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A Dumfries Town Trail

In the footsteps of Burns and Barrie around the birthplace of Peter Pan.

Distance 5.5 miles (8.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Pavements

Landscape Town streets and river bank

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 313 Dumfries & Dalbeattie, New Abbey

Start/finish NX 976765

Dog friendliness Keep on lead

Parking Dumfries Station

Public toilets Dumfries Station

1 With the railway station behind you turn left. Leave the car park, turn left at the Waverley Hotel and go over the railway bridge. Go over a roundabout and then turn left when you reach Victoria Terrace, a handsome row of substantial houses with their gardens across the road.

2 Retrace your steps to the road and turn right. Go back across the roundabout and continue past the Waverley Hotel, the traffic-lights and the County Buildings until you come to Shakespeare Street on your left. Cross the road and turn into it. Pass the Theatre Royal, where Burns was a patron, and turn left into Burns Street.

3 The street winds uphill, passing Burns House on the left, then reaches a junction. Turn left and head across a road to St Michaels Church and visit the Burns Mausoleum in the churchyard. Retrace your footsteps to the top of Burns Street and continue down Nith Place. Cross the road at the bottom in front of the Loreburn Centre and turn into the pedestrian area of the High Street.

4 Look out for the sign and entrance close of the Globe Inn, Burns' 'local', to the right, opposite Marks and Spencer. Come back through the close and turn right. Head past the fountain in the direction of the Mid Steeple and turn left down Bank Street.

5 Continue to the Whitesands and cross the road to the banks of the Nith. Turn left and walk beside the river to the suspension bridge. Turn right and cross the bridge, head up Suspension Brae and turn right on to Troqueer Road. Head uphill to the Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, housed in an old windmill.

6 Continue past the museum and, at the end of a block of sandstone buildings on your right, turn right and go down some steps to reach the Robert Burns Centre. Exit the Burns Centre, and turn right along the riverside to the ancient Devorgilla's Bridge, which you cross to reach the Whitesands again. Cross the road and make your way up Friars Vennel. Turn left at the top, pass Burns Statue and cross the road to Greyfriars church. Go to the left of the church along Castle Street and turn right at the crossroads.

7 Continue to the last house on the left, opposite the entrance to Dumfries Academy. This is Moat Brae the former home of Barrie's friend Wellwood (Wed) Anderson. From here go along Irvine Street, turn left at the junction and go along the front of Dumfries

There are plenty of reminders of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, in Dumfries, including the house where he lived on what is now called Burns Street, and his mausoleum in the churchyard of St Michaels, and the Robert Burns Centre. Best, perhaps, is the Globe Inn, Burns' favourite haunt. Here he would regularly hold court of an evening and if he had a few too many would often stay over night in the room upstairs. You can try his personal chair for size, but be warned that anyone who sits here who can't recite some of the bard's work must stand the rest of the company a drink. In the upstairs bedroom Burns scratched a few verses of poetry on the window pane and they can still be seen.

Near the bottom of Bank Street, plaques identify the building that Burns and his family moved to in 1791, when they vacated Ellisland Farm. Here, over 18 months, he wrote over 60 songs including the poignant love song Ae Fond Kiss.

The town's other famous author, J M Barrie, is also remembered at several sites. He lived at No 6 Victoria Terrace, as an engraving on the wall testifies: 'Sir James Mathew Barrie BART OM 1860-1937, Scottish novelist and dramatist. J M Barrie lived in this house, the home of his brother, while a scholar at Dumfries Academy from 1873 to 1878. He regarded his stay in Dumfries as among his happiest days. In 1924 he was made a freeman of Dumfries the town where Peter Pan was born.'

If you ask at Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, they will show you the earliest kknown example of Barrie's writing, Recollections of a Skoolmaster, which was published in a school magazine produced by one of his childhood friends. You can also see the house - Moat Brae - where the tale of Peter Pan had its origins as Barrie and his friends played pirates in the garden.

Where to eat and drink

The Doonhamer, just along from Dumfries Academy offers a fascinating mixture of Scottish traditional cooking and Italian cuisine. Run by the Rinaldi family this is one of the most popular eating places in Dumfries, where you can get anything from a traditional breakfast to a plate of mince and tatties or one of their pasta creations. Children welcome.

What to look for

While crossing the 15th-century Devorgilla's Bridge have a look at the Old Bridge House built of red sandstone into the fabric of the bridge. This dates from 1660 and is the oldest house in Dumfries. It is now a museum of everyday life and within is a Victorian nursery, kitchens recreated from the 1850s and 1900s and a very scary looking early dentists surgery.

While you're there

Visit Burns House which you pass on the walk. This is where the poet finally settled in Dumfries and it is preserved much the way it was when he lived here. The curator is a knowledgeable and friendly man who can tell you anything you need to know about Burns, show you the bed he died in and the desk where he copied down the words of Auld Lang Syne.


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