Castle Douglas is great to visit at any time of the year: it’s a small market town with an interesting cotton-spinning history, spectacularly set gardens and walking amid the rolling hills of Dumfries and Galloway. But in summer – especially if you’re a bit of a foodie – it’s the dream destination.
As Scotland’s first official Food Town, it boasts a magnificent selection of independent shops specialising in local meats, cheeses, bread, pies, chocolate and beer. Nearby Carlingwark Loch provides the ideal spot to enjoy this fare.
After a walk down the high street, perusing the shops and picking up supplies, there’s nothing more relaxing than settling on a bench beside the loch and starting to tuck in. For the full Castle Douglas picnic experience, start at the tourist information centre at the top of the town, which offers useful maps and leaflets, plus toilets and a large car park. Head down King Street, the town’s lively main road.
Castle Douglas only dates back to 1789 when it was purpose-built by Sir William Douglas. Although he planned it as a cotton town, it thrived through the 19th and 20th centuries mostly thanks to the local cattle and dairy farmers, who in turn sowed the seeds for its recent reinvention as a Food Town.
Sunrise Wholefoods sells various types of cheese from the nearby Loch Arthur Creamery, including Farmhouse (a traditional cheddar) and Crannog (a wax-covered soft cheese with green peppercorns). Across the road at Hendersons Butchers, you can pick up fine meats and chutney. Threave Home Hardware comes in handy if you’re short of any picnic bits and bobs, while Corsons the Bakers provides freshly baked bread. In House Chocolates sells handmade, award-winning chocolates, while Mitchells Greengrocers is the perfect place to pick up some salad.
Then stop at Griersons Butchers for homemade pork pies and oatcakes (they also sell a haggis lasagne, but it’s perhaps not suitable for a picnic). The last port of call is the Sulwath Brewery, where you can pick up a bottle or two of ale.
The perfect feast
Once your shopping is done, turn left along Marle Street, pass the Lochside Theatre and walk into Lochside Park, past the caravan and camping site, to the shores of pretty Carlingwark Loch. There are plenty of picnic benches at the water’s edge; simply spread out your goodies and enjoy.
Once your feast is over, you may want to follow the network of paths and tracks on the three-mile circuit around the loch. For an alternative picnic spot, head a mile out of town to Threave Estate, a National Trust for Scotland property with ornamental gardens and birdwatching hides.
HOW TO GET THERE
The town is 19 miles south-west of Dumfries and is signposted from the nearby A75.
FIND OUT MORE
Castle Douglas food town
Castle Douglas Tourist Information Centre
Markethill DG7 1AE
The Crown Hotel
25 King Street, Castle Douglas
Has a fine restaurant and bar.
Castle Douglas DG7 1RX