Arbigland Gardens

Arbigland House and Gardens, together with their Holiday Cottages, lie in a spectacular setting, on a promontory south of Dumfries in Scotland. The House looks out to the sea on three sides. The Holiday Cottages are in the adjacent Stableyard. The Gardens consist of 24 acres of mainly woods with more formal sections, including a Sunken Garden where the old Arbigland Hall stood. Recent photos of the gardens can be found via the TripAdvisor link below.

The basic form of the Gardens is 18th Century, with a straight 1/3rd of a mile Broad Walk running from the house down to the beach on the Solway Firth. Many of the trees lining the Broad Walk our over 200 years old and at the end of the Walk there is a panoramic view across to the Lake District fells.

The formal gardens are divided into distinct areas, including a Sundial Garden with a Sundial from 1815 commemorating the battle of Waterloo; a Sunken Garden with roses and a Pavilion built by Italian Prisoners of War; a Well Head Garden with unusual plants and trees; a substantial Lake with an Island and a Japanese Garden with a variety of Acers and Cherries.

Areas under development include steep terraces down the sea inspired by the slopes of Bodnant Garden in Wales and a Gunnera Walk along an existing stream inspired by the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

Though never as “lost” as those Lost Gardens, the beds and walks throughout Arbigland had become overgrown. Restoration and development are now well underway. There is still much to do, and we hope that some of the attraction of walking round the Gardens will be looking at “work in progress”.

Light refreshments and toilet facilities are available at the neighbouring John Paul Jones Museum.

Arbigland House

Arbigland House was built in the 1750s in the Classical Adams-style by one William Craik. Visitors to the Gardens can book to tour the principal rooms of the house and learn something of the characters connected to it.

William Craik himself was a remarkable man. He was born in 1703 and died in 1798. During this long life, he introduced the Agricultural Revolution to Scotland, developing Arbigland from a poor tenanted estate operating barely above subsistence to the thriving beef and cereal estate it remains to this day.

William’s gardener was the father of John Paul Jones, a founder of the US Navy. A Museum on his life is next door to Arbigland House.

William’s illegitimate son, James Craik, was a close friend and physician to, George Washington. Indeed, the first US President died in his arms.

William’s daughter, Helen Craik, was a poet and proto-feminist novelist. She was a friend and admirer of Robert Burns who dined at Arbigland.

The son of William’s Minister, John Campbell, was the first Captain of HMS Victory and became the Governor-General of Newfoundland. He was also a remarkable scientist, inventor and sponsor of the brass sextant and appointed by the Board of Longtitude to test the chronometers submitted to them.

William’s friend and extraordinarily wealthy neighbour, Richard Oswald (he made his money from the slave trade and slave plantations), represented the UK in the negotiations that ended the American War of Independence

Tickets and Opening Times


Tickets are available from the John Paul Jones Museum next door.

House Tour and Talk£3.00

There is a £1 reduction for each person buying tickets for both the Gardens and the John Paul Jones Museum.

Opening Times

1st April to 31st October 2023

Every day from 10.30 AM with last entry at 4.30 PM

3.00 PM house tour and historic talk inside Arbigland House may be arranged when buying a Garden ticket at the John Paul Jones Museum. Numbers limited.

Dogs controlled on leads are welcome in the gardens, but please note, there are red squirrels, pheasants, chickens and deer roaming free.

For more details, telephone 01387 880 613.

Holiday Cottages

The two cottages in the Stable Yard were refurbished in 2019 as holiday lets. The unique feature of these cottages is that, during their stay, guests are free to roam the 24 acres of Arbigland Gardens with its lake, beach, woodland walks and more formal areas. Up to 2 dogs may be accommodated in each cottage, but we would ask that when in the garden, they be kept on leads because of the deer, red squirrels, pheasants and chickens that also roam freely.

Grooms Cottage

Accommodates up to 4 guests

Accommodates up to 2 dogs

2 bedrooms

1 bathroom

Coachmans Cottage

Accommodates up to 10 guests

Accommodates up to 2 dogs

4 bedrooms

3 bathrooms

The cottages can be opened up into one property and booked together.

The Stables

Accommodates up to 14 guests

6 bedrooms

4 bathrooms

How to Get to Arbigland

From Dumfries

13 miles

Take the A710 marked Solway Coast through New Abbey to Kirkbean.

In Kirkbean, turn left (following the signs to John Paul Jones’ Cottage) and take the first right, keeping on that road to a “T” junction.

Turn left through the white gates down the drive to the junction in front of the formal gates.

Turn right to John Paul Jones’ Cottage.

From Castle Douglas

19 miles

Take the A745 past Buittle Tower and turn left at the traffic lights onto the A711 towards Dalbeattie.

Turn right at the next traffic lights onto the A710.

Follow to Prestonmill where take the next right towards Southerness, then first left (following the signs to John Paul Jones’ Cottage). Keep on that road until the white gates.

Turn through the gates down the drive to the junction in front of the formal gates. Turn right to John Paul Jones’ Cottage.

The postcode is DG2 8BQ, but as this is a wide rural area, the key is to follow the signs to John Paul Jones’ Cottage.