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11 Southerness Things To Do – Cute Cafes & Great Wildlife

Looking for things to do in Southerness?

It’s a great spot for exploring the Argyll and Bute coastline.

Check out this guide to Southerness things to do for some ideas of places to go and things to do.

Author BioMelanie Newdick, Professional Traveller

  • +36 years travelling for work. Visited +40 countries (many multiple times)
  • Stayed in over 700 hotels. Taken +9,500 on coach holidays
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Southerness Things to Do

Is Southerness worth visiting?

Southerness has a large beach, holiday park, and super cute lighthouse. It is within easy reach of attractions in Dumfries and Galloway making it an ideal base for exploring.

11 Great Southerness Things to Do

We loved the dog-friendly cafes, seeing Red Kites up close, and a museum about one of the biggest factories in the UK during World War 2.

Read on for all the details and to plan your visit.

streetlights cafe southerness things to do the professional traveller

Southerness Things to Do

1. Streetlights Cafe, Castle Douglas

Streetlights was one of the first cafes we visited during our holiday and it was fabulous. It was a dog-friendly cafe, which we didn’t know at first but we went and fetched our dogs as soon as realised.

The welcome was very friendly, for both us and our dogs. They even got treats which they were delighted about.

The menu was lovely too with plant-based milk available and plenty of choice. We had a soup and sandwich deal and the soup was just gorgeous. In fact, the portions were so generous we couldn’t eat a cake even.

The cafe is on the main street at Castle Douglas with on-street parking outside the cafe.

This was one of the highlights of our visit.

Read more info and reviews of Streetlights on Tripadvisor


Southerness Things to Do

2. Mad Hatters Cafe, Castle Douglas

We headed to Mad Hatters in Castle Douglas as it was advertised as dog-friendly.

On arrival, we went into the cafe to check it out. It was so cold that we didn’t take the dogs in. The floor was tiled so it would have been much too cold for the dogs to sit on the floor.

We checked out the menu and found the cooked breakfast was £10 which seemed quite expensive given the surroundings.

The cafe was so cold that we kept our coats on and the waiting staff were noticeably cold.

The breakfast was OK but nothing special. The ambience and atmosphere wasn’t very welcoming, particularly being cold.


Southerness Things to Do

3. Visit Castle Douglas

Castle Douglas is described as a food town. There is a great range of independent shops along the main street, including butchers, bakers and other food shops. There were also plenty of other independent shops making the main street a pleasant place to stroll.

Also in Castle Douglas was a Tesco store.

We visited Castle Douglas a couple of times to stock up on essentials and visit cafes.

Read more about Castle Douglas on Tripadvisor

loch arthur cafe southerness things to do the professional traveller

Southerness Things to Do

4. Loch Arthur Farm Shop and Cafe

This was recommended to us by the owner of the holiday cottage, and many previous guests had mentioned it in the comments book. Oh my goodness they were right!

In fact this cafe was so good we went twice, something I rarely do anywhere.

Loch Arthur is a community farm shop and cafe. It is set in a lovely building. There is free parking on site and the entrance to the cafe is around the side of the building. There is a little path along the edge of the pond. You pass the toilets and enter the cafe. (These arrangements were probably a little different from normal because of Covid restrictions.)

The menu featured lots of local and fresh produce. We had burgers and shared their handmade potato wedges. It was all absolutely delicious, so much so that my teenage nephew ate all his salad too!

The service was very warm and friendly. It was very busy which just showed how popular it was with locals.

On our second visit, we had soup and cakes and more of those amazing potato wedges. It was well worth the drive through Storm Arwen to get there.

The farm shop entrance is near the car park. There is a great selection of produce including a fruit and vegetable section, meat section, dairy, baked goods, pies etc. We stocked up on treats to take back with us to the holiday cottage.

I would highly recommend a visit for something to eat to Loch Arthur.

Read more about Loch Arthur on Tripadvisor

bellymack farm southerness things to do the professional traveller

Southerness Things to Do

5. Bellymack Hill Farm – Red Kites

Bellymack Hill Farm is not far outside of Castle Douglas. They are part of the Red Kite trail in Dumfries and Galloway. They feed Red Kites every day at 2 pm with the viewing station being open from 1-4 pm during the summer (3 pm in winter).

There is parking at Bellymack Hill Farm and you enter the side of a farm building where you pay £5 per person to access the viewing terrace. There is a long terrace near the viewing station and there is also seating inside the building.

Inside the main building is a little cafe with tea, coffee, and cakes available to buy. They were very nice.

The birds are fed at 2 pm. The Red Kites perch in trees around the site, making a whistling noise.

In front of the viewing platform is a feeding station where meat is put out. The birds swoop down and feed and then return to the trees to digest the food. About 30 minutes later when the food is digested the birds return again.

There is also a little walk up to the top of a small hill with a bird viewing hide and some goats and sheep to see along the way.

We spent nearly 2 hours at Bellymack Farm and enjoyed it a great deal.

Read more about Bellymack Hill Farm on Tripadvisor

Southerness Things to Do

6. Abbey Cottage, New Abbey

We visited this tearoom as it was dog-friendly.

On entering the tearoom we were directed to the front part of the tearoom which is where dogs are allowed.

We enjoyed a nice scone and coffee in the tearoom.

The dogs enjoyed their visit too.

Read more about Abbey Cottage on Tripadvisor


Southerness Things to Do

7. Devil’s Porridge Museum, Annan

We took a trip out on a very wet day to visit this museum. It was about an hour’s drive away from Southerness but it was well worth the trip. The museum is located in Annan and it tells the story of a huge factory complex that made munitions for the First World War.

The museum was well laid out with an audio guide available at reception.

There was also plenty of interactivity throughout the museum (although some of the exhibits were removed due to Covid restrictions).

The museum told not just the story of the factory but also of the women who travelled from all over the UK to work at the factory. It also told the story of the largest train crash in Scottish history and the first nuclear reactor in Scotland as well.

It was a fascinating museum with lots of interesting stories.

Beside the museum was a small cafe where we enjoyed a cake and cup of tea after our visit. We spent 2 hours at the museum but we could have spent longer there.

Read the Tripadvisor reviews of the Devils Porridge Museum.

Southerness Things to Do

8. RSPB Mersehead

RSPB Mersehead is a nature reserve set at a marshy headland. There is a visitor centre located down a single-track road, signed from the main road – the A710.

We arrived quite late, about 30 minutes before the visitor centre was about to close. By the time we had walked down to the nearest bird viewing hide the visitor centre closed.

It was bitterly cold and the tide was quite a long way out but we did get a view of a few birds and grazing deer.

It would be worth checking the tide times if you are planning a visit as a higher tide would mean that the birdlife would be closer.

Read more about RSPB Mersehead on Tripadvisor

sandyhills beach the professional traveller southerness things to do

Southerness Things to Do

9. Sandyhills Beach

We were recommended visiting Sandyhills Beach by the owner of the cottage.

It was definitely worth visiting. There is a paid car park by the beach with tickets purchased at the nearby gift shop. When we visited the shop was closed so there was free parking.

The beach was lovely and sandy. The dogs enjoyed it too. It would be a nice spot to spend some time with a picnic and making sandcastles too.


Southerness Things to Do

10. Southerness Beach

Southerness Beach was a bit of a disappointment to be honest because it was nearly impossible for our dogs to walk on given their little legs.

The beach had previously been sandy but due to increased storms it was covered in stones and debris and had been for some time. This made walking on it was small dogs a bit challenging and it meant we had to carry them at various points too.

If you are expecting to go and spend hours on a sandy beach at Southerness then it is probably worth checking about the beach condition before you go.

It is still a pleasant area to explore with wide-reaching views just a little different than we had expected.

Southerness Things to Do

11. Threave Gardens

Not far away from Castle Douglas is the National Trust for Scotland property Threave Gardens.

It’s a national bat reserve with lovely gardens to walk through along with a nice cafe overlooking the gardens too. Some parts of the garden are not accessible to dogs, such as the walled garden.

During the summer months, there is a cafe in the stables area of the gardens and both cafes have outside seating too.

Parking and entry is free for National Trust for Scotland members.

Check out my detailed review of Threave Gardens.

Southerness Shops

There is a small selection of shops in Southerness.

Some of them are seasonal and linked to the opening times of the holiday park.

There is a small Nisa Local which is close to the leisure centre on the Southerness holiday park. This is geared towards people staying in the holiday caravans with supplies for people to cook their own meals.

There is a Mini Market in the Solway shopping centre. This is on the main road into Southerness and on the left-hand side as you come into Southerness.

For larger supermarkets, there is a selection in Dumfries and Castle Douglas depending which way you are travelling.

Southerness FAQs

Can you go in Southerness lighthouse?

The lighthouse is not open for visitors, but it does make a nice photo.

Does Southerness have a sandy beach?

No it doesn’t, not until the tide goes out anyway. The beach is stony and pebbly with quite a lot of debris washed up. We spent most of our time carrying our two small dogs over the rocks as they couldn’t climb over them.

How far is Southerness from Dumfries?

It is 16 miles from Southerness to Dumfries. Southnerness is directly South from Dumfries and it is well signposted. However, the road is quite small so it takes around 30 minutes to travel from Southerness to Dumfries.

Is Southerness dog friendly?

There is plenty of dog friendly accommodation in Southerness. There are also plenty of dog walks and many of the residential properties had dogs living there too, so yes Southerness is dog friendly!

What is the Closest Town to Southerness?

Dumfries is the closest town to Southerness. It is 16 miles. Due to the small road it will take around 30 minutes to drive from Dumfries to Southerness.

Looking to Stay in Southerness?

Check out my review of a Southerness self catering cottage, including a video tour of the property.

Interested in Self Catering Properties in the Area?

Check out this selection of cottages and find plenty more in the Dumfries and Galloway area.

four holiday cottages in dumfries and galloway

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Southerness Things to Do – Conclusion

  • There are some great places to explore from Southerness – it gives great access to the coastline
  • The Devils Porridge Museum is great for a rainy day as it is all inside
  • Don’t miss Loch Arthur for fantastic food – so good we went twice!
  • Streetlights is one of the nicest dog friendly cafes we’ve been to anywhere


Check out my Travel Inspiration page for lots more ideas of things to do and places to visit in Scotland

Further Reading

If you have found this guide to Southerness things to do helpful you might also like;

My review of a one week stay in Newton Stewart including a tour of an amazingly cute riverside cottage

Forres Self Catering holiday review – a stunning cottage with walks and wildlife on the doorstep

Wick Self Catering Review – right on the NC500 with the amazing Duncansby Stacks nearby

12 Self Catering Holiday Tips – to help you have an even better holiday experience

If you want more trip ideas then check out my Travel Inspiration page

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