Kirkbean is just a few miles further along the coast from New Abbey, Developed as part of the Arbigland Estate in the 18th century, the village is made up of pretty white washed cottages, a church and graveyard, with a small burn running through the centre. Although the church is now a private dwelling, the graveyard is a fantastic source of information for anyone with local familial ties and keen historians may recognise the name John Paul Senior amongst the headstones. A gardener at Arbigland Estate, John Paul was the father of John Paul Jones, the famous seafarer born in 1747. Just a 30 minute walk from the village, the John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum is the perfect place to find out more about the father of the American Navy. Now restored, the cottage features unique artifacts which give an extensive insight into Jones’ fascinating life and achievements. The tour includes a 20 minute video, a children’s Playmobil pirate ship and treasure hunt.
The Cottage is also just a 5 minute walk from Arbigland House and Gardens. Built in the Adam’s style by William Craik in the 1750s, Arbigland House boasts a fascinating history, populated by many famous 18th century names including John Craik, close friend and physician to George Washington, his sister Helen Craik, poet, proto-feminist novelist and friend to Robert Burns, who dined at Arbigland House. Although nearly lost, the 24 acre Gardens where John Paul Jones’ father worked are still in existence today and guests are welcome to visit. Comprising of a woodland area, a commemorative Sundial Garden, a Sunken Garden and Pavilion, a Japanese garden and lake, there is also a 1/3 mile broad walk which runs from the house down to the beach. From here, visitors can walk the sandy beach, occasionally muddy depending on tides, down to Powillimount, admiring the intriguing rock formations, boulders and rock pools, collecting shells and looking out across the Solway to the peaks of the lake district. Just beyond Powillimount is Southerness beach and lighthouse. Built in 1749, unusually it is square in shape and, although no longer in operation, it’s a great photo opportunity and is occasionally open to the public. Incorporating the John Paul Jones Museum and Arbigland Gardens, the walk to Southerness does take a couple of hours, so a picnic is advisable!
The location of New Abbey and Kirkbean, midway between Dumfries and Castle Douglas gives visitors the best of both worlds. For anyone preferring the urban life, the bright lights of Dumfries are very close. Attractions including the Camera Obscura, Burns House and Moat Brae offer a fascinating historical insight to the area, and the main shopping precinct boasts many independents cafes, delis and gift shops. Alternatively, by heading west towards the ‘wilds’ of the Stewartry and Wigtownshire, guests are rewarded with breath-taking scenery, beautiful beaches, wild areas and an altogether slower pace of life.