It was a crisp November day when we headed north for Kenmore; one of those bright winter afternoons that sees hills and fields go on for miles, making the drive up so glorious that you’ve started relaxing as soon as you're out of the city limits.
Our home for the weekend was to be Mains of Taymouth, a country estate and golf course situated within a stone’s throw of Loch Tay. I am, as regular readers will know, a lover of all things Perthshire but if I was pushed I’d have to confess that Aberfeldy and Kenmore is my happy place.
Surrounded by hillsides, with Ben Lawers standing proud on its north shore, Loch Tay is a picture perfect snapshot of what gives Scotland its unique and wild character.There is something quite unspoilt and joyful about this beautiful wee corner of the world; Aberfeldy, for all its quaintness, is a town that is alive with warmth and culture, and yet just a few winding roads away, the majesty of Loch Tay awaits you.
Surrounded by hillsides, with Ben Lawers standing proud as the highest peak of seven Munros on its north shore, and steeped in history – a visit to the Crannog Centre is a must! – Loch Tay is a picture perfect snapshot of what gives Scotland its unique and wild character.
The plan for the weekend was to have no plan. I arrived on Friday with my oldest and bestest pal, Judi, who was staying for two nights. We were joined late on Saturday afternoon by my other half, and he and I spent an additional night lounging away the whole of Sunday.
Mains of Taymouth offers a stunning selection of 5 and 4 star holiday cottages, contemporary mews-style houses, holiday homes and luxury holiday apartments. There’s also a stunning old farmhouse which sleeps 12, and has an outstanding balcony which appeared to have views of the Loch.
We were tucked up in one of the two-bedroom cottages, beautifully presented in contemporary Scottish tweeds, with a private garden complete with hot-tub! The kitchen was extremely well equipped and it wasn’t long before we had settled down to enjoy a lunch of cheeses, smoked salmon and fresh bread that we’d picked up at the fantastic deli situated right there in the grounds of the estate.
Mission relaxation was soon underway proper, with a post-lunch dip in the hot-tub. Although surrounded by well-trimmed hedges, the views across hillsides and forests was breathtaking. Stresses and strains melted into the bubbling water, as we allowed ourselves to be wrapped in the wonderful sounds and sights of Mother Nature; including a stunning sunset over the Loch which was what eventually pried us from the tub and out to the bridge to capture some photographs.
Mains of Taymouth is one of those places I’ve always heard about, but for some reason hadn’t ventured up to visit. The current owners have been developing the offer for well over a decade, and they boast multiple awards as well as various tourism and business accolades. As well as the accommodation, there is a bar, restaurant, the delicatessen, gift shop, riding stables, and a 9 hole golf course – which, I’m assured, is well known to be Perthshire’s finest nine holes.
Mission relaxation was soon underway proper, with a post-lunch dip in the hot-tub.And for the doggy lovers amongst you, rest assured that your four-legged friend will be made most welcome – one of the aforementioned accolades is the “Paws for a Break” award from Embrace Scotland in recognition of their status as the most pet friendly self-catering establishment in the UK.
Always one to do thorough research for SCBP readers, Judi and I ventured out to the Courtyard Bar for a pub supper. All of your favourites are there; pizzas, burgers (which I can highly recommend!) and macaroni sit alongside smaller snacks of nachos and haggis bonbons. The bar is well stocked with local ales and a fantastic selection of gins and cocktails. The best sign of a good pub though, is the number of locals who are there and in the Courtyard, they lined the bar, familiar banter exchanged back and forth with the friendly team.
Fed and watered we were ready to hit the sack, and with the stillness that only ever really comes in the Highlands, it wasn’t long before I’d drifted off in the comfort of my cosy room.
Come Saturday, the weather had held, no mean feat for November in highland Scotland, and we were met with bright blue skies, glistening hedge tops and a chill in the air that made brisk walking almost compulsory. The area is renowned for its stunning walks and you can be as leisurely or as adventurous as you wish. The Birks o’ Aberfeldy made famous by Rabbie Burns, is just a five minute drive away, or you could head over to the north side and bag yourself seven Munros in a weekend!
We stuck to the path, and walked round the golf course up past the stunning Taymouth Castle which is currently undergoing refurbishment. The walk takes you alongside the river, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife including deer and red squirrels, darting back and forth. For me, this is exactly what this type of break is made for.
Joined now by Roy, we decided to try the Courtyard Restaurant which shares an entrance with the bar but is more formal in its décor and setting. The a la carte menu offered up plenty of local produce, and judging by our fellow guests this is clearly one of the area’s hot spots for celebrating or enjoying a romantic date night.
We tucked into delicious starters of scallops and crispy bacon and haggis, neeps and tatties with a creamy whisky sauce. Mains brought a tasty vegetable risotto and a wonderful lamb shank - proper Scottish fare, cooked well and enjoyed thoroughly by all three of us.
As we polished off the last of our drinks, a band – Duo, very good! - started to set up in the bar area and before long the atmosphere had turned to the convivial, music-fuelled party that us Scots love to get entangled in! The same team from the night before laughed loudly with the locals, pouring pints and cocktails in time to the beat.
I’d love to say we broke the mould on Sunday, but the truth is it was more of the same. We tucked into a hearty cooked breakfast complete with Bloody Mary in the Courtyard Bar, walked, sat in the hot-tub with local beers, soaked up nature, and settled down amongst the tweeds and roaring fire of the cottage's cosy living room. It was simple, it was glorious, it was just what my tired bones needed to prepare for the bustle of the season ahead.
Our only difference was dinner; we stayed in and cooked – a Praveen Kumar curry from the deli offering a little slice of Perth in the glory of the Highlands. What better way to end a warming weekend?
We stayed in ARCHWAY COTTAGE which sleeps four and has a hot-tub and log-burning stove. With a door leading out to the traditional courtyard, Archway Cottage is a beautiful two-bedroom property with master bedroom en-suite and fully equipped kitchen. Cosy and luxurious, the log-burning stove provides a focal point in the living area. There is a front enclosed garden with a hot-tub for guests' enjoyment.
February 2020 Offer at Archway - 3 nights @ £500
In addition - running from now until end of March 2020, you will find a range of deals on Mains of Taymouth's one and two-bedroom luxury self catering properties.
All other properties on the 5 star estate get a free stay for their dog, plus free golf on the estate’s nine hole golf course. Also running to end of March.
Although we didn’t take children or dogs both were evidently welcome! Take your walking shoes, take your golf clubs (or hire a set there!) and take a hearty appetite.
Check out the offers and book direct on the Mains of Taymouth website.
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