“Old Shooting Lodge hits the target for perfect place to relax.”
By Bob Dow
It was Fred the pheasant and his two red squirrel pals who really gave the game away. Unperturbed by the delighted eyes of watching guests in the dining room, they calmly strolled around the garden as though they owned the place.
Their laid-back attitude during a daily morning appearance was a perfect reflection of what makes the Trigony House Hotel tick.
Sitting, almost unnoticed, in the Nith Valley in Dumfriesshire, this red sandstone Edwardian shooting lodge is the ideal retreat to get away from it all.
This is a corner of Scotland that is one of the nation’s best kept holiday secrets. Majestic and unspoilt, it has lived for far too long in the shadows of its more popular neighbours.
There are signs, however, that could be finally changing. Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos recently bought a mock Tudor mansion in the artistic enclave of Moniaive, while Ab-Fab TV star Joanna Lumley has a cottage in the hills close by.
For almost six years, Adam and Jan Moore have worked hard to turn Trigony into a four star country house hotel that feels more like a home. The initial signs were promising. No reception desk and a slumbering black Labrador flat on his back on one of the sofas in the lounge.
Outside in the back garden, free-range hens were happily scratching away.
Out front, Jan was patiently laying out new plots in the walled garden, which provides vegetables for the hotel kitchen, along with the hens’ eggs.
Adam leads a team of three chefs and is a firm champion of organic produce, locally sourced and which provides the basis for his rustic cooking approach.
His peasant-style influence, with leanings to France, Italy and Spain produces excellent, hearty fare combining a mix of tradition and the more unconventional.
Scallops from Kirkcudbright in a rhubarb butter sauce provided an excellent starting point while the hens’ efforts resulted in a wonderful roasted red pepper and parmesan soufflé.
Venison sausages, from the nearby Old Knockelly smokehouse, proved another hit as did the wild trout. Just as much care was taken with the desserts, including one of the best Bakewell tarts I have ever experienced and which was given a run for its money by an Ecclefechan tart.
Sleeping off such a feast was easy in one of the eight well-appointed bedrooms. Our bed was so big you needed a GPS to find your way out of it.
The sun booming over the Nithsdale hills provided the not-too-early wake up call with Fred and his pals laying on the breakfast cabaret.
Working off all this comfort offered plenty of choice. There were several walks through the sprawling countryside right from the hotels front door. Ours led to a nearby Covenanters’ cemetery then on to the village of Thornhill, just a mile away.
Further afield, a short drive takes you to Drumlanrig Castle, with its huge grounds worthy of a visit, and to see where art thieves stole the £40 million Leonardo da Vinci painting, Madonna with Yarn winder, two years ago.
Dumfries is only 10 minutes away and the hotel makes an excellent base to explore Galloway or the borders.
With both Glasgow and Edinburgh within easy striking distance, there is little doubt this is the perfect hiding place, right on your own doorstep.