RLS in Dumfries & Galloway


On this page you will find information about RLS’s travels to Dumfries and Galloway, including his walking tour of Carrick and Galloway and his visit to Dumfries with his father.

Carrick and Galloway

“It had snowed overnight. The fields were all sheeted up; they were tucked in among the snow, and their shape was modeled through the pliant counterpane, like children tucked in by a fond mother”

(RLS, “A Winter’s Walk in Carrick and Galloway”, Essays of Travel [London: Chatto and Windus, 1905], p. 131).

From January 8th-17th 1876 RLS took a walking tour of Carrick and Galloway. He walked from Ayr, to Maybole, Girvan, Ballantrae, Stranraer, Glenluce (via New Luce) and Wigtown.

RLS wrote about the walk in an unfinished essay “A Winter’s Walk in Carrick and Galloway” (1896) which is included in Essays of Travel (1905). Those wishing to follow in his footsteps might find the route he described in the essay useful:

RLS began by travelling to Dunure (on the coast of the Firth of Clyde) where he lunched and saw the ruins of Dunure castle. He then walked to Maybole where he saw the castle of the earl of Cassilis (which still remains).

After spending the night in Maybole, RLS then made his way “among rather bleak hills, and past bleak ponds and dilapidated castles and monasteries, to the Highland-looking village of Kirkoswald” (“A Winter’s Walk in Carrick and Galloway”, in Essays of Travel [London: Chatto and Windus, 1905], p. 141). He then walked to Turnberry, where he had sea views of Ailsa Craig, Arran, and “Cantyre” (Kintyre). From Turnberry, RLS set out for Girvan, and at this point the surviving essay ends.

Dumfries

“And today it came, warmth, sunlight and a strong, hearty, living wind among the trees. I found myself a new being. My father and I went off a long walk, through a country most beautifully wooded and various, under a range of hills. You should have seen one place where the road suddenly fell away in front of us down a long, steep hill between a double row of trees, with one small fair-haired child framed in shadow in the foreground”

(Letter from RLS to Fanny Sitwell, 20 September 1873, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 305).

RLS and his father visited Dumfries from 19-22 September 1873. RLS’s letter describing the visit suggests that father and son were staying in Terreglestown, Dumfries. On Saturday the 20th, they went on a long walk to the kirkyard of Irongray (seven miles outside of Dumfries). They then passed by Holywood Kirk and the ruins of Lincluden Abbey on the way to Dumfries.

On Sunday the 21st, RLS and his father went to church in Dumfries. They then saw Robert Burns’s house (this is now a museum on Burns Street in Dumfries, DG1 2PS. Admission is free). In the afternoon, RLS and his father, visited the banks of the river Nith.

RLS described his visit to Dumfries in letters to Fanny Sitwell. To read these, see The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 303-307.