|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||English Street, Dumfries (NX974761)|
|To:||New Bridge, Dumfries (NX968761)|
|Via:||Shakespeare Street, Whitesands|
|Distance:||0.6 miles (1 km)|
|Meets:||A780, B725, A780|
|Route outline (key)|
The A781 is, like the A756 and A780, a very short link road in Dumfries (the shortest of the three roads mentioned). It was once a part of the A75, although not immediately prior to the construction of the bypass – the A756 having by then assumed that honour. The route is less than two thirds of a mile long and the eastern half can be driven only in the east to west direction. The number is not posted on road signs.
Beginning at a junction on the A780 English Street, close to the towers of the former Catholic Pro-Cathedral of St Andrew, the A781 first runs southwestward along the one-way Shakespeare Street, passing the Odeon Cinema (closed since 29 June 2018) and the site of the cathedral, most of which burnt down in 1961 (today only the front two towers remain, together with a much smaller new church).
We pass the Theatre Royal (Scotland's oldest working theatre) and then enter "no-man's land". This area was extensively cleared in the 1960/1970s to provide an easier through route for Irish traffic and even now development is sporadic and a large concrete car park and the back ends of the High Street buildings hardly make it appealing. There are a couple of pelican crossings on this section and just beyond that we pass the entrance to the High Street (pedestrianised) and the front entrance to the Loreburn shopping centre. As shopping-centre architecture goes, it is not bad.
Continuing another hundred yards we reach a double set of lights, the first for Irish street and Nith Place crossroads and the second for the busy junction with the Whitesands. This used to be a mini-roundabout during the council's roundabout phase. This phase has now passed and they are constructing as many light-controlled junctions as possible.
Turning right we continue along the Whitesands. This is a large flat frontage to the town and used to be the sites for markets. It is now predominately a car park with the A781 running as a wide single carriageway through the middle, although the River Nith is clearly visible to the left. The Whitesands is still lined with traditional buildings and provides an attractive outlook to Maxwelltown which again has some nice buildings. There is another pedestrian crossing which links the town centre with Devogilla's Bridge (the oldest multi-arched bridge in Scotland) and this has a American-style signals on arms extending over the road from lampposts. Such extravagance for a single- carriageway road! The A781 continues for a further 100 yards to end at a light-controlled junction with Buccleuch Street (the A780 again). A left turn here will immediately take us across Buccleuch Bridge.