Moffat: just off the motorway
A small border town that boasts one of the widest high streets in Scotland and the narrowest hotel in the UK. Moffat may be little known, but it’s importance was guaranteed through history thanks to two opportunistic features. From earliest days, Moffat’s strategic place in commerce was guaranteed thanks to its proximity to the border between Scotland and England. Cattle and sheep herders would pass the rought town taking their beasts to and from market in Carlisle. Over time Moffat developed its own reputation in the wool trade. Secondlay, thanks to a chance discovery in the 1600s, Moffat became the first spa town in Scotland. Waters that abounded in the area were reputed to have therapeutic qualities, and behind this reputation followed one for hospitality and, later, tourism.
So moffat, in turning from a rough and ready village of herders and dykers became a fashionable spa town frequented by the likes of Empress Eugenie of France. Former inhabitants of Moffat include the court physician to Catherine the Great and John Loudon MacAdam, yes, he who gave the world tar macadam roads, whose grave is to be found in the town’s cemetery.
Unlike many small towns whose former glory remains a mere mention in the history books, Moffat retains a popularity today. It is a frequent winner in the annual Scotland in Bloom competition, a national initiative that recognises civic pride. It also attracts thousands of visitors all year round as its strategic position beside the only motorway between Scotland and England attracts coach parties in search of some typical Scottish keepsakes that are to be found in abundance in the many weaver and knitting shops, and some good wholesome eating that is the trademark of the town’s many cafes, restaurants and bars.
Finally it is also something of a mecca for hillwalkers as it sits at the foot of some fine hill-walking country. It is a mere 5 miles from the Devil’s Beeftub, a steep bowl cut through the hillside which was reputedly the refuge of Rob Roy MacGregor and other sheep and cattle herders making their way to the market in Carlisle.
I have always been fond of Moffat. It was a regular day out for our family when I was a child… and very popular as it was home to the boat park which allowed us to terrorise the local ducks with our oars. The day would inevitably conclude with a treat of icecream in one of the many cafes in town. Come and see some of the delights of this little known but very charming little town that so many people pass by on their run from Scotland to England. Oh yes, it is also the unlikely home to one of the best Indian restaurants in the country.