‘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, taking in a tour of a real mine, re-created 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.