Castle Douglas

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March, 2015

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During our stay in Dumfries and Galloway we visited Castle Douglas – Scotland’s designated food town. This ancient market town has huge forests to its north, to the south there are the sweeping beaches of the Solway Firth. Castle Douglas has a super range of restaurants, cafes and shops selling wonderful food products but whereas we found it definitely worthy of its excellent reputation for food, there is much more to Castle Douglas than food, making it a lovely place for a day trip or holiday.

The town was once called Carlingwark, then Sir William Douglas drew up new street plans and rebuilt the town, in his honour the town was renamed Castle Douglas. Thanks to Sir William Douglas the town is easy to walk around, there are three long main streets, with other smaller streets interlinking them. The town’s history of hand cotton spinning is remembered by the name of one of the main streets – Cotton Street.

For those, like me, who like browsing small independent shops, on traditional, thriving High Streets, then Castle Douglas is quite a paradise. With over 50 independent retailers selling a variety of goods – fashion, ceramics, beauty products, crafts, toys (to name just a few) and of course it’s main commodity food!. There are bakers, butchers, , fruit and vegetable shops, confectioners selling delicious breads, cakes home made pies, honey cheeses, home made sweets, preserves, .the shopper is certainly spoilt for choice. Everything you may need is sold in these little independent shops (despite the fact there is a large well known supermarket on the edge of town). Castle Douglas also has its own family owned brewery.

Restaurants providing excellent international cuisine, cosy café’s and tea shops, sandwich shops, take aways all provide a mouth watering selection of places to eat. I love Greek food and enjoyed such a lovely lunch at Nikos Greek Restaurant (I have reviewed this separately) we returned the following evening and enjoyed an equally delicious dinner. We also enjoyed buying food from the local specialist shops and having a picnic beside Carlingwark Loch.

After spending time on the bustling shopping streets, we walked, for just a few minutes, away from the centre of the town to the tranquillity of Carlingwark Loch. The loch is dotted with little islands, home to an abundance of birdlife. Picnic tables and chairs arranged around the loch allow the visitor to sit, eat and enjoy the scenery or to rest during a stroll around the loch.

At the north end of Carlinwark Loch is Threave House and the 64 acre Threave Garden complete with ornamental gardens and bird hides. Both are owned by the Scottish National Trust and are open throughout the year. A little further afield is the 14th century Threave Castle, standing on an island on the River Dee, getting to it involves a walk from the car park and a boat trip the half mile or so to the castle.

The town and surrounding area has a good selection of hotels. Hotels have been a part of Castle Douglas since its days as a old Coaching town. Self catering accommodation is plentiful too – we stayed in a lovely cottage on the nearby Kirkennan Estate.

Castle Douglas is just 18 miles from Dumfries, a historical market town known for its connections with Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. The panoramic coastline is just a short drive away, this coastline is dotted with pretty villages overlooking sweeping bays. Ten miles south of Castle Douglas is Kirkcudbright – Scotland’s artists town which was out next stop, but we knew we would return to Castle Douglas, the town has such a good mix of everything to make a good visitor experience, good food, good shops, warm hospitality, beautiful scenery, walking opportunities, history, a busy buzz on the thriving streets but peace and tranquillity close by when needed!

Pamela Walker

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