Surrounded by the lush rolling hills of Galloway and made up of well-preserved 18th century buildings, there’s no denying the town’s good looks, while its proximity to other gems in the area make it the ideal base for visiting the south-west of Scotland.
Let’s be practical
The best way to get to get to anywhere outside the major cities and towns in Scotland is by hiring a car, but if you’re determined to brave the public transport, then head to Dumfries (45km away) and get bus numbers 501 or 505. For accommodation, the Silvercraigs Caravan & Camping Site is the cheapest option at £8.45, and recommended bed & breakfasts include Parkview off St Cuthbert Street or Toadhall on Castle Street.
Worth a look
Edward Hornel, an Australian-born member of the Glasgow Boys, is one of the town’s main claims to fame. His last home here, Broughton House, has recently reopened having been restored to how it looked during his time (he died in 1933). Casts of the Parthenon frieze line the walls of the living room and in his huge, vaulted studio some of his paintings are propped on easels. The highlight is the Japanese-inspired garden – an oasis of blossom-covered ponds sprinkled with stepping stones and leading down to the shores of the River Dee.
Get a boat at the marina and chug up the Solway Firth past Ross Island, home to the grand total of one man. From here, aside from taking in the surrounding countryside and seaviews, you can look back at the small sprinkling of houses that make up Kirkcudbright. Depending on your guide, a boat trip could also prove the perfect way to get a grip on local gossip.
Tolbooth Arts Centre
The original 1630s tollbooth, which once served as a courthouse and a prison, has been transformed into a cultural centre. You can find out more about the town’s artistic heritage with exhibited works by EA Hornel and Jessie M King, or browse contemporary arts and crafts in the showroom upstairs.
While you’re in the area
Galloway Red Deer Range
Get up close and personal with Britain’s largest mammal at this Deer Range, which boasts more than 100 deer in a 500-acre area and was especially designed to let visitors see deer in their natural habitat. At feeding time, you can hand pellets to the calves and, with the help of owner John Davies and his secret whistle, you can spot the big guys too, though from a distance. When you feel the weight and sharpness of the larger antlers among Davies’ collection of shod sets, you’ll be glad there’s a sturdy fence between you and the stags.
Threave Estate and Castle
Not far from Kirkcudbright, near the small town of Castle Douglas, you’ll find the colourful gardens of the Threave Estate, particularly famous for its daffodils. Further west, a pointed tower stands on a small island in the River Dee. Built at the end of the 1300s by a man known as Archibald the Grim, it’s now just a shell, but with a ferry landing where you ring a bell for a water taxi, the site has lost none of its magic.
Bonus points for: The Wicker Man connection
Loses marks for: A nightlife blackhole
– AMY ADAMS