Crossing the Nith from Troqueer via the Kirkpatrick MacMillan footbridge (named after the Dumfriesshire born inventor of the modern bicycle) delivers us to the gates of Castledykes Park.
The park sits along side the former Dockfoot and Castledykes quays, about half a mile downstream of the town centre. The proximity of the motte at Castledykes would have meant that during medieval times loads of up to 10 tonnes could have been unloaded here, most likely carried in wooden vessels called birlinns. These ships, powered by both oar and sail were common in Scottish waters and likely plied trade with other parts of Britain, and certainly Ireland but possibly further afield to Europe also.
As well as trade, the site marks a pivotal point in Scottish history. In February 1306, Dumfries Castle where the park now stands (the location of the castle is marked by a monument & flagpole within the park) was seized by Robert the Bruce after the murder of John the “Red” Comyn at Greyfriars in Dumfries and, annually, on Guid Nychburris day (the Dumfries day to celebrate the Riding of the Marches, a tradition popular throughout the South of Scotland), the Cornet (the principal male figure in the event) raises the Royal Banner of Scotland, the Lion Rampant, to commemorate the events of 1306 when Bruce occupied Castledykes. Bruce, as King of Scots went on to establish the first treaty between Scotland and France signed at the town of Corbeil (just south of Paris) in 1326 which became known as the Auld Alliance. There is a pleasant sunken garden at the south end of the park with large storyboards telling the story of Bruce and his connections with Dumfries, along with a recently placed statue.
To progress to the next stop, exit the park through the upper gates onto Glencaple Road.