The West of Scotland: Pt 1 – Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway

Our next big road trip was up Scotland’s West Coast from Gretna through Dumfriesshire to Ayrshire, and our first stop was the small town of Thornhill…


Status: Dumfries & Galloway Council Area (historically Dumfriesshire), Town, Scotland

Date: 08/11/2014

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Thornhill Mercat Cross, Queensberry Arms, Thornhill Church, Joseph Thomson Memorial, Joseph Waugh Bust, Drumlanrig Castle etc

Thornhill 1

We arrived in the centre of town, and parked up on the high street. Thornhill instantly reminded me of the town of Moffat, also in Dumfries & Galloway. Both towns have a central street lined with Lime trees and a tall monument in the centre of town, which in this case is the local Mercat Cross, topped off by a Winged Horse.

The Cross dates back to 1714, crafted out of fine Red Ashlar which mirrors a lot of other buildings around the town, and Dumfries & Galloway as a whole. The Horse on top is the emblem of the Queensberry Family who own the land the town was built on around 1717. The family still live in the area, in the magnificent Drumlanrig Castle just outside the town.

Thornhill sits on the regionally important A76 which runs from Dumfries up towards Glasgow in Scotland’s Central Belt. To the left of the Cross sits one of the many striking buildings in the town, which has a lovely consistency throughout.

Thornhill 2

If you look South West from the Mercat Cross, which is at the intersection of 4 separate roads, you’ll spot the local Church from 1741. You get a much better view of the Lime Trees here, and how they line the street. A similar view is obtained throughout all the main roads in the town.

Thornhill 3

The Town was once an important stop between Dumfries and Glasgow, and in the 1800s a number of Coaching Inns including  “The George Hotel” which still exists today, were established. Another of these is called the “Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms” shown above to the left. It’s an elegant building, like so many around Thornhill, and despite some remodelling in the 19th century it has kept its rustic charm.

Thornhill 4

Heading North East from the Cross up East Morton Street, we came across what I assume is a building formerly used by the Church of Scotland. Evidence to support this comes in the form of the words “Nec tamen consumebatur” which means “Yet it was not consumed” in Latin, and is their motto. They can be found over the top of the intricate carving on the triangular top section of the building.

There is no trace of a Church presence today, and the building is occupied by a Cafe & Art Gallery run under the name of “Thomas Tosh”.

Thornhill 5

If you look closely at the previous picture you will spot a bust located on a platform to the left of the 1st window along from the front door. It turns out to be a bust of Joseph Laing Waugh ( 1868 – 1928), an artist who I assume was from Thornhill.

There appears to be at least 2 notable people called Joseph from Thornhill, as apparently elsewhere in the town there is a monument to a Joseph Thomson (1858 – 1895), a famous explorer who grew up in the village of Penpont just 2 miles away from here. He was notable for exploring the East Coast of Africa and helped to discover a usable route between Lake Victoria and the East Coast.

Thornhill once had it’s own train station, located on the Glasgow & South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow, running vaguely parallel with the West Coast Main Line but stopping at various local towns and villages including Gretna Green, Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Barrhead. Although the line is still open, the station itself closed in 1965, as it wasn’t seeing terrific passenger numbers due to it being located just outside the town itself. There are plans to possibly reopen it, and although the platforms and station buildings do actually still exist, the plans may entail a new station being built. Other stations on the line including those at Sanquhar and Gretna Green had also closed in 1965 but were reopened in 1994.

With the loss of the train station, the only way to access the town is by Car or local bus services which run from the town of Ayr on the Coast through Thornhill to Dumfries. It’s a great little place to visit, and the perfect way to kick off our latest road trip. Our next stop was the town of Sanquhar, just 17 miles North…