"Well, we all have to come from somewhere!" Top 5 Page for this destination Dumfries by GillianMcLaughlin

Dumfries Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 66 photos

My somewhere is Dumfries, Queen of the South

Dumfries is a small town that nestles near the estuary of the river Nith in the South West of Scotland. It's hardly a major tourist destination, but it is not without a charm of its own. It was certainly a wonderful environment in which to grow up as I did, just after the era of this old postcard, if a little sheltered. The up side of this is of course that, once I got out, at the age of 17, everything was a wonder!

When I left Dumfries to go and study in Stirling, it seemed that anyone who knew the town either stopped there to go to the toilet on the way to Northern Ireland, or their grannie died there (so good for weak bladders if you don't have grandchildren).

A few years ago, the UK Sunday Times carried a report of a national study into the quality of life in various towns and cities across the UK. Dumfries was placed as the number 1 best place to live, based on criteria like quality of education, employment, low crime statistics etc... still didn't make it the centre of the cultural universe in the 1970's!!

My Dumfries is the place of childhood memories, of the small achievements that make small-town people proud of their heritage, of the modest contributions to art, history and society that are easily overlooked, and of the quirky, lesser-visited corners that make it such a great place to take friends!

Please join me in a voyage of discovery of some of the little known treasures of my home town.

Dumfries' most famous son - Rabbie Burns

Well actually, he was adopted, from Alloway in Ayrshire, a place which has made much more of his heritage than Dumfries has managed... but we have his body, and to prove it, here's a picture of his mosauleum which can be found in the grounds of St Michael's Kirk.

An exciseman by trade, Robert Burns was posted to Dumfries, reluctantly as it would appear, and all accounts tell us that he led a colourful life, taking great pleasure in shocking the great and the good of the time. Dumfries offers the visitor, a stroll through his houses and his haunts, as well as a well researched collection of artifacts wonderfully presented in The Burns Centre on the banks of the river Nith.

The majority of the English-speaking world unwittingly commemorates Scotland's national bard (poet) on an annual basis... it was he who penned the international ode to New Year, Auld Lang Syne! (see below) Indeed as poetry goes, Burns work has much to commend it.

He was a philosopher


O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion:

From To a Louse

An unashamed romantic (if not the most faithful husband on earth)


O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.


An unwitting rable-rouser

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


... and sometimes a witting and witty one!

O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, an' swearers swear,
An' singin there, an' dancin here,
Wi' great and sma';
For I am keepit by Thy fear
Free frae them a'.

from Holy Willie's Prayer (a hilarious tribute to religious hypocrisy)

There's no place like home

This is the house in which I grew up... OK not a location for a traveller. But if you visit Dumfries by car from the south, or head south after your stay, it is entirely possible you will drive past it on the A75. It is an old stone house.

When I was a child we received a visit from a very old American lady. She told us that she had passed the new year of 1899 / 1900 in our house. She evoked incredible images of the past, notably the sounds of crinoline dresses swishing around.

It was originally a row of little cottages. Sometime in the late 19th century these cottages were joined by a corridor, and a small extension was added out the back. Because the house is built on a hill, this extentsion is reached by a wide staircase, although the whole house is on ground level.

My parents still live here, and the family still has a tendency to gather there for Chrismas.

Some of my favourite pictures are in a special travelogue.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:True undiscovered Scotland. Castles, beaches, history and culture by the bagload!
  • Cons:Depends what you're looking for.. nightlife not up to Glasgow standards!
  • In a nutshell:Every day brings an unexpected discovery
  • Last visit to Dumfries: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated Feb 10, 2004
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Reviews (6)

Comments (48)

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    hi gillian, we havn't talked in ages. happy new year to you - hope all is well. neil and orla.

  • MichaelRees's Profile Photo
    Sep 12, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    Nice set of photos

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2009 at 11:02 AM

    Soon we will commemorate Robert Burn's Day! We do remember his "Auld Lang Syne"(and in Russian translation, too) ... I wouldn't mind visiting his hometown!

  • Rixie's Profile Photo
    Jul 27, 2007 at 7:46 AM

    Quicksand in Scotland -- who would've thought? We miss you on the forum, Gillian.

  • Macfadyin's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2007 at 5:54 AM

    There was a very interesting article about this in the Scots Magazine a couple of months ago

  • iaint's Profile Photo
    Jan 13, 2007 at 6:35 AM

    I go to Dumfries once a year for my son's ice hockey; thanks for tip about Benvenuto

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    Jun 16, 2006 at 12:42 PM

    This town must be THE Scottisch touristical highpoint!! PJ

  • TheView's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2006 at 12:04 PM

    Good and fun little insigth to Dumfries ;-) ... Have fun down in Marabela with Galatea :-D Allan

  • BluBluBlu's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2006 at 6:59 AM

    Had a great hogmany weekend up here a few years back! Great little place! Blu

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2006 at 9:44 AM

    Robbie Burns was a rascal, I see...the quick sands are something I'd stay waaaay clear of. Nice tribute to Dumfries.

GillianMcLaughlin

“This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.”

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