When I’m visiting an area, I’m always intrigued to discover a bit about its background (although I do quite like exploring coffee shops too…) When we are in Dumfries & Galloway with Visit Scotland, we’re lucky enough to learn a bit more about this history-rich region.
Our first stop on the tour is Ellisland Farm, the former home of Robert Burns. I clearly needed some education, because I always associate Rabbie with Ayrshire… However, this estate was where Rabbie actually spent three years of his life, and wrote the famous works Tam O’Shanter and Auld Lyne Syne before moving to Dumfries to work as an exciseman.
It’s interesting to see inside the buildings where Burns and his wife Jean Armour lived. The original oven is still there; likewise we are able to see the view he had whilst writing his most famous poems. Our tour guide tells us that they have visitors from all over the world: this is a bit of a pilgrimage site for Burns aficionados, and makes me want to rush home and get out my anthology.
Our next taste of Dumfriesshire history is several miles down a winding country track, with firs on each side and the odd lodge house appearing behind a hill. In the distance we see Drumlanrig Castle, a red sandstone marvel of 17th century Renaissance architecture that reminds me of Mr Darcy’s palace in Pride and Prejudice. Minus the Mr Darcy, sadly.
Our guide for the tour is Nicola, perhaps one of the most educated and enthusiastic speakers I’ve ever heard. A great guide always makes history so much more interesting! She takes us around each room, passing parlours and paintings, ornate furniture and gilded objects, even pointing out the place where the Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece was stolen in 2003.
The castle is clearly the gem of Drumlanrig, but there are a host of other activities to do on this hill-hugged estate. There’s the usual outdoor pursuits (including the adventure playground, biking & hiking) and those who enjoy donning tweeds and Barbour jackets can do some game shooting or fishing. Drumlanrig also hosts the Galloway Country Fair in summer, as well as welcoming clay-crusted runners for the annual Tough Mudder challenge. I may not come back for the latter, but I’d love to return for more exploring around the vast estate.