Visit the many castles in the surrounding area
Dumfries & Galloway is a region steeped in history. From stone circles and chambered cairns over four millennia old, to the arrival of Christianity in Scotland, to medieval castles and battles for Scottish independence.
Many Castles to discover…
For the enthusiast, among ancient castles in Wigtownshire are the cliff towers, possibly of Norse origin, of Carghidown and Castle Feather near Burrow Head; the ruins of Baldoon, south of Wigtown, associated with events which suggested to Sir Walter Scott the romance of The Bride of Lammermoor; Corsewall near the northern extremity of the Rinns; the Norse stronghold of Cruggleton, south of Garliestown, which belonged in the 13th century to de Quincy, earl of Winchester; Dunskey, south of Portpatrick, built in the 16th century, occupying the site of an older fortress; the fragments of Long Castle at Dowalton Loch, the ancient seat of the MacDonells; Myrton, the seat of the MacCullochs, in Mochrum parish; and the ruined tower of Sorbie, the ancient keep of the Hannays.
Over 100 Castles in Dumfries & Galloway to explore.
Some are standalone sites where there are no facilities, others are private sites and there are National Trust for Scotland / Historic Scotland where there is an admission fee.
We strongly recommend checking opening times before visiting as they do vary season to season.
View our recommended castles in the area below.
Portpatrick DG9 9AA
Magnificent ruins of Dunskey Castle are picturesquely perched o a rocky outcrop jutting out into the Iris Sea. A massive towerhouse built in mid-16th Century for Adairs of Kinhilt – the same family that owned the Castle of St John in Stranraer.
Care is needed if visiting as the cliffs here are steep and dangerous and you are advised on the path.
Walking distance from the hotel via a rough coastal path that leads to Portpatrick or from Portpatrick, again using the coastal path that involves steps.
Castle of St John
Stranraer DG9 7RT
A Medieval tower house built around 1500 by Ninian Adair of Kilhurst one of the most powerful Lairds of Wigtownshire.
Interactive experience with videos and reconstructions which tell the story of the medieval landowners who built and lived in the castle. There is an excellent activity room for families and children.
Tel: 01776 705544.
Castle Kennedy Gardens
Stranraer, DG9 8RT
75 acres of spectacularly designed loch-side landscape. A walled garden, romantic ruins of 16th Century Castle Kennedy. The inspiration of the 2nd Earl of Stair in the 1730s.
Busy schedule of events throughout the year.
Gatehouse of Fleet, DG7 2EH
Historic Environment website
2023 – Currently no visitor assess to this site but can be seen from A75.
Built in the later 1400s as the fortified residence of the McCollochs and is a fine example of a Scottish tower house castle.
Kircudbright, DG6 4JD
2023 – Currently no visitor access to this site due to masonry inspections. Can be viewed easily as in the centre of Kircudbright, a great town to visit for art & history.
MacLellan’s castle is named after its original owner, Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie, Provost of Kirkcudbright. He began to build his castle on the convent of Greyfriars, having acquired the land and buildings following the Prodestant Reformatio in 1560. The design reflects a deliberate change in tower house building in Jacobean Scotland. The new residences emerging were more about domestic comfort than defence.
Castle Douglas, DG7 1TJ
2023 – Currently no visitor access actually onto the island, however lovely walks around the area, bird hides and viewing points. Threave Gardens & Nature Reserve is open.
Watch a forbidding island fortress come into view as you cross the River Dee by boat. Built by Archiblad “the Grim” in 1369 as a stronghold for the Black Douglases, the massive tower house stands 30m tall.
Once the seat of the powerful Margaret, Lady of Galloway, it is now an ideal spot for exploring, picnicking, and perhaps painting. You might also see ospreys and otters in the river.
Castle Douglas / Dalbettie
Est 1170, Seat of the Baron of Buittle & Scotland’s ancient capitol under the Balliol Dynasty. A strategic outpost extend back to the Roman period when the site was a crossing point on the Urr Water. Eventually the lands came into the hands of powerful Lords of Galloway, who fortified the promontory further, creating a formidable motte & bailey castle.
Talla-Bidh Tea room & Shop open May through to October. Tours available but need to be booked in advance.
Caerlaverock Castle & Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
Dumfries DG1 4TU
2023 – Grounds are accessible however no visitor access to castle
This is a moted triangular castle first built in the 13th Century. It is located 11 kilometres south of Dumfries on the edge of Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve – which is also worth a visit. Three lengths of defensive curtain wall are linked at their three angels by high corner towers. On the north side is an impressive twin-towered gatehouse where the Maxwells had their private rooms.
Watch wintering geese, listen to Natterjack toads, see the breath-taking wildlife & scenery at sunrise & sunset. Dramatic, coastal scenery and a right range of wildlife combine to make Caerlaverock and outstanding National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Thornhill Dumfries, DG3 4AQ
Explore the magnificent Pink Palace and its world class art collection on a guided tour. Acres of stunning Victoria gardens to explore, woodland adventure playground, walks, mountain bike trials and more.
Culzean Castle & Country Park
Maybole, KA19 8LE
Robert Adam’s cliff-top masterpiece rises about a world of woods, beaches , secret follies and play parks.
An 260ha estate once the playground of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis, a man who was keen to impress with his wealth & status.
There is the Country Park, Adventure Cove and Wild Woodland, Castle, Beach, Walled Garden & several Cafes.
Dunure, Ayr KA7 4LW
Located in south Ayrshire close to the village of Dunure. The Castle stands in ruins on a rocky promontory on the Carrick coast over looking a harbour. Open to the public.
The site dates from the late 13th Century but the remains of the building are of 15th and 16th-century origin. The castle has been excavated and consolidated, making it safe public access to the area. It dominates the Kennedy Park which has a number of facilities for visitors.
Other Castles in the area
- Kenmure Castle – New Galloway, Castle Douglas DG7 3RX
- Knockbrex Castle – Bogue DG6 4UE
- Morton Castle – Dumfries
- Lochmaben Castle – Lochmaben