Scotland Starts Here – Raiders Gravel

The South has always been central to Scotland’s narrative. Made up of Dumfries & Galloway in the west and the Scottish Borders in the east the region’s history and culture has been defined by its geographical positioning. To explore the South of Scotland is to uncover where Scotland truly starts. From unparalleled Viking treasures to the remains of the country’s earliest Christian community; from fierce battles fought by great kings to the remnants of Border Reiver strongholds and once imposing abbeys; from crafts that carry Scotland’s culture around the world to ballads that bring Scots together wherever they are.

Today, the destination draws in visitors looking to connect with Scotland’s adventurous and creative spirit. Being within easy reach of major hubs including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Newcastle, and even Belfast, the South of Scotland has long been a go-to destination for those in search of accessible remoteness, with diverse scenery that reveals new experiences at every turn. The legendary affinity that visitors feel for Scotland, starts here.

© Leeming Paterson / Scotland Starts Here

© Leeming Paterson / Scotland Starts Here

The Great Outdoors Starts Here

The landscapes of the South of Scotland are as varied as its history. In the west and east, dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches stretch along coastlines dotted with lighthouses. Further inland, rolling hills, deep forests and glittering lochs dominate the scenery of the south-west, playing host to sensational night sky displays in the Galloway Forest Park. Steep climbs and lofty heights can still be found in the Southern Uplands though, with Scotland’s highest village and one of the UK’s highest waterfalls. Continuing into the Scottish Borders, the landscape softens into a pastoral tapestry shaped by winding rivers. The mighty River Tweed, lifeblood to a world renowned textile legacy, weaves its way east, skirting abbeys and grand estates, before reaching the North Sea. The nature reserves of the South shelter an abundance of wildlife: dolphins, seals and seabirds can be spotted along the coast, and golden eagles and ospreys call the local hills and forests home. Nature isn’t something to be enjoyed from afar, and nowhere is that more true than here.

Adventure Starts Here

The South’s abundant natural capital makes the area a mecca for those in pursuit of adventure. Whether on foot, on two wheels or on horseback; on land or on water, there are options for all ages and abilities. Walkers can stretch their legs along tranquil forest paths or embark on a coast-to-coast long-distance route. And while cyclists can enjoy miles of quiet roads, tackle off-road tracks and test their mettle on down-hill trails, keen horse riders will feel transported to the times of ruthless horsemen, the notorious Border Reivers. High up, thrill seekers can tackle tree-top adventures before diving into lochs and rivers for a spot of sailing, kayaking and more. Those looking to uncover the South’s deepest secrets can head for the coast for snorkelling, diving and surfing.

Stories Start Here

It is the South of Scotland that inspired literary icons such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott throughout their lives. To this day, the area is home to creatives drawing inspiration from the local landscapes, history and heritage. Annual arts, literary and music festivals are testament to the enduring influence of these landscapes on the imagination.

But the stories of the South aren’t only told through books, poems and ballads. They echo in the locally made fabrics, art, and even the food, which – straight from local farms to local restaurants – tells of the close relationships with the land. The South of Scotland is the place where communities nurture their local customs as much as the landscapes that shaped them, where unique heritage meets contemporary experiences.

The Great Outdoors, Adventure, Stories – It all starts here: welcome to the South.

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© Colin Tennant / Scotland Starts Here