Perthshire is an area of Scotland I have overlooked for far too long.
Whether it is our annual pilgrimage to Aviemore, a trip to the west coast or grabbing a couple of days in the hustle and bustle of Glasgow or Edinburgh, our family loves a Scottish staycation.
A trip to Clachan Cottage on the Atholl Estates near Pitlochry gave us the chance to sample a part of the country we had never experienced before.
This was a much-needed retreat. As is normally the case, it had been a busy few weeks for my wife and I as we tried – sometimes unsuccessfully – to balance our full-time jobs with looking after our two young girls.
You try to be the best parent you can be and the best version of yourself at work but life was suddenly feeling very hectic and it was the ideal time for a change of scenery.
Sometimes all it takes is a couple of days away to help you remember why it’s all worthwhile.
We opted for the scenic drive through Royal Deeside and across the Cairngorms where our two daughters, aged three and six, marvelled at the gorgeous landscape and were thrilled to spot a massive herd of deer taking a rest near Glenshee.
The four of us were looking forward to spending some quality time together so we were delighted when we reached our destination in the heart of Scotland – a stylish two-bedroom cottage, fully renovated only a couple of years ago, and the perfect place to unwind.
The spacious kitchen and dining area looked ideal for family meals, the living room with a log-burning stove seemed a great spot to relax in an evening with a good book and the girls were thrilled with their twin bedroom – once they’d decided to move the beds together!
The cottage, set in Calvine beside the River Garry, also had a large adjoining recreational space that could be used for table tennis or other activities.
It was a brilliant base for us to explore the surrounding area – and there was a lot to see.
No ordinary experience
Pitlochry was our first stop. It’s a town I have heard so much about from friends and family but, to my shame, never visited.
The town is a cherished tourist hotspot and its array of quirky shops and cute cafes made it easy to see why.
We went into Hettie’s Tearoom to grab a coffee and get the girls an ice cream but it turned out to be no ordinary café experience.
Hettie’s resident artist Bev Nicol has created a vibrant setting by decorating the walls with some magnificent murals. We went in for a cappuccino and cake and left with four pieces of her artwork.
Plenty in Pitlochry
The highlight of the day for the girls was the relaxing, winding walk from the centre of town down to the River Tummel and across the iron suspension bridge.
The walk back to the town centre took in Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder, although it was a great park at Pitlochry Recreation Grounds that our girls enjoyed most.
If you are in the area, Pitlochry Train Station Bookshop is definitely worth a visit. Staffed by volunteers, the shop boasts a wide selection of titles at incredibly cheap prices.
The area’s main attraction, Blair Castle, wasn’t open during our stay. It is open to the public from April until October 27 this year with a host of things to see including a nine-acre walled garden, a wooded grove, a kirk ruin and an extensive deer park.
There were plenty of other things for us to do, including the short Red Squirrel Walk at the Atholl Estates.
The Queen’s View – said to have been named after Queen Victoria following her visit to the area in 1866 – on the eastern edge of Loch Tummel is also worth a gander, especially on a nice day.
If a bit of luxury shopping takes your fancy then the House of Bruar is a 10-minute drive from the cottage.
As we were packing our bags it felt like mission accomplished. A short trip away to recharge the batteries and clear the mind.
At the end of our trip, my youngest daughter asked: “Can we stay here forever?”
Sadly not, but we’ll certainly be back.
Accommodation: Clachan Cottage, Calvine, Perthshire PH185UB
Telephone: 01796 481355
Price: From £600 for a three-night break