A LAND OF PASTORAL CHARM
Ailsa Craig, the granite plug of an extinct volcano, stands ten miles off the western shore of this land of lochs, moors and high hills in lowland Scotland. Forested uplands cut by ravines form the hinterland to the peninsula of The Rhins, and beneath its rocky spine are gardens where the influence of the mild Gulf Stream allows subtropical plants to grow.
Once-volcanic island with 19th-century lighthouse and castle. Its bluish granite is source of stones for curling.
Walled garden, hawthorn avenue and wooded walk around 18th-century Ardwell House. The Machars visible across Luce Bay.
Sandy bay featuring sea angling and swimming is overlooked by revenue men's barracks of 1820s and by Auchenmalg to the north.
Gaelic for 'village on the shore'. It was 18th-century smugglers' headquarters. River Stinchar's tidal creeks and lagoons provide refuge for terns and other birds.
Remote Carrick Hills village by the Water of Gregg. Red-sandstone church of 1891 now private house.
Cairnsmore of Fleet
Six-mile return walk to 2331ft summit was mentioned in John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Walk begins near Palnure.
Castle Kennedy Gardens
Gardens encompassing two castles were laid out by Field Marshal Lord Stair and troops in 18th century. Features terraces, lily pond and separate gardens of Stair family's Castle Lochinch.
Gem museum has an agate containing drop of water said to be 2 million years old. Granite clock tower commemorates Queen Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee.
Popular resort, sea angling centre. Seven ancient kingdoms can be seen from Mull of Galloway. Double Dykes crossing the mull believed to be work of Picts.
Galloway Forest ParkE-Mail Me Today
Wooded 250 miles of countryside topped by 2766ft Merrick. Lochs include Loch Trool and Clatteringshaws Loch. Features include deer range, wild goat park, forest trails among glens, waterfalls.
Galloway House Gardens
Laid out in 1740s as pleasure gar-dens for Galloway House, they include rare handkerchief tree and heronry. Open daily.
Popular fishing centre protected by sea wall, with sea-angling boats for hire. Village's brightly painted houses are best viewed from bay road. Galloway House Gardens 1 mile south.
Sandy beaches, safe swimming, fishing all attract visitors. Visit boatyard where wooden fishing boats are built, also distillery. Killochan Castle, 16th century, lies 3 miles north-east.
Sixteenth-century Castle of Park to the west overlooks village from across Water of Luce. Twelfth-century Cistercian abbey ruins retain chapter house with vaulted ceiling, Gothic windows.
Go by Water of Minnoch's foaming rapids to reach glen. Road finishes above the waters of Loch Trool, where Bruce Stone marks 1307 rout of English by Robert Bruce's men. For the energetic, a path leads 4 miles to the summit of Merrick's 2766ft, highest point in Southern Scotland.
Hilltop gardens where exotic trees and shrubs flourish in Gulf Stream climate. Views over Luce Bay among rocky outcrops and cascading waterfalls.
Isle of Whithorn
Busy though unspoiled sailing resort. St Ninian landed on grassy peninsula (once the isle) in AD 395 on return from Rome. Iron Age fort, ruined 13th-century chapel.
Tiny, isolated church where three of Britain's earliest known inscribed Christian stones stand. Two, praising 5th-century priests, were being used as gateposts.
Fourteenth-century castle with keep on western shore. It was moved from an islet in loch flooded for hydroelectricity.
Logan Botanic Gardens
Gulf Stream keeps garden of sub-tropical trees and flowering shrubs virtually frost-free. Note the avenue of Chusan palms.
Now a suburb of Newton Stewart, though far older. Ruined medieval church, ivy covered; also sparious 19th-century church. Churchyard yew is reputed to be 800 years old.
Village with safe, sandy beaches. Ruined Kirkmaiden chapel contains local Maxwell family tombs, and plaque to drowned French naval captain washed ashore 200 years ago. Gavin Maxwell otter memorial on headland.
Mull of Galloway
Headland with 250ft cliffs topped by 1830 lighthouse. Views from here of Lake District, Isle of Man and Ireland's Antrim Hills.
Obelisk stands above shell of cottage where Alexander Murray was born in 1775. A self-taught shepherd boy, he became professor of Oriental languages at Edinburgh University.
Small town with museum of local history including farmhouse kitchen and blacksmith's forge. Cree Bridge, built in 1813, backed by riverside gardens.
Palgowan Open Farm
A 7000 acre hill farm offering afternoon tours. Livestock rearing, the making of 24 miles of dry-stone walls explained. Livestock includes shaggy, long-horned Highland cattle, Blackface sheep.
Fifteenth-century castle with chesspiece tower, enlarged in 1844 by Spencer Boyd. Mural by William Bell Scott follows curving staircase. Pre-Raphaelite artists including Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted here. Visits by appointment only.
Port Logan Fish Pond, excavated 1800, served as fresh fish larder for Logan estate owners. Land-hungry feudal laird said to have built up main road above house-top level to drive out locals.
Colour-washed houses line promenade. Ferry link to Ireland before 1862. Irish elopers were married in 17th-century church. Dunskey Castle ruin nearby.
The Queen's Way
Scenic road alongside Galloway Forest Park linking New Galloway and Newton Stewart commemorates Queen's Silver Jubilee of 1977. Picnic spots, forest trails.
St Ninian's Cave
Cave where first Christian missionary to Scotland prayed after arrival in AD 395. Crosses are carved into nearby rock.
Near loch is promontory site of herb garden, now featuring 100 species set in individual beds. Garden planted beside mounded remains of Soulseat Abbey.
Seaside resort, ferry terminal for Lame, Northern Ireland. Castle of St John now visitor centre. North West Castle, shaped like a ship, was home of 18th-century polar explorer Sir John Ross.
Torhouse Stone Circle
Sixty-foot diameter Bronze Age circle. There are 19 stones in the circle and three boulders set in line in the centre. It is thought it may have been a burial site. Ruins of Baldoon Castle, 3 miles south-east, the setting for Sir Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor.
Twelfth-century priory ruin, said to be built on site of St Ninian's 5th-century church Candida Casa, or 'white house', retains barrel-vaulted crypt, roofless nave. Site has been excavated to reveal foundations of Viking trading settlement, and coins and gaming pieces from earlier times.
Martyrs' Memorial Stone marks spot where two anti-Episcopalian women who refused to recant their religion were, in 1685, tied to stakes in River Bladnoch to drown in rising tide. Working distillery of 1814, creamery, tiny museum.
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