lochs glitter amongst the gentle hills of Annandale and
Eskdale, south of which lie the flat Solway marshes, where
sea birds gather on a huge nature reserve. The turbulent
history of the borderlands haunts this stretch of countryside.
Fortresses and castles stand in ruins after endless raids,
and the memory of Robert Bruce, hero king of Scotland,
lingers on in the places he visited.
red-brick houses over-look banks of River Annan, where
anglers try for salmon and trout. Dismantled railway,
now overgrown, once led to bridge across Solway Firth.
Locally born historian, Thomas Carlyle, taught at Annan
Academy in the 19th century.
of ditches and huge bank remain from Iron Age hill-fort,
built on narrow ridge between Annandale and Nithsdale.
road leads to top of Beattock Hill. Iron Age fort lies
near summit, with extensive views over Annandale. In days
of steam, trains laboured to climb dramatic 10 mile incline
of Beattock Bank.
footpath leads to cave above Kirtle Water where, according
to legend, Robert Bruce hid from the English invaders
in 1306 and, inspired by a spider trying again and again
to spin its web, carried on his struggle for independence.
Age defences extend 17 acres on windswept hilltop, looking
out to Solway Firth and Cumbrian coast. Remains of two
Roman siege camps on opposite hillside date from AD 155,
and small Roman fort dates from AD 140.
fortress on shore of Solway Firth has mysterious origins.
Built during 1290s, but whether by English or Scots is
unknown. Largely destroyed 1320, rebuilt a few years later
and demolished again by Scots in 1357. Pink-sandstone
gatehouse survives from castle rebuilt 15th century, reduced
to ruins in 1640. Finely carved panels remain from mansion
added to building in 1630s by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl
geese from Spitzbergen and large flocks of pink-footed
and greylag geese make this 13,000 acre area of salt marsh
and foreshore a notable bird sanctuary. Wild ducks and
waders haunt creeks and reed banks. Hides and observation
preserved Great Hall, dungeons and fine bedrooms create
medieval atmosphere in 15th-century castle on Scottish
border. Picnic area and nature trail in surrounding woodland.
Baronial mansion, 19th-century, houses Craigcleuch collection
of curiosities found by early Scottish explorers, including
carved coral and ivory, African sculptures, Chinese jade
animals, prehistoric ornaments and implements. Set in
parkland overlooking Esk valley, with views north between
'Gates of Eden' hills.
Annan flows down this 500ft deep hollow among four barrett
hills which look, according to Sir Walter Scott in his
novel Red-gauntlet, 'as if they were laying their heads
together to shut out the daylight from the dark hollow
space between them'.
of stout 16th-century tower stand by northern shores of
St Marys loch. Once home of Mary Scott, ancestor of Sir
Thomas Carlyle born 1795 in Arched House built by his
father and uncle, master masons. Restored as in his day,
containing papers and personal belongings.
lying at foot of Eskdale hills. A 300-year-old bell hangs
in churchyard tree; put there for safety when old church
was demolished, stayed when the new church was built 1867.
Fine views of Ewes Water and Teviotdale.
and waymarked walks wind through woods and hills thick
with grass or bracken, sometimes under trees bent over
to meet one another. Picnic site beside stream fringed
by spruce and alder.
close to the border with England where runaway couples
could seek quick marriages under easygoing Scottish law
at the old tollhouse or smithy, until the custom was banned
in 1940. Old Blacksmith's Shop, where weddings were performed
by an 'anvil priest', now a museum.
leads to foot of this spectacular 200ft waterfall formed
by Tail Burn dropping from Loch Skene to join Moffat Water.
Area rich in wild flowers has herd of wild goats.
16th-century watchtower built by John Maxwell stands on
hill above site of 16th-century tower castle. Visitor
centre is start of riverside and woodland walks.
mills surround this textile centre where River Esk meets
Wanchope Water and Ewes Water; spanned by several bridges.
Narrow, twisting streets of old part contrast with 18th-century
houses of 'new' town across river. Ruined peel tower was
home to the Armstrong family, ancestors of astronaut Neil
Armstrong -- first man on the moon.
reserve surrounds the creeper-clad ruins of a 14th-century
castle, reputed birthplace of Robert Bruce. Both James
IV and Mary, Queen of Scots visited castle. Look for greylag
and pink-footed geese in Castle and High-tae lochs. Statue
near the town hail recalls local man William Paterson,
co-founder of Bank of England in 1694.
valley transformed in 1983 by reservoir, stocked with
trout. Picnic areas with good viewpoints. Visitors can
walk along top of dam.
centre, symbolized by ram statue in high street. Spring
discovered 1633 made it popular spa. Robert Burns among
those who came to take waters. Baths Hall of 1827 now
town hall. Local crafts thrive at woollen mill.
created late 1700s at mouth of Pow Water. Sand yachting
on beach. Golf course. Kinmount gardens with lakeside
walks and resident geese.
with Palladian frontage built 1760 for Dr James Mounsey,
physician to Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia. Annandale views,
picnic site, woodland walks and garden.
has late 7th-century cross, 18ft high, carved with figures
and runic verses from Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the
Rood; possibly written by Caedmon, a 7th-century monk
and poet from Whitby in Yorkshire. Small museum commemorates
Henry Duncan in cottage where he founded Scottish Savings
Bank. Displays include bank archives p.' and room settings
of late 18th and early 19th centuries.
and angling centre. Statue of local poet James Hogg (1770-1835)
stands above Tibbie Shiels Inn. Single-track road to beauty
spot of Talla Reservoir.
of church lies above River Annan. Mungo was 6th-century
'Apostle of Strathclyde' who became Glasgow's patron saint.
engineer Thomas Telford, born 1757. As an apprentice he,
worked on the bridge at nearby Langholm.
with a churchyard memorial marking mass grave of border
outlaw Johnnie Armstrong and 36 of his men, sent to gallows
with-out trial by James V, 1530.
15th-century fortress of the Kirkpatricks and later Carlyles
is an unsafe ruin. View it from road.
walking country where Talla Water meets Tweed. Church
built in 1874 has war memorial from oak tree planted 100
years earlier by writer Sic Walter Scott. Covenantor's
stone of 1685 lies in the churchyard.
you would like to visit this area as part of a highly
personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please
to around Scotland