Dumfries and Galloway
Towns and villages
See this blog entry  for an overview of many of these places and more, taking a generally idyllic view of the region but a grim one of its principal town.
Although there is a limited level of public transport, much of Galloway only becomes accessible with a car.
Dumfries and Stranraer both have train stations, with services from Glasgow every few hours.
Several UK cities - including London, Glasgow, and Manchester - have bus services that go to Stranraer and then on to Belfast.
Rail services in the area are limited. All of the villages have some level of bus provision, with Stranraer, Newton Stewart and Dumfries being the main hubs for this type of transport.
Taxis are another option for short journeys, with most towns having at least one taxi company.
Although it's feasible to get around by public transport to some extent, many of the highlights in the region are only really accessible if you have your own transport.
Galloway boasts an impressive range of tourist attractions. Most places have a small visitor centre of some description, or a small local museum. Bigger attractions are listed below:
Bruce's Stone at Glen Trool - marks one of the early victories of Bruce in the Wars of Independence. Also a starting point for many hiking trails, including the path up the Merrick, the region's highest hill.
Cream of Galloway visitor centre - there is an assault course and various farming related activities, all aimed at families. For the less adventurous, there is also ice cream tasting and tours of the ice cream factory.
Bladnoch Distillery - tour a whisky distillery.
Wigtown - Scotland's national book town, with a wide range of book shops.
Whithorn - the first church in Scotland was established here by St Ninian. Nearby is St Ninian's cave, a place of pilgrimage.
The Port Logan Fish Pond - a natural rock fish pond where visitors can feed a range of deep sea fish and view a small aquarium.
The Port Logan Botanic Gardens - an impressive gardens with a wide range of tropical plants. Perfect for a picnic.
Walking, pony trekking, mountain biking are all popular and easy to access here.
Visit the vast plantation forests of Galloway, which have various access points and amenities for visitors. Glen Trool is a forest park close to Newton Stewart with forest walks, a circular walk around Loch Trool, and a path up Merrick, the highest hill in southern Scotland.
A long distance walking trail called the Southern Upland Way passes through the area, starting on the coast at Portpatrick, trekking through the forests before leaving the region at Wanlockhead and eventually finishing on the North Sea coast south of Edinburgh at Cockburnspath.
Fishing is a popular sport here. Local tackle shops can provide advice on or sell permits for loch and river fishing. Sea fishing is also good fun, but be careful on the Solway Coast as the tide comes in quickly along the sandy, flat inlets.
Those interested in history can visit sites related to the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Covenanters and various other historical events.
Galloway is famous for dairy produce, including a variety of local cheeses and Cream of Galloway ice-cream, a luxury brand produced near Kirkcudbright and widely available throughout the region.
Disappointingly, it can be difficult to get hold of freshly landed local fish, however there are fishmongers at the Isle of Whithorn and the Galloway Smokehouse near Creetown.
Speaking of smokehouses, the Galloway Smokehouse supplies a range of excellent smoked meats, cheeses and fish. Marberry Smokehouse has an outlet close by - the company supplies many top restaurants in Glasgow and further afield.
In early summer, new pototoes are available either local or from Ayrshire, and are something of a local delicacy.
Local game is sometimes available from butchers and restaurants.
Castle Douglas styles itself as the region's food town - both locally produced and more exotic foodstuffs are available there.
Pub food is generally above average; most villages have at least one pub that serves excellent meals.
Bladnoch distillery is the only whisky distillery in the region. Lots of pubs stock Bladnoch although not all supermarkets do.
Many of the local watering holes provide a range of real ales. In most villages there will be at least one pub with a decent range.
You are extremely unlikely to run into any sort of trouble in the towns in Dumfries and Galloway.
For outdoors pursuits, standard safety precautions apply; make sure you are prepared for changeable weather and take stout footwear.
There are train stations in Dumfries and Stranraer. While travelling between the two major towns by train is not recommended as there's no direct line, both have several trains a day heading north to Glasgow.
Intercity buses from all over the UK terminate at Stranraer.