The season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is a magical time to visit Scotland’s southwest coast, with the low sun casting a glow over a patchwork landscape of russet- and amber-leaved forests.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Glenapp Castle appears at the end of a tree-lined drive, like a grand house in a Gothic novel. Built in the 19th century in Scottish Baronial style, with crenellated towers and cone-shaped turrets, it sets the stage for an atmospheric autumn getaway. Padded jackets and wellington boots of all shapes and sizes can be found by the main door, encouraging you to explore the estate’s gardens and secluded woodland trails. After a bracing stroll, we settled down with the papers and a scrumptious cream tea.
WHAT’S MY ROOM LIKE?
The 20 rooms are spread across three floors, and each is unique but traditional in style, with high ceilings and period furnishings. Many have sea views, looking out over the the Firth of Clyde and its mysterious uninhabited island, Ailsa Craig. If you’re here on a special occasion, book one of the two master suites. These have huge windows, a fireplace and our favourite feature – secret access through the turrets down to the gardens below.
WHAT AM I EATING?
We bagged a spot by the sitting room fire for a pre-dinner snifter and canapés, before enjoying a candle-lit six-course tasting menu in the elegant dining room. You’ll find such local delights as roast crown of Burn Castle Grouse with haggis bonbon or grilled fillet of Loch Duart salmon with baby leeks on the autumn menu. The restaurant’s produce is all sourced from nearby Ayrshire farms, and the greens are pulled from the castle gardens.
WHAT’S IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?
We unashamedly wiled away almost an entire weekend without leaving the castle grounds but there’s plenty to do in the area, from shooting, archery and mountain biking to hiking and sky-gazing at the nearby Galloway Forest Park. Glenapp can also provide an astronomer for a night-sky tour. If sea fishing is more your style, the hotel boat can be chartered for trips out into the Firth of Clyde.
GOOD TO KNOW
Travelling from the south, we opted for a relaxed trundle up to Glasgow on the Caledonian Sleeper train, arriving in time for breakfast at 7:20am (from £140 for a cabin; sleeper.scot). BA, easyJet and Flybe fly to Glasgow from various UK cities. The Castle is just under two hours from Glasgow, so a car is handy. Pick-up can also be pre-arranged with the hotel (£145 each way).
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?
Doubles start at £209. The Master Suites cost from £421 per night (glenappcastle.com). A three-course dinner menu is £45 per person, while the six-course menu is £65.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Ailsa Craig, the volcanic outcrop, where blue hone granite is quarried to make curling stones, now a bird sanctuary home to gannets and puffins; roast fillet of aged Scotch beef with white onion puree and a truffle scented jus; a Grand Garden view room; an aerial view of the castle and grounds looking out to the Firth of Clyde and beyond; afternoon tea in the library