Castle Douglas is a thriving live stock market town in Scotland surrounded by hills for climbing, forests for walking or cycling, lochs and rivers to keep anglers happy and only a few miles from glorious stretches of shoreline, Castle Douglas is an ideal centre from which to explore the surrounding countryside which is rich in both history and wildlife.
Things to do in Castle Douglas
Shopping: The Food Town The claim that Castle Douglas offers ‘a unique shopping experience’ is no idle boast. With over 50 independent businesses offering a wide range of locally produced foods including family-owned butchers, bakers, greengrocer, fishmonger, a chocolatier and delis, plus gift shops, ladies wear, bespoke tailoring, homeware, antiques and more, there is not much the town’s retailers can’t provide the discerning shopper.
But it’s not only the range of goods for sale which makes shopping in Castle Douglas such a special experience, the atmosphere is warm and friendly. People greet each other in the street, friends stop to chat and shopkeepers serve you with a smile.
In an era when many towns are losing their independent shops Castle Douglas is thriving. It is helped to do so by the Food Town Initiative, founded in 2001 to promote The Food Town’s independent businesses through publicity, marketing and the organisation of special events through the year. An annual Food Town Day is held in June, expert chefs are invited to demonstrate their skills, food fairs, craft fairs and Christmas events provide a calendar of not-to-be-missed events.
Castle Douglas has many excellent cafés serving snacks or full meals where you can re-fuel during your shopping trip. Or you could have sandwiches made up and enjoy a picnic by the loch.
There are also some great walks to be had in and around Castle Douglas please go to the following link for maps and details of walks in and around our area. http://dg.wildseasons.co.uk/downloads-links/web-resources
The Brewery is tucked away at 209 King Street, Castle Douglas. Its real ales are traditionally brewed to exacting standards with no added colourings, extracts or concentrates. Tours of the brewery are conducted every Monday and Friday at 1pm. A well-stocked bar allows visitors to enjoy sampling the various beers as well as buying bottles and barrels to take home. The name Sulwath is the ancient name for the Solway Estuary, particularly to a crossing near the River Esk. http://www.sulwathbrewers.co.uk/home.html
Castle Douglas Art Gallery The art gallery, part of Scotland’s museums, is situated beside the red sandstone library at the top of the town. It was gifted by a local artist in 1938 and completely re-vamped in 1996. It hosts a regularly changing programme of exhibitions often featuring the work of local artists and craft groups as well as touring exhibitions. Admission is free.
Other galleries in the town: At the foot of King Street is McGill Duncan Gallery owned and curated by mother and daughter team, Jill and Zoe Blamire. The gallery has five exhibiting spaces, including one up a spiral wooden staircase, for the carefully selected paintings, glass and pottery. It sells contemporary work by national and international artists and makers and Scottish paintings from the 19th to the early 20th century and has several exhibitions each year. http://www.mcgillduncangallery.com
On the other side of the road, just below the clock tower at 212 King Street, Angela Lawrence has her Clience studio and gallery. In her work, mostly in oils but also some watercolours, Angela focusses on seascapes, many of which are local scenes. http://www.cliencestudio.co.uk
At 184 King Street you will find Livingston & Son shop, workshop and gallery. The family business specialises in furniture restoring and making. Two doors down from the King Street shop, the workshop and gallery are tucked away in an 18th century courtyard. Regularly changing displays in the gallery show work by local artists and photographers. Occasional events such as poetry readings are held in the gallery. http://www.livingstons-antiques.co.uk
Fullarton Theatre is situated on Lochside Road, close to the park and loch. Converted from a former church, this is a professionally equipped, 200-seat theatre managed and staffed by volunteers. It offers a packed programme of plays, concerts and regular recently-released film showings. There’s a nice little bar in which to enjoy pre-show and interval refreshments. Youth and adult amateur dramatic groups use the theatre and it hosts the annual one-act play festival for all amateur drama groups in the area. The theatre is named in honour of the late Donald Fullarton whose vision and drive was responsible for the project taking shape. http://www.lochsidetheatre.co.uk
Threave estate in Castle Douglas, house and gardens were gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1948 by the owner, Major Alan Gordon who was keen to see it used as a wild fowl refuge. The world-renowned gardens (also home to a school of horticulture) welcome thousands of visitors each year. In the spring the daffodil displays are stunning while in the summer the herbaceous beds and borders are at their best and in autumn the heathers and trees provide a truly colourful sight. There is much to enjoy; from the walled garden and glasshouses to a sculpture garden with work by Scottish artists. The gardening students live in Threave House but the beautifully restored public rooms are open to visitors – book in advance. The venue can also be booked for weddings. The visitor centre has a wonderful range of plants, many of which are grown in the gardens and a restaurant. http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Threave-Estate
Threave Castle just outside Castle Douglas once the stronghold of the Black Douglasses the castle stands on an island in the River Dee. A massive tower house, complete with artillery house and dungeons, it was built in the 14th century for Archibald the Grim. It was his father, James, who carried Robert the Bruce’s heart into battle. Bruce’s son David II bestowed the title of Lord of Galloway on Archibald. It was the English who gave him the title ‘the Grim’ because of his terrifying appearance in battle. Not only did he expel the English from Lochmaben Castle, their last foothold in the Scottish West March, he pacified the warring Galloway men, too.
The castle is a tower house of five storeys, almost 30 metres in height and one of the first of this type to be built in Scotland. The walls were three metres thick, with only small windows facing the island and battlements which provided an excellent defence. The artillery house was an innovative addition to its defence. During excavation in the 1970s, remains of other buildings which once surrounded the castle were found, including an outer hall, living quarters for servants and a harbour.
Threave Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland. Visiting the castle involves a short walk to the jetty. Ring the brass bell hanging there and the ferry will appear to take you across to the island.