Be inspired by Billy Connolly and David Tennant’s recent film and visit some of Scotland’s most beautiful locations, writes Susan Welsh
It doesn’t get top billing, that honour goes to David Tennant, Billy Connolly and Rosamund Pike, but possibly the biggest star of the blockbuster movie What We Did on Our Holiday is Scotland herself.
The film, which is now available on DVD, features a host of well-known and lesser-known locations, many of which are breathtakingly beautiful, such as the beaches near Gairloch, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
The filmmakers selected each location carefully, as producer Dan Winch explained: “It never ceased to amaze me that we would come across amazing view after amazing view. You have only to drive half an hour from the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh and you’re surrounded by the most spectacular landscape.”
The film also includes a copy of your favourite daily newspaper, the Press and Journal, selected to feature in the bittersweet comedy as it covers much of the area of Scotland which is featured in the film, which tells about what happens when a dysfunctional couple (David Tennant and Rosamund Pike) and their three children head home to Scotland to play happy families for grandpa’s 75th birthday. Billy Connolly plays grandpa.
Producer Guy Jenkin said: “The film is set in the west coast of Scotland and we had a lot of fun choosing the locations. We spent a week, in the middle of winter, visiting most of Scotland’s beaches. One of the ones that sticks in my mind is Mallaig, as it was minus 12 and the sea was starting to freeze at the edges.
“The beaches south of Gairloch are spectacular, but it was the one at Red Point that we felt was perfect as it created the right sense of wilderness and beauty. You felt you could be alone on a beach like that.
“We tried to showcase as much of Scotland as possible, because it is part of the story. We always had Scotland in mind when we set out to write the script. In the course of trying to put the finance together, it was suggested that we filmed everywhere from the Isle of Man to Germany – places that were supposed to double for Scotland – but we knew it had to be filmed in Scotland.”
Producer Andy Hamilton is also a huge fan of the natural wild beauty of Scotland.
“The beach is like an additional character, which is sort of what we hoped would happen. It really photographs well and is a beautiful place to visit. The people at Gairloch were extremely welcoming and put up with us invading their town and quite a few of them came out and helped us in various ways.
“If one of the side-effects of the movie is that more people visited Gairloch, that would be a real bonus for us.”
Anyone inspired by the film can enjoy their own brilliant moments in the stunning locations, including:
GAVIN’S HIGHLAND MANSION
Gavin McLeod, played by Ben Miller, has a beautiful home in the film, which is said to be in the Highlands, but the film crew took over a self-catering cottage on the border of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Stirlingshire for filming. The cottage is a 19th-century red sandstone building and is part of the private Finnich Estate. Families can create plenty of their own brilliant moments at the cottages, as they are available to rent.
Close by the cottage is Ben Lomond, one of the most popular Munros for hillwalkers, due to its views down the length of Loch Lomond from the summit. Nearby is Loch Katrine, smaller than neighbouring Loch Lomond, although just as beautiful. Visitors can take their bikes onboard Loch Katrine’s boats up the loch and then cycle back down along the waters-edge cycle paths. It’s a 13-mile ride, so a great day out for families with older children.
For holidaymakers who enjoy the history, gore and glory of battle, the National Trust for Scotland Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre at Stirling is a fantastic experience, not too far from the edge of Loch Lomond National Park. Visitors are immersed in a world in which they join a virtual battle led by one of the centre’s battle-masters.
Featured heavily in the film is the beach on which Gordie (Billy Connolly) and the three grandchildren spend the afternoon before his 75th birthday party. Red Point beach is a stunning sand and shingle beach close to Gairloch which offers incredible vistas out to sea and across to Skye, Raasay and the Outer Hebrides. Dogs are allowed, so it’s a great place to let the kids and the dog run free to burn off some energy.
Gairloch is well placed as a base for family holidays in the north Highlands. The village is a gateway to amazing beaches, mountain walking, wildlife spotting and more. Visitors may be lucky enough to spot lots of sea life off the coast, or hop onboard a cruise from Hebridean Whale Cruises to sail out into the Atlantic Ocean to spot whales, dolphins, porpoises and sharks. Closer to shore, colonies of seals, families of otters, and birds including the white-tailed eagle and puffins are a common sight.
When exploring the north Highlands, take the coastal road to Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve, which is a deep, tree-shrouded gorge and beauty spot that cuts through the Highland wilderness. The gorge was sculpted by glacial meltwater 2.6million years ago and drops 100meters in just over 1km through spectacular and dramatic waterfalls, including the thunderous 45m Falls of Measach. Anyone with a head for heights can step out on to the Victorian suspension bridge across the gorge with its viewing platform.
The spectacular gardens at Lochcarron offer views to Skye and are home to an impressive collection of sculpture scattered throughout the grounds. Visitors can wander through the kitchen garden, the sunken garden and the geodesic dome filled with ferns. First built by the Victorians, the gardens have been in the careful hands of Nicky and Ewen Macpherson, who have nurtured the grounds to include extensive water gardens and ancient paths winding through woodland.
A lush, sub-tropical-style oasis perched on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe amid the rugged landscape of Wester Ross, this is a world-famous historic garden popular with visitors of all ages. The garden was created out of bare rock and a few scrub willows in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie and is full of colourful, exotic plants from around the world. The journey to Inverewe makes the visit even more worthwhile, as you pass along the edge of lochs and through hilly passes.