New Galloway lies on the west side of the valley of the Water of Ken a mile north of the end of Loch Ken. It is largely built around a single north-south High Street that climbs up through the village and has a location on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park that gives it a wonderful air of seclusion.
New Galloway as you see it today dates back to planned development by Viscount Kenmure in the early 1600s. This was followed by the granting of burgh status in 1630, intended to allow it to serve as a market centre for the surrounding Glenkens area. This was in the face of opposition from Kirkcudbright, some 19 miles to the south, which felt it would lose trade as a result. But New Galloway grew only very slowly because of its remoteness, and has always been amongst Scotland's smallest burghs.
Settlement in the area dates back much further. Kenmure Castle a mile to the south and overlooking the end of Loch Ken, was fought over by John Balliol and the Lords of Galloway in the late 1200s. The castle had an unlucky history. Its owners, the Gordon family, supported Mary Queen of Scots after her flight to England and their castle was burned down by her opponents in 1568. Then in 1650 the family supported Charles I and it was Cromwell who burned down the castle. Kenmure was turned into something more like a palace than a castle in the 1800s. It burned down for the third and final time in 1950 and is now a ruinous shell.
New Galloway's High Street is an attractive mix of light grey stone and white render finishes. The most striking building is the Town Hall with its attractive tower. In its current form it dates back to 1875. Nearby and almost facing one another across the High Street are the Kenmure Arms Hotel and the Cross Keys Hotel, two of the range of accommodation providers in the village.
New Galloway has two churches. Kells Parish Church lies a little to the north of the village on the A762. It is a T-plan church built in 1822. On the northern edge of the village, opposite the well placed war memorial, is St Margaret's Scottish Episcopal Church. This was built in 1904 and extended in 1908 and has an almost Scandinavian appearance.
New Galloway became the major market town it was once intended to be. But that all helps add to the charm of the place and its attraction to those touring for leisure rather than business. It lies at the point where the main roads coming up Glen Ken from Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas meet roads from Newton Stewart to the west, Dumfries to the east and Thornhill to the north-east.
Perhaps the most attractive of these roads is the A712 linking New Galloway and Newton Stewart. It is known as the Queen's Way to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The road is well equipped with picnic areas and forest trails and is an ideal way to get a first impression of the Galloway Forest Park. The road passes Clatteringshaw's Loch, and nearby the adventurous can follow the old drovers' track known as the Raiders' Road, now a 10 mile forest drive.
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