"Guid Nychburris" Dumfries by WhispersWest

Dumfries Travel Guide: 81 reviews and 77 photos

Dun Phris - Roots run deep

Some were amazed when I chose such an "out-of-the-way" spot for my first few days in Scotland. I wanted to walk the streets that my Gran's ancestors had walked. Perhaps, I was hoping to see her in a stranger that passed by and in doing so reconnect with her once again. I never saw that glimpse but what I found was the most warm and wonderful of places.

Dumfries (pronounced dum-freece, not dum-fries) (Dłn Phris in Scottish Gaelic) is a former royal burgh and town with a population of around 31,146 (37,846 including the Locharbriggs and Cargenbridge areas). It sits close to the Solway Firth near the mouth of the River Nith in the south west of Scotland, and was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire.

A number of well-known people were educated at Dumfries Academy, among them James Matthew Barrie, author of Peter Pan, John Laurie, actor (Private Frazer in Dad's Army), and Jane Haining, missionary. Dumfries is also the hometown of former F1 racer Allan McNish. Dumfries was the "hometown" of Burns while he lived there, but Burns was born in Ayrshire and spent many years there before moving to Dumfriesshire. Also Ray Wilson, lead singer of Stiltskin and later Genesis was born in Dumfries.

My boys & I had the good fortune to arrive on the weekend of Guid Nychburris, the main festival of the year, a ceremony which is largely based on the theme of a positive community spirit. Each summer the Royal Burghs of the region come alive to the sound of hundreds of horsemen, checking the boundaries of their town in the annual Riding of the Marches. This ancient tradition goes back centuries and forms the focal point for week long celebrations in many of the towns in Dumfries & Galloway, such as Langholm, Annan, Dumfries and Sanquhar. You can enjoy a parade by the horsemen followed by pipe and brass bands, marching through the main streets, followed, of course, by lively celebrations in the towns' public houses!

On Saturday morning, the "Cornet" and the "Cornet's Lass" lead a party that rides around the town boundaries on horseback. They passed in front of the B&B in which we were staying, standing long enough for me to snap the only picture I was able to take before my camera battery gave out! They lay a wreath at the base of a memorial honoring their war dead. It was one of our most favorite moments. We were even able to walk to the town centre and enjoy watching the dancing and singing that was going on throughout the square.

Sometimes, "off the beaten track" is the best place to be!

Long Live Robbie Burns!

Dumfries was the hometown of Robert Burns from 1759 until his death in 1796. The poet is now buried in St. Michael?s Churchyard in the Burns Mausoleum.

It's easy to see why Robert Burns was such a passionate man. Inspired by the land he loved and the women he wooed, Burns wrote some of his most memorable work in Dumfries & Galloway.

Scotland's National Bard spent much of his adult life in and around Dumfries, dying here aged just 37, and was active and outspoken in the local community. He was a man of deep thought and strong opinions, whose political views were considered revolutionary for the time. While his most famous works such as Auld Lang Syne and Ae Fond Kiss were written with a romantic and timeless grace in Dumfries & Galloway, he also wrote some of his most politically scathing work here, frustrated by his work as an exciseman and critical of the establishment of the day.

Robert Burns is remembered fondly throughout Dumfries & Galloway and there are many places to visit today which celebrate their historical connections with him. Travel the long coastline where he sought out smugglers in hidden coves. Visit his home, his farm or his favourite inn. Or simply look upon his likeness, a centrepiece in the town proud to remember him as its adopted son.

I was thrilled, as possibly only a writer could be, to stand in the bedroom of Robbie Burns at The Globe Inn and run my fingers over the words he had etched into the glass he happened to be in reach of when the Muse struck,

"O lovely Polly Stewart
O charming Polly Stewart
There's not a flower that blooms in May
That's half so fair as thou art".

A word of warning, don't sit in Robert's cahir unless you know his verse well enough to recite! You will end up buying the house a round shoudl you fail.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Excellent area for walkers, anglers, lovers of history
  • Cons:traffic can get congested
  • In a nutshell:Where old & new intertwine to fascinate!
  • Last visit to Dumfries: Jun 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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“Maireann cro? ?adrom i bhfad. (A light heart lives long)”

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