Castle Douglas

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Castle Douglas
Scots: Castle Deeg
Castle Douglas, Scotland.jpg
Castle Douglas High Street
Location: 54°56’28"N, 3°55’44"W
Population: 3,671  (2001)
Post town: Castle Douglas
Postcode: DG7
Dialling code: 01556
Local Government
Council: Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway

Castle Douglas is a town in Kirkcudbrightshire in the hills above the dale of the Dee some miles above Kirkcudbright and on the road between the towns of Dalbeattie and Gatehouse of Fleet. It is a Georgian new town, founded in 1792 by Sir William Douglas, after who it is named.

About the town

The main shopping street in Castle Douglas is King Street. It is the largest town of the dale and has a good range of shops, more than just the bland chain stores, and restaurants. Castle Douglas was designated "Scotland's Food Town"[1] not by civic effort but by Irvings Bakery though it does attempt to live up to the name to some extent as in its narrow bounds the town as some 50 outlets connected with the food.

The town is the main agricultural market town for the area; Wallet's Mart is a busy livestock market. It was visited by the Queen in 2010.[2]

Looking wider, Castle Douglas is a centre for exploring the dale and the wider lands of Galloway. It caters for tourists whether staying in hotels or its camping and caravan parks by the side of Carlingwark Loch.


The town and the Kirk


Threave Castle

Castle Douglas is built next to Carlingwark Loch in which traces of prehistoric crannogs can be found, evidence of early inhabitation of the area. The town is a new foundation and until 1792, when Sir William Douglas founded the town, the castle was named Carlingwark.[3]

To the north of the town, Glenlochar is the site of two successive Roman forts, the first erected during the northern advance by Gnaeus Julius Agricola and the second during the Antonine period. They appear to have been for cavarly units and evidence has been found that a village grew up around each of them, but they were abandoned completely about 160.[4]

Nearby Threave Castle was a seat of the powerful "Black" Earls of Douglas. There small collection of cottages developed by the shores of Carlingwark, which was a source of marl, and these cottages can still be seen on the western approach to Castle Douglas and are known as the Buchan. The development of a military road through Galloway, built by General Wade after Jacobite rising of 1745, passed through the Carlingwark area and improved transportation connections in the 18th century.

Sir William Douglas's Mausoleum

Castle Douglas was founded in 1792 by a wealthy scion of the Douglas family, William Douglas, who made his money in an 'American Trade' and created a planned town on the shores of Carlingwark Loch. The town's layout is based upon the grid plan pattern of streets as used in Edinburgh's New Town, built around the same time. Sir William Douglas also created a number of industries in Castle Douglas, including cotton factories from which Cotton Street derives its name.

The completion of the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway in 1859 further improved the town's connections, and it soon developed into a major market town for the surrounding area, a place I retains to this day. The hexagonal market building was built in 1900 and is still in constant use. Although the railway was closed in 1965 the A75 trunk road was developed roughly following the lines of the original military road and passed through Castle Douglas. The many hotels and pubs which derived from coach stops are an indication of the town's importance as a stopping place for travellers.

During Second World War, Castle Douglas was a reception area for Glasgow's evacuated children.

Sights about the town

The Castle Douglas Art Gallery is an offshoot of the Stewartry Museum at Kirkcudbright. Near the centre of town is Carlingwark Loch, a loch and SSSI, home to numerous water birds.

Nearby stands Threave Castle, the family castle of the Black Douglas line of the House of Douglas. It lies on an island in the middle of the River Dee, admission includes the short ferry journey.

Also to the west of the town are Threave Gardens, a National Trust for Scotland property.

Castle Douglas hosts an annual Civic Week, which is the focal event of the year. Its usual format is a week of events around the last week in July, culminating on Douglas Day when a street procession and carnival in Lochside Park takes place. Videos of previous Civic Week events are hosted on their community web site along with videos of the Stewartry Agricultural Show and the promoting of Castle Douglas as a Food Town.

Castle Douglas is designated Scotland's Food Town by Irvings Bakery due to the many food related shops in the town, and the quality of ingredients available in the immediate area. A Food Town Day is held annually at the end of May.


A walk around the park beside Carlingwark Loch can be continued along Lover's Walk, which goes out along the south shore of the loch to an area of marsh and a bird hide, from where further trails lead back to the town or on to Kelton Hill and Threave Gardens. There is a walk leading from the town to Threave Castle, and there is a network of trails around the National Trust for Scotland property at Threave Gardens. Threave Castle and Threave Gardens are both to the west of the town and about a mile and a half apart.


Outside links