Into the wilds of South Scotland

Scotland is full of wild and wonderful places to escape the crowds.

Into the wilds of South Scotland

Sarah on Aug 19, 2015

Often, visitors to Scotland will flock to the Highlands in search of wild and wonderful places to escape the crowds, forgetting about the hidden gems of South Scotland. In fact, there are plenty of hidden gems among the coast and countryside of Dumfries and Galloway, The Scottish Borders, Ayrshire and Arran, Glasgow, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire. We’ve found a couple of them for you!

Ailsa Craig

The dramatic island of Ailsa Craig lies nine miles off the South Ayrshire coast and rises over 300 metres above sea level. The island is home to around 36,000 pairs of gannets which makes it the third largest gannetry in the UK. You can visit Ailsa Craig from Girvan but the best way to set eyes on the gannets, guillemots, razorbills and puffins, is from the water.

Awful Hand Range

Stretching across five mountains in the very heart of Galloway, the Awful Hand Range is truly wild but wonderful. The mountains roll through Galloway Forest Park, dotted with silent lochs and tree-lined valleys, where deer roam peacefully and water trickles gently. Beside Loch Trool you’ll find Bruce’s Stone, from here you can follow a four mile track to the range’s highest peak, The Merrick.

Devil’s Beef Tub

A dramatic 500 foot hollow in the hills just north of Moffat, formed by the meeting of four hills. Its intriguing name derives from its ancient use as a hiding place for stolen cattle by the Border Revivers, or Johnston clan, often referred to as ‘devils’. Today the intriguing sight offers stunning scenery and is owned by the Borders Forest Trust and visited most by walkers, eagles and mountain hares.

St Ninian’s Cave

The small well-hidden sea cave, was believed to have been a hiding place for Scotland’s first saint, St. Ninian. According to local tradition, it was his retreat and place of solitude. Found just four miles from Whithorn Abbey, there are several picturesque walks which will take you through wooded glens and out on to the pebbly beach.

The Motte of Urr

This mediaeval earth work is a fascinating section of five acres which dates back to the 12th century and has been described as one of the most impressive motte and bailey castle sites in Scotland. Found just north of Dalbeattie, the best way to set eyes on the Motte of Urr is by driving the B794 between Dalbeattie and the Haugh of Urr.

Kirkpatrick’s Grave

Not so much a wild spot but more a hidden gem. Keir in Nithsdale is the resting place of Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the inventor of the bicycle! His gravestone is found in the old Kirkyard and a plaque marks the spot where he worked on his invention.


A remote valley used as a meeting place for the Border Hunt and as a gathering spot for sheep at shearing time. A long but incredibly rewarding walk will leave you in utter solitude as you pass-by Heatherhope reservoir and climb above Philip Hope Burn to the ancient trackway known as The Street. Instead of joining the Pennine Way National Trail on the border though, head left along The Street and you’ll be rewarded with the most stunning views as you head back towards Hownam.

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