Museum of Lead Mining

Top choice in Dumfries & Galloway

‘Lead mining’: even the phrase has a sort of dulling effect on the brain, and you’d think it’d be a tough ask to make the subject interesting. But this Wanlockhead museum, signposted 10 miles off the motorway northwest of Moffat, manages to pull it off. The place is fascinating, and family friendly, offering a tour of a real mine, recreated miners’ cottages, a remarkable 18th-century library, and a display on lead mining and other minerals.

It’s apparently Scotland’s highest village, set amid a striking landscape of treeless hills and burbling streams. In summer the museum also runs gold-panning activities. The palpable enthusiasm and personableness of the staff bring the social history of the place alive. It’s really rather special, and is one of our favourite museums in Scotland.

Buses running between Ayr and Dumfries stop in Sanquhar, from where there's a bus to Wanlockhead five times daily Monday to Saturday. Wanlockhead is also a stop on the Southern Upland Way walking route.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Dumfries & Galloway attractions

1. Falls of Clyde Wildlife Centre

18.3 MILES

The often-unstaffed wildlife centre is by the river in New Lanark and has a small child-friendly display focused on badgers, bats, peregrine falcons and…

2. New Lanark Visitor Centre

18.4 MILES

The main attractions of this World Heritage mill town are accessed via a single ticket. These include a huge working spinning mule, producing woollen yarn…

3. Ellisland Farm

18.41 MILES

Six miles northwest of Dumfries, you can visit the farm that Robert Burns leased in 1788 by the River Nith. He had the house built for his family and…

4. Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum

18.78 MILES

This museum is an enthusiastic community project that is well worth a visit. The pièce de résistance is Gladstone Court, a reconstructed street with…

5. Biggar Puppet Theatre

18.86 MILES

A well-loved local institution that runs matinée shows every couple of days throughout the summer using miniature Victorian puppets and bizarre glow-in…

6. Craignethan Castle

21.11 MILES

With a commanding position in a stunning, tranquil spot above the River Nethan, this extensive ruin includes a virtually intact tower house and a caponier…

7. Dumfries House

21.15 MILES

A Palladian mansion designed in the 1750s by the Adam brothers, Dumfries House is an architectural jewel: such is its preservation that Prince Charles…