COORIE IN Check­ing out the best cosy breaks away to ward off the win­ter blues

The weather out­side may well be fright­ful, but there are plenty of fun ways to keep warm while en­joy­ing a break dur­ing the long, chilly Scot­tish win­ter

Scottish Field - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Plus­car­den Crofts RE­VIEWED BY DAVID & JOY AN­DER­SON FROM ELIE

Plus­car­den Crofts are set in a most tran­quil lo­ca­tion. We ar­rived to a very warm wel­come by the own­ers and were shown to Hunters Croft. Hunters is one of two mod­ern ecofriendly cot­tages with ac­com­mo­da­tion for four peo­ple.

The hot tub was heated and the wood burner was lit and a handy wel­come pack awaited. The ground floor com­prises a well-equipped lounge-diner-kitchen, wet room and spa­cious dou­ble bed­room. A large en­suite sec­ond dou­ble bed­room is on an open plan mez­za­nine floor. Beds are large and com­fort­able.

Pa­tio doors give ac­cess to a cov­ered veranda with sit­ting area and wood-fired hot tub. All fit­tings, fur­nish­ings and crock­ery are of a high qual­ity and re­flect a gen­tle Scot­tish am­biance. Soft fluffy tow­els and bed linen are of high qual­ity.

The cot­tage is heated by a me­chan­i­cal heat re­cov­ery and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem and a wood burner. A sup­ply of logs is avail­able.

Both cot­tages are wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble. On-site there is a bar­be­cue hut and play area, elec­tric bikes and ta­ble ten­nis. One dog per cot­tage is per­mit­ted. We watched red squir­rels, blue tits and a wren come to their feed boxes. Pheas­ants and deer also wan­dered around the cot­tage.

We vis­ited Find­horn and watched the seals in the es­tu­ary. Vis­its were made to Lo­gie Steadings and Brodie Coun­try­fare for re­tail ther­apy and Plus­car­den Abbey. The Crofts pro­vide very high qual­ity self-cater­ing in a lovely lo­ca­tion con­ve­nient for beach, moor­land, moun­tain and for­est walks, the rivers Spey, Find­horn and Nairn, the whisky trail and nearby For­res and El­gin.

Port Bane, Tay­mouth Ma­rina RE­VIEWED BY THE BOOTLANDS FROM ROSLIN

There are many ways to stay warm on a win­ter week­end at home. Most of them in­volve pop­ping on an ex­tra jumper or wrap­ping your­self in a blan­ket. But at Port Bane there are many other op­tions, and all of them are much more fun.

The cot­tage is cosy thanks to a good-sized wood burn­ing stove in one of two re­cep­tion rooms, the per­fect spot for a warm­ing dram, but first you need to try out the hot tub in the gar­den and the pri­vate sauna where you can lounge and look out over Loch Tay. If you’re brave you can run from the sauna straight into the loch. There is a seat­ing area with a huge firepit right on the shore so that you can stay toasty even while ex­posed to the el­e­ments. Don’t for­get the awe­some wine cave, the per­fect place for a grown-up gath­er­ing.

Port Bane can sleep up to ten peo­ple in its spa­cious and com­fort­able bed­rooms. The kitchen is large with all mod cons to en­able you to cater for large par­ties. The wet room near the en­trance is the per­fect place to shower off af­ter a turn in the hot tub, sauna or to warm up af­ter a loch swim. The decor is mod­ern, but re­mains in-keep­ing with this tra­di­tional old stone house.

The main re­cep­tion room has a huge bay win­dow al­low­ing you to watch the weather chang­ing and see all of the ac­tiv­ity on the loch. The kids loved wav­ing to pad­dle board­ers.

Tay­mouth Ma­rina has a va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion to suit all sizes of group. Ken­more is a great place to visit at any time of year, and look­ing back on our week­end there cer­tainly gives us a warm, fuzzy feel­ing, even in the depths of win­ter.

The Sta­tion Ho­tel RE­VIEWED BY GE­ORGE & ALI­SON GRAY FROM NAIRN

We ar­rived to be shown up to the Caper­donich Suite which oozed style and lux­ury. We loved the mez­za­nine bath with its wall-mounted TV, lux­u­ri­ous four-poster em­peror-sized bed, the op­u­lent fur­nish­ings and wel­come flagon of malt whisky.

This beau­ti­ful sand­stone build­ing has been brought back to its for­mer glory in su­perb style with a whisky theme fit­ting of the area (60 dis­til­leries in a 50 mile ra­dius), and in-keep­ing with the Forsyth fam­ily back­ground of cop­per still mak­ing.

We, and our fel­low guests from Hol­land, South Africa and Eng­land, as well as lo­cal pa­trons, en­joyed a drink in the bar, which has a beau­ti­ful whisky wall of over 500 blends and malts, and then were shown to the din­ing room for a truly fab­u­lous meal and ex­cel­lent ser­vice. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence was one punc­tu­ated with com­fort, re­lax­ation, warmth and style.

The staff could not have been more help­ful or in­for­ma­tive and af­ter a rest­ful night and su­perb break­fast, one of the many lo­cal walks was sug­gested. From the front door we walked across the street and within two min­utes we had en­tered the glo­ri­ous au­tum­nal wood­land that sur­rounds this in­ter­est­ing lit­tle town and en­joyed a ram­ble to the ru­ins of Rothes Cas­tle be­fore re­turn­ing for morn­ing cof­fee.

This is the per­fect base for a warm win­ter break – ex­plore nearby dis­til­leries on the whisky trail, climb lo­cal hills, walk beau­ti­ful Spey­side coun­try paths, or just lux­u­ri­ate in the ho­tel. The Sta­tion Ho­tel ef­fort­lessly com­bines a friendly homely am­biance with qual­ity, de­sign and at­ten­tion to ev­ery de­tail.

Gar­leton Lodge RE­VIEWED BY LAURA & DOROTHY HEN­DER­SON FROM ED­IN­BURGH

Driv­ing only 25 min­utes out of Ed­in­burgh you as­cend to an in­cred­i­ble view over­look­ing the lights of Ed­in­burgh and East Loth­ian on ap­proach to Gar­leton Lodge. On ar­rival we were wel­comed with pros­ecco and lo­cal berry liqueur – the per­fect start to a mem­o­rable stay. We were shown to the loft suites, named af­ter whisky re­gions with a spe­cial con­nec­tion to the own­ers, David and Angela. A thought­ful touch, com­ple­mented by drams to sam­ple. We couldn’t wait to jump into the large comfy beds – but first, the hot tub. We sat out in the warm bub­bling tub, drank pros­ecco and en­joyed the clear night sky.

Be­fore din­ner, David in­tro­duced us to a new lo­cal gin named af­ter the nearby is­land of Fidra. Din­ner was pre­pared by Angela and was beau­ti­fully pre­sented us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. We sat in the oc­tag­o­nal din­ing room, with large win­dows out to the views. We got through the full three cour­ses as it was so de­li­cious. We were try­ing to guess the ice cream maker only to be told it was homemade. We en­joyed a good night’s sleep in our spa­cious rooms. All the rooms are thought­fully de­signed with a hint of Scot­land through­out. We en­joyed our Scot­tish break­fast in the morn­ing and were sad to leave.

On check­ing out, Angela and David gave us their homemade choco­lates which the cou­ple will be sell­ing on their web­site shortly. The choco­lates were also in the rooms and it was a re­lief to hear we could buy more. The own­ers couldn’t have made us feel more wel­come and they made our stay un­for­get­table.

TAY­MOUTH MA­RINA, Ken­more, Aber­feldy PH15 2HW www.tay­mouth ma­rina.com Prices from £1,200 for three nights.

LOWER INCHALLON, Plus­car­den, El­gin IV30 8TZ www. plus­car­den­crofts. co.ukPrices from £650 for a week.

3 WESTGARLETON HOLD­INGS, Hadding­ton EH41 3SL www.gar­leton­lodge. co.ukPrices from £120 per night.

ROTHES, Spey­side, AB38 7BJ www.sta­tion­ho­tel spey­side.com Prices from £175 for two peo­ple.

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