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Issue 4 - The Great Escape

Scotland Magazine Issue 4
September 2002

 

This article is 15 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The Great Escape

Charles Douglas gets away from it all

For those in search of an escape from the big city pressures of modern life, the Scottish countryside beckons. The climate, often featuring four seasons in a day, may not always be what you had hoped for, but this is off-set by spectacular scenery, open skies and the opportunity to do exactly as you please. From north to south, east to west, an all-embracing sense of tranquillity and privacy is easily to be found, with time moving at a slower pace. In the west of Scotland, it is often asked if there is a Gaelic word equivalent to the Spanish word mañana. The most typical response is no, nothing so immediate.

Boath House Hotel and Spa
Auldearn, Nairnshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1667 454 896
Website: www.boath-house.demon.co.uk
Located 15 mins from Inverness Airport, this magnificent Georgian mansion set in its own private grounds was saved by Don and Wendy Matheson. There is an award-winning restaurant Under Chef, Charles Lockley, nominated among the top 10 in Scotland. There is plenty to do in and around the hotel, but for those who enjoy visiting historic castles, there are four in the immediate vicinity – Cawdor ( ancestral home of the Campbells of Cawdor), Brodie (home of the Brodies of Brodie and today owned by the National Trust for Scotland), Kilravock (ancestral home of the Roses of Kilravock), and Darnaway (home of the earls of Moray). A short distance away is the battlefield of Culloden, where in 1746 the Jacobite army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart was defeated.

Hilton Craigendarroch
Ballater, Aberdeenshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1339 755 558
Website: www.hqvc.com
45 bedrooms, two restaurants and a range of leisure facilities makes this a resort rather than a retreat, but it all depends upon what you are looking for. This fine former sporting lodge is in the heart of Royal Deeside, in close proximity to the Royal residence of Balmoral,and it is easy to get lost in the beautiful surroundings if that is what one wants. One of the great local attractions held during the autumn is the Royal Braemar Gathering and Games attended by the Queen.

The Seafield Hotel
Cullen, Morayshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1542 840 791
Website: www.theseafieldarms.co.uk
On the Morayshire coast, well out of the way, this is a former coaching inn built by the 5th Earl of Seafield in 1822 and extended by the current Earl. A friendly welcome is extended by owners Alison and Herbert Cox.

Cullen Bay Hotel
Cullen, Morayshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1542 840 432
Website: www.cullenbayhotel.com
This is a comfortable, family-run business with spectacular views overlooking the Moray Firth. The hotel, with excellent family accommodation, was built in 1924 on the site of Farskane House, a former residence of the lairds of Gordon.

Applecross Inn
Applecross,
Wester Ross
Tel: +44 (0) 1520 744 262
Website: www.applecross.net
There are seven bedrooms in this pretty building which has views across Applecross Bay. A lively local community provides musical evenings in the bar, but it is not intrusive and owner Judith Fish will make sure that you are well looked after.

Cape Wrath Hotel
near Durness
Tel: +44 (0) 1971 511 212
Website: www.capewrath.co.uk
At the very top of the west coast, the hotel is surrounded by 40,000 acres of land under the stewardship of Scottish National Heritage. There are breathtaking views across the Sound of Durness, and nearby are the Clo Mor Cliffs, at 281 metres the highest in the country.

Glen Clova Hotel
Kirriemuir, Angus
Tel: +44 (0) 1575 550 203
Website: www.glenclova.co.uk
Near to the birthplace of the playwright James Barrie of Peter Pan fame, Kirriemuir is a delightful spot for those who enjoy pony trekking, skiing or fruit picking during the summer months. The hotel is also well situated for exploring the neighbourhood.

Mullardoch House
GlenCannich, near Drumnadrochit,
Invernesshire Tel: +44 (0) 1456 415 460
Website: www.mullhouse1.demon.co.uk
Situated eight miles up a one track road, this wonderful hideaway was built as a hunting lodge for The Chisholms in 1912. South west of Inverness, it is in close proximity to Loch Ness. However, the house itself has views overlooking Loch Sealbhanach to the Affric mountains and those who stay there can enjoy long excursions over the same territory.

Invervar Lodge
Glen Lyon, Perthshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1887 877 206
Website: www.btinternet.com/~invervar.lodge
This former Victorian shooting lodge is owned and run by Christopher and Sonja Seiler. Situated in one of Scotland's loveliest and longest glens, it is close to Loch Tay, Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummell.

Tomdoun Hotel
near Invergarry
Tel: +44 (0) 1809 511 218
Built as a sporting lodge in 1895, this is a great anglers hotel overlooking the Upper Garry River and not far from Loch Hourne. There are wonderful walks in the surrounding hills.

Ballachulish House
Argyll
Tel: +44 (0) 1855 811 266
Website: www.ballachulishhouse.com
With eight en suite bedrooms and all the atmosphere of a 17th century laird's house belonging to the Stewarts of Appin, this is the ideal location to explore Appin and Glencoe, where the massacre of the CIan Macdonalds of Glencoe in 1692 still resonates in the Highland psyche.

Tushielaw Inn
Ettrick Valley
Tel: +44 (0) 1750 622 05
Website: www.s-h-systems.co.uk/a05750
There are only three bedrooms in thischarming retreat from which to explore the Ettrick Valley, one of Scotland's hidden tourism secrets. The landscape here is
lovely, and there are wonderful excursions to St Mary's Loch and the Meggat Valley.

Shieldhill Castle
Quothquan, near Biggar in Lanarkshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1899 220 035
Website: www. shieldhillcastle.com
Parts of this wonderful country house date back to the 12th century. Almost equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow, this South Lanarkshire estate used to belong to the Chancellor family. Today owned and run by Bob and Christina Lamb, visitors are made to feel that they are staying in their own home and under chef Ashley Gallant, Chancellors Restaurant was recently number two in the Flavour of Scotland Thistle Awards. The former South African President Nelson Mandela is among those who have taken advantage of the privacy to be found here.

The Open Arms
Dirleton,
East Lothian
Tel: +44 (0) 1620 850 241
Website: home.clara.net/openarms
Situated between the coastal golfing villagesof Gullane and North Berwick, this has longbeen a family-owned hotel with an excellentreputation for food. Today owned by Chrisand Lyn Hansen, it is an ideal spot for those who like to be close to the sea, and yet have the opportunity to explore the hinterland.

Edenwater House
Ednam, near Kelso,
Roxburghshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1573 224 070
Website: www.edenwaterhhouse.co.uk
A former Church of Scotland manse situated in the heart of a pretty Border village, Edenwater House, with its four luxurious rooms and its beautiful garden, is a very special place to stay. Owned by Jeff and Jacqui Kelly, Jacqui's specially prepared dinners are exceptional.

The Lodge at Carfraemill
near Lauder,
Berwickshire
Tel: +44 (0) 01578 750 750
Website: www.carfraemill.co.uk
Run by its owner Mrs Jo Sutherland, this was once an old coaching inn that has expanded to meet modern demands. It is, however, still a hideaway for those interested in exploring the heart of the Scottish Borders. Nearby places of interest include Mellerstain, the magnificent mansion house built for the earls of Haddington by Scottish architect William Adam, and Thirlestane Castle, home of the duke and earls of Lauderdale and still lived in by their descendants.

Burts
Melrose
Tel: +44 (0) 1896 822 285
Website: www.burtshotel.co.uk
This small hotel situated in Melrose's 18th century market place has been owned for over 30 years by Graham and Anne
Henderson who have now been joined by son Nicholas and wife Trish. It is ideally located to explore the glories of the Scottish Borderland, or for those who just would like to take a stroll along the banks of the River Tweed. Incidentally, the Hendersons have a selection of over 90 Scotch malt whiskies in their bar.

Clint Lodge
St Boswells
Tel: +44 (0) 1835 822 027
Website: www.clintlodge.co.uk
Owned and run by Bill and Heather Walker, this small country house with five bedrooms provides an opportunity to visit Dryburgh Abbey and many other local beauty spots.

Glenapp Castle
By Ballantrae, Ayrshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1465 831 212
Website: www.glenappcastle.com
Graham and Fay Cowan preside over this magnificent former Victorian home of the earls of Inchcape. With 17 individually furnished bedrooms and suites, and seemingly endless oak panelled passages, staying here is fun. It is open from April to October to individual guests and for exclusive reservations the remainder of the year.

Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel
near Stranraer
Tel: +44 (0) 1776 853 220
Website: www.lighthousehotel.co.uk
This is a bit of fun, an 18th century "A" listed lighthouse, overlooking the Firth of Clyde with five suites and six bedrooms. The light still warns shipping approaching Loch Ryan, and there are superb distant views of the peninsula of Kintyre, and the islands of Arran and Ailsa Craig.

Clonyard House Hotel
Colvend,
Kirkcudbrightshire
Tel: +44 (0) 1556 630 372
Website: www.clonyardhotel.co.uk
Near the Solway Coast, yet only 20 miles from Dumfries, this comfortable house with 15 bedrooms is set in secluded grounds. The National Trust for Scotland's garden at Threave is nearby, as is Broughton House, the turn-of-the century home of the painter Hornel.

The North East
With the Highland capital of Inverness (now with city status) situated on the Moray Firth, the regions immediately north and south are rich in anecdote and legend. Across the Black Isle, so called because it was once conquered by Viking raiders (or because it simply looks black when viewed across the water from the South), the road runs north towards Wick through small towns such as Tain and Helmsdale, past Dunrobin Castle, ancestral home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, and with malt whisky distilleries such as Glenmorangie and Clynelish along the route.

To the east is the oil-rich city and port of Aberdeen, and wooded, rural Aberdeenshire – Donside and Deeside – popularised by Queen Victoria in the 19th century, and more recently by the arrival of the comedian Billy Connolly who has bought himself a castle near Strathdon. Between Inverness and Aberdeen is Speyside, whisky country, rich farmland basking in the shadows of the Cairngorm Mountains. They do say that on either side of the Moray Firth there exists a micro-climate as it always seems to be mild.

The North West
Mountains, forests and lochs, this is the dramatic scenery of picture postcards. The west coast climate here is mild,
encouraging the creation of the magnificent garden at Inverewe, today owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

Central North East
Stretching west, like the fingers of a hand, are the glens of Angus: Glenesk, Glen Mark, Glen Clova, Glen Prosen and Glenisla.

Scenically beautiful, this territory is sparsely populated, rich farmland, with the towns of Perth and Dundee to the south, and Cairn o'Mount leading into Aberdeenshire to the north. Places to visit include Blair Castle, ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl, Scone Palace at Perth, seat of the Earls of Mansfield, and Glamis Castle, childhood home of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.

Central North West
Some of Scotland's wildest landscape and most breathtaking views, both coastal and inland, are to be found on the west coast between Oban and Fort William. Offshore can be seen the islands of Lewis and Harris, and to the south, Skye. No wonder Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled here and then on to the Hebrides following his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. And no wonder too that the government soldiers who pursued him never caught up with him This is real, unspoiled Scotland where it is easy to become lost in the sheer self-indulgence of the landscape.

The South
The centre of southern Scotland, the county of Lanarkshire which ranges between and below Glasgow and Edinburgh towards Dumfriesshire does not have the majesty of the Highlands, but is nevertheless a wonderful retreat for those who know where to go.

The South East
Exploring Berwickshire can be most enjoyable, with visits to the National Galleries of Scotland's outreach gallery at Paxton House, or to Duns Castle (which featured as Balmoral in the film Mrs Brown) and Manderston (used as a setting in the film House of Mirth), both on the outskirts of the little town of Duns. Then for those not preoccupied with golf on the many courses available on this coastline, there are the beaches, some of the most accessible and golden-sanded to be found in Scotland, even if they do not necessarily inspire you to rush into the water.

The Borders
There is a Borders saying that "King Arthur sleeps under the Eildons." Certainly this region is rich in myth and romance. The Scottish Arthurian legend even has it that the Holy Grail is buried here. Once the centre of the Scottish textile industry, times have been hard for the small communities built up on the many mills of Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk, but the spirit of the now largely farming communities remains undaunted. Visitor attractions include Bowhill, home of the Duke of Buccleuch and Abbotsford, built for the Border Wizard, the author Sir Walter Scott. The heart of Scotland's hero king, Robert the Bruce, is buried in Melrose Abbey.

The South West
Close to the passing Gulf Stream, the climate of the south west of Scotland is mild and the vegetation along the coastline is
astonishingly lush as a result. This was Glasgow's holiday playground when every summer the rich and prosperous, and those not so rich and prosperous would head "doon the watter" to the towns of Troon and Ayr. Today great houses such as Culzean Castle, home of the Kennedies of Cassilis, and Kellburn Castle, the Earl of Glasgow's home with its country park, further to the north, have become major visitor attractions, and with superb courses such as are to be found at Turnberry, this is a golfer’s paradise.