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A day in the life of Robert Burns

If you have a day to spend in Dumfries why not use some of the time to stroll around the historic landmarks and tributes to commemorate “Rabbie’s” life and times whilst living in Dumfries.

 

First a bit of history, Robert Burns moved to Ellisland Farm 6 miles north east of Dumfries with his wife Jean Armour in 1788, unfortunately the unworkable and infertile land at the farm turned out to be a heavy burden for Burns and even though he changed from arable to dairy farming he could not make a living from his tireless efforts, therefore 3 years later in 1791 Burns left the farm with his wife and family and moved the 6 miles to the town of Dumfries. On arrival in Dumfries he concentrated on his other career as an excise officer.

 

There are many ways to take in the sights Dumfries has to offer, here is one where you can take a leisurely stroll and depending how long you stop off at some of the attractions it can be completed anywhere between 90 minutes to half a day.

 

Start in the middle of town at the famous “Robert Burns Statue”(1) – The starting point can be located on the attached map. The statue was designed by Amelia Hill, carved in Italy and erected in 1882 as a tribute to Burns from the townsfolk of Dumfries.

 

 

From the statue take a walk down the medieval and narrow “Friars Vennel” (2). Continue down the vennel until you reach the Whitesands Promenade on the River Nith. Carefully cross the busy “Sands” main road (there is a pedestrian crossing approx 50 metres to your right).

 

On crossing the road you will arrive at the Devorgilla Bridge (3) built in 1431. At the other side of the bridge is the “Old Bridge House” (4) built in the 17th century and now a museum, although it has no direct contact to Burns, it’s on your route, it’s free admission and it’s well worth the visit.

 

If you prefer to keep going turn left and in less than 5 minutes you will arrive at the “Robert Burns Centre” (5). The centre is packed with memorabilia and you will find the staff very helpful and informative. There is also a nice café and restaurant housed within the building.

 

On leaving Burns House, continue along the pathway beside the river until you reach the metal suspension bridge (6) erected in 1875. Cross the bridge and turn left to the pedestrian crossing. Cross the road and walk up the hill keeping the Loreburn Shopping Centre on your left. After a couple of minutes you will reach the British Heart Foundation shop. Turn left, heading towards the town centre. After approx 300 metres you will arrive at Rabbie’s favourite “Howff” (favourite haunt of place to visit), the Globe Inn (7) on the right.

 

The Globe Inn was established in 1610 and still operates as a popular pub today. Why not stop and have a beer and snack where Rabbie enjoyed spending much of his time. The pub is steeped in the history of Burns and well worth the visit.

 

Now that you are refreshed and raring to go, turn left out of the Globe and go back down to the bottom of the hill towards the Heart Foundation shop and turn left. You will see a signpost for Robert Burns House, cross the road and walk down the hill towards the car park. Follow the road around the car park and walk up a short incline. On the left you will find Burns House (8). This is a must on the visit, as it was here that the poet and his family lived from May 1793 until his death on July 21st 1796. There is a lot to see in the house and be sure to look for his name scratched on an upstairs window pane.

 

On leaving the house turn left along Burns Street until you arrive at Brooms Road traffic lights, on the left take a minute to see the statue of Burns wife Jean Armour with whom he had 9 children. The statue was erected in 2004 by “The Burns Howff Club”.

 

Cross the Brooms Road at the lights and enter St Michael’s Kirk Yard (9). Burns was originally buried here in a modest grave in the North East corner of the graveyard. Following a visit to the graveyard by William Wordsworth and his wife in 1803, when they expressed concern at their difficulty in locating the resting place of Burns he was moved to a more fitting and striking location. The Grecian style renowned mausoleum in which Burns, his wife Jean and 5 of their family lie is easily found by following the pathway around the graveyard.

 

Well that’s it!! and hopefully you will have had an enjoyable walk and possibly learned a bit more about Scotland’s National Bard and his impact on the town of Dumfries.

 

If you have enjoyed yourself and still feel energetic why not head back to the Devorgilla Bridge (3) on the Whitesands and take a stroll along the “Burns Walk”. This walk which takes you from the town centre along the banks of the River Nith and through the countryside is lovely and peaceful and was Rabbie’s favourite walk.

 

The route is very well signposted and you can walk between 3 to 4 miles dependant on which route you follow. Boots or stout shoes are recommended for the walk – enjoy!

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