Following the 1975 reorganisation of local government in Scotland, the three counties were joined to form a single region of Dumfries and Galloway, with four districts within it. Since the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, however, it has become a unitary local authority. For lieutenancy purposes, the historic counties are largely maintained with its three lieutenancy areas being Dumfries, Wigtown and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
To the north, Dumfries and Galloway borders East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire; in the east the Borders; and to the south the county of Cumbria in England and the Solway Firth. To the west lies the Irish Sea.
The Dumfries and Galloway Council region is composed of counties and their sub-areas. From west to east:Dumfriesshire County
the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Annandale
the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Eskdale
the sub-area of Dumfriesshire - Nithsdale
the sub-area of Kirkcudbrightshire - Stewartry (archaically, Desnes)
the sub-area of Wigtownshire - Machars (archaically, Farines)--divided into census areas (civil parish areas)
the sub-area of Wigtownshire - Rhins of Galloway divided into census areas (civil parish areas)
The term 'Dumfries and Galloway' has been used since at latest the 19th century - by 1911 the three counties had a united Sheriffdom under that name. Dumfries and Galloway covers the majority of the Western area of the Southern Uplands, it also hosts Scotland's most Southerly point, at the Mull of Galloway in the west of the region.
The region has a number of south running water systems which break through the Southern Uplands creating the main road, and rail, arteries north/south through the region and breaking the hills up into a number of ranges.River Cree valley carries the A714 north-westward from Newton Stewart to Girvan and Water of Minnoch valley which lies just west of the Galloway Hills carries a minor road northward through Glentrool village into South Ayrshire. This road leaves the A714 at Bargrennan.
Water of Ken and River Dee form a corridor through the hills called the Glenkens which carries the A713 road from Castle Douglas to Ayr. The Galloway Hills lie to the west of this route through the hills and the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills lie to the east.
River Nith rises between Dalmellington and New Cumnock in Ayrshire and runs east then south down Nithsdale to Dumfries. Nithsdale carries both the A76 road and the rail line from Dumfries to Kilmarnock. It separates the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills from the Lowther Hills which lie east of the Nith.
River Annan combines with Evan Water and the River Clyde to form one of the principal routes into central Scotland from England - through Annandale and Clydesdale - carrying the M74 and the west coast railway line. This gap through the hills separates the Lowthers from the Moffat Hills.
River Esk enters the Solway Firth just south of Gretna having travelled south from Langholm and Eskdalemuir. The A7 travels up Eskdale as far as Langholm and from Langholm carries on up the valley of Ewes Water to Teviothead where it starts to follow the River Teviot to Hawick. Eskdale itself heads north west from Langholm through Bentpath and Eskdalemuir to Ettrick and Selkirk.
The A701 branches off the M74 at Beattock, goes through the town of Moffat, climbs to Annanhead above the Devil's Beef Tub (at the source of the River Annan) before passing the source of the River Tweed and carrying on to Edinburgh. Until fairly recent times the ancient route to Edinburgh travelled right up Annandale to the Beef Tub before climbing steeply to Annanhead. The present road ascends northward on a ridge parallel to Annandale but to the west of it which makes for a much easier ascent.
From Moffat the A708 heads north east along the valley of Moffat Water (Moffatdale) on its way to Selkirk. Moffatdale separates the Moffat hills (to the north) from the Ettrick hills to the south.
There are three National Scenic Areas within this region.Nith Estuary - This area follows the River Nith southward from just south of Dumfries into the Solway Firth. Dumfries itself has a rich history going back over 800 years as a Royal Burgh (1186) and is particularly remembered as the place where Robert the Bruce murdered the Red Comyn in 1306 before being crowned King of Scotland - and where Robert Burns spent his last years. His mausoleum is in St Michael's graveyard. Going down the east bank there is the village of Glencaple, Caerlaverock Castle, Caerlaverock Wild Fowl Trust, an ancient Roman fort on Ward Law Hill and nearby in Ruthwell is the Ruthwell Cross and the Brow Well where Robert Burns "took the waters" and bathed in the Solway just before his death. On the west bank, there are several walks and cycle routes in Mabie Forest, Kirkconnell Flow for the naturalist, the National Museum of Costume just outside New Abbey and Sweetheart Abbey within the village. Criffel (569 metres) offers the hill walker a reasonably modest walk with excellent views across the Solway to the Lake District. The house of John Paul Jones founder of the American Navy is also open to visitors near Kirkbean.
East Stewartry - This takes in the coast line from Balcary Point eastward across Auchencairn Bay and the Rough Firth past Sandyhills to Mersehead. There are several attractive coastal villages within this area - Auchencairn, Kippford, Colvend, Rockcliffe, and Portling. There is also a unigue round tower at Orchardton and the islands of Hestan Isle and Rough Island can be reached at low tide outside the breeding season for birds. Mersehead is an excellent wildfowl reserve. The area is well provided with coastal paths.
Fleet Valley - This area takes in Fleet Bay with its popular holiday destinations of Auchenlarie, Mossyard Bay, Cardoness, Sandgreen and Carrick Shore. The area also includes the town of Gatehouse of Fleet and the historic villages of Anworth and Girthon - there is a castle at Cardoness in the care of Historic Scotland.
The region was created in 1975, by merging the counties of Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire as a two-tier region with the districts of Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, and Annandale and Eskdale within it. After 1996 the unitary authority became known as Dumfries and Galloway Council still with Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale, Annandale and Esdale within it.
County councils as administrative authorities were created in 1889. The present-day, "Dumfries and Galloway Council Area" exist for administrative purposes.
The historic counties of Britain, at least most of them, have existed for around 1,000 years or more and are often logical geographical entities in themselves. In Scotland they originated as Sheriffdoms consisting of a group of parishes over which the sheriff had jurisdiction, replacing native "Celtic" forms of government with Norman feudal structures.
Transport in the region is operated by bus companies Huston's, McEwan's, Stagecoach Western and McCall's coaches, and train operators Abellio ScotRail, TransPennine Express, Virgin Trains and Nothern.
The region has seven working railway stations. All are on the Glasgow South Western Line, except Lockerbie which is on the West Coast Main Line.Stranraer railway station
Kirkconnel railway station
Sanquhar railway station
Dumfries railway station
Annan railway station
Gretna Green railway station
Lockerbie railway station
The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with Glasgow, Ayr, Edinburgh and Carlisle. Local bus services are also operated across the region.
Dumfries and Galloway is home to two ports which have services to Northern Ireland, both are in the West of the region. Stena Line and P&O Irish Sea both have a port in the village of Cairnryan.
The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Carlisle Lake District Airport. The region does host a number of private airfields. The town of Lockerbie was the scene of the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist attack on December 21, 1988.
The main roads to and from the region are:A74(M)
The mainline from Dumfries railway station via Newton Stewart to Stranraer Harbour railway station, was closed under the Beeching Axe. The line previously connected London Euston and the West Coast Main Line with the ferries to Larne Harbour railway station and the Port of Belfast.
The Port Road to Stranraer being the last to go in June 1965 leaving only the original G&SWR main line open to serve the Stranraer. The Beeching Axe cutting the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway and Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway has resulted in adverse mileage to connect Stranraer with a longer line via Kilmarnock and Ayr.
The Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary (Dissolved 2013 and now Police Scotland) is the police force for the region, and is the smallest in the United Kingdom. Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service provide firefighting services across the region. The Coastguard, Lifeboats, Moffat mountain rescue and Galloway Mountain Rescue also offer emergency services across Dumfries and Galloway.
Nith Inshore Rescue is based at Glencaple. This an independent lifeboat providing water rescue cover for the River Nith, surrounding rivers and inland water. Nith Inshore Rescue is a declared facility for HM Coastguard who are the control centre and overseeing authority responsible for call outs.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway provide healthcare services across the region. The two main hospitals are the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Dumfries and Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer.
Dumfries & Galloway Council provides nursery, primary and secondary education across the region.Kilquhanity School
For a list of nurseries and primary schools see this page.Annan Academy
Castle Douglas High School
Dalbeattie High School
Douglas Ewart High School, Newton Stewart
Dalry Secondary School
Dumfries High School
Maxwelltown High School, Dumfries
St Joseph's College
Wallace Hall Academy, Thornhill
The region is known as a stronghold for several rare and protected species of amphibian, such as the Natterjack toad and the Great crested newt. There are also RSPB Nature Reserves at the Mull of Galloway, Wood of Cree (Galloway Forest Park), Ken Dee Marshes (near Loch Ken) and Mereshead (near Dalbeattie on the Solway Firth)
There are five of the world class 7Stanes mountain biking centres in Dumfries and Galloway at Dalbeattie, Mabie, Ae, Glentrool and Kirroughtree. The Sustrans Route 7 long distance cycle route also runs through the region. There is excellent hill walking in the Moffat Hills, Lowther Hills the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills and Galloway Hills. The Southern Upland Way coast to coast walk passes through Dumfries and Galloway and the 53 mile long Annandale Way travels from the Solway Firth into the Moffat hills near the Devil's Beef Tub. There is also fresh water sailing on Castle Loch at Lochmaben and at various places on Loch Ken Loch Ken also offers waterskiing and wakeboarding. The Solway Firth coastline offers endless fishing, caravaning and camping, walking and sailing opportunities.
Dumfries and Galloway is well known for its arts and cultural activities as well as its natural beauty.
The major festivals including the region-wide Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and Spring Fling Open Studios. Other festivals include Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and the Wigtown Book Festival in Wigtown - Scotland's national book town.
Main settlements in bold text.Ae, Airieland, Airds of Kells, Annan, Anwoth, Ardwell
Beattock, Beeswing, Borgue, Brydekirk
Caerlaverock, Cairngaan, Cairnryan, Cargenbridge, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, Castle Kennedy, Clarencefield, Corsock, Creetown
Dalbeattie, Dalton, Dornock, Drumlanrig, Drummore, Dumfries, Dundrennan, Dunscore
Eastriggs, Ecclefechan, Eskdalemuir
Garlieston, Gatehouse of Fleet, Glenluce, Gretna Green, Gretna
Haugh of Urr, Hoddom
Isle of Whithorn
Keir, Kelloholm, Kippford, Kirkbean, Kirkcolm, Kirkcudbright, Kirkconnel, Kirkinner, Kirkpatrick Durham
Langholm, Leswalt, Locharbriggs, Lochmaben, Lockerbie
Middleshaw, Millhousebridge, Mochrum, Moffat, Moniaive, Muirhead Mull of Galloway
New Abbey, New Galloway, New Luce, Newton Stewart, Newton Wamphray
Palnackie, Parton, Penpont, Portpatrick
Robgill Tower, Ringford
Sandhead, Sanquhar, Sorbie, St. John's Town of Dalry, Stoneykirk, Stranraer
Terregles, Thornhill, Twynholm, Templand
Wanlockhead, Whithorn, Wigtown
Caerlaverock Castle - Historic Scotland
Caerlaverock NNR (national nature reserve)
Cream o' Galloway
Corsewall Lighthouse, privately owned
HM Factory, Gretna, Eastriggs - site of a munitions factory during the World War I
Galloway Forest Park, Forestry Commission
Galloway Hydro Electric Scheme, Scottish Power
Glenlair - home of 19th century physicist James Clerk Maxwell
Isle of Whithorn Castle
Kenmure Castle - a seat of the Clan Gordon
MacLellan's Castle, Kirkcudbright
Mull of Galloway - RSPB/South Rhins Community Development Trust
Motte of Urr
Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery
Southern Upland Way - long distance footpath
Sweetheart Abbey, New Abbey
WWT Caerlaverock - a reserve of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Before 2007, the council consisted of 47 councillors elected for a four-year term. 13 Council wards were introduced for the 2007 election with each ward returning three or four members for a five-year term by the single transferable vote system of election. This system was introduced by the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, as a means of ensuring a reasonably proportionately representative outcome.
The result of the 2003 election returned a council with no party having overall control. A 'silver' coalition was first formed involving all parties but Conservative and Labour, after this coalition resigned Labour took minority control of the council. The following number of councillors were elected for each party as follows:
The result of the 2007 election returned the following number of councillors for each party as follows:
After the resignation of Bruce Hodgson (Conservative councillor for the Abbey ward) a by-election was held on 1 May 2008, with Michael Thomson (Conservative) being returned as the replacement councillor. On Tuesday 20 May 2008, Councillor Robert Higgins stood down as Scottish National Party (SNP) Group Leader, after he received a triple driving ban for reckless driving. Similarly Councillor John Charteris Conservative was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £500 after he admitted to drunk driving at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Friday, 29 August 2008
The council was controlled by a Conservative and Scottish National Party (SNP) coalition until late 2013, when the resignation of seven Conservative councillors left the coalition without an outright majority. The council was then controlled from October 2013 by a Labour and SNP coalition until June 2014 when the SNP left due to concerns about how a decision was taken to site a learning hub in Dumfries. The council was then run by a minority administration led by Scottish Labour and Craig Peacock an Independent until the 2017 Scottish local elections.
The result of the 2017 election returned the following number of councillors for each party as follows:
By political groupings.Graham Bell
Ian Carruthers Group Leader
Graham Nicol Group Depute Leader
James H Dempster
Sean W Marshall
David J McKie
Elaine Murray Group Leader
Rob Davidson Group Leader
Katie Hagmann Secretary
Stephen Thompson Group Depute Leader
Andrew S Wood