Moniaive, ‘the hill of streams’, nestles where the three glens of Craigdarroch, Dalwhat and Castlefairn meet.

It is as much known for community spirit and a vibrant arts and culture scene as it is for the breathtaking landscapes all around. Moniaive became the first Biosphere Community in Nithsdale when residents joined the scheme in early 2024 and signed up as Proud Supporters. Read on to discover why this is such a special place and a fantastic stopping point on Scotland’s UNESCO Trail.

Wildlife & Natural Beauty

Moniaive is nestled amidst scenic hills in the parish of Glencairn, where you can embark on beautiful walks and come across a diverse array of wildlife. Red kites, kestrels, hares, deer, otters, voles and kingfishers make this a nature lover’s paradise! The village is surrounded by enchanting ancient woodlands that allow you to go back in time and connect with nature’s local history. These are home to majestic oak, beech, and ancient yew.  You might even spot badgers, nut hatches and pine martens too.

Through the meticulous documentation of a local postmaster, John Corrie, we can learn about the various species of animals and plants that have called Moniaive home throughout the years. From mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish to an array of flora, Corrie recorded and immortalised his findings into his 1910 book Glencairn (Dumfriesshire), The Annals of an Inland Parish. You can find the John Corrie Wildlife Garden in Moniaive, dedicated to the writer – here you can spot wildlife and admire some of the beautiful flowers documented in Corries’ Annals.

Heritage & Culture

Much of the modern-day village of Moniaive dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, but the area has a strong heritage pre-dating that. Prehistoric artefacts have been found across the parish, which also boasts a D-shaped hillfort and a standing stone. In 1636 the village was granted a ‘Free Burgh of Barony’ by King Charles I, granting rights to hold weekly markets. The Market Cross in the heart of the village lies as a reminder of our Covenantor connections: one story tells of the son of a Covenanting preacher fleeing to the cross and sleeping on its base as the dragoons ransacked his home.

Sheep farming and cattle droving (during the Napoleonic era) were significant local industries, along with associated cottage industries associated. Wool-spinning, weaving and embroidery were often carried out in the houses we still see today. There was also a large Waulk Mill producing woollen blankets, and later grain and sawmills, all powered by water from the three burns.

The short-lived Cairn Valley Light Railway connected Moniaive to neighbouring communities and Dumfries from 1905. Passenger use did not live up to expectations, though, and the 17-mile line was eventually closed in 1949, with little remaining today in Moniaive except the remains of an old station building.

From the late 19th century Moniaive became the home of various artists, writers and musicians. Creativity and artistic expression still run through the heart of the village, most notably through the power of music and bringing people together through dance and song. Annual festivals showcase a local passion for music. The Moniaive Folk Festival and The Bluegrass Festival, both attract people from all over to bask in the toe-tapping rhythms and warm community atmosphere.

Local Produce

Moniaive excels at implementing sustainable practices through the making and selling of local produce. The Hive community shop and hub provides a stage for local artisan businesses to sell their products in the area in which they were lovingly crafted. You will find a variety of items from felt products and soaps, to textiles and pottery. The gallery within the Hive also displays original artwork, prints and cards by local artists.  The Hive promotes a circular economy by offering pre-loved clothes, books and home items a second home.

At Watson’s Grocers, a family-run store, you can find a great selection of fresh produce and pantry staples. Watson’s take a conscious approach to stocking their shelves, ensuring that products are sourced locally – from butchery meat, eggs, baked goods, honey, and ice-cream, to wine and spirits.  They even stock their own Moniaive Gin and Moniaive Beer, using botanicals from in and around the village.  The two pubs, the Craigdarroch Arms and The George Inn, both offer home-cooked foods and use local produce wherever possible.

Recreation & Enjoyment

Known for its stunning natural beauty, picturesque landscapes and charming countryside, there is plenty to explore in and around Moniaive.  If you are a keen cyclist, The Southern Upland Way Road Cycle Route passes through the centre of the village, allowing road cyclists to experience the scenic splendour and character of the trail on the liberating open roads. Mountain bikers can explore the many forestry tracks.  If walking or hiking is something you enjoy, the village is home to the Striding Arches. Sculpted by Andy Goldsworthy, the Striding Arches comprises a series of large sandstone arches located in and around the Cairnhead hilltops. Starting at The Byre, you can walk through forests and across hilltops to arches on Bail Hill, Colt Hill and Benbrack on the summit of Black Hill, close to the Southern Upland Way.

Moniaive’s strong community spirit means there’s always something happening. Local people come together every year to put on a show for gala day with lots to do for children and adults. From duck races and fireworks to ceilidhs and live music, there is a lively and vibrant atmosphere in the village, not only during gala week but all year round. Both The Craigdarroch Hotel and The George have regular music sessions with different events every week including pub quizzes, games nights and guest musicians. The village also boasts a very popular Italian restaurant, Piccola Italia, a café at The George, and a garage and petrol station.  There is something for everyone!


Deriving from the Gaelic ‘monadh-abh’, Moniaive means the ‘Hill of Streams’, owing to the convergence of the three glens running through the village. You can find peace in the gentle sound of the water of the Castlefairn, Craigdarroch and Dalwhat burns as you stroll through this enchanting place. The sound of birdsong above and the crunch of rustling leaves in the sweeping wind leaves you in a state of serenity. An inviting skyline and truly dark skies allow you to step out at night to find inner tranquillity through the sky overhead, with the sight of stars mesmerising the mind.

“You can walk for a short amount in most directions and find yourself happily alone.”


It’s certainly not hard to find inspiration from the natural beauty afforded to the village and that’s exactly what local choir group, Cairn Chorus, do in ‘Sing for the Trees’. A celebration of trees and the life and beauty of them, the Song Cycle was inspired by the late Sam Todd from Moniaive, who silently planted trees, caring for and supporting the fragile landscape unbeknownst to locals.

Further inspiration can be drawn from others community members, with an underlying feeling of safety, family and inclusivity within the community-spirited village.

“Wartime spirit, camaraderie.”

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