In 1994, south-west Scotland was divided into four principal counties: Dumfries and Galloway; South Lanarkshire; East Ayrshire; and South Ayrshire. Dumfries and Galloway, the largest of these four counties, lies on the border with England, and is comprised of the former counties of Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire.

The area has attracted interest from country-house buyers drawn to the coast, the unspoilt countryside and the mild climate. There are a number of dairy farms, together with small-scale outcrops of moorland, forests, hills and lochs. The Clyde is the Scottish equivalent of the Solent for yachting; the Solway Firth is renowned for its scenery. Wildfowling is also good in the south-west of Scotland.

The houses are made of the local red sandstone, which requires relatively little maintenance, apart from repointing. Prices are similar to the Scottish Borders: houses within feasible reach of major towns and good communications are at the top end of the scale.

Major towns

Dumfries, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Stranraer, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright, Newton Stewart.

Transport links

Train: Euston to Dumfries 4hr 23min (change at Carlisle); Euston to Stranraer 7hr 20min.

Car: Dumfries is 312 miles from London, via the M1, M6 and A75; Stranraer is 415 miles from London, via the M1, M6 and A75.

Public schools

Wellington School, Ayr (01292 269321). Co-educational, age range 3-18, day and boarding. www.wellingtonschool.org/

Glasgow Academy (0141-334 8558). Co-educational, age range 4-18, day. www.theglasgowacademy.org.uk/

The High School of Glasgow (0141-954 9628). Co-educational, age range 4-18, day. www.glasgowhigh.com/

Craigholme School, Glasgow (0141-427 0375). Girls only, age range 3-18, day. www.craigholme.co.uk/

The Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow (0141-357 3376). Co-educational, age range 4-18, day. www.kelvinsideacademy.org.uk/

For further information on these, and other schools in the area, do contact the Scottish Council for Independent Schools: www.scis.org.uk.

Leisure

Golfcourses: Prestwick (01292 479483); Royal Troon (01292 313281); Turnberry (01655 331000).

Hunts: the Dumfriesshire, the Liddesdale. Yachting clubs: the Royal Western, Royal West of Scotland and Royal Gourock Yacht Clubs; the Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club.

Fishing: rivers Nith, Stinchar, Border Esk.