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Caerlaverock Castle

Dryhope Tower

Tour Annandale

Remote 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.

Victorian 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.

Barr's Hill
Network of ditches and huge bank remain from Iron Age hill-fort, built on narrow ridge between Annandale and Nithsdale.

Beattock Hill
Narrow 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.

Bruce's Cave
Steep 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.

Iron 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.

Caerlaverock Castle
Triangular 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 of Nithsdale.

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve
Barnacle 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 towers.

Comlongon Castle
Well 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.

Scottish 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.

Devil's Beef Tub
River 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'.

Dryhope Tower
Ruins of stout 16th-century tower stand by northern shores of St Marys loch. Once home of Mary Scott, ancestor of Sir Walter Scott.

Historian 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.

Hamlet 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.

Forest of Ae
Road 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.

Gretna Green
Village 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.

Grey Mare's Tail
Path 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.

Hoddom Castle
Sturdy 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.

Thriving 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.

Nature 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.

Picturesque valley transformed in 1983 by reservoir, stocked with trout. Picnic areas with good viewpoints. Visitors can walk along top of dam.

Sheep-farming 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.

Resort created late 1700s at mouth of Pow Water. Sand yachting on beach. Golf course. Kinmount gardens with lakeside walks and resident geese.

Manor with Palladian frontage built 1760 for Dr James Mounsey, physician to Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia. Annandale views, picnic site, woodland walks and garden.

Church 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.

St Mary's Loch
Sailing 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.

St Mungo's Church
Shell of church lies above River Annan. Mungo was 6th-century 'Apostle of Strathclyde' who became Glasgow's patron saint.

Telford Memorial
Recalls engineer Thomas Telford, born 1757. As an apprentice he, worked on the bridge at nearby Langholm.

Hamlet 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.

Torthorwald Castle
This 15th-century fortress of the Kirkpatricks and later Carlyles is an unsafe ruin. View it from road.

Good 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.

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