Heroes of Scotland: Interview with Sir Andy Murray - Scotland Magazine
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Heroes of Scotland: Interview with Sir Andy Murray

Tennis champion Sir Andy Murray is one of Scotland’s best-known international sports stars. He tells us about his hometown, Dunblane, and where in Scotland features on his travel bucket list

Words: Fiona Laing

What place do you remember most vividly from your childhood?

Dunblane Tennis Club. It was just around the corner from my grandparents’ house, and it’s pretty much where I learnt to play the game with my brother. Our Mum [Judy] was also a coach there, so it was easy for us to join in with sessions after school and over the weekend.

Where do you remember fondly?

My grandparents’ house always holds special memories. Their house backs on to Dunblane Golf Club and was very close to the tennis club. We’d spend a lot of time there after school and it was always a regular venue for birthdays and Christmas – it still is!

Is there a particular place that holds warm memories for you?

Dunblane Cathedral. My wife Kim and I got married there back in 2015, it was an incredible day that neither of us will ever forget. Lots of the community came out to support us and we were able to be with some of our closest family friends in the town that enabled me to be the person and the player I am today.

Where do you like to spend time in Scotland?

Unfortunately due to the demand of the professional tennis tour and the fact it’s one of the more packed sporting schedules, it sadly means I rarely get to venture back to Scotland. However, whenever I do get the chance, I like to go up and visit my family in Dunblane. Both my parents still live in the area, and it’s always nice to be back. I love Bridge of Allan. There’s an amazing ice cream shop there called the Allan Water Café, which I try to visit whenever I’m back.

What do you miss about Scotland when you are away?

My family! Most of them still live there, so it’s hard not being able to get back as much as I would like.

Where would you recommend visitors go?

Call me biased but Dunblane and the surrounding area really is a hidden gem. Bridge of Allan is well worth a visit: it’s a brilliant little riverside village. You also have local landmarks like the Wallace Monument and Doune Castle nearby. And I’ve heard there’s a hotel called Cromlix House that does a great afternoon tea, haha.

Do you have a favourite city space?

It’s really difficult to pick one, but I do love Edinburgh. The city itself has so much character, as you have both the old and new towns, which are impressive and distinctive in their own right. You also have the spectacular Holyrood Park, with Arthur’s Seat at its heart, which gives you amazing views across the city. Plus, Edinburgh Castle is spectacular no matter what time of year you visit.

Where in Scotland would you like to explore further?

I’ve always been intrigued by the Outer Hebrides and some of the isles in the north. I’d love to check out the Isle of Harris, it’s supposed to be incredible and it’s also home to Bunabhainneadar where they have a tennis court, which they say is the most remote in the world, and it looks spectacular.

Sir Andy’s Wish List

Bunabhainneadar is a hamlet on the west coast of North Harris with two notable features: the remains of a whaling station… and a tennis court. Built in 1998, the tennis court’s stunning views of the sea loch and the hills offer a believable excuse for not keeping your eye on the ball. Your audience is likely to be a golden or white-tailed eagle, sheep or cattle. The whaling station, which was in operation between 1904 and 1925 and briefly in the 1950s, is marked by a square brick chimney. Inland are the dramatic North Harris mountains including Clisham, the highest peak in the Outer Hebrides.

The tennis court at Cromlix. Credit: Stuart Wallace/www.stuartwallacepictures.com

The Dunblane area

Dunblane is an attractive country town beside the River Allan with independent shops, parks, a museum and a serene cathedral. The town is believed to have been founded in 602 by St Blane, a Celtic missionary, and it developed into a significant religious centre leading to the construction of the cathedral in the 13th century. After the Reformation, the building fell into disrepair but restoration work carried out about 100 years ago reclaimed its Gothic splendour. The town flourished through the years, growing as mill owners and weavers took advantage of the river, commuters utilised its good transport links and visitors enjoyed its hospitality – with many staying at the large Hydro hotel. Dunblane’s sad note in 20th century history does not define it – rather it celebrates its modern tennis-playing hero with a golden post box.

The Wallace Monument is a landmark you are unlikely to miss if you drive from the south to Dunblane. The 220ft tower sits on the top of Abbey Craig, a 364ft volcanic outcrop. Completed in 1869, it commemorates Sir William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish hero. You can climb the spiral staircase for panoramic views of Stirling and the Forth Valley.

Doune Castle, four miles west of Dunblane, has found international stardom recently thanks to its role as Castle Leoch in the TV series Outlander. However, the riverside medieval castle had already featured on film with Ivanhoe and Monty Python and the Holy Grail among its credits.

Bridge of Allan is another attractive riverside town – and home to the Allan Water Café. The café, which opened in 1902, is run by the fourth generation of the founders’ family. Its Bechelli’s ice cream is made on the premises.

Cromlix has been a popular hotel for almost 40 years, but it had fallen on hard times when Sir Andy bought it in 2013. He has since lavished a great deal of money on it, turning it into a luxurious 15-room retreat in the rolling hills of Perthshire. Both Sir Andy and his brother Jamie celebrated their weddings at the hotel, which is just four miles north of Dunblane.



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