A FAMILY AFFAIR
Child-friendly breaks across Scotland
REVIEWED BY THE WILLIAMS FAMILY FROM FIFE
When you tell your children that they are going to visit a castle, their glorious imaginations often kick into Disney overdrive, leading to a certain level of disappointment when the reality is just a drafty, big, old, stone house. But there were no such let-downs at Wardhill, this stunning 12th century Aberdeenshire castle has been in the Leslie family for 900 years and for any Game of Thrones fans, it’s where Rose Leslie (Ygret in the hit show) grew up.
The castle sleeps 16 people and is available on a selfcatered or catered basis. They can even arrange a butler, if you so wish. We chose to have our stay catered by Kate’s of Inverurie which was a real treat. Kate designed separate menus for the children (who cleared their plates) made us an incredible picnic lunch so that we could explore the area and served up a delicious fine-dining dinner in the castle’s beautiful dining room once the kids were tucked up in bed.
The drawing room with grand piano boasts a huge stone fireplace, rocking horse and plenty of period features, the kitchen is huge with an oil fired AGA as well as all the mod cons, each bedroom and bathroom is individually decorated. The grounds are the perfect place for children to explore and the castle is just a short drive from some glorious beaches. We visited Newburgh to see the seal colony and climb the sand dunes. A stay at Wardhill is the perfect castle adventure and the lovely Sarah went out of her way to welcome us, even sharing her children’s toys with us. This is the ideal place for a family gathering.
REVIEWED BY THE RUSHTON FAMILY FROM EDINBURGH
We were warmly met at the door by the hotel manager who entertained our children as we checked in. Our room, the Melrose Junior Suite, easily accommodated the five of us with a four-poster bed and a seating area overlooking the grounds and the neighbouring herd of Highland cattle.
At dinner the children’s menu was great, offering good quality meals. Mine particularly enjoyed the hotel’s own-recipe sausages. Brie tart and poussin with Stornoway black pudding was followed by sea bass and a stand-out fillet steak. The children were delighted with their chocolate fudge cake and ice cream. All-in-all, a delicious array of Scottish produce.
After dinner we explored the vast grounds. The gardens include manicured lawns with pitch and putt and croquet, mature woodland with pathways to explore and even a waterfall. The walled garden has a 400-year-old yew hedge and a play area with trampoline; the perfect way to tire out the children before bed.
After a peaceful night, we awoke refreshed and were delighted by the breakfast offering. The kids enjoyed the buffet with lots to choose from, while Mr R enjoyed a hearty full Scottish. We followed the buffet with freshly cooked pancakes with blueberries and creme fraiche.
We had a fantastic stay, enjoying quality food in a stunning setting. The hotel staff really did go out of their way to make the whole family feel thoroughly welcome.
REVIEWED BY THE STRATHDEE FAMILY FROM EDINBURGH
Dunkeld Holiday Cottages are conveniently located just twoand-a-half miles outside the beautiful town of Dunkeld, just over an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh.
Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by our friendly hosts and their two dogs, and as an added bonus the homemade Victoria sponge we found in the kitchen was simply delicious.
There are currently three different sizes of accommodation available at Inchmagrannachan Farm: the Bothy sleeps two, the Byre sleeps six and the Stables, where we were staying, sleep four.
The converted farm steadings have been furnished to an excellent standard. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious and have fantastic views of the Tay Valley. The accommodation has all the modern conveniences that families require and is pet-friendly.
From the steadings it is possible to take the most idyllic walk along the River Tay into Dunkeld; here we saw both deer and red squirrels. We were lucky enough to have absolutely fantastic weather and had we had more time, we would have explored the many walks and outdoor pursuits available within the locality.
Overall, this is the perfect base to explore beautiful Perthshire, whether you are travelling as a couple, group or as a family.
REVIEWED BY RICHARD BATH, JON GIBB & JAMIE ALEXANDER FROM EDINBURGH, MORAR AND FIFE
Okay, I know three middle-aged buddies don’t usually constitute a family, but we were in Aviemore scoping the place out for our family summer breaks and to play a wee bit of golf. The good news is that the Championship golf course is fantastic, almost perenially empty, as a swanky new £1m clubhouse and is very good value. And there’s also a smaller nine-hole course which is perfect for anyone just learning the game. So that’s the golf sorted.
The rest of the experience was pretty much as advertised too. There’s certainly a lot to do: there are some great walks and lots of mountain biking nearby, but if the weather isn’t great or you’re still feeling active in the evening, then there is a wonderful swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room. You’re half a mile away from the popular Macdonald Aviemore Resort, which is far busier, and the Spey Valley side of the operation, which is out near the Championshiop golf course, tends to be a little less frenetic.
We loved the newly refurbished steakhouse and bar, but were equally happy eating in our Scandinavian-style twobedroom lodge, which overlooked the nine-hole golf course. These lodges look fairly utilitarian from the outside, but are really well put together inside, are surprisingly spacious, and come with everything you will need for the stay.
The resort is popular in the summer though, so book early to avoid disappointment.
Cringletie House Hotel
Prices from £130 per room per night B&B EDINBURGH ROAD, PEEBLES EH45 8PL www.cringletie. com
Prices from £2,200 per night MEIKLE WARTLE, INVERURIE AB51 5BH www. wardhillcastle. co.uk
Macdonald Spey Valley Resort
Prices from £362 for 4 adults for 3 nights DALFABER DRIVE, AVIEMORE PH22 1ST www.resorts. macdonaldhotels. co.uk/resorts/ spey-valley
Prices from £470 for the Stables NEAR DUNKELD, PERTHSHIRE PH8 0JS www.dunkeld holidaycottages. co.uk