Re-launch of Dumfries & Galloway Life Magazine

Aston Hotel Dumfries proudly hosted the re-launch of Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine and would like to say a huge thank you to all those who attended and made it such a success.

Sales Manager Shonagh Wright said, “It was even better than we had hoped, the fantastic weather meant we could hold the entire event outside on the lawn. The Crichton Estate which is in full bloom made the perfect backdrop for over 80 guests who arrived in the early evening”. Guests were welcomed with iced Pimms, sparkling Elderflower cordial and presented with a “hot off the press” copy of the new look magazine.

The Dumfries Community Choir sang their hearts out as guest mingled and caught up with friends and collegues old and new. Heart-felt speeches from Alex Ferguson MP, Dame Barbour Kelly and Cathy Agnew spoke of how the magazine which is in its 7th year has transformed the way that we and our valued visitors discover and take pride in our region. Cathy Agnew declared, “this magazine is open.”

Aston Hotel Chef John Gibson from Sanqhar created a stunning selection of hot and cold canapés featuring local ingredients which were offered round and went perfectly with the evening. He said, “It’s been a pleasure to cook and prepare for such a special event, perhaps they should have a re-launch every year!”

To find out more or to subscribe to this magazine please visit

10 Top Tips from our Wedding Planner Crystal Durok.

1) Don’t forget to thank the Best Man, Ushers, Bridesmaids etc. for all their help not just on the day but in the run up to the wedding.

2) Don’t let others force their opinions and ideas onto you as it will blur your vision of what you want.

3) Never put your wedding cake in the fridge unless it is made from butter icing it will sink!

4) Always have a spare piece of raw meat available to tempt down an owl who may have stolen the rings during the ring delivery (True story).

5) Think outside the box when it comes to your guest book. Why not try a wishing tree or a message in a bottle.

6) Keep your guests entertained throughout the day, whether this is with a magician, kids play table or Photo challenges with disposable cameras.

7) Ask a friend to remind you of the time throughout the day so it doesn’t rush past you

8) If you are really struggling with your table plan, only allocate your top table and let everyone sit where they wish. After all you’re all friends and family.

9) Remember to enjoy your day, after all, regardless of what happens you have just married your soul mate.

10) Save a piece of wedding cake for your hard working, Wedding co-ordinator! See our website for latest wedding offers

See our website for latest wedding offers


“Thrive for Business” arrives at the Aston

July is a very exciting month for us here at the Aston as we welcome “Thrive for Business” a networking club that allows members to connect, collaborate and interact with key local business in a structured and professional environment. Thrive members will meet at Aston Dumfries on a monthly basis and are also launching the first Sponsored Seminar here at the Aston on July 25th. This innovative event will feature 4 VIP speakers and be followed by wine and local cheese buffet.

Managing Director of Thrive for Business, Amanda Kremer said today, “ We are delighted to be running Thrive for D&G at The Aston Hotel, both on the club meeting front and the Sponsored Seminars. We think that the revised timing will encourage a greater participation from a wider audience and the buffet lunch will be a great feature where delegates can network informally. Frankly we can’t wait!”

See our website for latest conference offers

Wickerman Festival – Scotland’s friendliest festival!

Watch Scottish national treasures such as Amy McDonald, Katie Tunstall and Primal Scream as they entertain revelers of all ages.

Set in Dundrennan just 25 miles from the hotel the Wickerman festival is in its 12th year. The events success can be attributed to the friendly, family atmosphere and the wide range of music, poetry, dance and food that is on offer.

Tickets available up to and on the day – weekend adult tickets from £95.00 Children under 12 free – see website for terms and conditions

See our website for latest accommodation offers

Take a look at what you can expect by following this link

Scotlands national tennis treasure has been putting us through our paces! Phew we need a drink after last nights game!

If this weekends tennis fixtures games are going to get you hot under your polo shirts may we suggest a refreshing drink from our Wimbledon menu at the Aston Hotel Dumfries?

Centre Court – Glass of Champers with a side of Fresh Scottish Strawberries and cream – £9.95

Mixed Doubles – Non Alcohol Fruit smoothies Mango & Pineapple or Strawberry & Banana – £3.50

Jug Judy – Jug of Pimms with cucumber fresh mint, strawberries and ice – Serves four – £15.00 per jug

Double Fault – Large Gordons Gin and Tonic served over crushed ice and Lime wedge £7.50

Murrays Mound – A piled up portion of Scottish Strawberries and freshly whipped cream – £3.95

So where did Pimms come from? Usually credited to James Pimm, a shellfish monger from Kent who opened his famous Pimm’s Oyster Bar in London in 1823. Using gin, quinine and his own secret mixture of herbs, Pimm created a drink that he served as an aid to digestion.

Make your own at home? You will need – 3 parts lemonade to one part Pimm’s, 1 slice orange, 1 slice lemon, 2 slices cucumber, 1 sliced strawberry, sprig of mint.

Then mix it like this – Pour Pimm’s into a glass half filled with ice. Add fruit and fill the glass with more ice. Top with lemonade, lightly stir and serve. For an alternative to lemonade, try ginger ale.

Aston Hotel Dumfries Launches new Galloway sharing Platters!

Dumfries & Galloway offers a rich natural larder and boasts an abundance of award winning food producers and artisan tastes

Symon McGregor, Head Chef has come up with an innovative way to showcase the finest flavours the region has to offer.

Symon proudly presents his “Galloway Sharing Platters”.

What better way is there to sample local smoked fish, cured meats, cheeses and chutneys than to share with a friend over a glass of wine.

As there are so many producers to choose from Symon changes the selection regularly however you can be sure you will enjoy the finest freshest bite size tastes from our region.

Platters are priced at £15.00 per person (minimum 2) and can be enjoyed in either of our stylish modern lounges, alfresco in the sunshine or in our Brasserie which overlooks the 100 acre estate.

Call 01387 272 410 to book your table and savour the flavours of this unique region in style.

We recommend our Santiano Merlot priced at £16.95 to accompany your platter – or for special celebrations enjoy our Italian Prosecco on ice at £20.95 per bottle.

Links to local food producers:




Shonagh and Symon Sharing Platter

Shonagh and Symon Sharing Platter

Drumlanrig Castle

Drumlanrig Castle constantly remains one of the most popular destinations for tourism in Dumfries & Galloway. Originally built between 1679 and 1689 Drumlanrig Castle is better known by some as the ‘Pink Castle’ thanks to the distinctive pink sandstone that was used during its creation.

Home to the internationally renowned ‘Buccleuch Art Collection’ Drumlanrig is a prime attraction for those with a passion for art. The collection features such treasures as Rembrant’s ‘The Old Woman Reading’ and other masterpieces from artists such as Thomas Gainsborough & Caspar Netscher. The art gallery hit national news a few years ago when two art thieves stole a Leonardo Da Vinci painting believed to be worth millions of pounds.

The surrounding 40 acres of gardens deserve a special mention. A prime example of one of the best-kept estates in Scotland, many of the designs in the Formal Garden date back to the early 17th & 18th Centuries. Restoration work is routinely carried out on the grounds ensuring that the gardens evolve more and more with each visit.

For more information on the history of Drumlanrig and available attractions, please visit here.

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is one of Scotland’s great medieval fortresses. For 400 years it stood on the very edge of the kingdom. To the south across the Solway Firth, lay England. For most of its history Caerlaverock played an important role in the defence of the realm.

Long before the castle was built, the Romans built a fort on the summit of Ward Law Hill, overlooking the castle from the north. By about 950, the British lords of ‘Karlauerock’ (the name may mean ‘fort of the skylark’) had built a fort on the site. Around 1220, Alexander II of Scotland, needing trusted men to secure the Scottish West March, granted the estate to his chamberlain, Sir John de Maccuswell (Maxwell). Sir John built the ‘old’ castle. Within 50 years, his nephew, Sir Herbert, had moved to a new castle just 200m away to the north. There the Maxwell lords remained for the next 400 years.

Caerlaverock’s triangular shape is unique among British castles. Why it was built this way is not known. A walk around the castle gives a sense of its strength, its economy of form and its pleasing geometry. Three lengths of defensive curtain wall are linked at their three angles by high corner towers. The north tower, facing into Scotland, is a mightily impressive twin-towered gatehouse, where the Maxwells had their private suite of rooms.

Down the years the Maxwells repaired and upgraded their ancestral castle. The formidably impressive slotted defences (machicolations) at the tops of the three towers date from the late 14th/early 15th century, after the ravages of the Wars of Independence with England had taken their toll. Inside the castle walls stands the remarkable Nithsdale Lodging, built in the 1630s by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. Its attractive façade, embellished with ornate Renaissance stone carvings, contrasts wonderfully with the severity of the ancient castle walls.

The Legacy of the Crichton Estate, Dumfries

In 1834, following a bequest from the late Dr James Crichton, who had made a fortune trading with the East India Company, his wife Elizabeth, set about building a legacy. Elizabeth built Crichton Hall in the magnificent 100-acre estate, to serve as a psychiatric hospital. Elizabeth had intended to build a university also but this failed due to lack of support from the establishment at the time. Though ironically, there is a flourishing educational hub on the estate today.

Crichton Royal Hospital, as it became known, developed over the next 100 years into the outstanding conservation estate we see today. The visible phases of development tell the story of the development of care of psychiatric patients from a walled asylum to smaller pavilion buildings providing a more homely feel.

The magnificent, gothic cathedral style Crichton Memorial Church, built to commemorate its founders was completed in 1897. The last major development of the original hospital was the imposing art deco Easterbrook Hall, completed in 1938. This was conceived as the main therapeutic and recreational building with a wide range of facilities ranging from operating theatre through to library, refectory, auditorium, gym, cinema, swimming pool and squash courts.

Throughout the development of the hospital, it was renowned for the quality and forwarding looking nature of its healthcare, the quality of the buildings and the100 acre landscaped parkland and gardens in which it is set. The hospital is a shining example of Victorian /Edwardian philanthropic approach to wellbeing.

By the 1980s, advances in medicine and care meant that patient numbers dwindled and the hospital gradually closed, marking the end of large Victorian hospitals not just in Dumfries but all over the country.

In 1995, Dumfries and Galloway Council bought most of the estate with a view to protecting it for the nation and turning it to productive new uses to benefit the local community.

Today, the estate thrives and offers a whole mix of community and business uses from weddings at The Crichton Church, Easterbrook Hall, the University Campus, Business Park, conference and events centre and the Aston Hotel.

The Aston Hotel Dumfries is located 14 miles from Lockebie, Gretna Green 26 miles, Carlisle 34 miles, Penrith 34 miles, Glasgow Airport 87 miles, Glasgow City 78 miles, Stranraer 68 miles and 90 miles from Newcastle Upon Tyne.

On Your Bike in Dumfries & Galloway

Enjoy The Freedom of The Road

Whether you’re a motorbike devotee or an outdoor activist mountain biker, there’s everything you could wish to explore on wheels in Dumfries & Galloway from thrilling mountain bike trails to quad biking and scenery just waiting for a wheel-bound journey.

Bike along country roads with the refreshing west coast breeze as you journey through Dumfries and Galloway. Explore the stretch between Moffat and Portpatrick where good back roads transport you through wonderful forests to the beautiful coastal fishing village and stop off at the attractions and gardens along the way to really experience what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.

Theres local flavours that foodies can discover on special menus designed for bikers including The Selkirk, The Buccleuch and our own Aston Dumfries Hotel on the Crichton Estate.

Pass through where Robert the Bruce camped in 1307 to the centre of the Galloway Forest and in Glentrool you can enjoy astonishing views from Bruce’s Stone, overlooking the scene where his battle with the English took place near Loch Trool. Moffat Woollen Mill is another worthwhile stop on this route with excellent facilities for bikers and a variety of local products on sale.

Put wheels in motion and enjoy the freedom of the open road beside the coastline in southern Scotland and if you’re game there’s a 308-mile route that takes in coastal views or if you want a shorter ride, there are beautiful lochs within the area.

Test Your Technical Skill on Mountain Bikes. This region is a haven for cyclists with its mixture of challenging and simple routes whether you are thrill seeking or biking with the family in the peaceful forest trails. The area boasts five of the seven stanes centres and this area has long been a cyclists haven.

At Dalbeattie by the coast you can test your abilities on some of the red and black graded trails and if this is you’re thing, attempt the Slab, an almost vertical granite rock where the descent is truly exhilarating. Enthusiasts will also enjoy the Hardrock Trail, great even during wet weather as the surface offers grip no matter what the season, while beginners can take a leisurely ride on gentle paths.

North of Dumfries is Ae set within a beautiful forest and which has steep climbs and wild descents making for some exhilarating mountain biking and free ride biking on the Ae Line.

Mabie to the south has wonderful views across the Solway Firth and the Nith Estuary and you can practice in the dedicated skills area. The Kona Dark Side is an orange bike park for experts only and it is definitely not for the fainthearted since most attempt it on foot before venturing there by bike.

Some of the best single-track in the country can be found at Kirroughtree and at the blue Larg Hill run you will also find occasional small rock drops. Classic cross-country trails come with technical features on a red run known as the Twister or families will love the mix of easier routes and the children’s play area.

Whether you want to follow the Big Country Route at Glentrool or you’re after an adrenaline kick, this area is unrivalled for mountain bikers.