One of the first settlements you reach after passing the famous 'Welcome to Scotland' signs at the border is Gretna Green, which thanks to an anomaly between the English and Scottish legal systems has long been - and still is - synonymous with elopements and quick weddings. However, if you want to break your journey north, then the attractive and popular market town of Moffat, thirty miles or so further north (and bypassed by the motorway), is a good choice. A former spa town, one of Moffat's claims to fame is that is listed in the 'Guinness Book of Records' as having Britains narrowest hotel - the Star, which is only 20 feet wide.
Moffat is a good base for exploring the surrounding Southern Uplands, with several striking routes starting from the town that take you through the most dramatic parts of the region. Of these, the finest is the A708, which heads northeast up Moffat Water over to Selkirk in the Borders. On the way, the 200-foot Grey Mare's Tail waterfall tumbles down a rocky crevasse and provides one of Dumfriesshires best-known beauty spots.
And if you're in the area in July, be sure to stop at the quiet little mill town of Langholm for its famous and spectacular Common Riding festival. The festival celebrates the town's history with a magnificent rideout involving hundreds of horses, ridden with a passion worthy of the reivers of old. These unique celebrations are a survival of the ancient practice of marking a town's boundaries and continue today as distinctive and colourful expressions of civic pride and tradition.