Our holiday guide to Kirkcudbright, an artists' town in Dumfries & Galloway
The 'gateway to the west' Kirkcudbright is 9 miles west of Orroland Holiday Cottages.
Pronounced as Kir-Coo-Brie, this is a friendly town with colourful houses, independent shops and galleries, a marina, harbour and magnificent castle ruins overlooking the bustling high street.
Kirkcudbright has been renowned as an artists' town since the 1830s when several famous artists ( Jessie M. King, E.A. Hornel and Charles Oppenheimer to name a few) relocated here from Glasgow. This association is celebrated and local artists and galleries thrive in the town today. There is plenty to experience for art lovers, the Tolbooth Art Centre is open all year and a good place to research the history of art in the town. There are modern galleries (Harbour Cottage, The Whitehouse and High Street galleries) and open studio events in Kirkcudbright – most notably Spring Fling over 3 days in May and the four day Arts & Crafts Trail from Friday 4th - Monday 7th August. Broughton House & Garden is a National Trust for Scotland museum of E.A. Hornel’s life and work, the Georgian house is situated a short walk from the harbour car park and has a beautiful garden to enjoy from April - October.
Kirkcudbright is also a harbour town; scallop and lobster fishing revolutionised the town's fishing industry in the 1960s. Kirkcudbright has a successful scallop processing plant which is one of the town's largest employers. It's interesting to watch the trawlers in the port as they prepare for their next trip. Most of the skippers sell their catch to local processors and outlets so if you enjoy seafood you can sample some of the finest produce in the local restaurants and takeaways or buy some to prepare at your holiday cottage at Orroland.
Attractions in Kirkcudbright
The Tourist Information Centre is located near the main harbour car park (it's free parking) and has lots of local and regional leaflets on activities, events and attractions as well as books for sale on topics from art to walking in the region. The TI Centre is open from March to November and usually stocks delicious locally made Cream O' Galloway ice-cream.
The impressive ruin of MacLellan’s Castle overlooks the town, once a Lord's residence in the 16th century. The 'Laird's lug' was used by Sir Thomas MacLellan to eavesdrop and spy on his guests in the great hall - intrigued? Visitors can take a look around and explore inside the castle from April - September. It is managed by Historic Scotland; we have mentioned more about this castle in our historic attractions page. The bronze war memorial in front of the castle was sculptured in 1921 and lists the names of those who lost their lives in WW1 and WW2 from Kirkcudbright town and parish.
If you enjoy history, there once was a large moat and Royal castle on the open park grounds near Kirkcudbright swimming pool dating back to 1264, It passed into English hands during the time of King Edward but was reclaimed by Robert the Bruce in 1306. The Stewartry Museum (opposite the tennis coursts) holds a number of interesting artifacts which were found in 1911 while excavating the site, as well as lots of other historical information about the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The museum also offers help with researching family history in the region.
For a family activity you may wish to visit the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park open from 1st February - 30th November. There are many animals to meet and woodland trails as well as a small cafe and gift shop. The conservation park is a registered trust and plays a part in the protection of threatened and endangered species.
War memorial sculpture near the castle
Kirkcudbright wildlife conservation park
Kirkcudbright evening floodlit tattoo
Events in Kirkcudbright
Kirkcudbright has a fantastic programme of annual events and summer festivities. The 'Scottish Night' performances are every Thursday evening from mid July - end of August and include bagpipes and traditional enactments, a must see if you visit in the summer. The yearly events include the 4 day Jazz Festival in June, the Galloway Children's Festival on the last Sunday in June and the Kirkcudbright Country Fair over the second weekend in July. The riding of the marches is an historic annual event in July which sees around 100 horses take part in a ride out to check the boundaries of Kirkcudbright and parade around the town.
The Kirkcudbright website is very informative about all these events and lists the dates and times. The popular farmers' and producers' market on the 4th Sunday of each month, March - December, 11am-3pm.
The historic Kirkcudbright castle site
The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright
Walking in Kirkcudbright
The town offers several idyllic short walks; you can park for free in the harbour square and take your pick to walk up to the Hope-Dunbar park and Barhill woods overlooking the town or head towards the swimming pool and playing fields overlooking the estuary and marina. For longer walking routes you will find this excellent walking guide helpful: walking in and around Kirkcudbright & Auchencairn. An enjoyable day could be made of exploring the town's history and artistic heritage by starting at the museum. There are benches convenient for picnics up on the harbour bank overlooking the fishing trawlers or within the Parish Church Soperie Gardens. There is a fantastic children’s play park with a large slide, climbing frame and swings overlooking stunning views of the town in Hope-Dunbar park (up past Tesco and through into the park). There is also a new play park near the swimming pool.
Kirkcudbright Parish Church & gardens
The colourful houses of Kirkcudbright
Scenic walking overlooking the marina
A holiday guide to Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway. A pretty historic harbour town with lots to offer visitors, known as the Artist's Town.