The Crichton Estate
is situated a short distance to the south of the town of Dumfries and is well worth a visit. You can visit by car,or take pleasant circular walk from the town. The Crichton estate is about 85 acres of parkland, with a really well developed rock garden, complete with many specimen trees and plants, arboretum and rose gardens. The estate is well maintained by the Crighton Trust and is free to enter all year round.
The Crichhton was origionally set up as a mental institution by Elizabeth Crighton in the mid 19th Century. Elizabeth she wanted to see if mental issues could be managed and treated in more 'humane' ways. The gardens were part of her theraputic approach to mental illness and certainly gave the whole institution a different feel to the normal Victorian attitude of insanity. This approach was very successful and received worldwide acclaim.
The institution was expanded over the years and many of the buildings still stand, almost as they were. Eventually, the site was bought by Dumfries and Galloway Council in 1995 and handed over to a Trust to run. The Trust has done amazing work developing the site into what it is today. The site has a university campus, and has facilities for sport and leisure. This was a was a dream of Elizabeth Crichton, she would be very pleased to see that this has actually happened. Many weddings take place in the magnificent church and other weddings which have taken place in Dumfries visit the grounds for their wedding photographs, there are reception facilities on hand. The church was built in 1897 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hospital and was designed by the notable Scottish Architect Sydney Mitchell.
The walk from the centre of Dumfries takes in most of the main features of an organised trail, with interpretation boards along the way. Several other local trails are also indicated along the way, but the main trail which is about 4 miles, should take a couple of hours.
In brief the Crichton is both historically interesting and has appeal to those of us who enjoy visiting of notable gardens, the estate is quite magnificent and was well planned, it was self sufficient having its own farm for supply of produce, this farm still exists today. There are facilities to eat and drink in the grounds should you wish to make a relaxed visit.
'You can pick up one of the Trust's walking route leaflets which includes a quiz with questions which can be answered from information boards along the route. Shorter sections between 10 and 20 minutes can be found at the University Campus, Business Park, Crichton Hall and gardens. The walk is fairly level, although, in the vicinity of Crichton Hall and Campbell House, there is a short incline of steps which can be avoided by taking the shortcuts.
Below is a map showing a walk from the car park close to town and a route through to the Crighton. Click on the top right hand corner of the map to open it up fully, with 'way points'