After a recent trip to London with delays at check-in, security and the frustration of waiting 30 minutes at Heathrow to get off the aircraft, my wife and I decided our next break would be closer to home.
We drove two-and-a-half hours from Aberdeen to the picturesque Clachan Cottage Hotel situated on the banks of Loch Earn, which measures six miles long and spans almost a mile across. As TV presenter Kirsty Allsop would say, it’s all about the location, location, location – and this hotel has views which are simply stunning.
Our room was based at the front of the hotel looking out over the impressive water with its views of Edinample Castle, a late 16th Century fortalice on the southern shores.
The accommodation was modern and comfortable with wi-fi speeds even better than we have at home.
The hotel is based in the small village of Lochernhead which is around 125 miles from Aberdeen and 55 miles from Glasgow. It has 18 bedrooms, with 10 facing the loch.
The hotel has been modernised since the owner bought it eight years ago and there continues to be improvements. There is even an electric vehicle charging point for your car if needed during your stay.
The watersport centre previously based near the hotel was unfortunately destroyed by fire a few years ago.
Keen to get out on the water, I was given directions from the hotel manager, Neil Addison, for the Killin Outdoor Centre and Shop a few miles away. They were extremely helpful and I hired a two-hour kayak session to explore a small section of Loch Tay. I was handed a buoyancy aid, map of the loch and waterproof pouch for my phone.
It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and at 31C, enjoying my time out on the boat under a deep blue sky, my afternoon was simply fantastic. There was a small breeze from the water which was very welcome. Various birds of all kinds were visible and I was told to look out for beavers which inhabit one of the small islands nearby. The centre also hires out bikes – where cyclists can tackle the Glen Ogle trail. This waymarked trail takes the old railway line out of Lochearnhead to head towards the pass to Killin.
Before we left Killin, we stopped off at the Falls of Dochart. It is one of the popular attractions at the Trossachs National Park and a favourite stop for busloads of tourists, so we had to negotiate the traffic and visitors standing on the narrow bridge to get a photograph of the cascading waters below.
As the river approaches Killin it widens out and also the gradient gets steeper. This results in the spectacular Falls, one of Scotland’s more impressive, and certainly one of its most easily accessible, waterfalls.
It was late afternoon by the time we reached Clachan Cottage and with the sun still beating down, we had a pre-dinner drink sitting on the outdoor patio area overlooking Loch Earn. It is a busy restaurant with many tourists and locals taking advantage of the nice weather, opting to eat outdoors. The bar area has a log-burning fire as its centrepiece and there is an array of water skis on show from bygone years. A series of photographs also pay tribute to the area’s watersports history.
The vast menu offers a selection of daily specials. I opted for the Cullen Skink soup which was the best I have ever tasted, followed by steak and chips. My wife had the battered haddock with salad. We spent the evening watching the water-skiers being towed up and down the loch while the moored boats bobbed in front of us in their wake as the sun went down over Ben Vorlich.
The next morning we ate in the breakfast room and had a choice of fresh fruits, cereals and yogurts followed by a freshly-cooked Scottish breakfast with locally-sourced produce and a choice of fried, scrambled or poached eggs, served by our friendly waitress.
We went home along the south side of the loch and made our way along the six miles of the single track road offering more great views. There were a few stopping places along the route we took advantage of for sunbathing followed by a dip in the deep waters to cool off. The road eventually led to St Fillans Village on the east end of the loch.
It is a pity we only had two days to explore the beauty and tranquillity of this wonderful area which we will certainly return to – it made for a lovely weekend escape and it was certainly great to avoid dealing with any of the airport security queues.