You find Drumcoltran Tower by following the brown tourist road signs from the A711 Dalbeattie to Dumfries road at a junction near the wonderfully named village of Beeswing. There's an alternative via the equally fascinating Kirkgunzeon, sounding oddly like a Cornish outpost in Scotland: but from this direction the tower is unsigned so you need both a good map and someone to read it.
Drumcoltran Tower now stands as part of a much more modern farm. Park in the space by the roadside (don't drive into the farm) and follow the signposted path that takes you around the side of the tower to its main entrance, typically located in the angle formed between the main body of the tower house and its stair wing. This made it much easier to deter unwanted callers.
Internally the tower is fairly straightforward in design. The ground floor comprises a vaulted room originally used for storage and from the 1700s also home to the kitchen, complete with spectacular fireplace. The windows you see in the ground floor today would have compromised the defensive effectiveness of the tower house and were added later in the tower's life.
Climbing the spiral stair brings you to the first floor. The wooden floors of the second floor and garret eventually rotted away and were removed in the early 1900s. You are left with an imposing space rising all the way to the restored roof.
As originally built the first floor was a single room, used as the hall. When the ground floor was converted into a kitchen the fireplace on the first floor was reduced in size, and a second fireplace was later added when the first floor was divided into three rooms in the 1800s.
The remains of the fireplaces on the higher levels of the wall show that the second floor was divided into two rooms. One was reached directly from the spiral staircase, while the other had a door to a short passage within the wall, leading out onto the spiral stair. The site of this doorway now provides an excellent view into the main space at this level.
But the real joy of Drumcoltran is reserved until last. Sitting at the top of a set of good quality, relatively wide spiral stairs, and well protected by comfortably high parapets, the parapet walk at Drumcoltran Tower, though 40 feet above its base, is easily accessible to those whose vertigo normally keeps them closer to the ground.
The parapet walk extends around three sides of the roof of Drumcoltran Tower. It gives an excellent sense of the landscape, and in particular the way the tower house has been incorporated into the farm that now virtually surrounds it. It is actually less incorporated into the farmyard buildings than it used to be. The castle was, for much of its life, physically connected to a house immediately to its south west. The connection was cut in 1990 when the house was reduced to the single storey shed shown in the header photo.
Drumcoltran Tower was built by Edward Maxwell, a younger son of Lord Maxwell, in the 1550s. On the gently sloping north side of a valley, the site was probably chosen because it controlled the main road from Dumfries to Dalbeattie rather then because of any inherent defensive strength.
In later centuries the tower had various owners before passing by marriage to Captain John Maxwell of Cardoness in 1750, who also inherited Cardoness Castle two years later. It was at about this time that a house was built close to the west wall of Drumcoltran Tower, and was connected to it by an inserted doorway and short passage. The tower and connecting house remained in use to accommodate farm labourers until about 1900, and the tower was later used as a farm store. It was passed into State care in 1951 and is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.