Newton Stewart is a town in Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland, along the main road between Carlisle, Dumfries and Stranraer. It's named for William Stewart who built several houses and obtained a burgh charter in 1677 from King Charles II. In 2020 the population was 4030.
This page also describes The Machars, the peninsula south dotted with prehistoric and medieval remains, and Glen Trool in the hills north.
Newton Stewart is on A75. From England leave M6 at the border to follow A75 west past Gretna, Dumfries and Castle Douglas. From Glasgow follow A77 to Girvan then A714 through Glen Trool.
National Express buses from London via Newton Stewart to Stranraer remain suspended in 2023. Their suggested workaround is to travel via Glasgow, but via Carlisle might be quicker.
Stranraer is the nearest railway station (26 miles), with trains from Glasgow Central and Ayr, and ferries from Northern Ireland. Stagecoach West Scotland Bus 500 runs from Stranraer via Glenluce to Newton Stewart (75 min), Castle Douglas and Dumfries, M-Sa every couple of hours and Sunday every four hours.
Bus 359 runs from Girvan every two hours M-Sa, taking 70 min via Glen Trool.
Newton Stewart is small enough to see on foot, but to explore The Machars or Glen Trool you need a car.
Bus 415 runs along the Machars coast every hour or two M-Sa from Minigaff and Newton Stewart to Wigtown, Garlieston, Scorbie, Isle of Whithorn, Monreith and Port William (which has an occasional bus to Stranraer). There's only four on Sunday.
Bus 420 potters around town M-Sa hourly. Dashwood Square is the town's main bus stop.
McLeans Taxis are on +44 1671 404131.
- 1 The Museum, York Rd DG8 6HN, ☏ . April-Sept M-Sa 14:00-16:00. This is in an old church, with displays of local history.
- 2 Bruce's Stone is in Glen Trool overlooking the loch. It commemorates an early victory by King Robert the Bruce over the English, in 1307 when he ambushed them in the narrow glen. The car park is a starting point for several hikes, including the ascent of Merrick, at 843 m the highest peak in this area.
- 3 Wigtown is a village with well-preserved early 19th century streets. The County Buildings west end of the main square recall its brief importance as administrative centre of the former Wigtownshire. The village declined in the 20th century, losing its industry and railway, so the Book Festival from 1999 was a deliberate attempt at revival.
- 4 Torhouse is a ring of 19 granite boulders, and 3 centre stones aligned with outliers, probably late Neolithic to early Bronze Age. It's along B733 three miles west of Wigtown.
- 5 Sorbie Tower is the ruin of a 16th century fortified tower house. It was the bastion of Clan Hannay, who had supported Balliol against Robert the Bruce. Another political wrong call in the 17th century got them outlawed and they fled to Ulster, where Hannay became a common surname.
- 6 Galloway House Gardens is a colourful arboretum, free but you pay for parking. The walled garden is closed. Galloway House is 18th century, a private residence so you can't visit.
- 7 Cruggleton Castle represents the culmination of 2000 years of falling to bits. Its earliest known inhabitants were Iron Age, but probably even they were shaking their heads at the downfall of its stone age pomp. In 1684 it was described as "wholly demolished and ruinous" so no change there. There's just a few shards of the tower, and you come for the coastal walk. Cruggleton church half a mile west is Romanesque: it too fell into ruin but was restored from 1890. Cruggleton village is lost but probably huddled around the church.
- 8 Isle of Whithorn was tidal into the 19th century then became connected by road. The castle is a 16th century tower house guarding the landward end of the causeway to the island and harbour. St Ninian's Chapel, ruined, is 13th century: it was part of Whithorn Priory, a ruin on Bruce Street in the village. The square white tower on the headland is a navigational daymark.
- 9 St Ninian's Cave is a sea cave with early Christian carvings and crosses. It was probably a hermitage attached to the priory.
- 10 Barsalloch Fort is the earthwork of an Iron Age dwelling on the cliff edge.
- 11 Drumtroddan Standing Stones are Neolithic or Bronze Age, a small group along B7021. The farmer has closed access but you see enough from the road. Half a mile north (as the road becomes B7085) are more stones with cup-and-ring inscriptions.
- 12 Chapel Finian is the foundations of a 10th / 11th century church. St Finnian (495–589) was from Ulster, stayed awhile at Whithorn Priory, and went on to study in Rome. He returned to Ulster and founded Movilla Abbey near Newtownards.
- 13 Glenquicken Stone Circle is an oval group of 29 stones with a central pillar, two miles east of Creetown.
- 14 Cairnholy is a pair of Neolithic chambered cairn tombs. They're 3 miles east of Carsluith village, where the castle is a ruined 16th century towerhouse.
- The Cinema is at 35 Victoria Street, tel +44 1671 403333. It's community-run and shows recent mainstream films.
- Vault Arts Centre next to the cinema is the main live performance venue.
- Trad music: the Folk Club play second last Friday of the month at the Vault. Newton Stewart & Minigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival is held at various venues, with the next on 7-9 July 2023.
- 1 Swallow Theatre is way out in the back lanes of The Machars.
- Golf: Newton Stewart GC is on Kirroughtree Ave east side of town. Wigtown & Bladnoch GC is just south of Wigtown village, and St Medan (9 hole) is south on the coast. See Stranraer#Do for Wigtownshire GC and Kirkcudbright#Do for Gatehouse GC.
- Wigtown Book Festival is next held 22 Sept - 1 Oct 2023. There are smaller events through the year, such as the children's book festival in spring.
- Sainsbury's on Goods Lane is open M-Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 09:00-19:00.
- Bookshops: Wigtown has half a dozen. Largest by far is The Bookshop at 17 North Main St, open M-Sa 09:00-17:00.
- Victoria Street has the main strip of cheap eating places, with a Chinese, Indian and pizzeria. The pubs also do food.
- Riverbank, Goods Lane, Newton Stewart DG8 6EH, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-16:00. Bright place for breakfast, simple snacks, hot drinks and lunches.
- Smokehouses: Galloway Smokehouse and Marberry Smokehouse are based nearby and offer smoked fish, meat and cheese.
- Town pubs include Cree Inn, Galloway Arms (below), Central Bar and Star Inn.
- Galloway Arms Hotel, 54-58 Victoria St, Newton Stewart DG8 6DB, ☏ . This remains closed.
- 1 Crafty Distillery, Wigtown Rd, Newtown Stewart DG8 6AS (south edge of town), ☏ . Nov-March W-F 11:30-15:00, Apr-Oct M-Sa 10:00-17:00. This mostly makes gin, plus some vodka and whisky. The standard tour is 90 min. Tour £21.
- Wigtown pubs are Galloway Bar at 24 South Main St, and Bladnoch Inn opposite the distillery.
- 2 Bladnoch Distillery, Bladnoch, Wigtown DG8 9AB (7 miles south of Newton Stewart), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. Founded in 1817, this has been in and out of production over the years. Its present incarnation began production in 2017 and makes single malt whisky and blends. It's owned by entrepreneur David Prior and is probably the world's only example of a whisky distillery restart funded by the sale of an Australian yoghurt business. Standard tour £20.
- Bruce Hotel, 88 Queen St, Newton Stewart DG8 6JL, ☏ . Simple hotel in town centre, could do with a spring-clean. B&B double £80.
- Crown Hotel, 102 Queen St, Newton Stewart DG8 6JW, ☏ . Comfy welcoming place with good pub grub. B&B double £100.
- Corsbie Villa, Corsbie Rd, Newton Stewart DG8 6JB, ☏ . Trad small B&B, even the tortoises are welcoming. B&B double £90.
- Creebridge House Hotel, 6 Creebridge, Newton Stewart DG8 6NP, ☏ . Cosy place with 17 rooms in Minigaff, dog-friendly, the creakiness adds to the charm. B&B double £100.
- Wigtown has a handful of B&B but these remain closed in 2023.
As of Feb 2023, Newton Stewart and the A75 have 4G from all UK carriers, but there are lots of dead spots on the other nearby roads. 5G has not reached this area.
- Stranraer to the west is an industrial harbour, but the peninsula beyond is scenic.
- East the A75 leads by Kirkcudbright an artist colony, Castle Douglas with Threave Gardens, and Dumfries the final home of Robert Burns.
- North the A714 winds through the hills to the fishing port of Girvan. Further north is Ayr with Burns birthplace and Culzean Castle.
|Routes through Newton Stewart|
|Stranraer ←||W E||→ Castle Douglas → Dumfries|