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Annan is a market town in Dumfries and Galloway, in southwest Scotland, with a population of 8760 in 2020. It grew up at the navigable limit of the River Annan, which flows into Solway Firth, and the poet Robert Burns worked here for a time as an exciseman. Many town buildings are attractive red sandstone, including the river bridge. This agricultural area was the powerbase of the de Brus family, with Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) winning an early victory nearby over the English-backed Balliol on his path to the crown of Scotland. The philosopher and writer Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) went to school here and was utterly miserable.

During the First World War there was a huge multi-site munitions complex around Annan, Gretna and Longtown in Cumbria. Britain's military firepower depended upon improvised processes involving "The Devil's Porridge", Boy Scouts collecting conkers, and the future President of Israel.

Get in[edit]

Fireless locomotive for the munition works

By train[edit]

Trains run from Carlisle via Gretna to Annan (22 mins) and Dumfries every hour or two M-Sa, every couple of hours Sunday. Some of them continue north from Dumfries via Sanquhar and Kilmarnock to Glasgow Central, but it's usually quicker to take the fast London - Glasgow train and change at Carlisle.

1 Annan railway station is 400 yards south of High Street. There's no ticket office or machines here, so get aboard and buy from the conductor. Annan's old locomotive turntable is still in service in the National Railway Museum in York.

By road[edit]

Annan is by-passed to the north by the A75 Carlisle to Stranraer road with links into town at either end. Near Gretna the A75 joins the A74(M) motorway, which becomes M6 as it crosses into England.

By bus[edit]

Stagecoach Cumbria Bus 79 runs from Carlisle via Longtown and Gretna to Annan, taking an hour. These run M-Sa every hour, Sunday every two hours, and continue west via Ruthwell to Dumfries.

Bus 179 also runs hourly between Carlisle, Longtown, Gretna, and Annan where it terminates. This is a longer route, taking 70 min, but it's quicker than waiting for the next 79.

2 Annan bus station is on Butts Street just off High Street. See Dumfries for connections towards Stranraer, and Carlisle for elsewhere, eg the X95 to Edinburgh.

By bicycle[edit]

National Cycle Route 7 on its way from Inverness to Sunderland passes through Annan; a new bridge over the river has been built to carry it to the south of the town.

Get around[edit]

The town is compact and can be explored on foot, but you could do with a bike to reach Ruthwell or the Devil's Porridge.

The main taxi operator is Auberge (+44 1461 207676).


  • 1 Annan Museum, Bank Street DG12 6AA, +44 1461 201384, . Apr-Oct: M-Sa 11AM-4PM. This houses a permanent exhibition on local history from the prehistoric to the First World War with interactive displays and children’s activities. Free.
  • Annan Castle: you'll need to peer closely to spot the remains of this 12th century Motte-and-Bailey on the edge of Galabank Park. It's little more than an overweight molehill, but neither battle nor neglect caused its ruin - the river changed course and eroded the site.
  • 2 The Devil's Porridge, Near Stanfield Farm, Annan Road, Eastriggs DG12 6TF (3 miles east of Annan on B721), +44 1461 700021, . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 10AM-4PM. In the First World War, Britain could produce enough artillery shell cases, and the charges to fill them, but lacked cordite for propellant - this required acetone which was in very short supply. A new recipe was devised, kneading nitroglycerin and gun-cotton into a paste that could be shaped to the correct shell calibre, and when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited the factory he called it "a sort of devil's porridge". The munitions complex was named HM Factory Gretna but (just in case one part went bang) it was spread over four sites and nine miles between Longtown, Gretna and Eastriggs, the present site of this museum commemorating the factory and its mostly female workforce. Meanwhile a chemist called Chaim Weizman (1874-1952, later first President of Israel) devised another process, not used at Gretna, by fermenting maize starch to make acetone. But maize was difficult to import in wartime, so in a surreally British improvisation, schoolchildren and Boy Scouts were sent out to collect acorns and conkers for fermentation. Adult £6.
  • Ruthwell is a tiny village five miles west of Annan with a surprising collection of sights: Ruthwell Cross, a Savings Bank Museum, and Brow Well. It's on B724, the old road to Dumfries; turn off onto B725 for Caerlaverock Castle. Notable place names hereabouts include Cocklicks Farm and Twathats. (Little Cocklick, home of Jean Maxwell "the Galloway witch", is away west near Castle Douglas.)
Ruthwell Cross
  • 3 Ruthwell Cross, Ruthwell Church DG1 4NP (Off B724 five miles west of Annan). 8th-century Anglo-Saxon High Cross, 18 ft high, smashed in 1642 but restored in 1823, with remarkable carvings and inscriptions in Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Runic. Scholars of runes may struggle as these are not the standard futhorc script, and were probably added in the 10th century. Ruthwell Cross (Q282923) on Wikidata Ruthwell Cross on Wikipedia
  • Savings Bank Museum in Ruthwell commemorates the world's first savings bank, opened here in 1810 and swiftly copied. It's open Apr-Sept Tu-Sa & Oct-Mar Th-Sa 10:00-16:00, free.
  • Brow is a hamlet a mile or so west of Ruthwell on B725, which in Robert Burns' time was "the poor man's spa". The Brow Well was a chalybeate (iron-rich) spring which you plunged into. In the 20th century, it was prettified into a pink sandstone bath. Nearby is a beach for sea-bathing, but only around spring high tides when the sea covers the mud flats. In July 1796 Burns spent 3 weeks here, bathing in sea and spring between quaffing port and writing begging letters to all and sundry. He left, haggard, pale and tottering, in every sense the poor man, to die at home in Dumfries 3 days later. He was 37.
  • Hoddom Castle north of Dumfries is derelict but has a campsite, see Sleep.
  • Repentance Tower close by is an unusual 16th century watchtower - it was never a habitation or garrison. The name comes from the inscription "Repentance" above the entrance, with various stories about who was repenting and for what. It's derelict.
  • See Lockerbie for Thomas Carlyle's birthplace in Ecclefechan. He went to school in Annan and later was a schoolteacher here.


Parade on High Street
  • Walk: a pleasant stroll is to walk north (upstream) along the east bank of the river and back down the west bank. If you cross at the first footbridge just before the A75 viaduct it's a two-mile round-trip, via the second footbridge it's four miles, and by the lane bridge at Brydekirk (Brig Inn is here) it's six miles.
  • Football: 1 Annan Athletic FC, Galabank, North Street (Half a mile north of centre on river bank), +44 1461 204108. They were promoted in 2023 and now play soccer in Scottish League One, the third tier.
  • Lonsdale Cinema is just off Lady St.
  • Newington Leisure Centre on Shawhill Rd has a gym and fitness classes.
  • Annan Swimming Pool is next to the railway station.
  • 2 Powfoot Golf Club, Cummertrees DG12 5QE (off B724 five miles west of Annan), +44 1461 204100. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-3PM, Su 9AM-3PM. 18-hole course (6274 yards, par 71), half links, half parkland, redesigned by the legendary James Braid in 1923. Next to Powfoot Hotel, see "Sleep". Round £40.
  • 3 Broom Fisheries, Broom Farm Estate, Newbie DG12 5PF (Off B724 two miles west of Annan), +44 1461 700386, . Daily 8AM-6PM. Five lagoons for coarse and match fishing, with a tackle shop, caravan & camping site, toilets and ample parking near the waters.
  • 4 Annandale Distillery, Northfield DG12 5LL (Two miles north of town off B722, which bridges A75 without a junction.), +44 1461 207817, . Tours daily 10AM-4PM. This whisky distillery started in 1836, became part of Johnnie Walker but closed in 1924. It re-started in 2014, with its first modern produce coming to market in 2018, branded as "Man O'Words" (unpeated) and "Man O'Sword" (peated). They give guided tours and have a shop and café. Tour £12.50.
  • 5 Dino Park, Hetland Garden Centre, Carrutherstown DG1 4JX (off A75 between Annan and Dumfries), +44 1387 840632. Apr-Oct: daily 9AM-5:30PM. Dinosaur-themed park and soft-play area. No dogs. Family day-pass (2+2) £19.
  • The Common Riding of the Marches is a 600-year-old ceremony to mark the boundaries of Annan, and ensure that its various landmarks, cairns and other features are in good order. That's if anyone can maintain good order with over 100 horse riders cavorting about, massed pipes and drums, decorated floats, and similar razzmatazz of a 600-year-old nature. It's held on the first Saturday in July.


Tesco is just south of Scott's St. But the big retail park hereabouts is Gretna Gateway Outlet Village ten miles east, see Gretna page.


Brow Well, "the poor man's spa"
  • Cafe Royal, 95 High St DG12 6DJ, +44 1461 202865. Daily 7AM-8PM. Breakfast, fish & chips, filled rolls, sit in and takeaway.
  • The Lounge, 116 High Street DG12 6DW, +44 1461 202688. M-Sa 8:30AM-4PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Pleasant place for a coffee break or breakfast.
  • Corner House Hotel lounge bar serves coffee, soup and light meals 08:00-23:00, see "Sleep."
  • Del Amitri Restaurant is within Powfoot Hotel 3 miles west of Annan, see "Sleep."
  • 1 Solway Cafe ("The Solway"), 133 High Street, DG12 6EB, +44 1461 202271. M-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-7PM. One of Annan's oldest cafe and takeaways, that specialises in classic British food. Also houses a sweets shop.


  • 1 The Anglers, 61 High Street DG12 6AD, +44 1461 206588. M-Sa noon-midnight. Cocktail and sports bar. Also tea room and coffee shop.
  • 2 Blue Bell Inn, 10 High Street DG12 6AG (next to River Annan bridge), +44 1461 202385. M-W 11AM-11PM, Th-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 12:30-11PM. Traditional pub with Robert Burns' quotes on the walls; ever-changing selection of real ales, including "Mote & Bailey" brewed on the premises, live sports on TV. Holds a Beer Festival on the English August Bank Holiday weekend.
  • 3 The Shed, 7 Lady Street DG12 5DA. M-W 11AM-midnight, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su noon-midnight. Sports bar and more including live music, disco and karaoke.
  • Farmers Inn in Clarencefield five miles west of Annan, serves real ale, and does meals daily noon-2PM & 7-9PM (Sa Su from 6PM), see "Sleep."
  • Distilleries: see above for Annandale. Solway Spirits make gin and vodka.


Hoddom Castle
  • 1 Corner House Hotel, 78 High Street DG12 6DL (Corner of Lady Street), +44 1461 202754, . With 18 en-suite rooms, free Wi-Fi available in the coffee & lounge bar. On-site car parking, with CCTV system. B&B double £75.
  • 2 Queensberry Arms Hotel, 47 High St DG12 6AD (On main street opposite war memorial), +44 1461 202024. 3-star with 21 en suite bedrooms. B&B double from £50.
  • 3 Firth Hotel, 41 Scotts Street DG12 6JE (on B721 just east of town centre), +44 1461 202302, . Family-run B&B and licensed bar.
  • 4 Farmers Inn, Main Street, Clarencefield DG1 4NF (on B724 five miles west of Annan), +44 1387 870675. Motel-style accommodation in lodge at rear of the Inn. B&B double £85.
  • 5 Hoddom Castle, Hoddom, Lockerbie DG11 1AS (5 miles north of Annan on B723), +44 1576 300251, . The castle itself is a 16th century tower house, ramshackle and without accommodation. In the grounds, open April-Oct, are caravan facilities, camping pitches and pods, fishing, golfing, walking and children's play area. £25 for two adults. Hoddom Castle (Q5875992) on Wikidata Hoddom Castle on Wikipedia
  • 6 Powfoot Hotel, Powfoot DG12 5PN (Off B724 three miles west of Annan), +44 1461 700300, . By golf links overlooking the coast, well-run friendly hotel. With Del Amitri restaurant. B&B double £110.


Annan and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. As of March 2022, 5G has not reached this area.

Go next[edit]

  • Go west via Dumfries, where Robert Burns spent his last years, and further west to Stranraer for ferries to Northern Ireland.
  • To Edinburgh most people race north up A74(M) then branch onto A702. Slower scenic routes are via Gretna and Longtown onto A7, thence via Hawick, Selkirk and Galashiels in the Scottish Borders; or leave A74(M) at Moffat for A708 past Grey Mare's Tail, Ettrick Forest and Innerleithen. These are glorious when it's sunny and the heather in bloom, nerve-wracking in bad weather or with a low fuel tank.
  • Go south via Carlisle to reach the Lake District.

Routes through Annan
StranraerDumfries  W  E  GretnaCarlisle

This city travel guide to Annan is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.