IT is chiefly known as the birthplace of the poet Hugh MacDiarmid and the ancestral home of the first man to walk upon the moon. 

But now the small Dumfrieshire town of Langholm can add another feather in its cap after being named as one of the best places to live in Scotland

The Royal Mail group  has declared that the settlement on the River Esk, population 2300, is the best 'market town' for quality of life north of the border after examining a host of criteria including the average earnings of its inhabitants, the cost of living and the low rate of crime. 

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The home of one of the famous border town common ridings, Langholm can be found nudging onto the A7 but miles from anywhere else. 

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Royal Mail said the town scored highly across all categories it looked at, based on census data as well as Scottish Government social statistics and informations on schools, land use and house prices.  

Once known as the 'muckle town' because of its bustling woollen mills and burgeoning population, it was once home of bloodthirsty families of reivers who fought and raided among themselves for centuries.

Among them was the Armstrong clan, whose descendant Neil would one day achieve worldwide fame for stepping out a door.

Likewise, some locals were over the moon about their town's recognition.
John Galloway, Chairman of the local community council and owner of the Eskdale Hotel in the town, said that Langholm had picked itself up after the demise of the textiles industry on which its economy had been based in the past.

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He said: "It's a town with a very picturesque setting - in a valley with the River Esk running through it. There's plenty to do, with two sports centres, a golf club, a rugby club, a cricket club, two bowling greens, and of course, the horses."

He added: "It is a great community. There's a great spirit and whatever gets thrown at them they do their best.

"Like a lot of communities across Scotland they are facing cuts to council budgets and the withdrawal of non-essential services.

"But people have rallied round and taken some of those on themselves, for example volunteering to plant flower beds around the town.

"They want it to look nice, not just for those who live here, but for the visitors we receive."

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One woman, who did not want to be named, added: "It's a nice place to live and bring up children. It doesn't have things like McDonald's that you see in the city, but children can play outside and everybody knows everyone else. 

"The school is small and the children all make friends with each other. You don't have to worry about them."

The mother-of-four, who runs a B&B in the town, said Langholm was popular with tourists looking to experience outdoor pursuits such as cycling and hillwalking

She added: "It's a lovely place to live. Quiet and peaceful, with nice shops and things to do. I'm originally from Cheshire and couldn't go back now. I couldn't cope with the traffic."

But not all is well. Like other towns the high street has struggled in recent years and businesses have closed or relocated, including major employer the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which has plans to move its base in Langholm next month.

The Royal Bank of Scotland closed its branch in Langholm, and some small businesses have shut their doors. 

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Laura Ellis, owner of the Blue Moon vegetarian and vegan café, book and gift shop in the town believes that times could be better.

She said: "The high street used to be packed, but now your head can go up when someone goes past. A lot of businesses have closed. 
"There are no chain shops now and its all independents. We should really be shouting about that."

However, she added that Langholm's charms had grown on her, saying: "I'm here for good, now. I grew up here, then moved away in my 20s but came back when I had my son. 

"All the things you dislike about a place when you are young are things you love when you become a parent. 

"It's a beautiful town and the community spirit is fabulous. It's safe and secure. There's such history here, and it's all around you."

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said “This new study demonstrates the breadth of market towns providing attractive places for people across the UK to live and work in. 

"For people who value a good work-life balance, there are plenty of market towns to choose from. 
"Royal Mail connects communities and businesses across the UK, delivering to nearly 30 million addresses.”

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