Moving on from the town of Lockerbie, we made the short journey West towards Dumfries, to the town of Lochmaben…
Status: Dumfries & Galloway (historically Dumfriesshire), Town, Scotland
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Lochmaben Castle, Lochmaben Loch, Lochmaben Tolbooth, Robert the Bruce Statue etc
Much like our arrival into Lockerbie, we stopped outside the focal point of the town, the impressive Tolbooth located at the North end of the High Street in a small square area which includes the towns famous Statue.
The Tolbooth (AKA Town Hall) was originally built in 1723, but by 1741 the cupola was removed and the steeple seen today was built. Much like Lockerbie’s Town Hall, it had some design input by David Bryce (1803 – 1876, a notable Scottish Architect from Edinburgh, who also designed the Surgical Hospital in Edinburgh) in the 19th century (1867) when he made some extensive additions to the building, creating a much larger building than the original. The beautiful red ashlar gives the building a lovely aesthetic quality, and it really is the centrepiece of the town.
The plinth outside the building is topped by a statue of one of Scotland’s most famous sons, Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329, the Historic Scottish King who led Scotland against England in the Wars of Scottish Independence during the 14th century).
Our next stop was Lochmaben Castle, the remains of which sit by the aptly titled Castle Loch, located at the Southern tip of Lochmaben. The Castle has its origins in the 13th century when Edward I built a new castle here in 1300, replacing an earlier one by the Bruce family, who included Robert the Bruce, and he became the Scottish King in 1329. The early version was even home to Robert himself during the earlier years of his life.
The Castle didn’t stay in it’s new state for long however, as a 9 day siege in 1384 saw the Castle destroyed by Archibald Douglas, who held so many titles he could have been a library! He was the Earl of both Douglas & Wigtown, as well as Lord of Douglas, Bothwell & Galloway, and the siege saw him take the Castle from the English Garrison who held it.
Presumably it was later rebuilt as there are records indicating its continued use until the 17th century, after which it was left to decay, ending up in it’s present condition. Despite there only being ruins left of the building, it does come across as a very impressive and foreboding place, and the fact that it did take 9 days to capture it shows what a good defensive position it is.
The view from the edge of the Loch itself is stunning, and with the mist descending all around us it created an air of mystery that we hadn’t experienced before. Looking at the town from above on a map, the Loch itself is at least twice the size of the whole town, and it also isn’t alone, as North of Castle Loch and nearer the centre of town you will find the Kirk Loch, around a 3rd the size of Castle Loch.
After enjoying the view, we headed off towards home, another few places for our map, and some more heritage under our belts. Lochmaben is an interesting little town, sat midway between Lockerbie and the regional capital of Dumfries. Both provide good rail connections towards Carlisle/Glasgow as well as further afield, and the town is also bisected by local buses services and the A74 (M) providing road connections to the central belt of Scotland as well as the North of England.