Dumfries and Galloway

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Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries an Gallowa
Dùn Phris is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh
Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.svg
Admin HQ Dumfries
 • Body Dumfries and Galloway Council
 • Control Labour minority (council NOC)[1]
 • MPs
 • MSPs
 • Total 2,481 sq mi (6,426 km2)
Area rank Ranked 3rd
Population (mid-2015 est.)
 • Total 149,700
 • Rank Ranked 13th
 • Density 60/sq mi (23/km2)
ONS code S12000006
ISO 3166 code GB-DGY
Website http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/
Topographic map of Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway (Scots: Dumfries an Gallowa, Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phrìs is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh) is one of 32 unitary council areas of Scotland and is located in the western Southern Uplands. It comprises the historic counties of Dumfriesshire, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire, the latter two of which are collectively known as Galloway. The administrative centre is the town of Dumfries.

Following the 1975 reorganisation of local government in Scotland, the three counties were joined to form a single region of Dumfries and Galloway, with four districts within it. Since the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, however, it has become a unitary local authority. For lieutenancy purposes, the historic counties are largely maintained with its three lieutenancy areas being Dumfries, Wigtown and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

To the north, Dumfries and Galloway borders East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire; in the east the Borders; and to the south the county of Cumbria in England and the Solway Firth. To the west lies the Irish Sea.


The Dumfries and Galloway Council region is composed of counties and their sub-areas. From west to east:

The term 'Dumfries and Galloway' has been used since at latest the 19th century - by 1911 the three counties had a united Sheriffdom under that name. Dumfries and Galloway covers the majority of the Western area of the Southern Uplands,[2] it also hosts Scotland's most Southerly point, at the Mull of Galloway[3] in the west of the region.

Water systems and transport routes through the Southern Uplands[edit]

The region has a number of south running water systems which break through the Southern Uplands creating the main road, and rail, arteries north/south through the region and breaking the hills up into a number of ranges.

The A701 branches off the M74 at Beattock, goes through the town of Moffat, climbs to Annanhead above the Devil's Beef Tub (at the source of the River Annan) before passing the source of the River Tweed and carrying on to Edinburgh. Until fairly recent times the ancient route to Edinburgh travelled right up Annandale to the Beef Tub before climbing steeply to Annanhead.[5] The present road ascends northward on a ridge parallel to Annandale but to the west of it which makes for a much easier ascent.

From Moffat the A708 heads north east along the valley of Moffat Water (Moffatdale) on its way to Selkirk. Moffatdale separates the Moffat hills (to the north) from the Ettrick hills to the south.

National Scenic Areas[edit]

There are three National Scenic Areas within this region.

  • Nith Estuary[6] - This area follows the River Nith southward from just south of Dumfries into the Solway Firth. Dumfries itself has a rich history going back over 800 years as a Royal Burgh (1186) and is particularly remembered as the place where Robert the Bruce murdered the Red Comyn in 1306 before being crowned King of Scotland - and where Robert Burns spent his last years. His mausoleum is in St Michael's graveyard. Going down the east bank there is the village of Glencaple, Caerlaverock Castle, Caerlaverock Wild Fowl Trust, an ancient Roman fort on Ward Law Hill[7] and nearby in Ruthwell is the Ruthwell Cross and the Brow Well[8] where Robert Burns "took the waters" and bathed in the Solway just before his death. On the west bank, there are several walks and cycle routes in Mabie Forest,[9] Kirkconnell Flow[10] for the naturalist, the National Museum of Costume[11] just outside New Abbey and Sweetheart Abbey within the village. Criffel (569 metres) offers the hill walker a reasonably modest walk with excellent views across the Solway to the Lake District. The house of John Paul Jones founder of the American Navy is also open to visitors near Kirkbean.
  • East Stewartry[12] - This takes in the coast line from Balcary Point[13] eastward across Auchencairn Bay and the Rough Firth past Sandyhills to Mersehead.[14] There are several attractive coastal villages within this area - Auchencairn, Kippford, Colvend, Rockcliffe, and Portling. There is also a unigue round tower at Orchardton and the islands of Hestan Isle and Rough Island can be reached at low tide outside the breeding season for birds. Mersehead is an excellent wildfowl reserve. The area is well provided with coastal paths.
  • Fleet Valley[15] - This area takes in Fleet Bay with its popular holiday destinations of Auchenlarie, Mossyard Bay, Cardoness, Sandgreen and Carrick Shore. The area also includes the town of Gatehouse of Fleet and the historic villages of Anworth and Girthon - there is a castle at Cardoness in the care of Historic Scotland.

Governance and Place-names[edit]

The region was created in 1975, by merging the counties of Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire as a two-tier region with the districts of Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, and Annandale and Eskdale within it. After 1996 the unitary authority became known as Dumfries and Galloway Council still with Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, Annandale and Esdale within it.

County councils as administrative authorities were created in 1889. The present-day, "Dumfries and Galloway Council Area" exist for administrative purposes.

The historic counties of Britain, at least most of them, have existed for around 1,000 years or more and are often logical geographical entities in themselves. In Scotland they originated as Sheriffdoms consisting of a group of parishes over which the sheriff had jurisdiction,[16] replacing native "Celtic" forms of government with Norman feudal structures.


Transport in the region is operated by bus companies Huston's, McEwan's, Stagecoach Western and McCall's coaches, and train operators Abellio ScotRail, TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains.


A Virgin Pendolino leaving Lockerbie station for Carlisle

The region has seven working railway stations. All are on the Glasgow South Western Line, except Lockerbie which is on the West Coast Main Line.

Bus and coach[edit]

The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with Glasgow, Ayr, Edinburgh and Carlisle. Local bus services are also operated across the region.


Stena Line provided HSS sailings between Stranraer and Belfast

Dumfries and Galloway is home to two ports which have services to Northern Ireland, both are in the West of the region. Stena Line and P&O Irish Sea both have a port in the village of Cairnryan.


The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Carlisle Lake District Airport. The region does host a number of private airfields. The town of Lockerbie was the scene of the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist attack on December 21, 1988.


The main roads to and from the region are:

The Port Line[edit]

The mainline from Dumfries railway station via Newton Stewart to Stranraer Harbour railway station, was closed under the Beeching Axe. The line previously connected London Euston and the West Coast Main Line with the ferries to Larne Harbour railway station and the Port of Belfast.

The Port Road to Stranraer being the last to go in June 1965 leaving only the original G&SWR main line open to serve the Stranraer. The Beeching Axe cutting the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway and Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway has resulted in adverse mileage to connect Stranraer with a longer line via Kilmarnock and Ayr.

Emergency services[edit]

The Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary (Dissolved 2013 and now Police Scotland) is the police force for the region, and is the smallest in the United Kingdom. Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service provide firefighting services across the region. The Coastguard, Lifeboats, Moffat mountain rescue and Galloway Mountain Rescue also offer emergency services across Dumfries and Galloway.

Nith Inshore Rescue is based at Glencaple. This an independent lifeboat providing water rescue cover for the River Nith, surrounding rivers and inland water. Nith Inshore Rescue is a declared facility for HM Coastguard who are the control centre and overseeing authority responsible for call outs.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway provide healthcare services across the region. The two main hospitals are the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Dumfries and Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer.


Dumfries & Galloway Council provides nursery, primary and secondary education across the region.

Alternative Schools[edit]

Nurseries and primary schools[edit]

For a list of nurseries and primary schools see this page.

Secondary schools[edit]

Stranraer Academy.


The region is known as a stronghold for several rare and protected species of amphibian, such as the Natterjack toad and the Great crested newt.[17] There are also RSPB Nature Reserves at the Mull of Galloway,[18] Wood of Cree (Galloway Forest Park),[19] Ken Dee Marshes (near Loch Ken)[20] and Mereshead (near Dalbeattie on the Solway Firth)

Welcome sign

Outdoor activities[edit]

There are five of the world class 7Stanes[21] mountain biking centres in Dumfries and Galloway at Dalbeattie, Mabie, Ae, Glentrool and Kirroughtree. The Sustrans Route 7[22] long distance cycle route also runs through the region. There is excellent hill walking in the Moffat Hills,[23] Lowther Hills [24] the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills [25] and Galloway Hills.[26] The Southern Upland Way[27] coast to coast walk passes through Dumfries and Galloway and the 53 mile long Annandale Way [28] travels from the Solway Firth into the Moffat hills near the Devil's Beef Tub. There is also fresh water sailing on Castle Loch at Lochmaben[29] and at various places on Loch Ken[30][31] Loch Ken also offers waterskiing and wakeboarding. [32] The Solway Firth coastline offers endless fishing, caravaning and camping, walking and sailing opportunities.

Arts and culture[edit]

Dumfries and Galloway is well known for its arts and cultural activities as well as its natural beauty.

The major festivals including the region-wide Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and Spring Fling Open Studios. Other festivals include Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and the Wigtown Book Festival in Wigtown - Scotland's national book town.

Towns and villages[edit]

Main settlements in bold text.

Places of interest[edit]

Council political composition[edit]

The council consists of 47 councillors elected for a four-year term from 13 wards. These wards were introduced for the 2007 election and each returns three or four members by the single transferable vote system of election. This system was introduced by the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004,[34] as a means of ensuring a reasonably proportionately representative outcome.


The result of the 2003 election returned a council with no party having overall control.[35] A 'silver' coalition was first formed involving all parties but Conservative and Labour, after this coalition resigned[36] Labour took minority control of the council. The following number of councillors were elected for each party as follows:

Party Councillors
Labour 14
Independent 12
Conservative 11
Scottish National Party 5
Liberal Democrat 5


The result of the 2007 election returned the following number of councillors for each party as follows:

Party Councillors
Conservative 18
Labour 14
Scottish National Party 10
Liberal Democrat 3
Independent 2

After the resignation of Bruce Hodgson (Conservative councillor for the Abbey ward) a by-election was held on 1 May 2008, with Michael Thomson (Conservative) being returned as the replacement councillor.[37] On Tuesday 20 May 2008, Councillor Robert Higgins stood down as Scottish National Party (SNP) Group Leader, after he received a triple driving ban for reckless driving.[38] Similarly Councillor John Charteris Conservative was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £500 after he admitted to drunk driving at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Friday, 29 August 2008[39]


Party Councillors
Conservative 15
Labour 14
Scottish National Party 10
Liberal Democrat 1
Independent 7

The council was controlled by a Conservative and Scottish National Party coalition until late 2013, when the resignation of seven Conservative councillors left the coalition without an outright majority.[40] The council is currently run by a minority administration led by Scottish Labour and Craig Peacock an Independent.

Current Councillors[edit]

By political groupings.


  • James H Dempster
  • Archie Dryburgh
  • Dr. Jeff Leaver Secretary
  • Sean W Marshall
  • John Martin
  • Tom McAughtrie
  • Marion McCutcheon
  • David J McKie
  • Ronnie Nicholson Group Leader
  • Ronald E Ogilvie
  • Colin Smyth
  • David Stitt
  • John Syme
  • Ted Thompson

Scottish National Party[edit]

  • Brian Collins (Depute Leader) Group Leader
  • Rob Davidson Business Manager
  • Iain Dick Deputy Group Leader
  • Andrew Ferguson
  • Alistair Geddes
  • Jim McClung
  • Stephen Thompson Secretary
  • Andrew S Wood
  • Alastair Witts


  • Ian Blake
  • Finlay Carson
  • Gillian Dykes
  • Douglas Fairburn
  • Patsy Gilroy
  • Ivor Hyslop
  • Gail MacGregor Secretary
  • Denis R Male
  • Graham Nicol Group Leader

Dumfries and Galloway Independent Group[edit]

  • Graham Bell
  • Ian Carruthers Group Leader
  • Karen Carruthers
  • Peter Diggle
  • Jack Groom
  • Roberta Tuckfield

Independent Group[edit]

  • Richard Brodie (Liberal Democrat, and member of Independent Group)
  • Jane S Maitland Group Leader
  • Jim McColm
  • Marion McCutcheon
  • George N Prentice Secretary

Non-Aligned Group[edit]

  • Grahame Forster
  • Willie Scobie


  • Yen Hongmei Jin - resigned from the SNP and is now an independent councillor.
  • Colin Peacock
  • Colin Wyper


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11296
  2. ^ http://www.visitsouthernscotland.com/
  3. ^ http://www.mull-of-galloway.co.uk
  4. ^ The Glenkens
  5. ^ Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Proceedings of the Society Feb 11th 1924 ANCIENT BORDER HIGHWAYS by Harry R G Inglis
  6. ^ Information of Nith Estuary National Scenic area
  7. ^ Roman Britain.org - Ward Law Archived December 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Dumfries Museum - The Brow Well
  9. ^ Forestry Commission web page on Mabie Forest and its facilities
  10. ^ Scotland's Natural Nature Reserves page on the Kirkconnell Flow
  11. ^ National Museum of Costume web site
  12. ^ Information on East Stewartry National Scenic Area
  13. ^ Auchencairn Initiative walk from Balcary to Rascarrel
  14. ^ RSPB website - Mersehead page
  15. ^ Information on Fleet Valley National Scenic Area
  16. ^ http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/types/type_page.jsp?unit_type=SCO_CNTY
  17. ^ "Rallying cry from frog stronghold". BBC News. 6 May 2008. 
  18. ^ The RSPB: Mull of Galloway
  19. ^ The RSPB: Wood of Cree
  20. ^ The RSPB: Ken-Dee Marshes
  21. ^ Website for the 7Stanes Mountain Bike Trails.
  22. ^ Route 7 on Sustrans website Archived March 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Website with walking routes in the Moffat hills
  24. ^ Website on walking in the Durisdeer and Lowther hills
  25. ^ Website with information on walking routes in the Carsphairn and Scaur hills
  26. ^ Website with information on walking routes in the Galloway hills
  27. ^ Website for the Southern Upland Way.
  28. ^ Annandale Way website
  29. ^ Annandale Sailing Club's website
  30. ^ Website for Loch Ken Marina
  31. ^ Website for water ski-ing on Loch Ken
  32. ^ Website for Crossmichael Marina Archived March 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ http://www.devilsporridge.co.uk/
  34. ^ See also Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website
  35. ^ "BBC NEWS – VOTE 2003 – Dumfries & Galloway". BBC News. 
  36. ^ Rinaldi, Giancarlo (9 February 2006). "Tax defeat leads to resignation". BBC News. 
  37. ^ DGC -Document: By-Election For Abbey Ward - Result[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ "Drive ban councillor quits posts". BBC News. 20 May 2008. 
  39. ^ "Councillor lands drink-drive ban". BBC News. 29 August 2008. 
  40. ^ "Dumfries and Galloway Council deadlock meeting planned". BBC News. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 

External links[edit]