Gatehouse of Fleet, historically a staging post for the stagecoach to the west coast ports and on to Ireland, relaxes into the folds of the land along the river Fleet. Some of the finest beaches and quiet bays of the Solway coast are just a few minutes away. Most descriptions of the town include the phrases calm, tranquil or picturesque, and always a footnote about quiet and relaxing. A short boom towards the end of the industrial revolution had a hand in how Gatehouse of Fleet looks, but more so the local Cally Estate, the planned layout of the town, and the materials used.
The hills above the golf course are not high or far from the centre of town, but from them you can see the coast of the Solway Firth and the Water of Fleet flowing into Wigtown Bay. Inland to the north are some of the highest mountains in Southern Scotland and the finest gravel riding anywhere. At 300 square miles, Galloway Forest is the largest in the UK; with eagles and pine martens, it is a wonderful outdoor playground so close to Gatehouse.
The centre of the town is an eclectic mix of the finest cafes, pubs and restaurants, and a number of quality creative and crafty outlets too. None of these is a chain or multi-national: all, as the Americans would say, are ‘mom-and-pop shops’ owned and run by local people. People have the time to stop and chat here and with welcome and friendliness. The Mill on the Fleet is the biggest cafe, bookshop, and arts venue, and also home to the local cycling initiative, Wheels of Fleet.
High Street, Gatehouse of Fleet
Also in the heart of Gatehouse of Fleet, lies the spacious Garries Park, which will be the home of the Raiders Gravel Event Village. With its festival atmosphere, the event will bring riders and the local community together in a celebration of both gravel cycling and Scottish culture.
There is history, thousands of years of it. From Cardoness Castle guarding the west end of town, the carved Pictish symbols at Trusty’s Hill (a very short walk from the centre) and Rusco Tower upstream along the Fleet. The Romans built a small fort here, Vikings traded along the coast and left a £4m hoard nearby, pirates, smugglers, and now those seeking the remote and beautiful have come here.