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.
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
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
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
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
"Ye Banks and Braes"