Arts & Literature

The Source to New Cumnock & Kirkconnel

Sweet Afton by Robert Burns

Rivers are made up of countless components that interrelate with each other – the tributaries, the stones, the kingfisher all work in coexistence. The river can also be an idea and has been at the centre of our collective human consciousness for as long as we have walked along their banks, caught their fish and drank their waters. People’s lives have also been built along our rivers over generations, their stories, words and ideas constantly flowing and evolving. The Nith is no different.

The most famous words come from the poet Rabbie Burns who wrote about one of the Nith’s tributaries, the Afton:

Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stockdove whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark’d with the courses of clear, winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev’ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream


Sanquhar to Drumlanrig Castle

Durisdeer Village

Durisdeer is one of Dumfries and Galloway’s hidden gems that people may miss as they travel through to the Dalveen pass. The village was originally built on a Roman Road stretching from Nithsdale to Clydesdale and is still home to one of the best-preserved Roman fortlets in Britain. Durisdeer’s main focal point is its parish church and particularly a memorial marking the place of a burial vault depicting the Second Duke of Queensberry and his wife Mary, which was erected in 1713.

Durisdeer Village

Sanquhar Knitting

Sanquhar has long been known for its weaving and handknitting, in particular, its distinctive and beautiful knitting patterns. The Sanquhar knitting pattern, with its two shades and variety of features, has long been a favourite with keen knitters. While historically these industries played a big part in the prosperity of the town, the cottage industry no longer survives as it once did. Despite this, it is a source of pride for the people of Sanquhar and continues as an important symbol of the town.

Crawick Multiverse

Crawick Multiverse is a stunning land Art installation created by the famous artist Charles Jencks. Jencks used inspiration from cosmology and art to transform what was an old mining pit into a beautiful land art attraction. Consisting of eight different landform artworks, the Crawick Multiverse is a breath-taking location to learn about our galaxy, art, the local area and join in on a summer programme of activities.

Crawick Multiverse

A’ the Airts

A’ the Airts is a small arts and crafts centre on the High Street in Sanquhar and a hive of activity with a café, a small theatre/cinema and a shop where local crafters sell their creations. The Centre is a community hub for local people and visitors and holds many events and classes that can be accessed by the public. Home to the famous Sanquhar Knitwear, garments are made and sold in the centre.

Outside of A' The Airts in Sanquhar

Thornhill to Moniaive

Moniaive Folk & Jazz festival

Each year the village of Moniaive hosts the Moniaive Folk & Jazz festival. The festival draws in visitors from across the country and all over the world to enjoy a series of intimate gigs with fabulous performers of many kinds.

Moniaive probably has more musical events and festivals (per head of population) than anywhere else in the country. And with a sizable group of traditional musicians living in the village and surrounding countryside, our pub sessions are among the finest.

Sessions, piping competitions, workshops, and more.

Further Reading:

Moniaive Folk Festival

Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival

MMBF started in 2009 and eleven festivals later is the only bluegrass festival held in Scotland. Around 800 festival attendees come to Moniaive for concerts, workshops and to jam along with others on the campsite and in local pubs.

Every business in Moniaive reports significant financial benefits from holding the bluegrass festival so it helps drive the local economy. The mix of performers from Scotland, Ireland, England, continental Europe and the USA adds significantly to the social and cultural activities in the village.

The George and The Craigdarroch Arms Hotels host great sessions all weekend as well as an Open Mic which welcomes all styles of music. Bands play in Glencairn Memorial Hall on Friday & Saturday and a Bluegrass Gospel Service is held on the Sunday morning.

Dumfries & Galloway is now firmly on the bluegrass map!

Further Reading:

Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival

Cairn Chorus Community Choir

Cairn Chorus is a community performance choir based in Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway. Founded in 2007 the intention was to encourage the joy of singing as an inclusive community activity. The choir is now 12 years old and continues to take on fantastic international repertoires and ambitious new challenges. Choir members hail from all corners of Dumfries and Galloway and learn the songs by ear and/or sheet music in order to give lively and engaging performances.

Further Reading:

Cairn Chorus Community Choir

Moniaive Comic book Festival

In the small but ceaselessly creative village of Moniaive, a yearly comic book festival takes place which aims to celebrate the achievements of comic book artists and the rich worlds they create. The event is organised by local Sue Grant whose partner Alan Grant has written Batman and Judge Dredd comics. This unique and relaxed festival attracts families and young people to be part of a colourful and creative programme of discussions and activities around comic books, guest appearances by some of the industries most exciting contributors, and creative workshops where people can conceptualise and create their very own comic book narratives.

Photographer Kim Ayres has worked with models and stylists from Basement 20 in Dumfries to create a series of conceptual photo shoots each year to capture the unique spirit and artform of this industry.

Cample Line

CAMPLE LINE is an arts organisation based in Dumfries and Galloway, located about 15 miles from Dumfries town. Founded in 2016, it is a distinctive and independent presence in the Nithsdale area and presents thought-provoking contemporary arts of international scope for residents of the region and visitors from further afield.

Further Reading:

Cample Line

Striding arches

Nor far from Moniaive are three beautiful sandstone arches known as the Striding Arches. These arches, designed by landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy, are situated on the hilltops near Cairnhead but similar structures were also built by Andy in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and elsewhere. Each one represents a key area of Scottish emigration over the past 200 years and connects the modern diaspora together. Each block was quarried from red sandstone sourced from Dumfries and the structures consist of 31 blocks weighing 27 tons, standing at 4 meters high and spanning across seven meters.

Further Reading:

Visit Scotland – Striding Arches

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