The pretty village of New Abbey lies some five miles south of Dumfries. To its south west the land rises steadily to the summit of Criffel, while a little over a mile to its east the small river oddly called the New Abbey Pow flows into the estuary of the River Nith.
It takes no great imagination to work out that a village called New Abbey has something to do with an abbey. It does: for a Cistercian abbey was founded here by Lady Devorgilla in 1273 in memory of her husband. Lady Devorgilla is best remembered for carrying around her husband's embalmed heart until her own death in 1289, when she was buried with his heart alongside her near the altar of what was at the time known as New Abbey.
In recognition of Lady Devorgilla's enduring love for her husband, the monks started to refer to their abbey as Dulce Cor or Sweetheart Abbey, the name by which it has been known ever since. So don't be confused that a village called New Abbey is home to an abbey called something else entirely.
The village of New Abbey has great charm and character. Its location and history are reflected in the names of the two inviting hostelries towards the west end of the village: the Abbey Arms looks across the main road to the Criffel Inn.
Nearby is the village shop and post office, while overlooking a nearby corner is the second of village's major visitor attractions, the New Abbey Cornmill, which like Sweetheart Abbey, is run by Historic Scotland. Joint tickets are available.
Behind the mill is the millpond, probably build by monks from the abbey to serve a much earlier mill on the site of the building you see today. Just beyond the cornmill is the New Mill Pow, the small river that also once drove a snuff mill and a saw mill. Evidence of these can still be seen in some of the older buildings in this part of the village.
Though apparently inconsequential today, the New Mill Pow was one of the reasons for the establishment of the abbey here in the 1500s. For many centuries it was used by small boats able to navigate almost as far as the village itself.
Save for the church-like Women's Guild Hall the village peters out north of the New Mill Pow. In the woodland a little to the north is Shambellie House, now an arm of National Museums Scotland and home to the third of the village's visitor attractions, the National Museum of Costume.