The gentle hills of Galloway are like the ones in the Rupert Bear or Enid Blyton books: gently rounded, with clumps of trees, rocky outcrops, fluffy little clouds and sometimes deep blue sky.
When it's not raining, the light is incredibly bright and the air so very clear, hence the attraction to artists.
This is not sunny Spain, but the climate tends to be mild; a possibly drier version of Cornwall or the Lake District.
Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, was born in Dumfries and Galloway.
Near Thornhill is exotic, multi-turreted 17th century Drumlanrig Castle, which has paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.
Coastal Kirkcudbright is an attractive and aristocratic "artist's town", associated with the Glasgow Boys.
Kirkcudbright's Broughton House is where the artist Edward Hornel used to live. For part of the year, you can tour the beautiful house and see Hornel's Japanese-style pictures of little girls, some naked, and his magical garden, which is probably the very best garden in the world.
Wigtown, which looks rather French, is Dumfries and Galloway's book town and it has at least 20 book businesses.
New Abbey is associated with John Balliol, the founder of Balliol College, Oxford. This pretty village has an abbey, a museum of costume and a tearoom.
Dalbeattie has some of the friendliest people in Britain. It has the fabulous little Dalbeattie Museum of Victoriana (restricted opening hours). The officer on the deck of the Titanic, when it sank, was a man from Dalbeattie. The Dalbeattie area is famous for off-road cycling.
Crossmichael, near Castle Douglas, used to have a Michelin starred restaurant, but it moved to Leith in Edinburgh, which is where the money and the power lie.
Dumfries could be as beautiful as any town in Europe. But it is not.
You will see lots of young people who look unemployed and seriously malnourished (drugs? AIDS? poverty?).
1. The Gracefield Arts Centre which too often seems to be closed.
Former SAS member, Ken Connor, said that training camps were set up in a remote mountain area in 1983. (BBC News SCOTLAND Scots link to US terror suspect / PEN-L message, SAS trained Mujahedin fighters in Scotland)
Loch Ken, near Castle Douglas, is for windsurfers. The Galloway Sailing Centre at Loch Ken can tell you about Dinghy Courses, powerboating courses, canoeing courses, gorge scrambling and quad bikes.
Family fun can be had at the award winning Cream o' Galloway, Rainton, Gatehouse of Fleet, Castle Douglas. Open Easter until October. This place has an adventure playground and nature trail as well as a restaurant selling the best ice cream in the UK.
Cycling was invented in Dumfries and galloway. Cyclists might enjoy the route from Rhonehouse to Kirkcudbright ( 7 miles, deserted road, flowers, sheep, rabbits, little hills like babies' buttocks, country cottages).... or Palnackie to Castle Douglas taking the route over the hills. The Dalbeattie area is famous for having off-road trails and miles and miles of quiet country roads.
This area has traditionally been used by the armed forces for hush hush training of special forces (and 'Moslem terrorists', according to newspapers). Expect to see the occasional Hawk fighter, tank, or men dressed as trees.
Military aircraft have crashed into local farms. "The latest crash was only seconds away from Lockerbie, in one direction, and Dumfries in the other..." according to The Dumfries Courier.
Lockerbie is famous because of Major Charles McKee - Pan Am Flight 103 hit Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.
National Express coaches will take you from London, Birmingham, Manchester etc to Dumfries and beyond.
A grotty little train will transport you, amid much litter, from Carlisle to Dumfries. The train used to go to Stranraer, but not any more.
Bus services are poor. Many local buses travel too fast. Stagecoach buses have little leg room and usually no toilets even on the longest journeys.
"MacEwans Coaches boss is ready to defend his company after it was branded unreliable this week... Members of the environment and infrastructure committee were told that while Stagecoach Western - which has also attracted a significant number of complaints - had improved, MacEwans had failed to and in some cases had become worse..." Dumfries Courier Oct 13, 2000.
WHERE TO STAY?
Brighouse Bay leisure park takes caravans and tents and has lodges and cottages. It "boasts a vast range of on-site facilities that appeal to everyone, from small boats on the pond for the younger generation to Quad Bikes for the thrillseekers. The indoor pool complex offers swimming for all ages with a jacuzzi and steam room for a spot of relaxation after all that work.The 18 hole Golf Course is championship length and has glorious views across the Irish Sea. There is also a 9 hole par 3 for all the family."
Similar to Brighouse Bay is Sandyhills Bay, sitting at the foot of wooded hills and close to a sheltered sandy beach.
There are many other caravan and camp sites.
You could stay in DUMFRIES which has at least one good Bed and Breakfast.
CASTLE DOUGLAS has a number of Bed and Breakfast places.
GATEHOUSE's Cally Palace Hotel has AA one rosette food and a super golf course; Georgian buildings; bonny views of hills.
NEWTON STEWART, a quiet contry town in the middle of John Buchan style countryside, has the excellent KIRROUGHTREE HOUSE hotel which has an AA 2 Rosette restaurant! The hotel is AA 3 stars. Lovely, posh country house interior.
PORTPATRICK, on the coast, somewhat remote, has the wonderful KNOCKINAAM LODGE HOTEL, the restaurant of which has AA 3 Rosettes! (same as London's River Cafe, Bibendum....)
Hotels & Accommodations
“First Class accomodation in a beautiful location”
“fell at a few hurdles”
“A Home from Home”
“Take an overcoat”
“WOW Factor in the new rooms”
“Mostly Good, but?”
Views In Galloway !!
The people of Dumfries and Galloway are the people who ran Hong Kong (Jardines and Flemings...) and ran a large part of the Empire! You'll bump into Galloway people in Africa, South America and Australasia.
Strangely, this area has quite a few millionaires. Lots of big houses. They must like the scenery.
"Scotland puts a smile on your face" according to the Glasgow Herald. "The Scots are the happiest people in Britain, according to a new study of the nation's mood....In Scotland the LifeIndex score was 6.6 out of ten. London had the lowest score 5.4 ....."
Dumfries and Galloway has a lower crime rate than Glasgow, London, Rwanda..... It has the best crime clear-up rate in Britain.
TO SUM UP - THIS IS BETTER THAN the Lake District or Cornwall if you have a romantic sort of mind and a car or a bike.
Dumfries and Galloway will appeal to -
CYCLISTS, fishermen, WALKERS, foodies, CARAVANERS, booklovers, JOHN BUCHAN/JM BARRIE/GAVIN MAXWELL FANS, Bird watchers, WALKERS, Enid Blyton children..........
Robert Burns House
The Stewartry Museum
World Famous Old Blacksmith's Shop Museum
Cream 'o Galloway