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See also: Dumfries and Galloway (UK Parliament constituency)
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Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries an Gallowa
Dùn Phris is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh
Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.svg
Admin HQ Dumfries
 • Body Dumfries and Galloway Council
 (mid-2015 est.)
 • Total 149,500
 • Rank Ranked
ONS code S12000006
ISO 3166 code GB-DGY
Dumfries and Galloway topo
Topographic map of Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway (Scots: Dumfries an Gallowa, Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phrìs is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh) is one of 32 unitary council areas of Scotland and is located in the western Southern Uplands. It comprises the historic counties of Dumfriesshire, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire, the latter two of which are collectively known as Galloway. The administrative centre is the town of Dumfries.

Following the 1975 reorganisation of local government in Scotland, the three counties were joined to form a single region of Dumfries and Galloway, with four districts within it. Since the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, however, it has become a unitary local authority. For lieutenancy purposes, the historic counties are largely maintained with its three lieutenancy areas being Dumfries, Wigtown and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

To the north, Dumfries and Galloway borders East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire; in the east the Borders; and to the south the county of Cumbria in England and the Solway Firth. To the west lies the Irish Sea.


The Dumfries and Galloway Council region is composed of counties and their sub-areas. From west to east:

  • Dumfriesshire County
    • the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Annandale
    • the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Eskdale
    • the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Nithsdale
  • Kirkcudbrightshire County
    • the sub-area of Kirkcudbrightshire - Stewartry (archaically, Desnes)
  • Wigtownshire County
    • the sub-area of Wigtownshire - Machars (archaically, Farines)--divided into census areas (civil parish areas)
    • the sub-area of Wigtownshire - Rhins of Galloway divided into census areas (civil parish areas)

The term 'Dumfries and Galloway' has been used since at latest the 19th century - by 1911 the three counties had a united Sheriffdom under that name. Dumfries and Galloway covers the majority of the Western area of the Southern Uplands, it also hosts Scotland's most Southerly point, at the Mull of Galloway in the west of the region.

Water systems and transport routes through the Southern Uplands

The region has a number of south running water systems which break through the Southern Uplands creating the main road, and rail, arteries north/south through the region and breaking the hills up into a number of ranges.

  • River Cree valley carries the A714 north-westward from Newton Stewart to Girvan and Water of Minnoch valley which lies just west of the Galloway Hills carries a minor road northward through Glentrool village into South Ayrshire. This road leaves the A714 at Bargrennan.
  • Water of Ken and River Dee form a corridor through the hills called the Glenkens which carries the A713 road from Castle Douglas to Ayr. The Galloway Hills lie to the west of this route through the hills and the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills lie to the east.
  • River Nith rises between Dalmellington and New Cumnock in Ayrshire and runs east then south down Nithsdale to Dumfries. Nithsdale carries both the A76 road and the rail line from Dumfries to Kilmarnock. It separates the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills from the Lowther Hills which lie east of the Nith.
  • River Annan combines with Evan Water and the River Clyde to form one of the principal routes into central Scotland from England - through Annandale and Clydesdale - carrying the M74 and the west coast railway line. This gap through the hills separates the Lowthers from the Moffat Hills.
  • River Esk enters the Solway Firth just south of Gretna having travelled south from Langholm and Eskdalemuir. The A7 travels up Eskdale as far as Langholm and from Langholm carries on up the valley of Ewes Water to Teviothead where it starts to follow the River Teviot to Hawick. Eskdale itself heads north west from Langholm through Bentpath and Eskdalemuir to Ettrick and Selkirk.

The A701 branches off the M74 at Beattock, goes through the town of Moffat, climbs to Annanhead above the Devil's Beef Tub (at the source of the River Annan) before passing the source of the River Tweed and carrying on to Edinburgh. Until fairly recent times the ancient route to Edinburgh travelled right up Annandale to the Beef Tub before climbing steeply to Annanhead. The present road ascends northward on a ridge parallel to Annandale but to the west of it which makes for a much easier ascent.

From Moffat the A708 heads north east along the valley of Moffat Water (Moffatdale) on its way to Selkirk. Moffatdale separates the Moffat hills (to the north) from the Ettrick hills to the south.

National Scenic Areas

There are three National Scenic Areas within this region.

  • Nith Estuary - This area follows the River Nith southward from just south of Dumfries into the Solway Firth. Dumfries itself has a rich history going back over 800 years as a Royal Burgh (1186) and is particularly remembered as the place where Robert the Bruce murdered the Red Comyn in 1306 before being crowned King of Scotland - and where Robert Burns spent his last years. His mausoleum is in St Michael's graveyard. Going down the east bank there is the village of Glencaple, Caerlaverock Castle, Caerlaverock Wild Fowl Trust, an ancient Roman fort on Ward Law Hill and nearby in Ruthwell is the Ruthwell Cross and the Brow Well where Robert Burns "took the waters" and bathed in the Solway just before his death. On the west bank, there are several walks and cycle routes in Mabie Forest, Kirkconnell Flow for the naturalist, the National Museum of Costume just outside New Abbey and Sweetheart Abbey within the village. Criffel (569 metres) offers the hill walker a reasonably modest walk with excellent views across the Solway to the Lake District. The house of John Paul Jones founder of the American Navy is also open to visitors near Kirkbean.
  • East Stewartry - This takes in the coast line from Balcary Point eastward across Auchencairn Bay and the Rough Firth past Sandyhills to Mersehead. There are several attractive coastal villages within this area - Auchencairn, Kippford, Colvend, Rockcliffe, and Portling. There is also a unigue round tower at Orchardton and the islands of Hestan Isle and Rough Island can be reached at low tide outside the breeding season for birds. Mersehead is an excellent wildfowl reserve. The area is well provided with coastal paths.
  • Fleet Valley - This area takes in Fleet Bay with its popular holiday destinations of Auchenlarie, Mossyard Bay, Cardoness, Sandgreen and Carrick Shore. The area also includes the town of Gatehouse of Fleet and the historic villages of Anworth and Girthon - there is a castle at Cardoness in the care of Historic Scotland.

Governance and Place-names

The region was created in 1975, by merging the counties of Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire as a two-tier region with the districts of Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, and Annandale and Eskdale within it. After 1996 the unitary authority became known as Dumfries and Galloway Council still with Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, Annandale and Esdale within it.

County councils as administrative authorities were created in 1889. The present-day, "Dumfries and Galloway Council Area" exist for administrative purposes.

The historic counties of Britain, at least most of them, have existed for around 1,000 years or more and are often logical geographical entities in themselves. In Scotland they originated as Sheriffdoms consisting of a group of parishes over which the sheriff had jurisdiction, replacing native "Celtic" forms of government with Norman feudal structures.


Transport in the region is operated by bus companies Huston's, McEwan's, Stagecoach Western and McCall's coaches, and train operators Abellio ScotRail, TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains.


A Virgin Pendolino leaving Lockerbie station for Carlisle

The region has seven working railway stations. All are on the Glasgow South Western Line, except Lockerbie which is on the West Coast Main Line.

  • Stranraer railway station
  • Kirkconnel railway station
  • Sanquhar railway station
  • Dumfries railway station
  • Annan railway station
  • Gretna Green railway station
  • Lockerbie railway station

Bus and coach

The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with Glasgow, Ayr, Edinburgh and Carlisle. Local bus services are also operated across the region.


Stena Line provided HSS sailings between Stranraer and Belfast

Dumfries and Galloway is home to two ports which have services to Northern Ireland, both are in the West of the region. Stena Line and P&O Irish Sea both have a port in the village of Cairnryan.


The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Carlisle Lake District Airport. The region does host a number of private airfields. The town of Lockerbie was the scene of the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist attack on December 21, 1988.


The main roads to and from the region are:

The Port Line

The mainline from Dumfries railway station via Newton Stewart to Stranraer Harbour railway station, was closed under the Beeching Axe. The line previously connected London Euston and the West Coast Main Line with the ferries to Larne Harbour railway station and the Port of Belfast.

The Port Road to Stranraer being the last to go in June 1965 leaving only the original G&SWR main line open to serve the Stranraer. The Beeching Axe cutting the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway and Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway has resulted in adverse mileage to connect Stranraer with a longer line via Kilmarnock and Ayr.


The region is known as a stronghold for several rare and protected species of amphibian, such as the Natterjack toad and the Great crested newt. There are also RSPB Nature Reserves at the Mull of Galloway, and Mereshead (near Dalbeattie on the Solway Firth)

Dumfries and Galloway
Welcome sign

Outdoor activities

There are five of the world class 7Stanes mountain biking centres in Dumfries and Galloway at Dalbeattie, Mabie, Ae, Glentrool and Kirroughtree. The Sustrans Route 7 long distance cycle route also runs through the region. There is excellent hill walking in the Moffat Hills, Lowther Hills the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills and Galloway Hills. The Southern Upland Way coast to coast walk passes through Dumfries and Galloway and the 53 mile long Annandale Way travels from the Solway Firth into the Moffat hills near the Devil's Beef Tub. There is also fresh water sailing on Castle Loch at Lochmaben and at various places on Loch Ken Loch Ken also offers waterskiing and wakeboarding. The Solway Firth coastline offers endless fishing, caravaning and camping, walking and sailing opportunities.

Arts and culture

Dumfries and Galloway is well known for its arts and cultural activities as well as its natural beauty.

The major festivals including the region-wide Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and Spring Fling Open Studios. Other festivals include Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and the Wigtown Book Festival in Wigtown - Scotland's national book town.

Towns and villages

Main settlements in bold text.

  • Ae, Airieland, Airds of Kells, Annan, Anwoth, Ardwell
  • Beattock, Beeswing, Borgue, Brydekirk
  • Caerlaverock, Cairngaan, Cairnryan, Cargenbridge, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, Castle Kennedy, Clarencefield, Corsock, Creetown Carsethorn
  • Dalbeattie, Dalton, Dornock, Drumlanrig, Drummore, Dumfries, Dundrennan, DunscoreDrumburn
  • Eastriggs, Ecclefechan, Eskdalemuir
  • Garlieston, Gatehouse of Fleet, Glenluce, Gretna Green, Gretna
  • Haugh of Urr, Hoddom
  • Isle of Whithorn
  • Johnsfield, Johnstonebridge
  • Keir, Kelloholm, Kippford, Kirkcolm, Kirkcudbright, Kirkconnel, Kirkinner, Kirkpatrick Durham Kirkbean
  • Langholm, Leswalt, Lochmaben, Lockerbie
  • Middleshaw, Millhousebridge, Mochrum, Moffat, Moniaive, Muirhead Mull of Galloway
  • New Abbey, New Galloway, New Luce, Newton Stewart, Newton Wamphray
  • Palnackie, Parton, Penpont, Portpatrick
  • Parkgate
  • Robgill Tower, Ringford
  • Rigg, Ruthwell,
  • Sandhead, Sanquhar, Sorbie, St. John's Town of Dalry, Stoneykirk, Stranraer
  • Terregles, Thornhill, Twynholm, Templand
  • Unthank
  • Wanlockhead, Whithorn, Wigtown

Places of interest


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