The vast majority of visitors to Skye who drive here from England will approach Scotland on the M6 and then continue on the A74(M) towards Glasgow after crossing the border just north of Carlisle.
The purpose of this post is to encourage such visitors to consider taking a detour for a day or two. Try turning left off the A74(M) and head west for a bit. The biggest town you'll find is Dumfries (population about 35,000). This historic town is worth a visit, and is the burial place of renowned Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
In Dumfries-shire, you will find mile after mile of green rolling pastureland dotted with patches of majestic trees. There is also some forest (one shares a name with the village with the shortest place-name in the UK - Ae) and to the south, the wide expanse of the Solway Firth is home to many thousands of geese and wetland birds.
Everywhere here is peaceful. Remember - the visitors have all dashed on north on the motorway. There are numerous small, quiet towns and villages - every one of them worthy of a wander-round. Head even further west, and you probably won't want to continue to Skye at all - Galloway has hills, forests, woodland, rivers, castles, beaches... and everywhere there is space to park your car and the eating places are't crowded.
Sue and I have just enjoyed an all too short break, staying just outside Dumfries. I could not claim that the landscape matches Skye for grandeur, but the almost total lack of visitors is refreshing, and there's plenty to see and do while on holiday. We have so many places on our 'must visit' list, but Dumfries and Galloway has not been completely crossed-off the list yet!
|Ruined - but very explorable!|
|The castle has a fascinating history of improvement and destruction |
|The Solway Firth|
|Wanlockhead - Scotland's highest village|
|Lead Mine Museum, Wanlockhead - you can pan for gold here|
|Wanlockhead also has the highest adhesion railway - a narrow-gauge industrial line|
|Leadhills village, Lowther Hills|
|Pausing in the Mennock Pass|