The Moffat rises in the Southern Uplands in a series of burns off the hillsides flowing south-west through the valley followed also by the A708 road. Between Mirk Side and Bran Law the streams receive the Tail Burn from the north, which here tumbles over a famous waterfall, the Grey Mare's Tail just above the river which below this point is known as the Moffat Water.
Moffatdale is a steep-sided, narrow dale, the valley floor widening but a little at Polmoodie. A little below in a meander at Bodesbeck the Moffat receives both the Bodesbeck Burn from the south and the Blackhope Burn from the north, and broadens.
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