FOR some families, the holiday dilemma can be, “where can we go with the kids?” But for us, we ask the question – “where can we take the dog?”
When we go on holiday, we simply can’t bring ourselves to put our pooch, Paddy, into boarding kennels and would much rather he came along with us. So this does limit our options, as many hotels won’t accommodate dogs.
However, recently we found the perfect solution, when we stayed at The Four Seasons Hotel, in St Fillans, situated on the banks of Loch Earn.
Not only is the hotel dog-friendly, but it is also located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by the friendly staff and Paddy, much to his delight, was welcomed with a dog biscuit in our room. And talk about a room with a view – from our four-poster bed, we had a completely unspoiled, stunning view, looking right down the length of Loch Earn.
It’s a fabulous view – and we were told that it was also enjoyed by The Beatles who stayed here back in 1964 while on tour.
This part of the country is steeped in history and another famous name which is synonymous with this land, is that of Rob Roy MacGregor, who used to roam these hills. The notorious and legendary outlaw was the leader of perhaps Scotland’s wildest clan.
In the village of Balquhidder, we visited Rob Roy’s grave in a small church yard.
From here we drove along the glen which winds along pretty Loch Voil and parked at Monachyle Mhor. It was early spring and the hordes of tourists and motor homes on the roads hadn’t quite kicked in yet, so we had this splendid scenery all to ourselves.
As we walked along the quiet road in the sun, light shimmered off the surface of little Loch Doine and the snowy summit of Stob Binnein rose to the north of us. In the afternoon we headed to the town of Killin, which is popular with tourists, as they come to see the Falls of Dochart, which tumble through the centre of town.
For dinner we decided to treat ourselves to the hotel’s seven-course spring wine-pairing menu. Each course is accompanied by a different wine, beginning with fresh, zingy whites, to rich, silky reds, and finishing with a smooth glass of port. The dinner is a culinary triumph. Highlights for me were the starter of seared scallops, with curried parsnip puree, finishing with the desert of dark chocolate and hazelnut praline delice which was velvety, smooth chocolate heaven.
After all that wine, the next morning got off to a slightly sluggish start. But the hotel puts on an excellent breakfast and after fuelling ourselves on locally-sourced sausages and black pudding from the butcher’s in Comrie, we were ready for another day’s exploring.
We headed out on the Glen Ogle Trail, which follows the route of an old railway line, towards Killin.
Throughout our trip we were in awe at the abundance of simply beautiful scenery – which really is right on our doorstep.
Living in Scotland, we quite often take this glorious countryside for granted.
But as we heaved off our muddy boots and gave Paddy a final dry down, we were already looking forward to returning for our next adventure.
Loch-facing rooms at The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans, range from £105 in winter, to £175 in summer, per night, for B&B.
The seven-course wine-pairing meal comes in at £72 per person, including all wines.
A-La Carte meals at The Four Seasons range from £5-£7 for starters, and between £11-£17 for mains.