Enjoying the peace at New Galloway, a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Enjoying the peace at New Galloway, a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

We’re back! Our three-week road trip through Wales and Scotland ended in a nine-hour journey back home to London. I’ve been spending more time offline than usual, but I did manage to do a small amount of work, mainly thanks to the CatStrand arts centre, in New Galloway.

New Galloway

New Galloway is in the Glenkens, a picturesque valley between Dumfries and Ayr known as the ‘Highlands of south-west Scotland’. The town is on the Galloway Kite Trail. It also includes part of the Galloway Forest Park, 300 square miles of untamed beauty. Birds of prey, red squirrels, wild rabbits and deer rove freely in the mainly pine woodland. The Forest Park was the first area in the UK to gain Dark Skies status, and the public can stargaze from the hilltop Dark Sky Observatory.

We stayed about fifteen minutes away from New Galloway, in our forest cottage. Telephone signals are almost non-existent there, so every couple of days I made a trip into New Galloway to use the CatStrand’s wi-fi, offered freely to locals and visitors.

New Galloway

the CatStrand’s cafe

The CatStrand

The CatStrand is set in a bright, airy building, which used to house the local primary school and is named after the small stream running underneath. After a six-year fundraising and renovation process, the 1743 building re-opened as the CatStrand in 2007. Now it offers a lively programme of activities, including film nights, a youth arts programme (a group of youngsters were learning about film-making while I was there), gigs from touring musicians and theatre shows in the performance space, and the Scottish Alternative Games (not to be missed – I’ll be posting about the Games soon).

New Galloway

the CatStrand’s shop, selling gift items made by local craftspeople

Eating out in New Galloway

The CatStrand’s cafe offers a basic menu, with soup, toasties, locally baked cakes and wine or beer. For a more varied selection, the bustling Smithy next door has a range of daily specials, like smoked haddock quiche, gammon, egg and chips, or tomato and basil soup. Local haggis is paired with cheese in toasties, or on top of jacket spuds.

New Galloway

The Smithy restaurant and gift shop

New Galloway

One of The Smithy’s lunchtime offerings: jacket potato topped with local haggis and cheese.

Community shop

A new community shop recently opened in New Galloway, selling fresh local fare. A sign in the shop invites locals to bring along  surplus fruit and veg from their gardens to sell there.

New Galloway

New Galloway

Play facilities

For children there’s a small play park, overlooked by a commanding war memorial. You can’t see in the picture below, but there are swings, slides, a see-saw and a roundabout.

New Galloway

New Galloway’s war memorial

Verdict

Although New Galloway itself is small and wouldn’t have enough to keep families occupied for longer than a day or so, it makes an excellent base for exploring the Forest Park, Kite Trail and other attractions in the local area. The town has several hotels and B&Bs, including the Cross Keys, Cruachan House and Kenbridge Hotel (none of which we visited). Golf is popular in the area, and the town boasts its own nine-hole golf course.

Getting there

By road, New Galloway is around an hour away from Dumfries, on the A713. The nearest railway stations are Ayr and Dumfries, which have frequent train services from Glasgow and Carlisle. Regular bus routes run into New Galloway: the 520 from Dalry, Castle Douglas, and Ayr; and the 521 from Castle Douglas and Dumfries.

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New Galloway

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6 Comments

  1. August 14, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    Lovely little town!

  2. August 14, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful not having a phone / wifi signal for a short time? I found it really refreshing, although like you I had to connect occasionally!
    Nat.x

  3. August 14, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I’ve become such a Dumfries and Galloway fan in just one year – can’t get enough of the place! Great to hear more about New Galloway. I’ll need to visit to try out the Smithy restaurant and gift shop. We had haggis for tea tonight – a perennial favourite in our house.

  4. August 15, 2017 / 6:57 am

    It’s lovely to find somewhere beautiful and to have a digital detox at the same time! It means more time for coffee and cake and uninterrupted family time – you can’t beat it !

  5. Jean
    February 17, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the nostalgia trip. I used to spend all my holidays there with my Gran & Grandpa in the 1940s ( I am aged 86). They lived next to the post office. Loved cycling on the traffic free roads and fishing inthe loch. No cafes then ,just one grocer and butcher

    • February 18, 2018 / 2:13 pm

      Oh, that’s really interesting! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my post. Is it somewhere you’d be able to visit again? I suspect a lot of it’s still very much the same.

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