Gold has been found in many areas of Scotland, but the Lowther Hills around Wanlockhead and Leadhills are particularly abundant. So it’s no surprise that gold panning in the UK has been popular in this area for centuries – with the first documented evidence of the recovery of gold dating back to the reign of King James IV of Scotland in the early 16th century. During the reign of King James V, gold from the Crawford Muir was used to create new crowns for the King and Queen. Furthermore, much of the coinage of King James V and Mary Queen of Scots was minted in Edinburgh using gold from this area.
Want to try out gold panning?
If you've always wanted to try your hand at gold panning in the UK but have never had the opportunity, the Lead Mining Museum at Wanlockhead in Scotland is the perfect place to start. They offer taster sessions using special gold-panning tanks that don't require a licence, so you can dip your toes into the water and see if it's for you.
If you decide to take this experience to the next level and try it out in the local burns, you will need a licence. But don't worry, you can purchase it from the museum shop or the Queensberry Estate Office at Drumlanrig Castle. Just make sure you follow the rules of gold panning stated on the licence.
For those who are enthusiastic about gold panning, the museum also offers longer courses of 5 hours or 2 days. You'll need to rent or buy waders from the museum shop or another supplier. Choosing the right size (given you'll need to wear at least two pairs of socks) and style of waders is important to ensure they fit properly and provide adequate protection from the water.
Waders are a type of waterproof clothing that covers your legs and torso, keeping you dry while you're in the water. They are essential for anyone planning to go gold panning in Scotland. The rivers and streams in Scotland can be cold, even in the summer months, so it's crucial to have the right gear to keep you comfortable and safe while you're panning for gold.
They're made from a range of materials, from neoprene to PVC, and come in different styles and thicknesses depending on the water temperature and the time you'll spend in the water. They provide good traction on slippery rocks and can prevent you from slipping and falling in the water. They can also protect you from sharp objects like rocks or broken glass that might be in the water.
And if you're not in Scotland, other options exist, such as the Dolaucothi Gold Mine in South Wales, which also offers such experiences. So why not give it a go and see if you can spot that tell-tale glint among the gravel?
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence
ps - For more fun activities and places to visit in Great Britain, take a look at our travel guide / gemstone book.