Discover the rich history and heritage of Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire & Arran on this 96 mile long driving route that traces the footsteps of Robert Burns and stops by the romantic Gretna Green
This scenic and relaxing drive takes you off the beaten track through rugged mountains and moorland, gently undulating farmland and a spectacular coastline. Stretching from Gretna to Ayr, it leads through the Galloway Forest Park and the historically important Doon Valley. Take the time to stop en route exploring attractions along the way such as the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop where forbidden marriages took place, before continuing onwards to Dumfries, home of the award-winning Robert Burns Centre and Bridge House Museum.
At Dalbeattie you can join the Solway Coast Heritage Trail to visit the castles, abbeys, gardens and harbours further west. Next you’ll come to Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway’s Food Town, which has around 50 local businesses involved in either producing or selling food and drink, and is the ideal place to stop for a delicious meal.
Travel during the summer months and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream will ensure that the gardens and nurseries found along the route will be especially lush. One of the most impressive of these is Threave Gardens near Castle Douglas which is renowned for its dazzling springtime displays of daffodils. Stop by Bridge End and Deanston nurseries, and you can pick up seeds of plants and flowers native to the region to grow in your garden at home.
From here head towards Loch Ken where you can explore the Galloway Red Kite Trail and watch the magnificent birds from the viewing platform as they swoop down to feed. For family-friendly activities both on and off the loch, don't miss the Galloway Activity Centre. kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and a wobbly waterpark are just some of the adventures on offer.
As you continue to follow the route make sure you turn off for a visit to Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre where you can wander alongside the loch to Bruce's Stone, dedicated to Robert the Bruce.
This area is still part of the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Bisophere which includes Galloway Forest Park and the Dark Sky Park. The ideal spot for stargazing is not far away at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory near Dalmellington where you can gaze at the infinite wonders of the night sky.
Finish your road trip at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. This fitting tribute to Scotland’s National Bard, and not only houses Burns' original works and personal belongings, but is also the gateway to the cottage where he was born, a monument in his honour and two locations made famous in the poem Tam O’Shanter – Brig o'Doon and Alloway's Auld Kirk.