Castle Douglas is a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It lies in the lieutenancy area of Kirkcudbrightshire, in the eastern part of Galloway, between the towns of Dalbeattie and Gatehouse of Fleet.
Castle Douglas is built next to Carlingwark Loch in which traces of prehistoric crannogs can be found, evidence of early inhabitation of the area. To the North of the town Glenlochar is the site of two successive Roman forts, the first being erected during the invasion of Agricola and the second during the Antonine period. They appear to have been for cavalry units and evidence has been found that a “vicus” grew up around them. They were abandoned completely about 160.
Nearby Threave Castle was a seat of the powerful “Black” Earls of Douglas. A small collection of cottages developed by the shores of Carlingwark, which was a source of marl. 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.
Castle Douglas was founded in 1792 by a wealthy descendant 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 hand-woven 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. This is still true today and the 1900 hexagonal market building is 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 passes 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.
Castle Douglas was a reception area for Glasgow’s evacuated children during World War II. From March 1943 to April 1944, the town was the base for 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, which was training for Operation Overlord, the invasion of occupied Europe.
Sights and attractions
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.
Threave Rovers F.C. are the local football team in Castle Douglas, they play at Meadow Park in the Scottish Lowland Football League and play in black and white stripes.
Castle Douglas hosts an annual Civic Week (2010) 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.
The town is commonly used by tourists as a base for exploring the rest of the area. There is a camping and caravan park by Carlingwark Loch and many hotels.
The main shopping street in Castle Douglas is King Street. It has a wide range of shops, including many shops not often found on many town high streets. Castle Douglas has two supermarkets (Co-Op and Tesco) and a Scotmid convenience store. Also on King Street are Italian, Chinese and Indian restaurants as well as pubs and hotels serving meals and several take-aways. Castle Douglas is designated Scotland’s Food Town and boasts some 50 outlets connected with the food industry.
Parking in the town is free. There is a large car park at Market Hill at the top of the town next to the Tourist Information Centre. There is also free parking on many of the side streets that lead away from the town centre.
As a Regional Market Town, Castle Douglas accommodates Wallet’s Mart, a livestock market visited by Queen Elizabeth II in July 2010.
There are several churches in Castle Douglas, including a Church of Scotland, a Betheren who have recently acquired a new building, an Episcopalian and the New Life Church Castle Douglas an Elim Pentecostal Church.
2329 (Castle Douglas) Sqn[a] Air Training Corps is located in the town and are active within the local community, as well as offering young people between the ages of 12 and 20 opportunities to fly, visit RAF stations across the UK and experience adventures.
There is a library which hosts art displays, swimming pool and bus hub in Market Street. The library offers a range of services including internet access; the swimming pool has a fitness suite attached; the bus hub provides services throughout Dumfries and Galloway, and onward through Scotland and England.
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 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) apart.