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17. Battle of Dryfesands
Difficulty of Trail: Easy peasy
Length of Trail: 1 - 2 miles

Area: Dumfries & Galloway
This is just an ordinary nice, easy, walk in the woods. The box commerates a battle in the 16th century. I only had an hour to plant the box. I didn't even get to the right place to see the battle site itself. Perhaps you can send me a photo.

I recommend stopping at a local Tourist Information center. We stopped at the one in Moffat and picked up Dumfries and Galloway local brochures. These directions are from 'Walking in and around Lockerbie & Lochmaben', the Gallaberry Walk. The brochure has a map, these directions, and more information for the walk.

Parking: From Lockerbie take the A709 Dumfries Road and take the first right after Dryfesdale Cemetery and the Garden of Remembrance. At the T-junction turn left and cross the metal bridge over the Dryfe Water. Continue past the tall sheds of Dryfeholm Farm and take the estate entrance on the right at North Lodge to reach the car park just after the information board.

Study the information board, map, and points of interest, especially if you do not have the walk brochure.

1. Walk, continuing along the estate road. When you reach the 'Woodland Walk' signpost at the path junction turn left. Continue through Gallaberry Plantation.

2. Here is where the directions get dicey. Remember I didn't have much time to plant. In a very short while the woods will end on your right though they continue on your left. Stop here. When I was here there was some sort of experiment going on in the woods on the left. This location is about halfway between the North Lodge and the South Lodge.

3. On your right there is a depression, like a stream bed full of plants, and beyond that you see a field. On your left the land rises uphill with trees and not too much undergrowth. Turn to your left and, passing to the right of the experiment, if it is still there, walk through the trees and just a little ways up hill the trees end at a fence and an open field.

4. The fence is barbed wire. On the ground before the fence notice a steel band secured to the ground. I assume this is some common boundary marker in these parts. I never saw anything like it before. Look left and right along the fence. There is a large tree on the other side of the fence, the field side. I saw only one tree on that side so this should be a good marker. To the right of the tree is pile of stones. Under a big flat stone on the left side of the pile you will find your goal in a blue banded Rubbermaid freezer container. After stamping in please rehide it in the same place and cover it carefully with the stones.

From here you can return to your car but I encourage you to complete the circuit, passing along the Dryfe Water, even though I could not.

To continue go back to the path and continue in the same direction you were. At the boundary with South Lodge the path turns sharp left: pass through the gate and over the stile at the opposite side of the track. You are now on the flood bank alongside the Dryfe Water. The Field across the river is the site of the 1593 Battle of Dryfesands between the Johnstones of Annandale and the Maxwells of Nithsdale. Stop here and read the following excerpt from the 'Clan Johnston/e in America' web site.

During the sixteenth century the Johnstones and the Maxwells competed for primacy in the Scottish West March. Johnstone and Maxwell chiefs each served at various times as Wardens of the Scottish West March. Their respective clans continued a deadly blood feud for almost a century. In late 1593 John, seventh Lord Maxwell, Earl of Morton, sometime collaborator with the Spanish armada and Warden of the Scottish West March, assembled 2,000 armed horsemen and, displaying the King's banner, invaded the mountainous district of Annandale, land of the Johnstones. Whatever the official reason, Lord Maxwell's personal intention was once and for all to destroy his family's ancient enemies and rivals for power in southwestern Scotland.

Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie, Chief of the Johnstones, received advance warning of the approaching army and realized that his clan would soon have a desperate fight for continued existence. He summoned help from Grahams, Scotts, Carrutherses, Irvings, Elliots and others, and quickly raised a force of perhaps 800. Among those who came to the aid of the clan was the Chief's eleven-year-old kinsman, Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch. Lord Maxwell had offered his followers a reward for the head or hand of the Laird ofJohnstone, and Sir James in turn offered his followers a reward for the head or hand of Lord Maxwell.

On December 6, 1593 the Maxwell army approached the Johnstone town of Lockerbie near a place called Dryfe Sands. Sir James kept most of his men hidden, but sent a handful of horsemen to provoke the Maxwell vanguard, then retreat. When the vanguard broke ranks inpursuit with loud cries of victory, the main body of Johnstones made a sudden, desperate charge, catching the Maxwells off guard and driving the disorganized vanguard into the main force. The Johnstones then savagely pursued their enemies into the streets of Lockerbie and into the Water of Dryfe, slaughtering some 700 of the Maxwells and slashing others with downward sword strokes which caused gruesome facial wounds known as "Lockerbie licks."

In the midst of the carnage Lord Maxwell begged for mercy and offered to surrender, but the Johnstones cut off his outstretched arm and slew him. It is said that the Laird of Johnstone affixed the head and right hand of Lord Maxwell to the battlements of Lochwood Tower as bloody trophies of the Johnstones' overwhelming victory at the Battle of Dryfe Sands.

In 1608 a meeting was arranged for a reconciliation of Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie and Lord Maxwell, son of the chief who was killed at the Battle of Dryfe Sands. Precautions were taken for each party to bring only one attendant. During the interview, Lord Maxwell suddenly drew a pistol from under his cloak and shot the Johnstone chief in the back with two poisoned bullets, mortally wounding him. After escaping to France, Lord Maxwell was finally apprehended and publicly beheaded in Edinburgh for his "murder under trust" of Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie.

Turn left and walk upstream. After 1/2 mile climb the stile and on meeting the road turn left. This is the quiet Gallaberry Road but be aware that this route is used by farm vehicles. A short distance after Galaberry Cottages you will see another 'Woodland Walk' fingerost. Turn left as indicated and you will soon reach an ancient walled track. This track joins the road just above North Lodge where you started your walk.

For this box, you will need:
  • An inkpad
  • Something to write with

Hidden On: 22/06/2006
Last Known Find: 15/03/2009 Please let us know your find