Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway


The Dumfries & Galloway town of Moffat is a really sweet wee place, in more ways than one. There's enough there for a day trip but it's also compact enough for a satisfying pit stop if you're travelling up the M74 only a couple of miles away - it's much better than the services. The main street has a real bustle about it and this is one high street that hasn't been homogenised with lots of thriving local businesses. My favourite by a long way is the famous Moffat Toffee Shop, a huge sweet shop which has been trading since the late 1800s. You can choose from 200 jars of mixed boilings or try some of the famous Moffat Toffee. They also do a nice line in old fashoned sweets like Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, Edinburgh Rock or Highland Toffee. With handmade chocolate and a selection of whiskies up the back there's something for everyone.

On a sunny day Station Park is well worth a visit. Situated by the old railway line it's a tidy Victorian affair with lots of colourful flower beds which helped Moffat to win the "Britain in Bloom" title in 1996. There's a lovely pond where you can have a go on a swan boat, as well as pitch and putt, table tennis and "Moffatasia"(!) a water feature for kids that's fun to splash around in.

In the middle of the main street the statue of the Moffat Ram pays tribute to Moffat's history as a cattle and sheep droving centre. There is an urban legend that the sculptor who created the Ram committed suicide after he realised it had been made with horns but no ears. Can't say I noticed though. The abundance of hotels hints at its popularity as Scotland's first spa town. The last spa hotel, The Hydropathic burnt down in 1921 and Dr Beeching put paid to its railway station in 1954 but Moffat is still very much alive.

Outside the town in the Moffat Hills the Devil's Beeftub is 5 miles to the north - a natural hollow in the hills where Border Reivers (cattle rustlers) hid their swag. I confess this didn't really live up to the swagger of its name but Sir Walter Scott saw fit to call it "a damned deep, black, blackguard looking abyss". There's also The Grey Mare's Tail, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, a waterfall and nature reserve which is good for walking.

How to get there

Turn off at Junction 15 on the M74 and follow the A701 signposted to Moffat.

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