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Driving the Southwest Coastal 300 Route in Scotland: What to see and do!

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
/
Last Updated:
November 7, 2020
Travel stories
Scotland has some amazing road trips, but the Southwest coastal 300 will leave a lasting impression. Find out all you need to know about this road trip....
southwest coastal 300
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Scotland is bursting with amazing road trips, and they are all worthy of a visit. Lots of people visit Scotland and head straight to the NC500 (Scotland's answer to Route 66!), and whilst that’s pretty darn beautiful, it seems a shame to not explore the rest of the beauty that Scotland has to offer. 

So, below I take you through a perfect itinerary for the SW300! 

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How long is this route? 

Since it’s called the South West Coastal 300, you can guess it’s 300 miles! This means around 6 hours of driving and I suggest you split it up over at least 2 days. 

You could extend to 3 days, but two nights is a good amount of time to do this route and see all the great sights on offer! 


When is the best time to drive the SW300?

It’s possible to drive this route all year round. Naturally, I would assume that visiting in the summer months would be quite busy, but we visited in Autumn and it wasn’t overly busy. 

The drive was extremely beautiful thanks to all the lovely autumn colors on show. 

driving the southwest coastal 300

Where does the South west Coastal 300 Route start and end? 

The route starts in the town of Dumfries, which is a pretty thriving town that offers lots of supermarkets and there is a great Morrisons where you can stock up on snacks and fuel before you head off on your adventure! 

The route ends in Dumfries if you do a full round trip, but of course, you can start or end at any stop on the loop, or even cut it slightly short and add things in!

It’s your road trip after all. We stopped around Ayr as we were heading north to Glasgow. 

Highlights of the road trip 

Below I’ll take you through my favourite places to visit on the SW300 and list them in the order that we visited them, so you can easily follow this route if you so desire!

This route ends with us heading into Glasgow, so if you need to catch a flight home, or are heading north after your road trip, then it fits in perfectly well. 

1. Caerlaverock Castle 

Scotland is BURSTING with castles, so it reminds me of a lot of our Irish Roadtrip. But thankfully, Brad and I love visiting castles, so this works well for us. Our first ever castle visit in Scotland was located in Caerlaverock Castle, which is about a 15-minute drive from the town of Dumfries. 

 Caerlaverock Castle 

During Covid, you have to prebook tickets if you want to enter the castle, but you can walk around the area for free.

There is also a tea room under normal circumstances but I believe this was closed due to Covid. 

You should park up at the Caerlaverock Camp carpark and walk from there to the castle as the walk is beautiful through the forest! AND if you have a campervan, motorhome or even just want to pitch up your tent, you can park up here for the night.

There is freshwater, a bin, and grey waste disposal which is pretty darn good. Parking is “free”, but you can leave a donation.

You can actually make your donation online via PayPal here, which is handy since a lot of us don’t carry much cash anymore! 

Caerlaverock Castle Scotland

2. Scotland’s most Southwesterly point: Mull of Galloway Lighthouse 

Drive time from the previous spot is around 2 hours and on the way, you can stop at a variety of castles that pop up including, Threave Castle.

We also pulled over by the sea for a spot of lunch. The views on this drive are incredible and when you finally arrive, you’ll be amazed at the views! 

The final drive up to the lighthouse is a single track road but there are countless “passing” places, so you’ll be absolutely fine in a campervan or motorhome. 

The lighthouse is awesome, but the views are what you came for.

On a clear day, you can see Cumbria, Wales, the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland all from here.

And thankfully, luck was on our side when we visited, the sun was shining and it was super clear! I could see my home country which was pretty cool.

This was the closest I would get to my parents on this trip, so we waved at each other from across the water- haha! 

mull of galloway

After you’ve wandered around the lighthouse and various viewpoints, you should definitely make your way to the onsite tea room for more epic views and delicious food and drinks.

We had some coffee and a scone, but they also serve breakfast and lunch style foods, all of which are very reasonably priced!

So a perfect place for a spot of lunch or a tea break. 

southwesterly coast of scotland
You can see where the coffee shop is perched!
tea room at mull of galloway
Yummy scones!

Be aware it’s very windy at this spot, so when you’re walking around the edge of the cliffs be careful, some parts don’t actually have a barrier. 

Parking is free, and you can wild camp overnight here if you so wish, but remember you will be exposed to all the elements, which means crazy wind, so if it’s not a calm day or evening, then be prepared for very little sleep! 

mull of galloway in scotland

3. Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle is a pretty darn beautiful place to visit.

The castle itself is part of the National Trust for Scotland, so entry is £5.95 per adult, (you can find the full list of prices here on the website), or if you have a membership of the national trust for Scotland then your visit is free. 

You’ll also need to pay for parking (if I remember correctly!) 

It’s worth the entry however as there is a lot to see and do on the grounds.

There are a variety of trails you can take and there are lots to see.

You can wander on the grounds of the castle, take a trip into the woodland forest and explore the sights on offer there, check out the deers, and visit the walled garden! 

Culzean Castle

It’s a really beautiful place to visit, and we visited in Autumn which was great with all the shades of orange, brown and yellow. It wasn’t busy when we visited either, but I imagine in the summer it gets very busy here. 

There is an on-site cafe to grab some lunch or a coffee, on-site toilets, and there is a little farm-style shop where you can buy produce. 

You can actually live within the castle grounds which is pretty cool. There are a set of apartments and we saw a house for sale! 

The castle itself is perched on the Ayrshire cliffs which make for some pretty awesome views and the castle once belonged to the family of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis.

gardens at culzean castle
autumn walks in culzean castle scotland
Beautiful autumn colours!

4. Electric Brae

This is a totally random spot that Bradley found on Atlas Obscura (the home to weird and random sights!)

If you’ve watched our South West Coastal 300 road trip vlog, then you’ll see how random it is (you can check the vlog out below!) 

But basically, it’s a natural phenomenon that is to do with driving your car up a hill.

Your car moves in the opposite direction to the steep of the hill, due to something to do with nature.

There is a plaque explaining what the illusion is, and there is parking for one or two cars. 

After some confusion, we got the illusion to work, so definitely worth stopping at if you’re on that way to the next castle I will mention below! 

5. Dunure Castle (and Labyrinth)

So we actually went looking here for the Labyrinth, which in the end we didn’t find.

Not sure if it doesn’t exist anymore, or it’s only visible in summer months?! Either way there is still a pretty cool castle on the seaside that you can wander to.

There is a car park right beside it where you pay a small fee to park (however, no one was there to take money when we arrived), and you can enjoy the views from the castle, and the castle itself.

It’s simply a castle and it hasn’t been resorted, but sometimes they are my favorite type of castle. 

Dunure Castle

Another random thing to note is that when driving the Southwest Coastal 300 Route, you’ll drive through the place of Donald Trump's golf course. I can’t stand the man, but the hotel he has there is crazy beautiful (from the outside), and looks so out of place in this little village!

But you can have a nosy as you drive through anyway...

There are other spots to visit on this route that we didn’t stop at either because we didn’t have time, didn’t find it interesting or it simply wasn’t open, but some worth mentioning include: 

  • The Open book (a really cool bookshop with an interesting concept: was too off route for us!) This is located in Wigtown. 
  • Logan botanical gardens (closed when we wanted to go)
  • Robert Burns Museum (Scotland’s most famous poet/lyricist), but it’s not something we were overly interested in. The town in which the museum is located is absolutely beautiful! 
  • Galloway forest park: if you have extra time on your hands you can go for walks in the forest park itself and camp etc. This would be more appropriate when the weather is better in spring and summer. 
  • Sweetheart Abbey (Was temporarily closed when we visited) 

The great thing about doing a road trip and having your very own vehicle is that you can add or take away to the SouthWest Coastal 300 route without being stuck to a strict schedule.

You’ll probably come across more sights as you drive. We drove past whisky distilleries, signs for MORE castles, chocolate factories, and more. So you’ll find lots to see and do on this Scottish road trip. 

Southwest Coastal 300 itinerary 

So we did this route in 2 nights and 3 days. We spent our first evening exploring Caerlaverock Castle and spent the night there. On the second day, we headed off to the Mull of Galloway and stopped at some points along the way. Then spent the second night in Port Logan.

Then on our third day, we saw Culzean Castle, Electric Brae, and Dunure Castle. 

If you didn’t take it as slow as us, you could easily do everything in two days, one night halfway through, but if you want to add on the other sights as well, then I suggest 3 nights! 

Where to stay on the SW300?

Since Bradley and I have our own campervan, we just stayed in that and wild camped at the first campsite I mentioned (Caerlaverock) and by the ocean on the second night at a fishery called Port Logan Fish Pond. 

If however, you want to stay somewhere, there are lots of places available to book on booking.com that you can browse here. But, I’ve had a quick nosy myself and these 3 look pretty promising! 

  1. Good for couples: The Waterfront Seafront Hotel and Bistro
  2. Good for families: Creebridge House Hotel
  3. Budget option: Machermore Castle

Final Tips for driving the SouthWest Coastal 300 Route in Scotland 

If you want to get water for your campervan for the duration of the trip and dispose of grey waste, then the best bet is definitely starting your trip at the Caerlaverock Castle, Castle campsite (which is done via donation online, no need to book, etc)

There are a variety of great wild camping spots along the route. You can check out our wild camping in Scotland post for more information on places we stayed, or the Park4night app is also pretty good! 

So that’s it, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on driving the Southwest Coastal 300 road trip in Scotland, and hopefully, you’ll add it to your Scotland road trip itinerary! The official Southwest Coastal 300 website has lots of extra information on it if you’re looking for places to stay at that you can check them out here.

Other Scotland travel guides:

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