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Nithraid Activity on Mill Green & Beyond

September 2 @ 12:30 pm 3:30 pm

Nithraid is back! Join us at Mill Green as we watch the river race and celebrate 10 years of Nithraid!

The Nith is a tidal river that runs through the historic market town of Dumfries, connecting the town to the sea, which in the 18th century saw the town and its neighbouring villages of Glencaple and Kingholm Quay become Scotland’s largest and busiest trading ports.

To celebrate this rich history, we hold an annual River Race, which sees teams of coastal rowers, sailing boats and various person-powered vessels race the river, battling for the best time with each boat carrying a cargo that was traded in those times.

The river’s importance to Dumfries as the region’s largest market town is immortalised in the Nithraid logo. Our festival mascot, ‘Salty Coo’ symbolises the historic journey made by herds of cattle, led by their farmers, across the river at low tide, from Maxwelltown on the west bank to the cattle market at Whitesands on the east side of the river. This historic crossing site now marks the half-way point of the Nithraid River Race.

Visit the Nithraid webpage here!

Activity on Mill Green
Explore the heritage of the clinker boat building tradition with Cluaran

“With a boat, a river becomes a road”. 

Imagine the many ways in which the river Nith has shaped the lives of those living on her.

Chat with the crew of characters on a voyage through time, from source to sea and beyond.

On the Day of Nithraid we will have a crew collected from throughout time.

You might meet a Novantae princess, or a viking fresh of the boat and looking for adventure. Some of the crew are even from possible futures. They are all connected by a love of the river Nith. Ask them what the river means to them, or use our online character generator to reflect on what the river means to you

Cluaran is living, breathing heritage. We run hands on heritage craft workshops, mythological storytelling sessions, and of course work with boats and the water. Our programme of activities can be found on our website, here.

Cluaran is a Wordsmith Crafts CIC project. Wordsmith Crafts exists to give people access to the resources of their heritage. The profit from activities we charge for is fed back into creating volunteer opportunities and giving people unexpected opportunities. 

If Fishes were Wishes for the Nith

Fishy fun with Elizabeth Tindal, Freelance Ranger.

Join Elizabeth, and try to catch a fish in a paddling pool using a fishing rod and magnetic bait!

Each fish you catch will get you a natural treasure from the beach or river a chance to add a wish to our great big fish.

What will you wish for ‘Less Litter’, ‘More fish’, ‘Clean Beaches’ or another Nithraid?

the Missing Museum

Welcome to The Missing Museum: Uncovering the Untold Stories of Dumfries & Embracing the Power of Imagination!

Join us as we embark on a fresh perspective journey, exploring the histories of Dumfries that have been lost and the countless possibilities that lie within our collective past, present, and future.

We invite you to take a closer look at how we perceive the past and the impact it has on shaping our future. Let’s delve into new perspectives, questioning the politics surrounding historical recovery, and examining our role and responsibilities in preserving and sharing our present for generations to come.

As valued members of our community, we invite you to ponder upon thought-provoking questions:

  • Whose stories truly matter?
  • Which stories have been underrepresented?
  • What stories do we cherish and wish to preserve for the future?
  • What stories are missing, and why?
  • What artefacts make these stories come alive?
  • Which objects or artefacts would you like to collect or hold onto?

The Missing Museum provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge what is absent, rectify the gaps in our shared local histories, and give voice to those who have been overlooked. 

Together, we can bridge the divides, promote honest representations, and create space for the stories that have been omitted.

History is often written with an agenda, serving specific narratives and maintaining power. This results in misrepresentation and exclusion. 

Help us restore balance, reclaim neglected narratives, unearth new stories and unsung heroes, while understanding the vital role history plays in our lives.

Who has the authority to decide whose names and stories grace the pages of our collective histories, and who gets left out? What truly constitutes history, and who has the power to shape it? How is it documented, lost, or distorted? 

Let us bring back the stories that have been overlooked and under-heard, honouring them fairly and acknowledging the achievements of everyday people and unsung heroes throughout the ages. We stand together for all those voices that have been lost, silenced, or still remain unheard. 

Eco ArtEnvironmental Flag Design Drop-in

Join in and become part of a region wide art project, ‘LAND’ and design a flag that signals your climate message.

Some of the designs are made into large flags that are carried up the river Nith by the boats and then flown from the suspension bridge in a colourful display.

Family friendly and free event.

Refreshments & Facilities available at the Robert Burns Centre.

Activity at The Coach & Horses and The Dougie Arms…
The Coach & Horses

Exhibition at the Coach and Horses.

Visit the Coach and Horses from 2:00pm – 7:00pm, to view an exhibition by Fraser Irvin, Neil Patterson, Leanne Bradwick and more!

‘Nithraid’ by Davey Payne

Live performance of ‘Nithraid’ by Davey Payne – a poem written for this years river race! Keep an eye on the Coach & Horses Facebook for updates.

Live music from 3:00 pm

Michael Grant from 3:00pm

Mad from 8:00pm

The Dougie Arms

The In Sound: Nithraid Edition – 8:00pm till late

All aboard The Dougie as Captain Russell Stephen steers us through a night of the best sounds around! The In Sound: Nithraid Edition – Saturday 2nd September from 8 til late.

Millbrae St.
Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway DG2 7BB United Kingdom


August 29 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm

Part of our Open Hoose Programme and inspired by conservation initiatives across the country, a new group wants to question and explore what exactly a Conservation Trust for the River Nith might look like. This is the ideal opportunity for those passionate about protecting one of our most extraordinary natural assets to get together and look for solutions faced by our River Nith.

Ran by a community steering group supported by The Stove Network &  UNESCO Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, Nith Life is a rapidly evolving initiative dedicated to engaging communities through creativity, technology and science to explore our connection to the River Nith, from source to sea. 

If you would like to stay updated and informed on everything the group are up to do follow their Facebook page HERE. 

The Stove Cafe will be open for pre-event food and drinks from 5.30pm, the event will start at 6pm sharp.

Millbrae St.
Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway DG2 7BB United Kingdom

Access Information: Level Access in rear of building through adjacent close to left-hand side of the Cafe (facing the front of the building). To ensure your experience with us is as best as it can be, please do let us know if you have any specific access requirements and we’d be happy to help. Please email Kevin or Sal on: [email protected] or phone 01387 252435 and speak with one of our team. We are able to provide walk-throughs of the building before attending our events as well as assign seating before your arrival.

Nithraid River Race 2023

September 2 @ 12:30 pm 3:30 pm

Nithraid is back! Join us on the river and battle it our for the best time. Sailing, Rowing , Kayaks and other water vessels welcome!

The Nith is a tidal river that runs through the historic market town of Dumfries, connecting the town to the sea, which in the 18th century saw the town and its neighbouring villages of Glencaple and Kingholm Quay become Scotland’s largest and busiest trading ports.

To celebrate this rich history, we hold an annual River Race, which sees teams of coastal rowers, sailing boats and various person-powered vessels race the river, battling for the best time with each boat carrying a cargo that was traded in those times.

The river’s importance to Dumfries as the region’s largest market town is immortalised in the Nithraid logo. Our festival mascot, ‘Salty Coo’ symbolises the historic journey made by herds of cattle, led by their farmers, across the river at low tide, from Maxwelltown on the west bank to the cattle market at Whitesands on the east side of the river. This historic crossing site now marks the half-way point of the Nithraid River Race.

Please read the following notes and race rules as you will be required to declare that you have read the race rules and notes and agreed to comply with them when when booking your ticket.

Course Notes and Race Rules

Date: Saturday 2nd September 2023Course: Glencaple to Mill Green, Dumfries and back. Pre-race brief: Glencaple – venue TBCStart time: 1300 BST (+ or – 0.30) Entry fee: £15 per boat.Classes: Unrestricted sailing dinghy race. Coastal Rowing Assoc. St Ayles Skiffs.Racing KayaksOther watercraftHW Dumfries: 1430hrs. BST

Course:The 2023 Nithraid is a River Race in two parts over a navigable section of the river Nith between Glencaple and Dumfries. Final details of the start procedure will be given at the pre-race briefing. Please refer to the maps posted on the Stove/Nithraid website

Part 1. Glencaple to Dumfries

Start: 1300 (or later) at Start Line, Lifeboat Station.

Finish: Dumfries Finish Line, between Mill Green Dumfries and Whitesands steps.

Interval for Picnic Lunch on Mill green

Part 2. Dumfries to Glencaple.

Start: 1500 approx. Dumfries Finish Line 

Finish: Start Line, Glencaple Lifeboat Station

Notes: Nithraid is a celebration of the river Nith in the life of the community and a regular racing fixture on the national calendar. Please tell everyone you know who may be interested in taking part to contact the organisers. 

Race start & times: Because of the strength of the flood tide the start will be a staggered running start with a time taken as each boat crosses the start and finish lines. Details will be confirmed at the briefing. Times below are for guidance. Crews should arrive with enough time to prepare their boats for racing, leave them at the slipway then attend the briefing where numbers and other details will be given out.

Approx. start times

Sailing vessels: 1300 Others: 1300Coastal Rowing Assoc: 1315Racing Kayaks: 1330Return – All vessels: 1500 (at your discretion)

Distance, tide and wind:The distance is 5.25 miles each way. The race will be with the tide in both directions but, please note, one leg is likely to be against the wind. 

With the wind assisting it will take sailing boats about 1 hour. Against the wind it could take 2 hours. Normal winds in August are SW. The incoming tide can be quite strong at Glencaple, care must be taken when launching.

Winner:There will be an overall winner in each class: sailing, coastal rowing, kayak and other, based on their aggregated times, up and downstream. A timetable will be published so that crews can also see their split times. Boats will be given cargoes at the briefing which they will carry from Glencaple to Dumfries. To complete the first leg of the race cargoes must be deposited at the stakeboat on the Dumfries finish line. 

Prize-giving at the Barbour Hall after the race.

Safety:Boat crews must wear buoyancy aids while on the water. There will be safety boats in attendance. A competing boat shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger in the absence of a safety boat.

Bridges:There are three bridges on the course, the clearance under the lowest is about 14ft. in the centre of the span. Sailing vessels with an air-draft of anything approaching this will have to lower their masts, or capsize, to get under them. A Mirror dinghy, for instance, can get under by dipping the gunter, but a GP14 must lower its mast.

Anyone who has not taken part before and needs information or guidance about this, please contact [email protected]

Trophies:Would last year’s trophy winners please return them. They have every chance of winning them again this year 

Nithraid Racing Rules: 

General: There are likely to be concentrations of competing boats at the start, finish and at bridges. The river is a restricted space so please let common sense and good sportsmanship prevail. Normal racing rules apply and:1. When in proximity to sailing vessels, all other boats are considered as ‘powered’ and must give way if on closing courses.2. All vessels approaching each other on reciprocal courses must pass, port-to-port.

Sailors: There are no marks on the course. 

1. Normal racing rules apply between sailing boats.

2. A sailing boat being passed by a powered vessel must not change course unless tacking of necessity, and if so, shall hail or signal the overtaking boat of its intention to tack in advance.

3. A sailing boat overtaking a powered boat may pass either side and must hail them in advance.

4. A sailing boat that is rowing will become a powered vessel while rowing.

Coastal Rowing and Other boats: 

1. Boats may pass either side of each other. An overtaking boat must hail the boat ahead in advance. 2. A boat being overtaken must not alter course to avoid or block being passed. 

£15 Per boat

Choose your relevant category from the options below: Coastal Rowing OR Sailing & Other Vessels

Millbrae St.
Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway DG2 7BB United Kingdom
Musings News Project Updates

Nithraid 2022

Team spirit, strong community and fantastic weather made our action-packed, fun-filled day a success!

Photography by Kirstin McEwan

This year, the famous Coo was sprayed golden and gets a great view of the Suspension Bridge!

On 13th August 2022, we welcomed teams of sailors, coastal rowers, canoes and kayaks to the River Nith as they battled it out for the fastest time from Glencaple to Dumfries and back.

Competitors get warmed up at the starting line down in Glencaple

It was a bright, warm and sunny day which made for perfect conditions for those who joined us to watch the race at Mill Green, or taking part in the activities we had running across the day.

Some spectators took to the shade while watching the race – a smart move!

Produced by The Stove Network and supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council and Historic Environment Scotland, we were pleased that this year’s event attracted a record number of race participants not only from the local area, but from across Scotland too!

The teams get ready to launch into the river at Glencaple

This year, the boats transported a signal flag, each created by young people during EcoArt’s flag making workshops in the weeks preceding the race. 

One of the colourful flags waves in the breeze as the boat makes its way along the Nith

As the boats arrived the flags were raised over the town’s iconic Suspension Bridge, proudly welcoming the racing vessels and signalling the halfway point of the race.

Rows of bold flags lining the Suspension Bridge, Dumfries

(EcoArt is a grassroots charity connecting community, art & sustainability. Find out more about the LAND project and EcoArt here.)
Good spirits as the race preparations get underway at Glencaple

“For me a real highlight of this year’s Nithraid was to see more boats in the middle of town than ever, including spectators on the river, taking part in a celebration of the Nith in the heart of Dumfries. It was the largest entry to date for the event with huge increases in the Coastal Rowing and the Racing Kayak elements.”

Mark Zygadlo, Race Organiser

Nithraid is an event for the community, not just those who take part in the race itself.

Two cheerful competitors stand proudly with their vessel before making their way down the Nith

“We were thrilled with this year’s race entry list, it is testament to the hard work the Nithraid team have put in over the years to build a following for the event. Nithraid has faced a few challenges over the years, with bad weather, COVID, etc, but this year really did feel special and we’re so happy that the event attracted people to Dumfries from all over Scotland, some visiting the town for the first time. Nithraid is a real celebration of the Nith and of Dumfries and we hope that we develop the event for next year and attract more people to our beautiful town.”

Sal Cuddihy, Nithraid Project Manager and Head of Production at The Stove Network
Boats pass under Suspension Bridge, by Mill Green

This year in addition to the annual River Race, the Stove Network led a series of family-friendly activities throughout the day, all free of charge and accessible along the banks of the River Nith, including:

  • EcoArt Flags – Land: Signals to the World – Signal flag designing workshop
  • Migratory Trails’ – A stamp sheet treasure hunt at Dock Park
  • Find the Coo’ – Treasure hunt from Dumfries to Kingholm Quay
  • Simon Lidwell’s Viking Cluaran
  • Source to Sea’ – A pre-recorded QR audio performance by Hugh McMillan
Mill Green revellers learn how to row just like the Vikings did
A kayaker unloads to take a well-deserved rest at the finish line
Simon Lidwell of Wordsmith Crafts provides immersive storytelling down at Mill Green

In addition, many of the town’s pubs joined in with the festivities, offering live music and special Nithraid-themed hospitality. We had The Dougie Arms, Coach and Horses Inn and The Riverside Bar all joining in on the fun!

But, let’s get back to the race…

A rowing team pushes on up the River Nith

Though conditions were grand for all those enjoying the race more comfortably on dry land, the warm weather added an extra challenge to our incredible competitors who all did extremely well to endure the heat and complete the race!

Some competitors make hard work look easy!
Give us a wave!
Team effort is needed to get these rowers moving quickly upstream
The bright yellow vessel was hard to miss on the River Nith!

We can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you put in to giving us another brilliant race this year, you’re all winners in our eyes.

A cause for celebration as the results are announced at Barbour Hall in Glencaple

However, we think it’s important to give credit to those who battled it out for the fastest time and we know how integral the competitive element of the race is to those who take part, so here are this year’s winners!

Coastal RowingFirth of Clyde Rowing Club#12
SailingGareth Jones#14
Racing KayakWill Stevely*#28
MiscellaneousDave Golding#25

We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for an error we made earlier in our announcing of the winner of the racing kayak category. The correct winner has been shown above*, and we’d like to give thanks to the competitors for your brilliant sportsmanship and camaraderie for bringing this to our attention.

Nithraid 2022 wouldn’t be Nithraid without the race, so we want to say a HUGE thank you and well done! to all who took part this year and gave us a wonderfully memorable and exciting race.

A team of rowers give the photographer a cheery wave

Thank you also to EcoArt, Simon Lidwell & the Cluaran Heritage Project clan and Hugh McMillan for the wonderful entertainment and activity at Mill Green; the safety boats who were out on the Nith all day to keep the competitors safe; Nith Inshore Rescue, who do the vital work of keeping our waters safe all year-round; all those who volunteered at this year’s event to help us set up and facilitate the race; and the businesses around Dumfries who set up special live entertainment around the town to help us celebrate Nithraid more widely this year – The Dougie Arms, Coach and Horses Inn and The Riverside Bar.

A view of Mill Green from Suspension Bridge, above the River Nith

We’re thrilled at the success of Nithraid 2022 and are grateful for all the help and support we’ve received to help make it happen.

This glorious day in the sunshine is one we will remember for some time…

The Stove Network

For more information on Nithraid, visit our webpage here.

News Project Updates

Nithraid 2021

Wow… can you believe it’s been two weeks since Nithraid 2021?!

It was a spirit-filled, action-packed day, with lots to do and enjoy despite the wet weather!

We’re so pleased that everyone who took part in the river race was able to do so safely, braving the elements to give us a race to remember.

We also had some great activities taking place at Mill Green, with help from Dumfries Fountain Project, Creative Spaces, TS Beall, Heather Molloy of PAMIS and Simon Lidwell of Wordsmithcrafts.

It was brilliant to see some old friends and new faces taking part in the river race and visiting Mill Green, which really put into perspective how fortunate we were to finally be able to facilitate the race after a long, two-year wait. 

“Nithraid this year was a triumph in the face of the double adversities of Covid and the weather, we had a record turnout of boats and all the participants, as ever, were thrilled by the unique experience of journeying up our beautiful river on a big tide. The current context meant that we reached out wider than ever before through digital platforms meaning that people who cannot normally attend the event were brought into the heart of things – we also catered for people with multiple additional support needs and the D/deaf community with activities on site…”

Heather Molloy (PAMIS) as The Spirit of the Nith
Simon Lidwell (Wordsmithcrafts) as The River Rambler

…Nithraid is about bringing people together to celebrate the role of our River Nith in the town and region The Stove continues to find new ways to fulfil this mission and open up the fun to everyone in our community, demonstrating that community spirit for our visitors.”Matt Baker, Orchestrator

We’d like to say a huge, special thanks to the following individuals and groups who helped us to bring together Nithraid 2021:

All our partners and funders, as always, for their support: Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council

Mark Zygadlo, as always, for ongoing support with organising and facilitating Nithraid

Hamish Denerley for lead commentary during our livestream
Winston Denerley for BSL interpretation and livestream commentary

BattleStations for their technological support and facilitating our livestream

Heather Molloy from PAMIS Scotland and Simon Lidwell of Wordsmith Crafts for their immersive and tactile storytelling and performance of Source to Sea

Dumfries Fountain Project for their creative workshops

TS Beall, in collaboration with the Scottish Showpeople, for the informative and insightful signposting around the history of the suspension bridge

PAMIS for the supply of the ‘Changing Places’ toilet, helping us to provide accessible facilities at Mill Green

Only Foods and Sauces for providing on-site refreshments at Mill Green

Our volunteers for providing help on the day – you’re stars!

Barbour Hall at Glencaple for giving us a dry, warm place to brief and prepare all those involved in the race

Annan Harbour Action Group and their safety boats for ensuring the safety of those involved in the race

Andy Jardine for the beautiful on-site photography at Glencaple and Mill Green

…and last, but definitely not least, a HUGE thank you to all that made the race possible by taking part and those who joined us at Mill Green or tuned in to our livestream. 

It’s safe to say Nithraid’s return this year was a success, and we’re so excited for what’s to come in Nithraid’s future.

From all at The Stove Network, thank you, stay safe and have fun out there!

Until next time.



Source to Sea: A Reflection

Post by Nithraid Producer, Sal Cuddihy

Nithraid River Festival has been running as an annual event for the past eight years and I have had the absolute privilege of being the producer for the last five of them.  Last year’s event saw flood, rain and high winds pushing our team to the limit with adapting last minute to still deliver as much of the event as we physically could. After 2019 we thought, “Well, we’re not going to get anything more difficult than that”. Boy, were we wrong.

When the news hit in March that the entire world was under threat from a global pandemic, we were left with complete uncertainty and dread – much like the rest of the world. What is this thing? Are people going to be safe? How long will it last? When did lockdown and furlough become common words that we use in almost every conversation?

It became apparent very quickly to our team that even though the festival was scheduled to be in August, there was a high chance that the event would have either have to be cancelled completely or we were going to have to try and adapt the festival to a digital format – so we decided to flip Nithraid on its head. We looked at the core values of the festival and the reasons why we do it and who do we do it for?

To cut a long story short – we came to the conclusion that we do it to celebrate the River Nith. We celebrate its history and uses, we celebrate its beauty and we use it to inspire our creativity. We use it to teach our children about the wildlife and environment (special mention goes out to Huffy the Heron!) – but most of all we use it to connect with communities. With all of this in mind, we created the Nith inspired ‘Source to Sea’ project, exploring not just Dumfries but the entire River Nith and the communities that it travels through. Throughout lockdown, it was obvious we were on the right path as all over social media people were photographing the river on their daily walks and were appreciating it as they never had before.

Once we had a concept, the challenging part was trying to figure out how we were going to share all of these elements of the river as well as creating and sharing activities for families and children who were finding themselves stuck at home with little to do. We were delighted to have one of our fantastic funders, the Holywood Trust, on board with our reimagined River Festival. The Holywood Trust were a huge support to Nithraid and our entire team throughout the whole project, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without them – thank you! This scale of online activity was very much new territory but I have the privilege to work with much more tech savvy individuals than myself and we were able to come together to figure out how to present our festival online. I think as it stands, we are now in Version 652 of the project as it turns out there was more than one problem that arose on a very regular basis. I give them all my love and respect for not running away at Version 150 (I will do the embarrassing shout out at the end!)

As we come to the end of our journey, we’ll be pulling all over the research together and sharing it with you in a beautifully designed map, created for us by local artists and graphic designer, Jamie Stryker. This map is the culmination of everyone’s incredibly hard work over the past 6 months. We’ll also be sharing Hugh McMillan’s lovely Source to Sea poem, where he has a dedicated verse for each area that we explored.

One of the hardest things about the lockdown was the difficulty in being able to research and that we were unable to reach out communities and go out and explore. But now we have information, footage and stories about the River Nith that you can use to learn about these communities yourself. I hope the project does what we set out to do and celebrates the river that connects us and brought so many people a sense of calm in amongst the chaos.

Big shout out time!

And a special thanks to Derry and Greg from BattleStations who trekked through the Carsphairn hills with  a lot of kit to try and find footage of the source of the Nith – which turns out wasn’t where I told them, sorry! You got the shot though!

All of those that took the time to chat to us as we were researching the content. One of my favourite moments was when Bob Clements told us the story of the Thornhill’s Rock Festival on the back of a lorry that was plugged into a house!

Finally, a massive thank you to the team that has held this all together. You have done so much more than these basic titles I have written but I have rambled enough and don’t want you thinking I have gone soft.

  • Rob Henderson – web design and master of tech-like witchcraft
  • Kirstin McEwan – marketing and social media queen that makes this stuff look easy!! It’s not!
  • Ruaridh Thi- Smith – project support and all round support to my sanity.
  • Liam Morrison- Gale – community lead & ultimate research Jedi Master
  • Jamie Stryker – Graphic designer and hero that makes the best maps in the whole wide world!
  • Martin O’Neil – Programmer, Word Wizard and keeper of the creativity.
  • Graham Rooney –  Stove Project manager and dude that keeps every single one of us from spontaneous combustion.

Thank you all! All the best,

Sal Cuddihy
Nithraid Producer

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