A neat little hamlet on the western edge of the Lowther Hills in Dumfries and Galloway, Durisdeer lies on the Kirk Burn, 6 miles (10 km) north of Thornhill. Today, the settlement represents a pleasant detour from the A702 road, yet it was once on the route which connected Nithsdale with Clydesdale to the east. A Roman fortlet situated a mile (1.5 km) to the northeast once guarded this route, which is now represented by a 4-mile (6.5-km) right of way called the Well Path that still climbs out of the village to link Durisdeer with the Dalveen Pass. This path passes to the north of Durisdeer Hill, which rises to 569m (1861 feet) on the border with South Lanarkshire.
The settlement has a substantial parish church that dates from 1699 and is A-listed. This church contains the ornate burial vault of the first Duke of Queensberry, while in the churchyard is the Martyr's Grave - the last resting place of Daniel McMichael, a Covenanter who was killed at Dalveen in 1685. Outside the church is a war memorial. The manse was built in 1763, while the remainder of the village comprises smart mid-19th C. cottages. A modern cemetery to the south of the village contains the graves of ballerina Moira Shearer (1926 - 2006) and her husband author and broadcaster Sir Ludovic Kennedy (1919 - 2009). Durisdeer provided a location in the 1978 film of John Buchan's novel The Thirty Nine Steps, starring Robert Powell.