Top 10 attractions in Moffat
1. The Devil’s Beef Tub
This dramatic landmark owes its name to the practice of hiding cattle plundered during cross-border raids. Walter Scott wrote: ‘It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.’ But don’t let that put you off!
2. The Grey Mare’s Tail
This spectacular nature reserve and hanging valley has a magnificent waterfall that cascades at 60m – the fifth highest in the UK. Take a walk up to Loch Skeen and marvel at the dramatic scenery, craggy hillsides and geological interest, wild flowers and upland birds. www.nts.org.uk
3. Independent shops
Moffat came second in Scotland’s ‘most beautiful high street’ competition in 2016 and the town has the fourth highest proportion of independent retail businesses in the country. From speciality delis to antique emporiums, Moffat is shaping up to be a niche (and nice) shopping destination. Check out Well Street and the High Street (a double high street no less) for all sorts of finds you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. The Ram Shack is a quirky shop selling new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs and music/movie memorabilia. The only thing they don’t do is downloads. So don’t even ask! Another fine find is Reloved, a stylish space filled with hand-restored, reimagined and unique furniture – and at affordable prices. Need a sugar rush? Drop in to the Moffat Toffee Shop. Moffat’s famous toffee (actually a boiled sweet) has been made by the Blacklock family for three generations www.moffattoffeeshop.com. And how sweet it is. See if you can identify the secret ingredient. There’s also a Moffat Toffee gin. One of the best-dressed shops in Well Street is 17 Reasons: there’s always a window wonderland of unique arts and crafts, while Manse Furnishings’ grand designs light up the high street.
Don’t forget your binoculars – you’ll easily spot birds of prey in Moffat with buzzards being a common sight, as well as golden eagles. Red kites were successfully introduced to the region in 2001 – head to nearby Castle Douglas where you’ll find a feeding ground for red kites. Gretna is only half an hour drive away and it’s not just about getting married and shopping. You can also a watch the summation of starlings here.
5. Moffat walks
Moffat was the first ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town and a stopping-off point for Scotland’s longest and most challenging, long-distance footpath, the Southern Upland Way. There are plenty of way-marked walks to enjoy. Whether you want to take a short stroll or spend a day hiking, Moffat makes for a memorable walking holiday. And when you stay at Queensberry House, it’s all on the doorstep. The surrounding Moffat hills, renowned for the heather blossom, are a haven for walkers of all abilities. The clean Scottish air, spectacular scenery and timeless beauty is awe-inspiring. Take a Queensberry House packed lunch for your picnic.
Where else will you find the world’s narrowest hotel famousstarhotel.co.uk (you can sample the famous Moffat Toffee Gin here), Scotland’s narrowest street (Syme Street), and its shortest street (Chapel Street)? Aviation enthusiasts are thrilled to discover the full-size model spitfire in a regular garden. You can also watch sheep races with knitted jockeys leap down the high street. Only in Moffat…
A town of firsts: Moffat was Scotland’s first spa town. In the 1700s Moffat’s water was reportedly to be ‘of a very bracing quality’ and the ‘strongest in Britain’. Moffat is also Europe’s first Dark Sky town. Light pollution is kept to a minimum with most of the town using LED lights so star gazing is a joy. You don’t need a big fancy telescope to see stars, just look up.
The hills of Moffat are alive with challenging terrain for the serious cyclist and more sedate routes for families and those taking it easy. Moffat is connected to the cycle network and one of the main stopping points for the Land’s End to John O’Groats route. The town is close to the National Cycle Route 74, running from Carlisle to South Lanarkshire along quiet roads adjacent to the M74. Then there’s the serious challenge of off-roading on the world famous 7stanes Mountain Bike Trails, which span the whole of the South of Scotland. Wherever you take yourself, Queensberry House can offer a secure storage area for bicycles as well as a drying area for wet gear (boots, jackets, waterproof trousers).
Want to rent a bike? Contact Annandale Cycles (01683 220 033).
8. The Classic Car Rally
This biggest classic car event in Scotland is hugely popular and attracts enthusiasts from all over UK for its vintage vehicles and show-stopping sights. Book your accommodation early. www.sre-scot.co.uk
9. Outdoor activities
Fishing. Dumfries and Galloway has some fine spate rivers – there is no rod licence required in Scotland. Check out the River Annan (www.riverannan.co.uk) and the River Nith (www.rivernithfishings.co.uk).
When it’s tee time, practise your swing at the historic 18-hole Moffat Golf Course. The Moffat Golf Club (www.moffatgolfclub.co.uk), formed in 1884, is a private members’ club with a relaxed atmosphere (and spectacular views) where visitors are welcome. There is also a games room with two full-size snooker tables, with pool, table tennis and darts available.
10. Live music
Moffat has a vibrant music scene – from the Moffat Rammy (a rammy is a free for all), the acoustic music festival that lasts a whole weekend to the Eden folk festival (www.edenfestival.co.uk) where there’s a drive-in cinema, circus tent, as well as a showcase for new music. Follow Moffat Music live (www.facebook.com/moffatmusiclive) for updates.