Romantic Alloway
By the Auld Brig o' Doon


The Doonbrae House Hotel

Our room in Alloway was in the charming house at Doonbrae, seen here from its garden.  Wisteria and other shrubs and flowers graced the exterior of the house, and the garden itself was lovely, even though many of its blooms were spent.  A very short walk downhill from one end of it brought us to the river about which Robert Burns wrote in "Ye Banks an' Braes o' Bonnie Doon." After a wonderful night's sleep, we awoke to a beautiful, clear day and another delicious, full Scottish breakfast.  Thus refreshed and filled, we set out on foot through Alloway.

Auld Kirk Alloway                  

Just a block from Doonbrae is the ruin of a church that was built in 1516.  Even that, however, was erected on the site of a much older church, as evidenced by a medieval memorial stone used in its building.  "Alloway's auld haunted kirk" is featured in Burns's poem "Tam O'Shanter."

In the kirkyard is the grave of Robert Burns's father, marked by a memorial to both parents ~ William and his wife Agnes Brown.  Agnes is buried in Bolton Church Yard, East Lothian.  The stone at Alloway notes that William Burns, a farmer in Lochlie, died on 13 February 1784 in the 63rd year of his age, and Agnes Brown, his wife, died on 14 January 1820 in the 88th year of her age.

From the Auld Kirk, we crossed the street and visited ...

The Robert Burns Monument and Gardens

The idea for a monument to Robert Burns was conceived in 1814.  By 1819, sufficient funds were raised that construction could begin on his birthday in 1820.  Three years later, the monument  was opened to the public.  It is now surrounded by a lovely park, where we also visited the Statue House.  Inside is a handsome bust of the Bard, as well as life-sized statues of his old friends, Tam o' Shanter and Souter Johnie, who figured prominently in some of his poems, and Nanse Tinnock, proprietress of the alehouse they frequented in Mauchline.  The statues were carved in 1830 by James Thom, a self-taught sculptor who also lived in Ayrshire.  Once outside again, we continued our walking tour of Alloway ...

The Burns Cottage

In four blocks more, we arrived at the 1757 cottage where Burns was born, and even saw the very bed. The roof of the cottage is new, and there are repairs to one wall and other very minor restoration.  Touring the humble "cot" was a unique experience, and do not doubt its genuineness. The Bard of Scotland was so loved that  Alloway  began  planning its monument to him a mere seventeen years after his death.   Photographs  are

not permitted inside the cottage, nor inside the museum that stands next door.  In the museum, however, we were privileged to see the original manuscript of Burns's "Auld Lang Syne" and other artifacts of the Bard's life and times.

On the Auld Brig o' Doon

From the museum, we picked up a sandwich and took a walk on the auld brig.  Forget the Hollywood fluff and nonsense called "Brigadoon."   The Brig o' Doon is a real bridge in the very real village of Alloway and spans the River Doon.  It was old even in Burns's lifetime, having been built in the 12th century.  John and I stood on the auld brig and wondered if the Bard had often stood on the same spot, gazing down on the bonnie Doon. As we left, an elderly Scottish couple stopped us to chat.  We talked of Scottish music, Highland games in America, and the rising interest of Americans in all things Scottish.  The gentleman was delighted when I told him of a bumper sticker I'd seen at a Highland games in North Carolina: "England forever ... Scotland a wee bit longer!"  We bade each other farewell, and John and I returned to the Doonbrae to relax before dinner.

One Enchanted Evening

Across the street from the Doonbrae, and also on the banks of the river, is the 19th-century Brig O' Doon House hotel, which had replaced the inn that had stood there in Burns's day.  Earlier this day, we'd seen a wedding party enter the hotel and heard a bagpipe playing during part of the ceremony and the reception that followed.  The hotel ballroom, and its lovely patio dining area overlooking the River Doon and its auld brig, provide the perfect place for many a romantic wedding and reception in Alloway.  We came for dinner.  The food was good and the atmosphere lovely.  When we left, we took a bottle  of wine, as suggested by our host at the Doonbrae, to enjoy our own romantic evening on the banks of  the Doon.


We took a few photos, then sat on a bench by the gently flowing waters of the River Doon.  Savoring our wine, we recalled the day's pleasures and sang all the Robert Burns songs we knew ~ "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose," "Ae Fond Kiss," "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon."  As the shadows lengthened, we pondered tomorrow ~ the last day of our journey through Scotland.

Midi: "Ye Banks and Braes"


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