The Warmest of Welcomes at Alton Albany Farm B&B

by Keith Savage · 4 comments

Alton Albany Farm B&B

Regular readers of Traveling Savage know I take the process of choosing accommodations very seriously, and new readers should know this: I’m something of a homebody and the last thing I want is to find myself in unpleasant straits after a long day out exploring Scotland. Given that I design my trips around a small number of home bases from which I range out, there’s no more important decision in my planning process than the choice of accommodation. Most important of all, perhaps, is my first night “in theater,” so to speak.

My most recent trip – the one that ended just a few weeks ago – started with a bang as I landed in Edinburgh, picked up my rental car, and immediately drove cross country to the west coast and south into the Ayrshire hills. After stops at Culzean Castle, Dunure Castle, Crossraguel Abbey, and A.D. Rattray’s Whisky Experience, I knifed down the winding, single-track road through Ayrshire’s hilly interior to the tiny village of Barr where I found my accommodation, Alton Albany Farm B&B.

Barr is a pretty town nestled in the forested valley along the River Stinchar just beyond the northwestern boundary of the Galloway Forest Park. Alton Albany Farm B&B stands on the eastern edge of town where Andrea Jones and Alasdair Currie provide their guests with a warm welcome, hot tea, and delicious scones. I arrived in the late afternoon, severely jet-lagged and exhausted from a full day of rambling, and met Andrea who showed me inside to the bright and spacious sitting room. A fire blazed in the hearth (it was early April and still quite chill) as I cast off my luggage and took a seat at the table. Before long, Alasdair came in with a tray of tea and scones and the wifi password, of course.

After so many trips around Scotland and countless stays at various B&Bs, guest houses, hotels, and other strange and wondrous places, I’ve developed a kind of sixth sense that tells me whether I will find the solace I seek within a few minutes of arrival. At Alton Albany Farm B&B, all signs pointed to yes.

My recuperative afternoon tea finished, Alasdair showed me to my room, which was upstairs and at the end of a serpentine hallway. The room was spacious with a queen-sized sleigh bed, sitting area, and private bathroom that looked like it might have been converted from a closet or small room in the past. Alasdair and Andrea had almost completely renovated Alton Albany farm after they purchased it, and the resultant mixing of old and new has come together with a pleasant homeyness. Fresh flowers, a heating blanket, and a shelf full of books by Scottish authors or about Scotland were nice touches.

I spent a good hour relaxing in my room’s sitting area catching up on email and decompressing before I decided to head out for dinner. Alasdair had mentioned a good pub, The King’s Arms, just a few minutes’ walk from Alton Albany’s front door, and he graciously called over to book me in. I passed Andrea and Alasdair working in their beautiful gardens (Andrea is a professional garden photographer) on the way to dinner and promised to have a dram with them and chat when I returned.

Later that night the three of us sat by the fire in the sitting room with drinks and snacks and discussed Traveling Savage and their own efforts in the Scottish tourism business. We chatted for a long time and their genuine interest in my work – and in helping me – led them to drum up a list of contacts that I could touch base with on the remainder of my trip, and which proved very useful. The exhaustion of travel caught up with me eventually and I retired to my room.

After a fitful night sleep on a very comfortable bed, my jet-lag alarm woke me up just shy of 3:00am. I passed the time before breakfast with hours of reading, work, and watching the sky brighten through a hundred shades of black, blue, and gray. When I descended to the dining room, the sun had just started peeking out from behind broken clouds. Then, breakfast.

Ah, how I’ve missed you Scottish breakfast. Alton Albany’s breakfast set the bar very high. Alasdair brought out my plate heaped with sauteed mushrooms, poached eggs, crisped rashers of bacon with just a bit of fat, broiled cherry tomatoes still on the vine, local bangers, and outstanding black pudding that gives the Stornoway variety a run for its money. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, homemade jams and toast, and strong black coffee complemented the spread. I disappeared the food in short order, savoring every triumphant bite. Alasdair and Andrea locally source the food where they can, and the flavors were bright, intense, and set me up for the day. I shamefully admit I considered a second plate when Alasdair offered it.

Alas, my stay at Alton Albany was only for a night as my next port of call would be Kirkcudbright. I packed up my things and checked in on Alasdair and Andrea’s impressive photo library in another wing of the house. The three of us walked through their gardens and Andrea took a photo of Alasdair and I (and their two dogs) in front of the Alton Albany sign (maybe they’ll post a link to it in the comments – Update 5/22/14: Check out Alton Albany’s blog with the photo here.).

Alton Albany is a beautiful B&B in the pastoral and surprisingly secluded town of Barr. It feels a bit out in the wild, pleasantly so, and the welcome and care I received from Alasdair and Andrea was second to none. Perfect for my introduction to yet another trip to Scotland. I look forward to returning to Alton Albany Farm B&B in the future. In the meantime, maybe you should visit and let me know what you think.

KenNo Gravatar May 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Sounds so good. I really envy you the Scottish breakfasts. I long for them almost daily, especially including the haggis and the kippers. I have to start planning for my next trip to Scotland.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 22, 2014 at 6:46 PM

This was a particularly stellar breakfast. Their local butcher, We Hae Meats, makes some of the best black pudding I’ve ever had. Nearly asked for seconds.

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