Open farm fields surround Ardeer Steading, a tranquil place to stay in the countryside fewer than 20 miles southwest of Glasgow, Scotland (even the signage is discreet — you can spot the small marker high on the wall nearest Dubbs Road).
There’s a two-bedroom self-catering cottage (called Orchid House) and bed-and-breakfast accommodations, where I stayed. My second-floor room overlooked a seemingly endless grassland dotted with evidently contented cows.
I wasn’t drawn there by the bucolic setting, even though it’s on 100 acres on the edge of the small town of Stevenston, one of the “Three Towns” (along with Ardrossan and Saltcoats) on the east coast of the Firth of Clyde. It’s just a half-hour’s drive north of Alloway (home of the Scottish bard, Robert Burns) and a couple of miles from the ferry to the Isle of Arran. I went there because one set of my great-grandparents pulled up stakes in Stevenston and emigrated to the New World in 1870.
That’s when this region of North Ayrshire, Scotland, was a center of coal mining (close to three dozen mines were in operation in the 19th century and, yes, my great-grandfather — and his father, uncles, and brothers — all were coal miners). They must have seen the writing on the wall and fled, because almost all of the pits were exhausted by the end of the 1800s.
And, you may ask: what’s a steading? That’s a term used in Scotland to describe the service buildings or area of a farm, and Ardeer Steading is indeed a working farm. (Ardeer is the name of the once-separate sand dune-covered peninsula to the immediate south of the farm.)
That it’s an inn as well as a farm is a plus. In the Bed & Breakfast wing there are three double bedrooms, and one triple room. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with “power showers”, tea and coffee making facilities, an LCD digital television, and free unlimited WiFi access. The hosts promise free local, national and international calls to all guests in the B & B “as the season progresses”.
Breakfast — a full Scottish, Vegetarian or Continental breakfast — is served each morning.
Anyone who looks up Ardeer Steading on Google Maps will see that although farm fields are on three sides of the inn, a trailer park borders the eastern edge. I must add that the plantings and buildings are situated to, ahem, avoid this vista, and I never saw or heard anything from these neighbors during my visit.
Although I spent much of my time wandering the region to see where my ancestors lived, of course I had to go into Glasgow. I didn’t want to hassle with city traffic, so I parked my rental car in the lot at the main line train station in Kilwinning (less than two miles away), and took a train to Glasgow Central Station (trains run every 20 minutes or so).
A single room, such as mine, is £40, including breakfast. You can make a reservation on the inn’s website or via one of the usual hotel booking sites.
(Photos by Susan McKee and courtesy of Ardeer Steading)