Child-friendly breaks across Scot­land

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -


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.


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.


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.


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.

Ward­hill Cas­tle

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

Inch­ma­grannachan Farm

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

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