Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin Ride

Sunday 27th January: To celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Robbie Burns, a literary ride …

Riddell Dock Dumfries 1792
Riddell Dock, Dumfries in the time of Robert Burns. Image courtesy of Dumfries Museum

Robin was a rovin boy,
Rantin, rovin, rantin, rovin,
Robin was a rovin boy,
Rantin, rovin Robin!

(‘Ranting Roving Robin’, thought to have been written by Robbie Burns)

The ride will start at 11am at Devorgilla Bridge on the Whitesands. There won’t be much ranting (unless someone gets a  puncture) but there will be plenty of roving as we head out east and south, aiming for Brow Well, one of the few places Burns drank in that wasn’t actually a pub! On the way we’ll take in some of the sights and inspirations for Burns’ poetry, especially in his latter years, when he worked as an exciseman in Dumfries and volunteered in the local militia.

The deil’s awa, the deil’s awa, the deil’s awa wi’ the Exciseman,

He’s danc’d awa, he’s danc’d awa, he’s danc’d awa wi’ the Exciseman!

(Deil’s Awa Wi the Exciseman by Robbie Burns, written while he was one himself)

The route will be a little over 20 miles, but will be taken at a gentle pace, and with a stop for lunch on the way home, either at Caerlaverock or in Glencaple depending on the route and the feeling on the day. It isn’t too hilly either, but will be long enough that you’ll have earned your haggis, neaps and tatties by the end of it. We will stick to quiet rural roads, off street paths and NCN 7 for most of the route.

The route will depend on the weather, but to give you a flavour, here’s an interactive map of some of the locations we’ll ride on – and some poems associated with them


Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir!
There’s wooden walls upon our seas,
And volunteers on shore, Sir!
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
And Criffel sink in Solway,
Ere we permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!
We’ll ne’er permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!

from The Dumfries Volunteers, by Robert Burns

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