6 In Books & Writing/ Scotland/ Travels

Visiting Wigtown | Scotland’s National Book Town

During our trip down in Galloway, we drove from Stranraer to Wigtown on the eastern side of the peninsula. This particular visit really excited me! It’s a stop I’d been meaning to do for a while. Wigtown is reknown in Scotland for being a bookish town. They host a big literary festival every September and you can even sleep in a bookstore if you please!

When we arrived, I realised that it’s not only a nice idea, but it is official. Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town! Whatever that means, the book nerd in me was happy to be there!

Wigtown has 12 bookshops – that’s on only about 3-4 streets, so it’s very impressive for a small town in the middle of nowhere. We visited 6 of them – unfortunately a lot of them were closed because it was a Monday. I really restrained myself and only bought 2 books! One by Angela Carter and one by Camus, and in French at that!

The books were a bit overpriced, in my opinion. I wanted to buy a play by Samuel Beckett and it was something like £7. It’s not a lot but when Waterstones sells a new copy for £9, it doesn’t seem like such a good deal. Obviously I think their books are a bit more expensive because they probably need to sell quite a few to stay afloat. There are 11 other shops in town competing for book buyers’ attention after all. When we were there, there were a few other tourists in town, but the town was pretty dead. It is so far off the beaten path (it would take about 6-7h by public transport from Edinburgh) that I can’t imagine tourists flock there en masse. That said, I’m glad that I bought those two slightly overpriced books. It felt like encouraging independent secondhand book stores.

Other fun fact about Wigtown: one of the bookshops is the largest secondhand bookstore in Scotland. It says it has over a mile of shelves and about 100,000 books. It was a bit chaotic, but it was an interesting building, with lots of different crooks and nooks.

If you’re a book sniffer like me, then I highly recommend visiting Wigtown – especially if you’re driving because, as mentioned earlier, it’s a difficult place to reach by public transport. It must also be really lovely during the festival and I would be tempted to go back for it!

This year’s festival is held from the 22 September to the 1 October – if ever you’re interested to attend. 

Have you visited the national book town? Where is your favourite book store?xx

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