being thrifty, mEAndering, out and about

A Sunday stroll around Kirkbean…

On the way home from Scotland we decided to break our journey in Kirkbean – a typical small Scottish village just south of Dumfries on the Colvend Coastline.   As it was a glorious day we wanted to make the most of it and having seen a notice advertising a Craft Fair in a shop doorway on the Friday evening on the way up we thought this would be a very convenient and interesting place to stop on the way down.

So if you feel like a little stroll with me round the village come along.  We will begin by heading off over the wooden pedestrian bridge rather than get our feet wet going across the Ford.

This little lane leads up to the Church…

Now we are halfway over this is the view down the stream running parallel to and sandwiched between a lane on the right and a second one beyond the privet hedge on the left.

Just look at that glorious blue sky (and I haven’t adjusted the setting  – it really was this blue) – doesn’t it just feel quite Mediterranean and if the church was white washed it might seem almost Greek in style.

It belongs to the Church of Scotland but is currently up for sale at offers over £50,000.00 if any of you readers are interested in taking on a modest project – the garden however comes complete with a few stones here and there!

A cloak of silence seemed to surround the church and graveyard – no hearty singing or chattering amongst the congregation and how sad an end I thought for a community to have to sell its church – let’s hope any new owners look after it and restore it to its’ obvious former glory.

As you can see on the gate posts either side of the entrance there are fitting memorials to those young people of Kirkbean Parish who lost their lives in the war.

I wonder if this is the ‘Way Out’ ?

For a simple village church the Graveyard was quite spectacular with some pretty impressive large family monuments like you would find in a large city cemetery.  I expect a lot of them were erected by some of the wealthy families round about who owned the large country houses but one in particular caught my eye and although not easy to read now this is the inscription on the headstone

English: Kirkbean parish church

born in this parish 1786 and died 1st December 1833.
A Man of general erudition embracing even the abstrusest studies.
Remarkable for application, memory & classical taste;
An able Mathematician & a renowned Teacher of the theory of Medicine;
The Architect of his own status in society
Who left behind him fortune as well as fame;
one who, in short, opened for himself a path to distinction
amidst obstacles as formidable as the compact granite of his native Criffel.
Filio. Suos in parentes valde pio, Erga omnes benevolo, sed amicia amicissimo Artis.
Medicae aliarum que pertissimo pater moerens hoc monumentum posuit.

Apparently Edward Milligan was born in the Parish in 1786 and spent most of his working life in the humble occupation of shoe-making before gaining distinction as a lecturer of medical science in Edinburgh.   A largely self-taught linguist and mathematician, he earned sufficient funds to pay his way through college and after much patient toil teaching himself and others, he acquired not only great eminence among the learned, but also a considerable fortune.

More remarkably however, much of this was achieved whilst he was completely blind. Such was his strength of mind, his cheerfulness continued unimpaired and he continued his course of lectures with great success until his last illness claimed his life 1833, aged just 47.


Continuing down the lane I turned around here to give you a view of the stream looking back towards the church (which if you squint you can just about make out in the background on the left).

Also at this point on my left is the Primary School – I know this because of the plaque on the wall outside – but I had mistaken it at first for a bungalow set in lovely gardens!  It is unusual because there is no wall or fence to contain the children as you would normally find around a school and given that the stream is only yards behind me at this point I wondered how often they might have to fish any inquisitive children out of the water!

Walking further along now we reach the point where the stream  turns and goes under the bridge and the lane on the other side eventually meets the lane I am walking down.

At this point there is a more traditional cottage worthy of a photograph and just beyond is where all the amenities are to be found

– the telephone box and Bus Stop!

Of course it isn’t just any old Bus Stop the shelter has been cheerfully decorated by the Kirkbean school children so you can sit on a slatted wooden bench and admire the colourful drawings on the three walls inside.

A plaque explains it all.

“This shelter is one of three reinvented by the pupils of Kirkbean school with financial assistance from Calouste Gulbenkian foundation. June 1991”

Come inside with me and have a closer look and notice the good selection of Newspapers laid out on the bench in case your wait is a long one.

Going back down the lane again the stream has now crossed under the road and this is another wooden bridge to enable the resident at this house to reach their front door.

This eventually takes me back to where I started and further down still is the Village Hall where we went for a browse at the Craft Fair.

The tables were laden with many different crafts – knitting – embroidery – jewellery – cards and trade seemed quite brisk with most people looking for Christmas ideas.

I especially liked the gossamer wool scarf – one of those that you can pull through a Wedding ring and some tiny stained glass Christmas trees – but the stall that really caught my eye was an Artists book stall – but I will tell you more about my purchase in another post.

Leaving Kirkbean we drove the short distance up to Sweetheart Abbey to sample the delights of the popular tea room beside it.

It is undergoing extensive renovation work at the moment (the Abbey not the tea room!)

Sweetheart Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John Balliol.

On her death, she was laid to rest next to her husband’s embalmed heart and the monks named their abbey in memory of her.

It is certainly a rather magical place to hold a wedding as in Scotland you are allowed to have a marriage ceremony in the open air and at any time of the day – Sweetheart Abbey is quite a popular place and I could imagine this ruin all lit up with fairy lights in the evening would be quite spectacular.

I can certainly recommend the home-baked fruit scones from the Tea Room they were rather delicious.

As we were leaving I noticed a signed photo of Joanna Lumley displayed proudly on the wall (she is a bit of a hero of mine and well liked by the locals here as she has a place quite close by at Moniave and is often seen visiting here and there in the region)  I have never managed to bump into her yet – but maybe one day.

I hope you enjoyed our little stroll – sorry I didn’t leave you any scones to taste!

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11 thoughts on “A Sunday stroll around Kirkbean…”

  1. Lovely photos, and it looks like a fantastic place for a visit.
    We spent quite a long time looking for places to renovate in Scotland. Never found a church, but nearly bought a schoolroom!


  2. That was such a lovely walk through a beautiful Scottish village with stories to tell on the way! It sounds as if there is a strong sense of community, despite loosing the church. I don’t think I would like to live in a converted church. It always seems difficult to take into account the tall ceilings.
    Edward Miiligan sounds an amazing character too!
    Sarah x


    1. Me neither – a church would not be cosy enough for me because of the tall ceilings – I think a lot of people struggle to adapt the space well but I hope someone cares for this one as it would be a shame for it to go to ruin.


  3. Thank you for the village tour! Edward Milligan sounds like a fine example of a man! The village looks really interesting and probably finer for the blue sky!


  4. I sneakily browse through your blog every once in a while, because you take such lovely photos and you have such good tips. I remember the last time I was in Scotland – I think it’s got a sort of magic about it, don’t you? Lovely photo’s – I think those bridges are a thing of wonder. Homely, yet sturdy and remnants of the ancient past.


    1. Thank you for your lovely comments although I know I am not a true blogger yet because I often forget to ‘take pictures all the time, everywhere’. Often I find I have finished a job and forgotten to take the before picture! On the good side I am learning an awful lot about my little camera and hopefully my novice shots will get a lot better.


  5. thank you for your photos of Kirkbean.
    i am so sad that Kirkbean church has closed. It is the focal point of Kirkbean. Is it still for sale? If villagers were prepared to run the church as a community venture it might attract a lottery grant. e.g. It could be used as a tea room during the summer, provide young families with a community space for various clubs, and perhaps even provide a venue for Summer concerts. This would be welcomed by Southernness visitors (like me) . Concerts and shows could attract folk from Dumfries and Dalbeattie too if events are well publicised.

    But it needs to fulfil its function as a church. Probably there are enough former Kirkbean church members who could run their own independent church for the foreseeable future. An independent Dumfries Church might be willing to take it over as a church planting project, if approached by an enthusiastic group of the congregation. With so many excellent sermons available to download from the Internet, preaching the sermon could become a recording to be discussed. Church members would benefit from participating more in services than when they ‘spectated’ on a visiting preacher.
    Upkeep of the building will be high but where there is a will there is always a way. It would be so good to see Kirkbean Church again becoming the heart of the village.


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