10 Things You Probably Never Knew About the Parish of Kirkbean and Surrounding Area

We set off for Kirkbean in Dumfries and Galloway, a small parish about 12 miles from Dumfries on the Colvend Coast Road to Dalbeattie. This picturesque and peaceful village is full of history, as well as home to some amazing wildlife.


Read on to find out more about it – and feel free to add your own facts.


  1. Kirkbean was first developed as part of the Arbigland Estate.


Nowadays the estate has holiday cottages and a farm that produces enough oats to make 12 million bowls of porridge!


It’s also a favourite movie location because of the peace and quiet and has welcomed Glen Close, Christian Slater and Jonathan Price amongst others in recent years.


Copyright R.B Photography

2.The founder of the US navy, John Paul Jones, was born on the estate in 1747. His father was the gardener there.

John Paul junior became a captain at the age of 21 and later fought against the British in the American War of independence.


A museum celebrating his life and work opened in 1993 in the cottage where he was born.

John Campbell https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/naval-john-campbell.php

3.John Paul Jones isn’t the only famous son or daughter from the area.


Poet and novelist Helen Craik, who was a correspondent of Robert Burns, was born in the parish.


As was John Campbell who later became Governor and Commander in Chief in Newfoundland, now part of Canada.

Copyright R.B Photography

4.The church in Kirkbean was built in 1776, the year of American Independence.


The tower was added later in 1836.


It has since been sold by the church and renovated into a private residence.

Copyright R.B Photography

5.Criffel sits at the north of village.


It is only 1870 feet but dominates the landscape because there are no other hills of that height in the area.


It is known as a Marilyn, which is a hill of at least 150 metres (as opposed to a Munro which is over 3,000 feet!).

Southerness Lighthouse can be easily viewed from Kirkbean. Copyright R.B Photography

6.If you’re feeling less adventurous, there are a lot of shorter walks around Kirkbean.


The village website has lots of information, including a map showing routes and parking information.


You can choose from walks along the shore, through woodland and past the iron age McCulloch’s Castle.


7.The parish was the setting off point for thousands of Scots looking for a better life in the US and Australia in the 18th and 19th


It was also where convicts being sent to Australia left from!


Because of this, lots of people around the world can trace family connections back to the area.

Copyright R.B Photography

8. In 1991, local school children updated the bus shelter in the village.


They decorated it with colourful murals so you can admire the view before your journey.


It’s one of three that were given a makeover and residents sometimes add newspapers in case you have a long wait.


9. Kirkbean Playmobil Festival started in 2010 as a way of raising funds for restoration of the village hall.


Playmobil started producing its famous figures in 1974 and has produced 3 billion since then!


It takes more than a week to set up the display and the 9th annual festival will be held from Friday 27th until Monday 30th July 2018.


10. Kirkbean is also home to Cavens Country Hotel.


The building dates back to 1752 when it was built by Sir Richard Oswald, a wealthy merchant.


Robert Burns was a visitor to the house but was less than flattering in his poem Ode, sacred to the memory of Mrs. Oswald…

Article written exclusively for DGWGO By R.Giblin