Destination UK

10 things you may not know about Dumfries

Posted on
November 29, 2021

The charming market town of Dumfries is located in the Scottish county of Dumfries and Galloway, around 30 minutes’ drive northwest of the Scottish and English border. With its traditional architecture, fascinating history as a Scottish stronghold in the Middle Ages under William Wallace (aka Braveheart) and the stunning landscape of the Galloway hills, the Nith estuary and the Solway Coast on the doorstep, Dumfries clearly has a lot to offer visitors and residents alike. 

Interested to find out more though? Read on to find out 10 things you may not know about Dumfries, one of Scotland’s (many) hidden gems. 

  • The town is one of the happiest places to live in Scotland. 

A frequent high scorer (taking 3rd place in 2020) on the Happy at Home Index by property experts Rightmove, residents rate Dumfries for its brilliant sense of community, great leisure facilities and some of the lowest crime rates in Scotland. 

  • Dumfries is also the hometown of Scotland’s most famous son.

Visitors travel from across the world to see and experience the home town and final resting place of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns (1759 – 21 July 1796), the National Poet of Scotland. There are also many events held in his honour annually in Dumfries such as the Big Burns Supper Festival every January, which will play host to over 300 separate events alone over two weeks in 2022. 

  • The town is also home to Scotland’s oldest theatre… 

The Theatre Royal on (aptly named!) Shakespeare Street dates back to 1792 and is Scotland’s oldest theatre still in operation. 

There are plenty of other cultural venues and activities which put Dumfries on the map too, including the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre and the quirky Dumfries Museum which is home to the world’s oldest working Camera Obscura.

The family friendly Doonhame Music Festival, the Guid Nychburris (meaning Good Neighbours) Festival of community spirit and the Dumfries Art Trail are also popular with visitors from near and far and the Stove Network arts and community organisation is at the heart of the town’s creative pursuits. 

  • …and the inspiration for the famous children’s tale, Peter Pan.

Scottish writer Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet (1860–1937), better known as J.M. Barrie, was educated at the Dumfries Academy secondary school as a boy. Nearby Moat Brae House where he would play pirates and other-worldly games with his friends became his inspiration for the famous Neverland in the popular children’s tale Peter Pan

Today, Moat Brae has continued this legacy as the National Centre for Children’s Literature and has been named one of the ‘Top 50 coolest places in the World for Kids’ by Time magazine. 

  • There is not one, but three local delicacies. 

Dumfries and Galloway is known for its local delicacies Beltie beef and the delicious Cream o’ Galloway and Drummuir ice creams but modern favourite Tartan chocolate is also a winner with the sweet toothed crowd!   

Foodies will appreciate the great selection of independent eateries in Dumfries too, including Bruno’s Italian Restaurant, Casa Mia and Mrs Green’s Tea Lounge. For a cosy, traditional pub, look no further than Robert Burn’s preferred drinking hole the Globe Inn, The Swan at Kingholm Quay or the Cavens Arms. 

  • Wild swimming is a popular pursuit for many Dumfries residents… 

With a number of local wild swimming groups, sailing clubs and the annual Nithraid river festival, Dumfries locals love to hit the water. The scenic, sandy beaches of Scotland’s west coast are also within easy reach when a dip in the sea beckons. 

  • …although locals have their pick of outdoor adventures. 

The acres of woodland trails in nearby Galloway Forest Park are a big draw for mountain bikers and hikers, as are the 7stanes trails in Dalbeattie and the Forest of Ae. The impressive 90,000-acre estate of 17th century Drumlanrig Castle is less than an hour away as well.

Closer to home in the town of Dumfries itself are the riverside Dock Park, Castledykes Park and Mill Green Park. Nature lovers will also appreciate the Wild Goose Festival which celebrates the natural world and the local community.

  • Dumfries is well connected despite its rural location.

As the crow flies, Dumfries is only 15 miles from Cumbria south of the border and there are plenty of good transport links connecting the town with the rest of the Scottish Lowlands and beyond. 

The M74 between Glasgow and Gretna is 20 minutes away and the A75 will have you on the M6 in half an hour and south to the English town of Carlisle in less than an hour.

Dumfries also has its own train station with services to Glasgow (in 1 hour and 45 minutes), Carlisle (in 40 minutes) or Kilmarnock and Ayr (in 90 minutes). There are also services available to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 

  • House prices are very affordable.

Prospective homebuyers will be pleased to know that Dumfries has some of the most affordable homes in the region having dropped significantly in price after the 2008 financial crash and remaining competitively priced since then. 

With an average property price of £140,652 in the last 12 months, the town is more affordable than both the wider Lowlands region at £183,838 and the county of Dumfries and Galloway overall at £165,283. Dumfries house prices are also over £100,000 less than the UK national average. 

  • There are also a surprisingly varied mix of properties available.

Dumfries may have period charm by the bucket load with plenty of attractive, traditional properties in the more central areas of the town, particularly around Pleasance Avenue, Central Castle Street, Edinburgh Road, Lovers Walk, Lockerbie Road and Brooms Road.

However, there are also a number of more modern developments in suburban areas such as Kingholm Quay, Glencaple, Summerhill and Lochside, meaning every taste is catered for! 


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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk