Dumfries is the principal town in Dumfries and Galloway in Southwest Scotland. It’s a market and former county town straddling the River Nith: Maxwelltown, the area west of the river, was a separate town until merged with Dumfries in 1929. Although it’s a burgh of great antiquity, few of the buildings are very old, as invading armies kept wrecking the place. The last such visitor was Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, who demanded money and shoes for his men. But the Duke of Cumberland was marching down on him so he and his Jacobite forces scarpered, none too nimbly as few of the shoes had been handed over.
The poet Robert Burns spent his later life here: from 1788 to 1791 at Ellisland Farm 7 miles north, then in Dumfries until his death in 1796, aged 37. Sites associated with him are the main reason to visit the town, and it’s also a good base for exploring the Dumfriesshire countryside. For travellers to & from Ireland who need a stopover, Dumfries may be a better choice than the port of Stranraer.
Scotrail trains run direct between Glasgow Central and Dumfries via Kilmarnock and Sanquhar, taking just under two hours. They run every couple of hours M-Sat but only two on Sundays. From England, change at Carlisle; this is also a route from Glasgow that’s almost as quick as the direct train.
A74(M) is the main Carlisle-Glasgow highway, to the east of Dumfries. From Carlisle take A75 past Annan to Dumfries; this continues west to Castle Douglas and Stranraer. From Glasgow or Edinburgh leave A74(M) at Beattock for A701.
A76 runs up the Nith Valley from Dumfries via Sanquhar and Cumnock to Kilmarnock, for routes to Glasgow and the Ayrshire coast.
By bike: Dumfries is a stopping point on National Cycle Route 7, with another route heading north via Ae Forest.
Stagecoach Cumbria Bus 79 runs from Carlisle via Longtown, Gretna, Annan and Ruthwell to Dumfries, hourly M-Sat and every two hours Sunday.
Stagecoach Bus X74 runs from Glasgow via Hamilton, Lesmahagow and Moffat to Dumfries, hourly M-Sat and every two hours Sunday.
Stagecoach West Scotland Bus 500 runs from Stranraer via Glenluce, Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas to Dumfries, M-Sat every couple of hours and Sun every four hours. It doesn’t serve the ferry ports at Cairnryan.
There’s just one direct bus per day from Edinburgh, Stagecoach West Scotland Bus 102 via West Linton, Biggar, Abington, Elvanfoot and Auldgirth. This runs north from Dumfries around 09:00 M-Sat and returns south from Edinburgh around 17:00, no Sunday service. Otherwise take X95 between Edinburgh and Carlisle then change for Bus 79.
National Express / Ulsterbus 920 runs overnight from London Victoria via Luton airport, Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester airport and city, Preston, Carlisle, Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Newton Stewart, Stranraer, Cairnryan then by Stena ferry to Belfast.