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In the gentle pastoral countryside of Dumfriesshire, just on the edge of wild Galloway, is a small but perfectly formed village. Moniaive, the 'Hill of Streams' (from the Gaelic monadh-abh), nestles in stunning countryside where the three glens of Craigdarroch, Dalwhat and Castlefairn meet.

A bustling village with a long history and strong community spirit, it has always been popular. Notable visitors over the centuries include King Robert the Bruce, King James IV, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert Burns.


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Moniaive is an excellent touring base for self-drive motorists exploring Dumfries and Galloway. It is 17 miles from Dumfries, close to Drumlanrig Castle and within easy reach of the Galloway Forest Park.

There are walking and biking trails, including the famous Seven Stanes mountain biking experience, with trails to suit every level of fitness. Because there is so little light pollution, the night skies are a star gazer's dream. The Galloway Forest Park is the only Dark Sky Park in the UK and one of only four in the world.
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Charlie Chaplin’s son eloped here with his girlfriend and got married in a council prefab and more recently the Hollywood Actor Andrew Bryniarski spent a few days visiting comic book writer Alan Grant. Andrew was Lex Luther’s son in the Batman movie and played Leatherface in the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 prequel, The Beginning. While we’re on the subject of movies, Moniaive was transformed into a small Irish village for Peter Mullen’s harrowing film The Magdalene Sisters.

Bonnie Annie Laurie was born just outside Moniaive and lived here her entire life; Artist James Paterson, one of the 'Glasgow Boys', moved to the village on his marriage and portrayed it in many paintings. The best known is probably The Last Turning, Winter, Moniaive, which can be seen in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. The internationally acclaimed writer Rumer Godden spent the last years of her life in the community.

Moniaive is currently home to a wide range of talented and highly skilled individuals including designers, builders, computer experts, joiners, artists, foresters, doctors, writers, teachers, photographers, farmers and musicians. There are even a couple of plumbers. They all have one thing in common, they enjoy life. That's probably why there are so many activities and events. The folk festival in May has gained such a reputation that it attracts well over a thousand visitors and the Blue Grass Festival in September is heading the same way.

Visitors to Moniaive need  never go hungry, with an astonishing four eating places and a chocolatier of all things in such a tiny place.

The 19th century Craigdarroch Arms Hotel lies at the centre of Moniaive and has always had a reputation for good food, most recently as a steak house. But new chef proprietor Rab McAleese specialises in sea food and his seafood platter is as good as the best we’ve ever tasted, which was a classic bouillabaisse, in a small Provencal restaurant. In that case the fish were bought that morning from the fish market in Marseilles and Rab is equally fussy about sourcing fresh local produce. Our Craigdarroch platter had smoked salmon, smashed crab claws in a Pernod butter sauce, monkfish dusted in seasoned flour and pan fried, langoustines in garlic and herbs, hand dived scallops and mussels in a garlic, cream and white wine sauce and all of it, fresh off the boat. Rab’s expertise was perfected by the sea, on Mull at the Tobermory Hotel and later at The Crown in Portpatrick, when it was Seafood Restaurant of the Year. Another speciality at the Craigdarroch is game, taking advantage of a countryside teaming with pheasant and deer.

On the other hand if you just want pub grub in a cosy bar, the food at the George Hotel down the street is cheap and cheerful. The public bar in this ancient coaching inn has scarcely changed over the centuries. It is a comfortable, little room with a stove, a flagstone floor and smoke blackened beams.

For something completely different, there's the Green Tea House in Chapel Street. Run by organic country cook Catherine Braid, it was voted one of the top ten tea rooms in Scotland by The Herald Newspaper. It is open seven days a week until 4pm in the winter and 5pm in the summer. In the summer it re-opens in the evenings Monday to Friday as a bistro, where Catherine changes the menu every week. It's bring your own bottle and no corkage or charge for glasses. Catherine’s monthly gourmet menus are legendary, from an 18th century banquet  with whole lobsters for starters, followed by a magnificent seven bird roast finishing off with a delicate lemon syllabub to a Roman banquet and a hilarious Murder Mystery night with Italian food. On gourmet nights the tables are joined up to create one or two large tables and a very sociable evening. This is typical of the Green Tea House and of Catherine Braid, its inspirational proprietor – a warm welcome and outstanding food.

The latest addition to eating in Moniaive is the lovely Three Glens Restaurant, designed and finished by artist Judith Gregg. Tragically, Judith died shortly after opening the restaurant, but her dream lives on in this light airy space with her sandstone pictures sculpted into its fabric. This restaurant is worth a visit, just to admire the artwork, but the Italian style food is excellent too, particularly the pizzas, cooked in the oven, specially brought back from Italy by Judith and husband, Frase Dykes.

Half way along the High Street between the two hotels and the Italian restaurant is a chocolate boutique. Step inside and it’s like travelling through a time portal to a bygone age of opulence and luxury. The style is ornate Louis XIV, complete with a crystal chandelier. One wall is decorated in an indulgent, red-patterned, flock wallpaper, contrasting with the plain ivory of the other walls. Visitors can sit on a love seat in the corner, to select their chocolates from a glass domed display.  Then there’s a large display cabinet choc full of tantalising transparent bags of delectable temptations. Liz Cole, the chocolatier, makes all the fillings from scratch using fresh, organically grown fruits. But the drawback is that the chocolates have a shelf life of a few weeks rather than months. While customers choose their chocolates, they can sip on a shot of pure hot Italian chocolate mixed with cream and sprinkled with hazelnuts or cinnamon.  Not for the faint hearted, it’s very rich and even the most dedicated chocaholic couldn’t drink more than one shot.


Moniaive is an enchanted place that casts its spell over visitors inducing many to settle there. They claim it's because of the friendly people, the social life or its exquisite beauty but we know it's magic.

Check out these other destinations in Scotland

EDINBURGH - Look ahead for the big dates

GLASGOW - See Glasgow in true style

HEBRIDES - Hopscotch to the Western Isles

SCOTLAND - Explore the wild Highlands

"Books to read - click on cover pictures" or click on the links below

Spiral Scotland by Hugh Taylor and Moira McCrossan - A convenient format and helpful introduction to Scotland.

Scotland the Best by Peter Irvine - Even the local citizens of Edinburgh and Glasgow have a copy in the car when they head north.


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