sure to visit the Commendator's House Museum as well, for a rich collection of medieval objects found during excavations here.

Scott's View

You've already seen how inspiring the landscape can be, but discover more about Sir Walter Scott by heading to Scott's View, a scenic spot to see the Eildon Hills, on your second day in the Scottish Borders.

One of Scott's favourite views, this lookout point shows where volcanic activity shaped the land, where Iron Age and Roman people once roamed, and where now still, the River Tweed flows by.

Day 3

overview

Peebles

Spend your last full day in the Scottish Borders really soaking up the landscapes, with a trip through the forest park, and one of Scotland's finest gardens. Don't miss the chance to walk around the whole of the rest of the country either…!

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Cademuir within Tweed Valley Forest Park

Why visit one forest, when you could enjoy the wonders of seven? Tweed Valley Forest Park is made up of seven beautiful forests, and plenty of waymarked walking routes so you can lose yourself (temporarily) amongst the trees.

Cademuir Forest near Peebles, is the smallest of the seven, but it's position on Cademuir Hill gives you stunning views out over Peebles and Glentress Forest, and is a haven for wildlife, from small birds such as crossbills to greater spotted woodpeckers and even tawny owls at dusk.

Map of Scotland

In the grounds of Barony Castle lies a hidden treasure - a large physical map of Scotland, sculpted in concrete to over 50m. You can easily walk the length and breadth of Scotland, thanks to the work of a small group of Poles from a Krakow university, who created this in the summers of 1974 to 1979.

Plan your next trip to Scotland with this unique look at our country!

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Enjoy a quiet moment to remember all of the wonderful things you've experienced in the Scottish Borders, and enjoy some final treasures in Dawyck Botanic Garden. This garden is home to one of Scotland's finest tree collections including some of the oldest and tallest trees in the country.

A walk around the garden will take you through woodland, past burns, and through seasonal displays of snowdrops, bluebells, Himalayan poppies and azaleas. The unique location allows continental plants to thrive - so don't be surprised if you come across plants normally found in Nepal, Chile and beyond!

Day 4

overview

Dumfries & Galloway

Heading out of the Scottish Borders and west into Dumfries & Galloway, there's plenty of sights still to see on the journey. For the first couple of days, you can stay in the east of this region - Dumfries being the largest town.

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Grey Mare's Tail

As one of the UK's highest waterfalls, Grey Mare's Tail is well worth a stop. Park up at the car park, and just along a short path, you can stand and admire this tall, natural feature as the water pours down the hanging valley.

But if you're up for more of a challenge, why not follow the waterfall and see where it starts? On the other side from the first path is a second path. It's a steep climb up the side of the waterfall, following the cobbled path, but it soon flattens out and an hour after leaving the car park, you'll reach Loch Skeen, a beautiful glassy pool of mountain water.

Moffat

After your walk (and building up an appetite!) head to nearby Moffat for a short stroll around the town and something to eat in one of the cafes or restaurants. If you've got time to spare, Moffat is Europe's first Dark Sky Town, so as soon as the sun sets, you get a better view of the night sky thanks to the special street lighting.

Wanlockhead

Take a drive further west into Dumfries & Galloway and you'll soon reach the dizzy heights of not just the south of Scotland, but all of Scotland! Wanlockhead is Scotland's highest village, which won't come as a surprise once you're there - in fact the drive up to the village is particularly stunning for the climb.

Once there, you can explore the Museum of Lead Mining to learn more about the local industry, or take a ride on the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Light Railway, Britain's highest adhesion railway, almost 1,500 feet above sea level.

Crawick Multiverse

Just a short drive from the highest village, is a good place to stretch your legs and see a different spin on the area's local industry. Crawick Multiverse has used landscape art to transform a former open cast coal mine into a 55-acre artland, visitor attraction and public space.

Created by Charles Jencks, a well-known figure in landscape architecture, the space represents the exciting discoveries and theories of the universe, bringing together space, astronomy and cosmology. Follow the network of paths and watch out for the sun, comets, black holes, universes and even galaxies!

Day 5

overview

Dumfries

Spend the day exploring this historic market town, which sits on the banks of the River Nith. Once home to Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns, the town today is filled with a number of attractions, but is also a good base for exploring further.

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Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura

This 18th century windmill has a lot to offer you - from fossil footprints left by prehistoric reptiles to stone carvings by Scotland's first Christians, and home to the world's oldest Camera Obscura. Installed in 1836, this optical instrument gives panoramic views out over the region which you'll be exploring for the next couple of days.

Robert Burns Centre

From an 18th century windmill to a watermill - this one instead holds the stories of Robert Burns, who spent the final years of his life on nearby Ellisland Farm, before moving into the town. The exhibition in the centre contains original manuscripts and belongings, as well as a scale model of the town as it would have been in the 1790s. In the evening, the centre becomes a film theatre.

For more Robert Burns, visit the Robert Burns House, or the Globe Inn, the same pub where Rabbie used to sit and enjoy a pint.

Moat Brae

Continue today's literary theme with a visit to brand-new Moat Brae House and Garden, opening in the spring of 2019, after a long-running project to save the building and restore it to it's former glory.

This is the place where Peter Pan began, and the garden that once inspired JM Barrie is now open to the public. Visit the National Centre for Children's Literature and Storytelling to enjoy tours, trails, events and activities for all ages in this magical space.

Day 6

overview

Galloway

We're off in search of the heart of the region to get lost amongst the trees once more in the Galloway Forest Park, the perfect outdoor spot, not just during the daylight, but at night time too.

Galloway Forest Park

Wild goats, red deer, red squirrels, mountain biking, walking trails, dark skies… you could spend days just in this beautiful forest park. Start off at one of the three visitor centres, Kirroughtree, the gateway centre, Glentrool or Clatteringshaws, to find out exactly what you can do amongst these 300 glorious square miles.

The Galloway Forest Park is made up of lush green forest, heather-clad hills, tranquil valleys and lochs. Hire a bike at Kirroughtree and take a gentle cycle through scenic landscapes and soak up the views, or explore on foot and keep a keen eye out for the wildlife - check out the Galloway Forest Park Map and Trail Guide to plan your route.

At night, this is a recognised Dark Sky Park and was the first to achieve the accolade in Europe. Get an uninterrupted view of 7,000 stars and planets with nothing more but your own eyes!

Day 7

overview

Heading west

Your last day in Dumfries & Galloway and you're in for one final treat. Make it to the far west coast of this bonnie region, and you'll feel like you're standing on the edge of the world - or at least, the furthest southerly (yes, southerly not westerly!) point in Scotland.

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Mull of Galloway

Start your day by heading as far south and west as you can. The Mull of Galloway is Scotland's most southerly point and home to its most southerly lighthouse (and the wildlife reserve - that's our next stop). Standing here, you can see the Solway Firth, Irish Sea and Isle of Man in the distance, and you are further south than the English city of Carlisle, the closest city is Belfast in Northern Ireland, and you're almost equally close to both John O'Groats and London. What a spot!

Once you tear yourself away from the view, climb the 115 steps of the lighthouse, and see the exhibition explaining life as a lighthouse keeper. There's a lovely café and gift shop to mark this adventure too, and a walking route along the coast's edge.

RSPB Mull of Galloway Nature Reserve

Find out more about the lucky wildlife which call this spot home! From the noisy guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes in the spring, to the gannets, pied wagtails in the summer, terns, skuas and shearwaters in the autumn, and eider duck and shags in the winter.

Castle Kennedy

We really have been spoiling you with this trip so far, but our last and final stop is no exception and just another on a long and luscious list of Scotland's hidden treasures. Castle Kennedy Gardens has been restored and cared for over 300 years. There is a beautiful landscaped garden, but head out into this massive space to find the stepped garden, take a walk around the two acre circular Round Pond filled with lilies, or just head out and see what you find.

You can find out more on the graded walks and take a virtual tour of the gardens.

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