Great Places to Stay
- Lockerbie Manor, Dumfries and Galloway
Lockerbie is the first large town north of Carlisle just over the Scottish/English Border. This historic red stone market town, famous for its lamb and sheep trade was, in the late 19th century, an important staging post on the Glasgow to London road. Now it's a quieter place, off the beaten track since the opening of the bi-pass and M74 motorway, although the railway station is on the main West Coast main line to Birmingham and London. The surrounding farming land of rolling fields, and hills is peaceful and fascinating part of Dumfries and Galloway to tour around, from Gretna Green, along the coastal road of the Solway Firth to Annan and over to Dumfries.
Lockerbie is now more widely known because of the tragic event here on Wednesday 21 December 1988. At 7.03pm a bomb on board Pan American Flight 103 en route from London to New York, exploded over Lockerbie. The aircraft crashed on the outskirts of the town and 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed.
The disaster is commemorated by stained glass windows in the Council Chambers illustrating the nation flags of the deceased, a Book of Remembrance and at Dryfesdale Cemetery there is a Garden of Remembrance. Many families and friends continue to take a pilgrimage to Lockerbie to pay their respects.
Set in 78 acres of park and woodland, this magnificent Georgian mansion was built in 1814 for Sir William Douglas and Dame Grace Johnstone and their famous great-grandson, John Sholto Douglas, the 8th Marquis of Queensberry. He was responsible for developing the present day "Queensberry" boxing rules, believed to have been written in this house. In 1920 Lockerbie Manor was transformed into a country house hotel with an extension wing added to provide further accommodation. This 3-star hotel has been privately owned by Andy and Clare Gorman since 2005. Tasteful refurbishment of the public rooms has now been completed, preserving its magnificent drawing room and dining room, ornate cornicing, Adam fireplaces and grand staircase. Period furniture, paintings and portraits add to the elegant setting throughout the hotel. The cosy lounge bar is a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary, with a touch of tartan and featuring a fabulous re-upholstered old French sofa.
Service and attention is readily offered by a staff of young people and it seems any request is dealt with efficiently and with a smile. A log fire burns at reception on arrival, which is most welcome.
There are currently 32 ensuite bedrooms at Lockerbie Manor, although this will reduce to 28 bedrooms to create more spacious rooms and suites with upgraded bathrooms. Rooms 33 and 34 are Honeymoon suites with four-poster beds, Jacuzzi baths and lovely parkland views available at a very reasonable £130 bed and breakfast, for two. Many of the rooms at present (January 2007) are rather dated in terms of old oak furniture, wire coathangers, flowery wallpaper and bedspreads, 1970s style bathrooms and electric heaters. Heating and hot water are not very efficient. However, the rooms are clean and you'll find a colour television, tea and coffee tray and trouser press. For a reasonable tariff, (with good dinner, bed and breakfast rates of £46 - £54 per person) the accommodation is perfectly comfortable. There are family rooms, single, twin and double rooms.
Dining at Lockerbie Manor will be your highlight of your stay. The Queensberry Dining room is painted in classic crimson red with chandeliers and tartan drapes, creating a romantic ambience. Begin the evening in the bar or the drawing room for a drink as you study the menu. The drawing room is sumptuously furnished with gorgeous sofas and armchairs, and a grand piano with log fire blazing. The bar, as described above, is charming with comfy seats and a real fire. If you are not on a dinner, bed and breakfast rate, the excellent three course table d'hôte dinner is in the region of £21-£25. The style of cuisine is modern Scottish and illustrates great flair and imagination from Head Chef Will Furlong and his team. First there is a surprise amuse-bouche, on this occasion, a tiny sliver of Smoked salmon with crème fraiche, Start perhaps with Black Pudding topped with a poached egg and garnished with salad leaves, or garlic mushrooms brioche. Speciality of the kitchen is the local Buccleuch Beef served in a variety of ways, such as Pan Fried Sirloin, with wild mushroom and grain mustard jus. Alternatively, Fillet of Salmon, served with creamed leeks and sundried tomatoes. Accompanying main courses is a platter of fresh vegetables, such as cauliflower, carrots and baby roast potatoes, cooked to perfection. Vegetarians are also catered for with perhaps Goat's Cheese Soufflé.
The waiting staff include a young team of local boys and girls, still at school or college, learning the ropes of hospitality. They are enthusiastic, helpful and courteous, keen to do a good job and learn about food, wine and service.
For dessert, there was traditional apple crumble, delicious cream o' Galloway ice-cream with strawberries as well as a good platter of Scottish cheese. Bar meals are also available for lunch and supper.
Breakfast, also served in the Queensberry Dining room, was excellent with typical choice of porridge or cereals, full Scottish of bacon and egg, scrambled egg or smoked haddock, large pots of tea and coffee, toast and marmalade. All very traditional and well presented.
Sunday lunch is very popular with non residents, so do book ahead to experience this cracking carvery of Roast Beef and all the trimmings.
Receptions, Weddings and Private Parties.
With Gretna Green just about 15 minutes drive away, this is a very romantic part of Scotland to get married. You could have your wedding ceremony at the Blacksmith's Shop, Gretna Green (see illustration) with the reception at Lockerbie Manor, or plan a civil or religious ceremony at the hotel. There is a choice of banqueting suites depending on guest numbers - from a party of 20 in the Douglas Room to a maximum of 100 in the Johnstone Room. A marquee in the garden can also be arranged. With wedding parties of 50 guests or over, the bride and groom are given a complimentary stay in the Honeymoon suite. Lockerbie Manor can help you plan a wide range of celebratory events and private parties. The hotel location, equidistant between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Carlisle is also ideal for corporate meetings and conferences.
Leisure and Sports
The local countryside offers the visitor fresh air for healthy coastal walks and cycling routes. Drive to Gretna Green Old Blacksmith's Shop and visitor centre, castles and museums. Drumlanrig Castle (see graphic) with its Queensberry estate, beautiful gardens and country park, is home to the Duke of Buccleuch and worth a visit - 17 miles north from Dumfries. The Hallmuir Pow Chapel, Lockerbie is a living memorial to the Ukrainian Prisoners of war who were sent to Scotland at the end of WWII rather than being imprisoned by the Russians. Many later chose to stay behind and set up family life here. For sports enthusiasts, there are 27 golf courses across Dumfries and Galloway with several in this area - Lockerbie, Gretna, Powfoot, Moffat and Langholm nearby, as well as fishing and pony trekking.
For more information or to make a reservation see the Lockerbie Manor Web site or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The postal address is Lockerbie Manor, Boreland Road, Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, DG11 2RG.
Taking the train from Edinburgh, it was just an hour's pleasant journey down to Lockerbie. A short taxi ride took us up the hill to the hotel. This really is a charming property and the public rooms are stunning. I was most impressed by the comfort and service and the food is certainly first class. There's a real sense of history here, yet beautifully balanced by smart, modern design. Once renovation of the bedrooms is complete, this will be an idyllic, wee country house for a relaxing break or touring Dumfries and Galloway.
Vivien Devlin, British Guild of Travel Writers
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