Castle Douglas is a town in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland, with a population of 4174 in 2011. The big attractions are Threave Gardens and the castle. This page also describes nearby villages such as Dalbeattie, and the coast of the Solway Firth.
The nearest railway station is 18 miles east in Dumfries, with trains from Carlisle heading via Sanquhar and Kilmarnock to Glasgow Central.
Stagecoach Bus 500 runs from Dumfries to Castle Douglas (40 min), Newton Stewart, Glenluce and Stranraer, with six M-Sa and three on Sunday.
National Express buses from London via Castle Douglas and Stranraer to Belfast remain suspended in 2022.
By road from the south take M6 past Carlisle onto A75 west. From Glasgow the quickest route is M74 over Beattock then A701 towards Dumfries to join A75.
Threave Gardens and the castle are both 2 km out of town, within walking distance. You need wheels to explore further.
Taxis in town are Meerkat (+44 7394 997304), Herdsman (+44 1556 502551) and Jan's (+44 1556 502615).
- 1 Threave Garden, Threave Estate DG7 1RX (A mile southwest of town), ☏ +44 1556 502575. Garden daily April-Oct 10:00-17:00, Mar Nov Dec 10:00-16:00; House Apr-Sept F-M 11:00-15:00. Beautifully presented gardens over 1600 acres (647 hectares) run by National Trust for Scotland. The main garden has landscaped and themed areas; the Sculpture Garden has over 30 works by Scottish sculptors; and the nearby Nature Reserve (free, open all year) ranges from wetlands to woodlands. Wildlife includes bats, ospreys and various wildfowl. The House, visited in summer by guided tour, is a Baronial mansion of 1871 with 1930s decor. Garden £8, House & garden adult £12, conc £10.50; NTS / NT free.
- 2 Threave Castle, Kelton Mains, Castle Douglas DG7 1TJ (Off roundabout on A75 west of town), ☏ +44 7711 223101. Apr-Sept daily 10:00-16:30, in Oct to 15:30. Threave Castle is a much-bashed but still massive tower built in the 1370s by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway. It was the stronghold of the Black Douglases, too strong for King James II liking, so in 1455 he besieged and captured it. It was thereafter in royal control until 1640 when the Covenanters captured and partly demolished it, and it was abandoned. The castle is on an island in the River Dee, so you get there on a little boat, included in the ticket price. Adult £6.
- 3 Carlingwark Loch at the southwest edge of town is a shallow freshwater loch; it and its grassy surrounds have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A footpath makes a 3-mile circuit. The islets in the loch were crannogs - prehistoric dwellings on stilts in the water. A canal connects the loch to the river 1.5 miles away: it was used to bring in shell-marl to lime the fields, but it's long disused and now just a ditch. When toxic blue-green algae became troublesome in 2009 the loch was fitted with an expensive aerator, which was ineffective; then they discovered that chucking straw into the water solved the problem.
- 4 Gelston Castle is the shell of a castellated mansion of 1805.
- 5 Motte of Urr is a large earthwork, the remains of a 12th century motte-and-bailey castle. It was abandoned around 1308 and its wooden palisades were never converted into a stone bastion.
- 6 Dalbeattie is a village five miles east of Castle Douglas, formerly a major source of granite. It has a small museum, eating places and accommodation. Dalbeattie was the birthplace of William McMaster Murdoch, First Officer of the Titanic and in charge when it struck the iceberg; he did not survive. Edingham Castle a mile north of the village on A711 is the crumbling remains of a 16th century tower-house.
- 7 Kippford is the main village south of Dalbeattie, as the River Urr opens into a sea inlet, with its east bank dotted with holiday caravans. You can walk along the coast to Rockcliffe (though by car you have to double back onto A710). Here find the "Mote of Mark" a 5th century hill fort, an art gallery, and Rough Island a bird sanctuary. You can walk to the island at low tide, but access is closed in May and June when the oystercatchers are nesting.
- 8 Orchardton Tower west side of the estuary is the ruin of a late 15th century tower house. Unusually, it's cylindrical, the prevalent style 200 years earlier but supplanted by rectangular towers.
- Orchardton Castle a mile south of the Tower is a Baronial cod-castle, for sale in 2022, offers over £1.7 M. Turn up with a Barbour gilet, a clipboard and a plummy accent, they'll probably show you round.
- 9 Hestan Island is tidal, reached from Almorness Point. You'll want stout boots as the spit exposed at low tide is shingle and mussels. The Stevenson lighthouse has gone, replaced by a functional metal tower. The currents and tides aren't fierce in the bay so you've some flexibility of route and timing, but don't attempt to follow "Daft Anne's Steps", poor lass.
- The Fullarton (formerly Lochside Theatre) is mainly a cinema but has some live shows, tel +44 1556 504506. It's south side of town towards the loch.
- CG Swimming Pool is on Market St, open daily.
- Spot the Red Kite (Milvus milvus), a raptor with a metre-plus wingspan that curves low over the fields in search of mice, small rabbits and carrion. They were once common but unloved in Britain: Shakespeare's King Lear compares his daughter Goneril to a kite, and suggests that the bird's only talent is for stealing panties off drying lines. Kites were harried almost to extinction in Britain, but from the 20th century they were protected then re-introduced. The Dumfries and Galloway region was repopulated in 1992/93 with birds from Germany. So look out for them anywhere, but especially along the Red Kite Trail which has several feeding stations. The suggested route is 24 miles anti-clockwise round Loch Ken in winter, plus 16 miles of forest roads only open in summer.
- Golf: Castle Douglas GC is west side of town. Further out are Dalbeattie GC, Craigieknowes near Kippford, and New Galloway GC in the hills north on the Ayr road.
- Knockengorroch music festival in May is away up in the hills above Loch Doon. See Ayr for details, though it's not close to Ayr or anywhere else, that's the point.
King Street has a little string of shops. Tesco at the north end of town is open daily 07:00-22:00.
- There's a line of cheap eateries along King St.
- Mad Hatter, 53 King Street, ☏ +44 1556 502712, email@example.com. M-Sa 09:00-16:00. The café is friendly, welcoming and comfortable. Dog friendly, good refreshment stop during a walk.
- 1 Sulwath Brewers, 209 King Street DG7 1DT (in back yard), ☏ +44 1556 504525. M-Sa 10:00-18:00. Castle Douglas' own brewery, where you can have a drink or buy off-sales to take home. Their Scotch Pies are highly recommended. Tours M & F at 13:00.
- 2 Laurie Arms, 11-13 Main Street, Hough of Urr DG7 3YA (on B794 four miles west of Castle Douglas), ☏ +44 1556 660246. M-F 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00, Sa Su 12:00-00:00. Dog-friendly pub with real ales and restaurant with good local food.
- Anchor Hotel, Kippford DG5 4LN (off A710 south of Dalbeattie), ☏ +44 1556 620205, firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional pub overlooking Kippford harbour, good food and has accommodation. Real ales, dog friendly. If the weather is fair it's a great place to sit outside and watch the world go by.
- Market Inn Hotel, 7 Queen St DG7 1HX, ☏ +44 1556 505070, email@example.com. Basic but friendly well-run small hotel. B&B double £75.
- 1 Douglas Arms Hotel, 206 King Street, DG7 1DB, ☏ +44 1556 502231, firstname.lastname@example.org. Old coaching inn, mediocre food, rooms and service, change of management in 2018 hasn't improved things. B&B double £70.
- 2 Lochside Caravan and Camping Site, Lochside Park, DG7 1EZ (North end of Carlingshaw Loch.), ☏ +44 1556 503806. 108 caravan stances, 73 of which are on hard standing with a separate camping site for 53 tents. Open all year. Caravan £21, tent for two £13.
- 3 Balcary Bay Hotel, Shore Rd, Auchencairn DG7 1QZ, ☏ +44 1556 640217. Splendid hotel in 17th century building looking onto Solway Firth, fine traditional dining. Open Feb-Nov. B&B double £160.
Castle Douglas and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. As of March 2022, 5G has not reached this area.
- Dumfries is best known as the poet Robert Burns' last home, but nearby there are also several castles, Sweetheart Abbey, and The Garden of Cosmic Speculation.
- Kirkcudbright has long been an art colony; it was especially popular with "The Glasgow Boys" such as EA Hornel.
- Stranraer is a humdrum harbour town - the ferries to Northern Ireland now sail from Cairnryan a few miles north. The peninsula beyond Stranraer is scenic.
|Routes through Castle Douglas|
|Stranraer ← Newton Stewart ←||W E||→ Dumfries → Carlisle|