Dumfries and Galloway is renowned for its artistic heritage, with the Kirkcudbright Artist’s Colony – a community of creatives extant between 1880 and 1980 – being perhaps the most famous.
The market town of Dumfries celebrates its creative culture through events such as this weekend’s festival, the popular Dumfries Art Trail, and a dedicated arts centre.
“The Queen of the South” is just 25 miles north of the Border and is packed with gorgeous red-stone buildings, crow-stepped gables and Baronial-style turrets; a jewel set among the inspirational rural scenery of Dumfries and Galloway.
The town is the largest of the region’s settlements with a population of about 31,600, and is positively steeped in history.
Dumfries was founded as a Royal Burgh in 1186 and became an important frontier town due to its proximity to the Border. It flourished into a busy market town and in-land port, which thrived on the River Nith until the 1900s.
But its success attracted unwelcome attention – during the 14th and 15th centuries, the town suffered many conflicts and was burned to the ground several times.
In 1306, one of the most important events in Scotland’s history took place in Dumfries, when Robert the Bruce killed his rival to the throne, John Comyn, at the altar of Greyfriars Church.
The town’s history also includes other famous names, such as the National Bard Robert Burns, who is memorialised in its centre, having built Ellisland Farm in 1788 on what is now Holywood Road, which remained his family home until his death eight years later.
Peter Pan author Sir James Matthew “JM” Barrie was educated at Dumfries Academy in the late-1800s. It is now one of three secondary schools in the town, alongside Dumfries High, St Joseph’s RC and North West Community.
A home in Dumfries has an average price of £135,599, according to Rightmove, while Zoopla has the average price of a home in the wider region at £186,338 – making the south-west destination more affordable than many other parts of the country.
There are a variety of property types here; grand historic villas can be found throughout, notably on and around St Mary’s Street, which is close to Dumfries railway station, and has an average property value of £455,471.
Castle Street, close to the river, is just as remarkable with its fabulous grade-A listed Georgian houses, many of which are now flats.
Victoria Road, in the Maxwelltown area, and its surrounding addresses are also highly sought-after, featuring large detached and semi-detached houses.
This area is home to Dumfries & Galloway Golf Club, and the surrounding houses on Albert Road and St Cuthbert’s Avenue are very impressive. A home at the latter address costs on average £360,764.
In the north of Dumfries, off Lockerbie Road, newer developments of detached, semi-detached and terraced homes at Haining Avenue and Carlyle Court are well suited for families.
Further north, off Summerpark Road, lies the Reiver Homes’ Marchfield development, built around three years ago.
Dumfries is well connected for commuters, with regular trains to Carlisle taking 38 minutes, and a journey time of about three hours to Glasgow Central. Regular bus services to Glasgow take two hours and 15 minutes, and Ayr is two hours away by car.
Average market value of a property in the area over the last 12 months (Source: Zoopla)
Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura on Rotchell Road tells the story of Dumfries’ community and land, hosting fossil footprints, tools, weapons and stone carvings, as well as a number of exhibitions. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Camera Obscura remains closed, although the museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 1pm, and 1.30pm to 4pm, with tickets booked in advance.
Robert Burns is well represented here with a number of attractions dedicated to the Bard, including a statue in the middle of town, Robert Burns House, pictured, at Burns Street, and the Robert Burns Centre on Mill Road. The sandstone house where Scotland’s national poet spent the last years of his life displays how he and his family lived during the 18th Century. It has a gift shop but visits here are by appointment only at present. Visitors can explore further at The Robert Burns Centre, where a recently re-displayed exhibition showcases a precious collection of artefacts that are of national significance.
Gracefield Arts Centre is situated in a stunning grade-B listed building on Dumfries’ Edinburgh Road and hosts a varied schedule of exhibitions throughout the year, featuring work by local, national and international artists. There is also a craft shop selling artworks by local and invited makers and a café operated by the Dumfries Ice Bowl team. More information on this and the other venues covered here can be found on DG Culture’s website.