15 Glorious dog walks in Dumfries and Galloway

Dog walks
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Dumfries and Galloway are in the Southern Uplands of Scotland bordering England and the Irish Sea. As with almost all of Scotland, it’s a fantastic destination for walkers who come to enjoy the diverse and stunning scenery. With over 200 miles of coast, ranges of rugged hills, and sweeping forests, Dumfries and Galloway is a land of breath-taking landscapes that are perfect for you and the dog to explore together on long walks in the country.

Although the area is arguably most famous for its scenery, it is a region with a rich heritage and culture that are well worth exploring too. Many of the walks here combine the incredible natural surroundings with a fascinating history. We’ve listed 15 of our favourite dog walks in Dumfries and Galloway which are sure to entice you and the pooch out into the great outdoors.

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Country & country park walks

Drumlanrig castle

Sometimes known as the pink palace due to the sandstone used, Drumlanrig Castle is a regal 17th-century castle that has been the home of the Douglas family for generations. Any fans of the popular TV show Outlander will recognise it as one of the many filming locations for the series.

Dogs sadly aren’t allowed inside the house or main garden, but they are welcome to explore the wide grounds with their owners. There’s also an adventure playground, tearoom, cafe and shop onsite.

There are four waymarked walks and numerous bike trails, each with a stunning view of the castle and a visit to at least one of the local lochs. You could take a short and gentle stroll to Beech Loch and back, or the more strenuous walk to Mount Malloch. This latter route offers fantastic scenery and wildlife watching opportunities. If you’re lucky, you may see otters, kingfishers, and salmon in the Marr Burr depending on the season and your luck.

  • Walk Length: 2km to 5km

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

  • Starting Point: Drumlanrig Castle

  • Terrain: Grassland, woodland, slopes, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill, DG3 4AQ

More information: Drumlanrig Castle, Wikipedia

Grey Mare’s Tail

The Grey Mare’s Tail is the fifth highest waterfall in the UK, and one of the most stunning. It’s also clear why the waterfall is named as it is when you watch the long streams of white water cascading over the hillside. However, the waterfall isn’t the only dramatic feature and the landscape here is equally breath-taking.

You only need to walk for ten minutes from the car park to have a view of the falls. From there, you and the pooch could decide to walk down to the viewing platform to see the falls from below. However, we like to take the tricky but terrific route towards Lock Skeen. The sounds of the crashing water will accompany you on your trek up the hills and moor towards the loch. It’s a steep walk but the trails are good so it isn’t terribly challenging.

You won’t find facilities here, so you will need to drive to one of the nearby villages to find somewhere to refresh you and the pup. The charming town of Moffatt has the most pit-stops and pet-friendly accommodation. From Moffat, you can pick up other great walks, such as the start of the Annandale Way, and we’ve listed the last section of this long-distance route below as another of our favourite dog walks in Dumfries and Galloway.

  • Walk Length: 4.5km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Car park

  • Terrain: Grassland, trails, hills, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Moffat, DG10 9LH

More information: Visit Moffat, Walk Highlands, GPS Routes

Caerlaverock castle

Don’t be surprised that we’ve included another castle on this list, there are enough castles and towers in Dumfries and Galloway to write a list of walks dedicated to them alone! However, we mention Caerlaverock Castle as it welcomes dogs on leads to explore the gorgeous grounds, which are a designated National Scenic Area.

It may be difficult to imagine given the beauty of the area and fairytale look of this pink sandstone castle, but it has a tumultuous past involved in battles for the Scottish border. It’s also completely unique in the UK thanks to its triangular shape.

You and the pooch can enjoy a mooch around the moat and a short route along the woodland path. It’s a trickier walk than you might imagine as the area is very sloped. There are wooden decking and steps to make it easier, but it does mean this walk is not accessible for wheels. If you need longer to stretch your legs, you can venture into the nature reserve. There are facilities at the castle, including a cafe, but dogs are not permitted in any roofed areas.

  • Walk Length: 1km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Main car park

  • Terrain: Grassland, trails, hills, uneven, steps.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Glencaple, Dumfries, DG1 4RU

More information: Historic Environment, Visit Scotland, Nature.scot


Ellisland was the home and farm of one of the most famous Scots, and national poet, Robert Burns. He chose the location for its beauty and proximity to the River Nith, which you can savour for yourself on a walk here. Best of all, Ellisland is not only a historical treat, it’s a brilliant day out that your pooch is welcome to join you on. Dogs are welcome throughout all of Ellisland provided they are on a lead.

Follow in the footsteps of the world-famous poet as you explore the fascinating house and idyllic landscape where Burns penned some of his most famous works. There’s a delightful short walk along the banks of the river and through the woodland that you and the pooch can take for a truly tranquil and beautiful stroll. Otherwise, there are also a few lovely local walks you can pick up from the farm.

  • Walk Length: As long or short as you like

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Main entrance

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Holywood Road, Auldgirth, Dumfries, DG2 0RP

More information: Ellisland Farm, Wikipedia

The Wigtown Martyrs walk

For any bookworms, Wigtown is the place to be. Affectionately known as “booktown” it’s home to a plethora of bookshops as well as the annual Wigtown Book Festival. Unless your pup can read, they will probably be far more excited at the prospect of the local walks on offer. Luckily for them, there’s plenty of those too.

The Martyrs walk is probably the most well-known route. Its name and history are a sad tale from a dark period known as “The Killing Time”. Two Covenanters were tied to stakes on the mudflats and left to drown as the tide returned. It’s difficult to imagine such a dreadful occurrence as you look across the calm and beautiful bay. The end of this walk will even take you to visit The Martyrs Stake monument.

Back in town, the amusingly named ReadingLasses is a dog-friendly cafe and bookshop well worth stepping into. Otherwise, you could paw-se for refreshment in the Shoots and Leaves vegetarian and vegan cafe.

  • Walk Length: 6.4km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Wigtown town centre

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, slopes, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Main Street, Wigtown, DG8 9HL

More information: Wigtown, Wikipedia, Undiscovered Scotland

Woodland walks

Galloway forest park

The largest forest in Great Britain, Galloway Forest Park is the perfect adventure for anyone and their pooch to spend a day in the great outdoors. With a range of routes from easy strolls to hillside hikes, there’s something here for everyone. Another of our favourite dog walks on this list, The Merrick, is in the heart of the forest. The trails here vary, so pick one suitable for the ability of you and your dog. Some routes will be flat and even following gravel paths, while others can be steep with some steps.

From artwork amidst the trees to rare and wonderful wildlife like red squirrels and majestic red deer, there’s a lot to look out for on a walk here. Anyone with an interest in history will also love exploring this vast forest trying to find Bruce’s stones, burial cairns, and the ruins of an abandoned farming village.

Meanwhile, the dog will relish spending hours walking with plenty of places to sniff and snuffle. Some areas have facilities, like toilets, showers, and cafes, while others have only picnic tables. But wherever you wander, you’ll find a paw-some walk you and your dog will love.

  • Walk Length: 0.5km to 9.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy to Challenging

  • Starting Point: Various

  • Terrain: Woodland, slopes, gravel, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Galloway Forest, Creebridge, Newton Stewart, DG8 6AJ

More information: Forestry and Land

Garries wood

If you venture to Gatehouse of Fleet, there are a few woodland walks you can enjoy with the pooch. Garries Wood is close to the village and offers a series of easy trails by the river and through the trees. There is a good chance of seeing some red squirrels too. Given its proximity to town you can catch the bus to get here, otherwise, there’s plenty of nearby parking.

It also means you and the pooch can pop into The Masonic Arms, which welcomes dogs in the bar and garden and is perfect for a rest and to eat some hearty pub grub. Alternatively, you could patronise the handsome Mill on the Fleet. The old cotton mill overlooks the river and is now home to exhibitions, events, and a dog-friendly cafe and terrace. You’ll actually start this walk opposite the mill, making it convenient for any pit-stops before or after your walk.

If you want to extend your walk, you could create a large circuit to include nearby Cally Lake and Cally Woods. If you stay in Garries Wood, the walk will be long enough to blow the cobwebs off and stretch your legs. The paths are firm and easy to follow but can be muddy after rain.

  • Walk Length: 2.3km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Car park

  • Terrain: Woodland, slopes, gravel, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: High Street, Gatehouse of Fleet, DG7 2LQ

More information: Walk Highlands, Visit Scotland

Waterside walks

Rockliffe to Kippford

This gorgeous coastal walk between Rockcliffe and Kippford is enduringly popular with dog walkers, not least because of the dog-friendly beach in Rockcliffe. The beach is beautiful enough to be considered a National Scenic Area, and with no dog restrictions, you and the pooch can enjoy visiting any time.

When your pup has had their fill of racing around the sand, take the tree-lined path down the coast, enjoying the smell of the gorse and the sea breeze. Your dog will have a whale of a time sniffling through the bracken, while you can pause to appreciate the views from any of the viewpoints on your way to Kippford.

These are only very small hills, so even kids can manage walking over them. Kippford has plenty of places to stop to rest and refresh yourself before your return walk back to Rockcliffe. The Anchor and The Mariner Hotel in Kippford is cosy and dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: 5.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Rockcliffe

  • Terrain: Beach, trails, slopes, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Dalbeattie, DG5 4QQ

More information: The Beach Guide, CountryFile, Visit Scotland


There are numerous walks you can take in and around Portpatrick. One of our favourite routes is to Killantringan Lighthouse. This walk takes you on a few hours stroll along the coastal path with glorious views over the Irish Sea, making it no wonder why a lighthouse was placed here.

As well as superb sea views, you’ll explore a section of moorland on this walk, which takes a steep climb to get to. The path continues to undulate from the moor to the lighthouse, so you’ll feel the burn in your legs by the time you reach the handsome light in its yellow trim. On the return leg back to Portpatrick, you could walk alongside quiet roads, or take a detour to return along the inland Southern Upland Way.

Back in Portpatrick, you’ll have a pick of pit-stops for you and the pooch to paw-se for a meal, such as The Crown and the Harbour House Hotel. You should also enjoy an amble along the prom before returning home. But if you can, do stay until evening as the sunsets in Portpatrick are incredible.

  • Walk Length: 10km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Portpatrick Harbour

  • Terrain: Trails, slopes, steps, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Portpatrick, Stranraer, DG9 8JW

More information: Visit South West Scotland, Walk Highlands

Hoddom Bridge to the Solway Firth (Annandale way)

This walk from Hoddom Bridge to the Solway Firth is the final stretch of the Annandale Way, a 56-mile long-distance walk which begins in the charming town of Moffat. You’ll begin the walk by the imposing Hoddom Castle. The first section of this route is along paths beside the river Annan, and you’ll follow the meandering water on its way to the sea. There’s plenty to see on the way, while your pup will love the varied habitats and long walk.

However, if you fancy a shorter walk, you can start from the castle and head to the repentance tower. But, this route to the Solway Firth is an easy walk and aside from a handful of field crossings, you’ll be on well-made tracks and paths throughout.

The pooch will have plenty of opportunities to be off the lead for this walk. However, when you pass through Brydekirk and Annan, they’ll need to be on the lead near the roads. You can stop here for facilities or you can pop into the Brig Inn just outside of Brydekirk. You could also take a detour to visit the Annandale Distillery, Scotland’s oldest distillery. It also happens to have a wonderful dog-friendly coffee shop.

  • Walk Length: 15km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Hoddom Castle

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, even, fields.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Hoddom, Lockerbie, DG11 1AS

More information: Walk Highlands, Annandale Way

Back bay circular

Starting in Luce Bay, a popular spot for kitesurfers, you and the dog can enjoy a seaside stroll before beginning the route along the coast to Monreith. Monreith can be used as an alternative start for your walk, should you need to shorten it. Once there, keep an eye out for the adorable otter statue, and the ruins of Kirkmaiden church overlooking the bay.

You’ll follow the river out of town and inland to circuit the White Loch of Myrton. It’s an ideal walk for the pooch as this walk gives them the opportunity for racing around a beach, running through fields, sniffing through woodland and a paddle in a river or loch. Which sounds like a paw-some day out for any dog!

There is an optional extension to Drumtrodden on this walk, which we would recommend to allow you to visit the ancient standing stones and carved rocks. Only one of the huge stones remains standing, but visiting the two prehistoric sites gives a strange spiritual feeling as you contemplate how our ancestors created these monuments, and why. (They remain a mystery to this day!)

  • Walk Length: 7.5km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Luce Bay public car park

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, uneven, fields.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Monreith, Port William, DG8 8NJ

More information: Walking World, Undiscovered Scotland, Historic Environment

Ardwell bay

Given the sheer beauty and length of coast available in the region, we had to include another seaside stroll somewhere on this list. Ardwell Bay is one of our favourite spots for a dog walk in Dumfries and Galloway because of how secluded and pretty it is.

The sheltered sandy beach is backed by dunes and on a clear day, you may see Northern Ireland across the waves. Speaking of waves, you may catch the odd surfer enjoying this remote cove. Otherwise the only other people you will come across, if any, will almost certainly be fellow dog walkers.

After spending enough time for your pup to have their fill of paddling and digging in the sand, you can take a short circular walk to visit Doon broch, the rubbly remains of the iron age dwelling that once stood here. Alternatively, you can head inland to stroll around Ardwell Pond. Given the remote location, there are no facilities here but there is a picnic area.

  • Walk Length: 3km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Ardwell Bay

  • Terrain: Trails, beach, sand, slopes, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Stranraer, DG9 9PE

More information: The Beach Guide, Walk Highlands, Scruffy Little Terrier

Hill walks

The Merrick

The highest hill in Southern Scotland and part of the ominously named Range of the Awful Hand, is The Merrick. From the hill, you can see across the sea to Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, and even as far as Snowdon in Wales. This gives The Merrick the longest line of sight in the British Isles, a view spanning over 140 miles! With such incredible scenery, you and the pup will surely feel on top of the world.

This is a walk sure to tire even the most energetic of people and pooches. You’ll follow good trails but towards the summit, you’ll be walking on bare earth. The easiest ascent begins from Glen Trool, where you can take a short detour to visit Bruce’s Stone, which commemorates the legendary victory against the English at the banks of Loch Trool.

For any experienced walkers that want a real challenge, you could continue walking along the ridge of the Awful Hand to climb the other peaks.

Rather understandably, facilities are limited here. You can visit the House O’ Hill which is walker and dog friendly but do note that it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

  • Walk Length: 13.2km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Glen Trool

  • Terrain: Hills, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Glen Trool, DG8 6SZ

More information: Walk Highlands, Wikipedia, Gillians Walks

Screel hill

This challenging forest and hillside hike is a lot shorter than you might think, but it is still a few hours of strenuous exercise for you and the pooch. You’ll get to wander through the forest before it opens out onto the wild hillside, its rocky outcrops flanked with heather and bracken. You might be lucky enough to spot a red grouse as you make your way to the top, as your dog explores the undergrowth all the way.

The hill itself isn’t the loftiest, but the rough and rocky terrain is what creates the challenge, so be sure to wear good boots. Once you reach the top, you’ll have a superb view of the Rough Firth.

This walk is a short drive from Castle Douglas, which is your best bet for local facilities. The Mad Hatter and Streetlights cafes are both dog-friendly. There are also a few dog-friendly pubs to be found, so you and the pup won’t be wanting for somewhere to rest and warm up after your trek.

  • Walk Length: 5.6km

  • Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging

  • Starting Point: Forest Enterprise car park

  • Terrain: Hills, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Auchencairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 1QL (approx.)

More information: Walk Highlands, Woodland Trust

Cairnsmore of Fleet

For a walk on the wild side, you ought to visit Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve for a taste of true Scotland. The imposing granite hill watches over the moorland and bogs, where a variety of native wildlife can be found. This rugged hill stands over 2000 feet tall and gives any walker an incredible vantage point from its peak.

If you don’t fancy a walk up the hillside, you could take an easier stroll along the disused railway line to the impressive viaduct and back to the visitor centre. Along the way, you and the pup should try to sniff out the many sculptures hidden around the reserve.

A hike here reminds you of how wonderful walking in the wilderness can be, while the patchwork of plant life and varied landscape will tempt any dog to wander off the path. The longer walks up the granite escarpment are for the more experienced and well-equipped walkers, but many of the trails from the centre are easy and relatively accessible to use. There are some facilities at the visitor centre on-site.

  • Walk Length: 12km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Visitor Centre

  • Terrain: Hills, trails, woodland, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Cairnsmore of Fleet Reserve Office, Castle Douglas, DG7 2BP

More information: Walk Highlands, Nature.scot, Visit Scotland

More information about Dumfries and Galloway: Wikipedia, Walk Highlands, Walking Britain

More dog walks: Cottingham, Brackley, Matlock