HIS­TORY IN THE MAK­ING

Cre­at­ing mem­o­ries that last a life­time while dis­cov­er­ing Scot­land’s rich past is sure to make for an en­joy­able break

Scottish Field - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Re­view­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion where you can brush up on Scot­land's his­tory makes for a fab­u­lous break

Hav­ing left on a chilly morn­ing we en­joyed the warm wel­come at the Sheil­ing Bed and Break­fast on Seil Is­land. Here the weather was warmer so we ac­cli­ma­tised over re­fresh­ments and home­made cake served by Caro­line. Hus­band Ge­orge, an ar­chiv­ist, joined us and they gave us a brief his­tory of the 200 year old farm cot­tage, much al­tered over the years with the guest wing mod­ernised to a high stan­dard. Our ac­com­mo­da­tion was bright and taste­fully dec­o­rated through­out the three rooms we had to our­selves. Our own sit­ting room looked over the fa­mous 1792 Clachan bridge (Bridge over the At­lantic) fes­tooned with its famed fairy fox­gloves. Break­fast was de­li­cious and well thought out – fresh ber­ries, lo­cal prod­ucts and home­made bread. We were here for the his­tory and we cer­tainly packed in a lot. A two-minute ferry took us over to Eas­dale, which started pro­duc­ing slate in 1746. We vis­ited the small mu­seum where we learnt the in­cred­i­ble story of hu­man en­deav­our and hard­ship in­volved in min­ing the slate and bat­tling the el­e­ments un­til the sea even­tu­ally won, flood­ing the quar­ries in the great 1881 storm. We also vis­ited the small mu­seum in El­len­abe­ich. The scenery on these slate is­lands is in­cred­i­ble – high peaks, won­der­ful seascapes and road-side verges burst­ing with life. We heartily rec­om­mend stay­ing at the Sheil­ing both for its sit­u­a­tion and com­fort – so handy for ex­plor­ing all the main­land at­trac­tions and the his­toric Slate is­lands. Nor­mally we like an in­ter­na­tional hol­i­day, choos­ing the sun over Scot­land, but our stay at Atholl Es­tates has def­i­nitely given us food for thought. Our lodge had only just been com­pleted at the time of our visit, and was mag­nif­i­cent – two spa­cious bed­rooms, a large wel­com­ing liv­ing area, and a good space for cook­ing. We were pro­vided with meals, with de­li­cious chicken and beef, prepre­pared and very tasty. Even bet­ter was the break­fast, with some fan­tas­tic sausages. Katy had never been to Blair Cas­tle be­fore, and was en­chanted by its beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings. She de­clined the chance to go pony trekking, so in­stead we went for a wan­der through the cas­tle grounds, and were taken aback by how scenic it was. The walled gar­den was fan­tas­tic, es­pe­cially when we spot­ted a mother duck with ten duck­lings walk­ing around, with­out a care in the world. The real high­light was Blair Cas­tle it­self, as our tour guide gave us a de­tailed in­sight into its proud his­tory, grow­ing from a tower to the won­der­ful struc­ture that it is to­day. Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est was the Vic­to­ria ex­hi­bi­tion, fea­tur­ing cos­tumes from the tele­vi­sion pro­gramme, and the real life story of Queen Vic­to­ria’s visit to the cas­tle. Our visit fin­ished with a Seg­way trip – a real high­light, es­pe­cially for Katy – with a bit of moun­tain bik­ing to con­clude. A fan­tas­tic week­end, with so much to see and do.

Uniquely placed for a tour of Out­lander se­ries sites, the four-star, three-rosette Lo­vat stands on the site of Kil­whimen Bar­racks, one of four built by the Hanove­rian Govern­ment af­ter the 1715 ris­ing. Used by the Ja­co­bite forces in the 1745 ris­ing to bom­bard and re­duce Fort Au­gus­tus, the only sur­viv­ing part of this mon­u­ment – the west cur­tain wall – stands in the ho­tel grounds. Re­cep­tion was speed­ily con­ducted in an el­e­gantly wooden pan­elled hall­way and we were shown to our room via two flights of stairs, the walls be­ing hung with paint­ings that evoked the hunt­ing, shoot­ing and cat­tle rear­ing of days gone by. Our room was spa­cious and spot­less. Fur­nish­ings and fab­rics were of the high­est qual­ity. The head­board and the throw were fash­ioned from tweed, as were the cur­tains, which when opened re­vealed a view of the Fort Au­gus­tus locks. Fur­ther ex­plo­ration of the prop­erty re­vealed the well-ap­pointed brasserie and two el­e­gantly fur­nished lounges where one could in­dulge in a deca­dent af­ter­noon tea by a log fire. An a la carte three-course din­ner was served in the afore­men­tioned brasserie by at­ten­tive and po­lite staff. The drinks list was com­pre­hen­sive and at­trac­tively priced. Af­ter our meal, the high­light of which was the roast hal­ibut, crab tart, cau­li­flower tex­tures and grapes, we re­paired to the lounge where we lin­gered by the fire. Af­ter a comfy sleep in our cosy and well sound-proofed room, we en­joyed a re­laxed break­fast, the menu fea­tur­ing an ex­cel­lent choice. We ar­rived in the pre­served mill town of New La­nark with low ex­pec­ta­tions, but we were blown away by this re­mark­able his­tor­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. If you’re un­aware of Vic­to­rian so­cial­ist Robert Owen’s ex­per­i­ment in en­light­ened cap­tal­ism, this is def­i­nitely worth a trip (if that sounds dull, it’s not – there are also shops, food, an ice cream par­lour, a bar and stun­ning views). At the heart of the vil­lage in an old mill sits the New La­nark Mill Ho­tel. It’s lit­er­ally a stone’s throw from most ex­hibits, so it’s the most sen­si­ble place to stay if you plan to spend two days look­ing at New La­nark (which it eas­ily jus­ti­fies) al­though there is also a hos­tel and some self-cater­ing cot­tages. The four-star New La­nark Mill Ho­tel is right on the river, so if you’re on the water side the views are amaz­ing (I’d sug­gest re­quest­ing a river view). Even if you’re not, all the rooms are large, com­fort­able and clean. I’d char­ac­terise the rooms and en suites as more like an up­grade on a city cen­tre Pre­mier Inn-style ho­tel, rather than a tra­di­tional coun­try house ho­tel. The food in the Mill One restau­rant, whether it was a starter of home­made pi­geon pie or a main course of lamb shoul­der, was good and sen­si­bly priced with mains be­tween £10-20, while break­fast was also sub­stan­tial. How­ever, there was also a more in­for­mal, cheaper bar menu fea­tur­ing pub grub clas­sics. The ho­tel staff were ex­cel­lent and very giv­ing of their time. The ho­tel also has a small spa, and with win­ter of­fers start­ing from £45pp for din­ner, bed and break­fast, it’s in­cred­i­ble value.

RE­VIEWED BY MR & MRS CLAY­TON FROM BROUGHTY FERRY

Sheil­ing

RE­VIEWED BY KENNY AND KATY SMITH FROM EAST KIL­BRIDE

Atholl Es­tates High­land Lodges

Clachan Seil, by Oban PA34 4QZ www. seil­is­landbnb.com Prices from £75 per night.

Blair Atholl, Pit­lochry PH18 5TH www.athollestates.co.uk Prices start from £280 for a Fri­day to Mon­day break.

RE­VIEWED BY JOHN AND MAR­IAN MILLER FROM DENHOLM

RE­VIEWED BY RICHARD AND BEATRICE BATH FROM ED­IN­BURGH

Mill No 1, New La­nark Mills, ML11 9DB www.newla­nark ho­tel.co.uk Prices from £79 per room.

Loch Ness, Fort Au­gus­tus, In­ver­ness-shire PH32 4DU www.th­elo­vat. com Prices from £100 per night.

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