After the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, it felt like the right time to revisit the Dumfries House Estate in Cumnock, Ayrshire.
Dumfries House is a beautiful 18th century stately home that sits within 2,000 acres of land. The house and estate was saved in 2007 by His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and is part of the Prince’s Foundation.
Dumfries is pronounced as Dum-freese.
Outdoor time in nature, walking with ancient trees and admiring the beautifully landscaped gardens felt like the perfect escapism for a wee while. It has been a few years since I visited and I imagined the gardens would now be thriving with growth.
Parking and access to explore the estate is free. There is a cost if you want to book a tour inside Dumfries House though.
The estate is huge and I don’t know it all yet. There’s the house, restaurant, cafe, woodland adventure playground, water play area, maze, gardens, arboretum, walled garden, and more. Visit Dumfries House: Attractions if you want to find out more.
I planned to walk to the places I knew about and if I saw a path I hadn’t walked on before I would also take it. I had a few hours so I could take my time on this day.
I had a yearning to walk up to the magnificent Dumfries House first as I saw other visitors walking in this direction.
It was heart-warming to see the beginnings of floral tributes for Her Majesty the Queen, in the shape of a heart. Over the past week more flowers were placed here. I was wishing I had thought to bring flowers as well.
I walked across to Dumfries House and took a few photos, as were others. I must book one of the tours sometime. Looking at the website there’s different tours to choose from and you need to book in advance. If you’re visiting the area, have a look at Dumfries House: Tours.
Across from the house, and in alignment with the above fountain, I noticed two gates and peeked over to see a lush green field of young, planted trees called the Ivory Avenue.
I was visualising what it will look like in 20 years and hope I’m around to see the trees get taller and wider. I also wondered how far it stretches and if in later years there will be a path you can walk through. This would be another beautiful walk under a canopy of the trees.
The Redwood Tree
Instead of walking back the way I came, I followed other visitors along a path towards the back of the house where I was rewarded with this breathtaking character of a Redwood Tree.
I don’t know how old it is but it looked pretty ancient to me. I was totally in awe of its presence, wow!
Tap or click to see larger photos:
Walking down a side path I hadn’t followed before took me towards the Avenue Bridge, where I knew the Arboretum and The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden were located.
I walked past the newly built woodland adventure playground surrounded by tall Redwood Trees. A fun place for the children to play. Alas, my two are not children anymore so I tend to skip these parts now.
There’s also a Maze near the playground where you can get lost in. I love Mazes! I’ve only ever been in one when I was in my early twenties and I got totally lost. It was a small one as well!
I would have loved to try the Maze, but it was busy with children and parents enjoying it. I hope to go the next time and will add more photos to this post, if I find my way out…
It says on the Dumfries House website, at the time of writing, it had already welcomed 7,000 visitors to the Maze – all who made their way back out safely. I bet I’ll be that one person who gets lost for hours!
The Lady’s Well
Another lovely feature I walked past was The Lady’s Well. I didn’t know anything about the Well and found this story below.
It has been told that this was a regular meeting place during World War II where French soldiers met up with the local girls. The soldiers were angry after being rejected in love by a girl from Cumnock, so they dropped explosives down the well which also brought down the original ornate stone structure.
The Lady’s Well was restored in the same place by skilled apprentices in 2019.
When I was walking towards the Chinese Bridge I noticed a wooden barrel sitting off the path and I wondered what it was for. At first I thought it was for decoration and an old barrel that was previously used for storing whisky.
I opened the lid and looked inside. No whisky to be found, it was a litter bin. Great idea as it blends so well with the environment!
The Chinese Bridge
The Chinese Bridge is such a unique footbridge sitting over the Lugar Water.
It was inspired from an original drawing by Scottish architect Robert Weir Schultz, dating back to 1899. You can see the drawing and a video of the Chinese Bridge construction at Dumfries House: Chinese Bridge.
The beautiful elliptical 18th century Avenue Bridge sits a little further upstream from the Chinese Bridge. A nice spot to sit for a wee while.
As I was walking around the Arboretum I could see a difference in growth from a few years ago. Trees were also beginning to change into warm autumnal colours. This made me think I must return in October to see all of autumn.
The Lily Pond was my favourite place to ponder with the pretty pink flowers flourishing in their natural surroundings.
The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden
The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden was opened by The Queen in 2014. You can watch a video at Dumfries House: Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden.
The Dumfries House website says you need to purchase tickets for the Walled Garden, but the gate was open and there was a donation box. I put in a donation which made me feel better about not bringing flowers.
This area was once a derelict dumping site and now the most beautiful place to wander through. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to see any flowers visiting in early September and was surprised to see they were still showing off their beautiful blossoms.
View a small sample of photos in the garden. Tap or click to view larger photos.
You will have noticed the large Sycamore Tree in the photos above which sits high in the centre of The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden.
When you walk up the steps towards the blue bench and look up, it really looks magical.
I read online the tree is thought to be over 350 years old! It’s the oldest tree on the estate and was dying, so with intervention it was nurtured back to life. I’m so glad it’s still there and I hope it will keep thriving for many years to come.
The Daily Record have a story on this: Rebirth of a 350 year old tree at Dumfries House, which also shows what the tree and gardens looked like before they were saved by His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles at that time.
Walking with the Beech Trees
It was time to head back to the car. I crossed back over the Chinese Bridge and took a different path up the wooden steps to meet the wonderful Beech Trees.
Thick mossy roots were spreading above the ground, in alignment with the canopy of branches and leaves high above.
The short woodland path took me back to the entrance road, so I knew where I was and walked back to the car park which was fairly empty now.
I thoroughly enjoyed walking with so much beauty and finding out about the different stories around the estate. Even though it was busy when I arrived, I managed to find quiet places as well.
I hope you enjoyed the photo walk too.
Thanks for reading.
Love, Dawn-Marie x