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SW Coastal 300

Wondering how many days, where to stay, and what to see?
Thanks for any info!

Posted by
6775 posts

Being fair to the OP the route of the South West Coastal 300 is a part of Scotland not much visited by members of this forum or generally by overseas visitors. Many people on this board have been to Scotland multiple times but not been to Dumfries and Galloway at all or certainly not in depth.
He/she deserves a reasonable answer. Let me come back to this a bit later in the evening if no-one else has.

Posted by
6775 posts

Right, I'm virtually out of St Mark's, Seattle now- my priority at 7pm on a Sunday evening UK time, as some people here know.

All these driving routes can be done as slowly or as fast as you want. For the NC500 most people say about 7 days, but if you are just seeing the scenery and are tight on time you can do it in two.

Likewise with the SWC300. You could do it easily in 2 days, but would be missing a lot.

I will assume you are starting at Glasgow or Edinburgh airport then doing the SWC300 to and from Dumfries. From either airport it is 2 hours or less to Dumfries.
But I recommend an extension to the route-
Day 1- From Glasgow- take the Clyde Valley Tourist Route to Abington Motorway Services, then the A702 to Carronbridge and Thornhill then the A76 to Dumfries ; From Edinburgh the Borders Historic Route to Longtown then the A75 to Annan then the B724 through Ruthwell (for the Savings Bank Museum and the 8th century Anglo Saxon cross inside Ruthwell Kirk) and the B725 via [Caerlaverock Castle][2] (this route could actually easily take you 2 days if you have the time)
Day 2- After exploring Dumfries head for Kirkcudbright tonight via Sweetheart Abbey, Southerness and Dalbeattie
Day 3- Take time today to explore Kirkcudbright then head for Whithorn or the Isle of Whithorn for tonight. with off route deviations into Gatehouse of Fleet and Creetown. Stop also in Wigtown and Garlieston (the pretty harbour and the WW2 history) then deviate into Whithorn. You could stay here tonight, but I think down by the Harbour at the Isle of Whithorn is far better.
Day 4- Explore anything you missed yesterday at Whithorn/I of W. then to Portpatrick today via the Mull of Galloway and Logan Botanic gardens.
Day 5- Today drive up the coast (with time in Stranraer), and via the Electric Brae and then Culzean Castle.
Day 6 (final day) Explore Sanquhar this morning then via the mining villages of Leadhills/Wanlockhead (not forgetting the railway if it's open) then Moffat (with the deviation to the Grey Mare's Tail), then Lockerbie. Although you are only 15 minutes out of Dumfries by the time you get there don't just dash through the historic town of Lochmaben.

These are my choices of overnight stops, there are innumerable other options. Some people may also question the fairly pedestrian pace- fine with me. Again everyone varies on that. But I think this is about the right pace to capture everything you will see on the route (much of which I haven't mentioned as you visit what interests you, one of the delights of a road trip is just stumbling on places). This is, after all, a road trip, not just a drive from A to B.

I hope @Wasley's picks this up, as she is far better at this kind of road trip itinerary than me.

Posted by
11 posts

We were in Scotland for the month of May 2019.
Highlands west and northeast, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc.
We may go back in September and would like to explore the Lowlands.

Posted by
2076 posts

Thanks for the vote of confidence Isn31c. You’ve done a pretty good job there. Dumfries and Galloway is the much neglected part of Scotland which is a great shame as there is plenty to do and see. We've spent several hoidays in the area and there are still somethings I;'ve not done...

Some days are pretty full on with so much to stop and see. In fact I’d even add another day to what has been suggested!

Day 1 If coming from Edinburgh, there is also the Devil’s Porridge Museum at Eastriggs which is well worth visiting. Caerlaverock Castle is one of my favourites too.

Day 2. There is also New Abbey Corn Mill which is just a few minutes walk from Sweetheart Abbey. Between Dalbeattie and Kircudbright, there is also Orchardton Tower and the ruined Dundrennan Abbey where Mary Queen of Scotls spent her last night on Scottish soil...

Day 3 - Do the detour through Gatehouse of Fleet rather than staying on the A75. This takes you past the ruined Cardoness Castle.

Cairnholy Chambered Cairns are signed off the A75 and are set in the midst of nowhere... .

Creetown has a fascinating Gem Rock Museum

I’d be inclined to stop in Newton Stewart this day and then on Day 4 do a detour up to Glen Trool and Loch Trool. If you are walkers there is a good walk (on a fine day) around Glen Trool. This is a lovely loch and the equal of any in the Highlands.

If time allows do the drive along the A712 towards Clatteringshaws Loch through Galloway Forest Park. Watch out for the Green Forestry sign for Glen of the Bar about 5 miles out of Newton Stewart off on the right. Stop here for the viewpoint. Spend a second night at Newton Stewart

Day 5 spend the day around the Machars - isn31c has already mentioned Wigtown and Garlieston. There is also Bladnoch for its distillery (they do tours but if driving, don’t sample the whisky. The drink driving rules are very strict in Scotland).

Whithorn with its Priory and Museum and the Isle of Whithorn are well worth a stop too. If time allows, Glenluce Abbey is lovely.
You could either head back to Newton Stewart for the night or carry on to Portpatrick.


Posted by
2076 posts


Day 6 If you didn’t do Glenluce Abbey yesterday think about going back today. Otherwise spend the time around the Mull of Galloway. The Logan Botanic Gardens are wonderful. Check if the Port Logan Fish Pond is still open. Their website account has been suspended although [Trip Advisor reviews][15] give opening times for 2024...

[Drummore][16] has an end of the world feel to it. and you can climb to the top of Mull of Galloway lighthouse.

Day 7 Culzean Castle and gardens are well worth visiting. Allow several hours for the visit.

Day 8 Definitley agree with Sanquhar and Wanlockhead!

The Undiscovered Scotland website has lots more information and pictures about all of these places, plus many more!

It's a beautiful area - enjoy it and give it the time it deserves!

Posted by
6775 posts

You may find this series of 11 You Tube Videos useful to you in your planning-

OK- He chose to drive anticlockwise round the loop, rather than the clockwise we both chose, and has included Rabbie Burns in Ayr (slightly off route, interestingly Wasleys- like me- chose to omit).
That just shows that, like all good road trips, there are all sorts of possible deviations, no 'correct' or specified route.

For anyone else reading this it is also possible to do almost all of what we mention and the videos show by public transport- even Wanlockhead. Yes you would need to be slightly more selective and maybe add a day or two- but it is not hard to do by transit.