Visiting Galloway for Galloway Wild Foods Events

*PLEASE NOTE THAT DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY IS SLOWLY MOVING BACK TOWARDS NORMALITY AFTER COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS*

Different businesses are feeling their way back at different speeds. If you are visiting from outside the region, please don’t expect much to be open, including public toilets, cafes, pubs, accommodation etc.

Please check directly with businesses about opening/availability.

Read more about how C19 affects Galloway Wild Foods Events here.

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Ever more people are coming to South-West Scotland to learn to forage with Galloway Wild Foods, and most leave dumfounded by it beauty and rich natural heritage, wondering why they hadn’t discovered it sooner! I’ve made this page to help people coming to the region for an event to orientate themselves and find great places to stay and visit while they are here.

If you run a business in the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere and would like to be added to this guide, please get in touch.

Coastal Foraging in Galloway

Although Galloway Wild Foods runs foraging events all over Scotland and Northern England, lots take place near my base in South-West Scotland. This is that large corner of Scotland that most people speed by on their way to the highlands without so much as a second thought! Silly them! It is a forager’s paradise, with an intricate network of habitats from huge sandy beaches and salt marshes to vast forests and high hills.

The region is organisationally known as Dumfries and Galloway, but for the purposes of this website, I use the term Galloway to refer to the part of that SW corner between Dumfries in the east, Stranraer in the West, the Solway Firth to the south, and Ayrshire to the North, though many locals would vehemently disagree with all being lumped under one heading!

This area can be seen as one large peninsula made up of three smaller peninsulas: The Colvend/Stewartry coast (Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright etc), The Machars (sometimes known as Wigtownshire) and The Rhinns (sometimes appended with “of Galloway”). Those who are local to these areas have strong subregional identities, and you may find yourself vehemently corrected if you say they live in Galloway!

Auchencairn Bay from Screel Hill

This is a stunningly beautiful corner of Scotland, with rugged coast, sandy beaches, huge salt marshes, vast forests (including the UK’s biggest forest park, and one of its most extensive ancient oak woodlands), characterful towns and villages, and some of the least trodden mountains in the whole of the UK. It was the UK’s first Dark Sky Park and was named as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2012.

A ‘Biosphere’ is a special status awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific,
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to places where communities can demonstrate a passion for living and working that benefits people and nature. Biospheres are created to fulfil three main purposes:

  • Conservation: promoting the preservation of wildlife, habitats, and landscape.
  • Learning: supporting a better understanding of nature and global issues.
  • Development: fostering a sustainable economy and society.

You can read more about Galloway and South Ayrshire’s Biosphere designation here.

The Fleet Valley, near Gatehouse of Fleet

By teaching people to sustainably and considerately forage for abundant resources through nature connection, Galloway Wild Foods unites these three strands and is a proud supporter of the Biosphere.

Most of the images throughout this website were taken in and around Galloway, and flicking through some pages will give you a good idea of the flora, fauna, fungi, habitats and landscapes, as well as its rich abundance of delicious and culturally important wild foods.

The Galloway Hills, from near newton Stewart

Perhaps it is the areas lack of high mountains that makes people overlook it in favour of the highlands, but this helps keep the region peaceful and unspoiled, with none of the grockle, tour buses, full car parks and crowds of the regular tourist circuits. Even in high summer you’d be unlikely to see another soul in most of Galloway’s high mountains and rugged coast. Though biting midges are not unheard of in the region, they are much less of a nuisance in Galloway than in much of the rest of Scotland’s West coast!

Learning about the wild plants our ancestors would have eaten on one of Galloway’s many ancient coastal hill forts.

Places To Stay near Galloway Wild Foods Events

While I encourage you to explore the whole of the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere during your visit, most of my walks and courses are held in the area around Gatehouse of Fleet where I am based. For this reason my focus here is on that area – roughly bound by Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown, Newton Stewart and New Galloway. Please compare the location of your event to the location of the accommodation before booking – they could be 40 minute’s drive apart.

I’ve focussed mostly on places that are proud supporters of, or certified by the Biosphere, as they have clearly demonstrated their commitment to:

  • Help to conserve the natural resources of the Biosphere
  • Support the economy to benefit people and nature
  • Promote cultural heritage and local products
  • Contribute to the health and well-being of the community
  • Develop knowledge, understanding and promote research

I have also included some other excellent businesses that aren’t yet part of the Biosphere project. While I am only listing places that I have heard to be of a high standard, I can’t take any responsibility for the quality of your stay…please do your own further research.

Wild Galloway Hills

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Useful Websites

Visit Kirkcudbright Website

Gatehouse of Fleet Website/Visitor Guide

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Bed & Breakfasts

Brookford B&B, St Johns Town of Dalry (40 minutes drive from the coast)

The Bobbin B&B, Gatehouse of Fleet. Small, family run B&B near many of Galloway Wild Food’s courses

Woodlyn B&B, Gatehouse of Fleet. Recently renovated B&B near many of Galloway Wild Food’s courses

…or search Air B&B for the Gatehouse of Fleet area.

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Hostels

Barholm, Creetown – Well located for coastal and fungi forays. Private and shared hostel rooms for up to 27, car and cycle hire on site

Newton Stewart Youth Hostel (Hostelling Scotland), Newton Stewart. Available only as full hostel rental.

 

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Campsites

Glen Trool Caming and Caravan Site, Glen Trool. Campsite in the heart of the Galloway hills and Cree Valley Oak Woodlands.

Solway View Campsite, Near Kirkcudbright. Camping, glamping on a lovely site with views over Kirkcudbright Bay.

Mossyard Campsite, Near Gatehouse of Fleet. Camping and caravan site on a stunning bit of coast with sandy beaches.

The Wild Spice Rack – the true flavours of Galloway

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Glamping

Carraig Shepherd’s Hut, Glen Trool. Cabin glamping, great for the Galloway Hills 35 mins from Gatehouse of Fleet.

Creeside Escape Shepherd’s Hut, Creetown. Cabin glamping, well located for coast, forest and hills.

Garroch Glen Shephers Huts, New Galloway. Cabin glamping in the forest park.

Wild Foods of Galloway © GallowayWildFoods.com

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Wild Camping

Thoughtful, considerate wild camping is fine in many wild spaces around Galloway, but these do not include agricultural land or nature reserves. Please heed signs and if in doubt, seek permission.  The Scottish Outdoor Access Code and Mountaineering Council for Scotland provide sound guidance on what constitutes Wild Camping and how to do it well here.

Salt Marsh Foraging

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Hotels

Cally Palace Hotel, Gatehouse of Fleet. Victorian grandeur and luxury in the heart of a vast woodland.

The Ship Inn, Gatehouse of Fleet. A small hotel in the lovely village of Gatehouse.

The Clachan Inn, St John’s Town of Dairy. Cosy country inn, 35 minutes drive from the coast near Gatehouse of Fleet.

Ken Bridge Hotel, New Galloway. Traditional country Inn on the banks of the River Ken, in the heart of the Forest Park.

The Cross Keys, New Galloway. Cosy country inn, 35 minutes drive from the coast near Gatehouse of Fleet.

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Cottage Rental

The Hidden Mill, Balmaclellan. A lovely converted mill owned and run by lovely permaculture-foragy folk, 40 minutes drive from the coast near Gatehouse.

Drumwhill, Mossdale. Cottage and retreat centre secluded in the forest park. 25 minutes drive from Gatehouse of Fleet.

Glenquicken Farm Holiday Cottages, Creetown. Well located for hills, forest and coast.

Owl Cote and The Bird’s Nest Cottages, Carrick, By Gatehouse of Fleet. Perfectly located for coastal foraging adventures on a stunning bit of coast.

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If you run a business in the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere and would like to be added to this guide, please get in touch.

Wild Galloway Coast

 

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