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Issue 6 - Hideaway Holidays

Scotland Magazine Issue 6
February 2003


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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Hideaway Holidays


How many of us long to escape from the pressures of our every day lives? To find refuge in the hills, on the loch or seashore, or even hole up in a romantic city where nobody would ever think of looking for us? Scotland is full of wonders and steeped in a rich history. While there are a large number of great hotels and there is excellent bed and breakfast accommodation, some people prefer a certain anonymity and independence, and for them we have made a selection of the more unusual opportunities available.

The 60,000 acres of Balnagown Estates in Ross-shire are close to the Dornoch Firth, on Scotland’s east coast, and comprise one of Europe’s last great wilderness areas. There are, in fact, three estates – Balnagown in Easter Ross, Inveroykel in the central Sutherland Highlands, and Duchally, further to the north beyond Glen Cassley. Inveroykel Shooting Lodge and Duchallyare available for sporting lets – salmon and trout fishing and red deer and sika stalking – but lesser known are the four luxurious estate houses on Balnagown accommodating from two to 12 guests.

Swiss Cottage has an Alpine look and is set in the parkland of Balnagown Castle, ancient seat of the Pictish kings of Scotland. The Gardener’s Cottage is also set within the grounds of Balnagown Castle,by the old walled gardens.

Then there are Marybank Lodge and Marybank Cottage, located within their own grounds and commanding southerly views over the Cromarty Firth to the Black Isle beyond. Self catering is the norm, but the Estate will happily provide catering services if required.
Balnagown Estate Office
Kildary, Ross-shire IV18 ONU
Tel. +44 (0)1862 843 601

You fall asleep in the grandeur of a magnificent cliff-top castle, once the stronghold of one of Scotland’s most powerful families, the Kennedies of Carrick. You can sip a cocktail in the elegant drawing room and watch the waves of the Firth of Clyde crashing on the rocks below the panoramic windows. Set in 565 acres, Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, on Scotland’s south west coast, was built in the late 18th century by the architect Robert Adam for the 10th Earl of Cassilis. Adam’s achievement was to transform a 15th Century medieval stronghold into a palace to symbolise the triumphant achievements of this particular branch of the Kennedy family, who first appeared in the Carrick region as early as the 13th century. The property is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland whose other properties include Mar Lodge in Aberdeenshire, which provides upmarket bed and breakfast accommodation.
National Trust for Scotland
Tel. +44 (0)131 243 9300

If you want to indulge in pure fantasy a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, then the Witchery by the Castle on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has six lavishly decorated, theatrical and antique-filled themed suites, from the tartan Inner Sanctum to The Library, The Vestry, The Guardroom, The Armoury and the gothic Old Rectory. Each is furnished with Bose sound systems, CDs, videos and books in addition to cable television, direct-dial telephones and mood-enhancing lighting. Downstairs you have the choice of two exceptional restaurants: The Witchery itself, and The Secret Garden. Outside on the narrow, cobbled, mediæval streets, the world passes by. Nobody would ever suspect you were there.
Witchery by the Castle
Castlehill, The Royal Mile,
Edinburgh EH1 2NF
Tel. +44 (0)131 225 5613

Definitely different, you can curl up for the night in The Pineapple, built for John Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore and Governor of Virginia as a garden folly in 1761. Situated at Airth, near Stirling, it is wonderfully located for exploring central Scotland, and this is just one of many landmark properties rented out as holiday retreats in three, four and seven-day stretches. Whichever Landmark property you chose, you become the owner of a fine old building for the duration of your stay. You can enjoy and make use of all of it – cook, sleep and play in it. You will learn the history of the building, and why and how it was built. You may be an architecture enthusiast, or just want a holiday in beautiful, often unusual, surroundings.
The Landmark Trust
Shottesbrook, Maidenhead,
Berkshire SL6 3SW
Tel. +44 (0)1628 825 925

Tiroran House on the Isle of Mull sits on the south west corner of the island on the road to the ferry for the sacred isle of Iona. There are six bedrooms available in this small country house with lovely gardens by the sea, where food is served among the vines of a conservatory.
Mull is a fascinating place to explore, with its principal town, Tobermory, located at the top of the island. The legend of the sunken Spanish galleon from the Armada lingers on there, but closer to Tiroran, near the mainland ferry crossing at Craignure, are Duart Castle, the ancient stronghold of Clan Maclean, and Torosay Castle, a Victorian country house which has a miniature railway in the garden. Tiroran House is closed over winter, between November and March.
Tiroran House
Tel. +44 (0)1681 705232

Down in the south west corner of the Scottish mainland is Corsewall Lighthouse at Stranraer. This is a functioning lighthouse dating from 1815 which also serves as a luxury hotel and restaurant. The lighthouse is an A-listed protected building. Its light still beams a warning to ships approaching the mouth of Loch Ryan, as it has done for 180 years. Extensive restoration has provided guests with bedrooms serviced with en suite facilities.
Corsewall Lighthouse
Tel. +44 (0)1776 853 220

Glenmorangie House, the home of one of Scotland’s favourite whiskies, is situated on the 17th Century Cadboll Estate near Tain (35 miles north of Inverness). This is a very individual hotel, offering a relaxed houseparty style for guests with views over the Moray Firth. There are nine bedrooms full of character. Prices include afternoon tea, four-course dinner (served at a communal table) and wines chosen to complement the dishes. Pop singer Sting stayed here for Madonna’s wedding at nearby Skibo Castle.
Glenmorangie House
Tel. +44 (0)1862 871 671

Now this really is remote and spectacularly beautiful. Accessible either on foot from Kinlochhourne, a distance of 25km, or by taking Bruce Watt’s boat from Mallaig, the Pier House at Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula is at the centre of a world of its own. No doubt because of this, the food, accommodation and welcome are first class. The remnants of the old Caledonian Forest can still be found at Knoydart, on Scotland’s north west coast, overlooking the Inner Hebrides. It is a peninsula of 30,000 hectares in the wettest part of the Highlands, so be prepared, although when the sun shines it is almost Caribbean. The peninsula juts out towards the Isle of Skye, and the population is just 70.
Pier House
Tel. +44 (0)1687 462 347