Loch-ed in time at hotel with its own contemporary art Andy Cronshaw
Finds a nice blend at The Four Seasons
THE Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans, Perthshire, sits at the eastern corner of Loch Earn.
Because of the way the hotel was built, many rooms stare out over the loch.
It’s a striking scene that becomes brooding under cloud and, although we visited in the greenery of summer, I can imagine that it is even more spectacular in the winter.
Standing knee high in the water just yards from the shore, next to a jetty, was a ‘seasonal installation’ entitled Still, by an artist called Rob Mulholland, and commissioned by Andrew Low – who is none other than the hotel owner.
‘Still’ is the figure of a man who stares implacably from the shoreline back to the landscape as if rooted in the stillness of the loch itself. From any view in the hotel, the eyes are always drawn to his mysterious gaze.
It’s telling that Mr Low has left his mark on the landscape because, although he was wasn’t around at the time we visited, his presence can be detected all over the Four Seasons.
Extensive travels, especially to the east, are documented by photographs hung here and there, while there are authentic Tibetan mountain coats hanging from the walls.
The hotel has a 70s feel, with decor that has a retro charm – even the room’s telephone is a bit old school. Secondhand books fill nooks and crannies and there’s a room filled with board games I remember from my 70s childhood such as Mastermind and Panic!
In the dining rooms it’s obvious that Mr Low’s interests extend to the charms of French wine, and, along with the standard menu and wine list, is a handwritten catalogue of fine vintages.
The list includes some notable examples of very fine Bordeaux, such as a Chateau Latour Pauillac 1989, available at lower prices than would be charged by a rare wine merchant.
Happily the standard list contains a good few half-bottles, which means you can chop and change for different courses without too much financial distress.
For our meal we opted for the less elevated heights of a tangy Macon-Villages white and an elegant Tuscan red from producer Antinori.
The wines were a lovely fit for dishes such as Hebridean King Scallops and chorizo or a prime fillet of Angus beef.
Service was exemplary and the dining room, with its view across the loch, a pleasure.
Needless to say, the location is the perfect spring-board for Highland activities such as walking, climbing or sailing.
An information board close to the loch advises that would-be swimmers should speak to locals about the shallower areas.
Nearby is the Iron Age Pictish hill fort of Dundurn and it is thought Saint Fillan, an Irish missionary, lived there. At the base of the hill is the magical Allt Ghoinean burn, reportedly the same described in Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady Of The Lake.
For the adventurous, the nearest munro is Ben Vorlich and the nearby scramble of summit Stuc a’ Chroin. The peak, apparently gives farreaching views across to the lowlands.
Head in the other directions to the north and west of Loch Earn and things get wilder.
But with a three-yearold in tow, other destinations were sought.
Within 20 minutes’ drive lies Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre.
A kids’ play centre and miniature zoo, it’s the perfect spot to let your wee bairns run free.
It boasts what I would estimate must be one of the finest views at such an establishment with turfy mountains filling the panorama.
●● Still by Andrew Mulholland at Loch Earn and, inset, the jetty that leads out to the lake
●● Scallops at the Four Seasons Hotel
●● The ‘tartan’ sheep