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Winter travel: Enjoy beauty and the beasts on Angus farm

Balbinny Farm
Balbinny Farm

If time seems to be passing by in a blur, then a relaxing weekend away with time to sit, be still and read is exactly what’s needed to beat the craziness of the season.

That was my thinking when booking a long weekend at Balbinny in lesser-explored Angus.

The renovated row of smart farm steadings and two charming brochs (named for their shape, which echoes the prehistoric circular stone towers found in north Scotland) are modern and eco-friendly boltholes perfect for groups of friends or family.

Located on a working farm about six miles from Forfar, Balbinny is a gateway to the popular walking country of the Angus Glens.

The accommodation is situated on a hillside that offers uninterrupted views and, thanks to the on-site swimming pool, gym and spa room, a place to completely unwind.

The three steadings are named for the glens near which they sit – Clova, Isla and Prosen – and sleep six.

The brochs are found down the hill overlooking a small pond, and each has a Swedish wood-burning hot tub – ideal for making the most of those views no matter what the weather – just look out for the neighbours, a herd of Highland cattle.

Each steading is decorated in a modern minimalist style – Scotland meets Scandinavia – with a scattering of mid-century furniture thrown in for good measure.

A double and twin bedroom, both with their own bathrooms, are located downstairs with the open-plan living, dining and kitchen upstairs.

The pitched roof, velux windows, small covered balcony and light wood and neutral colour scheme are reminiscent of a ski lodge and, at this time of the year, there’s a chance of picture perfect snow on the hills.

Scotland is represented by tartan throws and cushions from Anta and a thistle-clad pouffe from Voyage Maison.

The brochs were made from reclaimed stone from the original farm steading with grass roofs ensuring that they blend seamlessly into the landscape.

Inside are two en suite bedrooms and little luxuries such as a wood-burning stove, flatscreen TV and Sonos music system.

As easy as it would be to stay in and keep warm or while away an afternoon in the 11.5-metre swimming pool or jacuzzi, the sunny yet cold weather calls for a long walk to enjoy the scenery.

Luckily owners David and Lynsay Milne have mapped out a walking trail to the Aberlemno Pictish stones. (Check they aren’t covered up, which is done in the colder weather to protect the ancient stones).

Other paths include a walk along the banks of the Lemno Burn.

Another excellent place for a scenic walk is the famed Lunan Bay, 18 miles away.

With a swell that makes it popular with surfers, and the crumbling, 12th Century ruin of Red Castle that stands overlooking the Bay, this is an ideal spot for a bracing walk.

For a slightly less chilly castle visit, we drove the 20 minutes it takes to get to the Queen Mother’s childhood home of Glamis Castle.

There are tours throughout the year, as well as seasonal markets at Christmas and Easter.

The Christmas market was held in tents and outside in the grounds, and packed full of traders selling everything from gin and cheese to knitwear, childrens’ books and jewellery.

If you’re not done with shopping yet or just fancy a browse, Forfar is only a short drive away and has a high street with a good range of independent shops including a traditional ironmonger as well as a few well-known names such as Costa, Boots and Greggs.

Nothing says relaxing weekend like a spa treatment, a range of which can be enjoyed in the treatment room next to the swimming pool.

The half-hour back massage ended any festive stress, but hot stones, a manicure and reflexology are also available.

This is, without doubt, a scenic destination no matter what time of the year you visit and Balbinny is an ideal place to base yourself thanks to its facilities and unparalleled views.

It’s hard not to relax and unwind.

Plus, the Highland cows are excellent neighbours.


Eassie Old Parish Church, two miles west of Glamis, is home to a Pictish cross. The Davidsons, of Harley Davidson fame came from Aberlemno. Visit their restored home at Netherton Cottage.


Accommodation, which has a three-night minimum stay, from £190 a night for a steading and Brochs from £225 a night.