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My Scotland: Tasting menus, loch-side strolls and island adventures with Julia Bryce

© Supplied by Julia BryceJulia Bryce is an award-winning food and drink writer based in Aberdeen. Image: Julia Bryce
Julia Bryce is an award-winning food and drink writer based in Aberdeen. Image: Julia Bryce

If she isn’t writing about the best Scotland to offer in terms of food and drink, you’ll find Julia Bryce out and about adventuring.

The award-winning writer is based in Aberdeen but goes further afield in search of the best walks, stays and bites.

We challenged her to pick her top three spots to explore and she didn’t hold back in making sure you make the most of them next time you visit.

Tasting menu at Killiecrankie House

© Supplied by Julia Bryce
Dishes from the tasting menu at Killiecrankie House. Image: Julia Bryce

If you haven’t heard about Tom and Matilda Tsappis’ fine dining restaurant with rooms in Highland Perthshire, you’re in for a treat. Killiecrankie House is the place to eat in Scotland right now. Their unique take on tasting menus, relaxed service and elegant interior make it a must-visit. You’ll be mesmerised by each dish and intrigued by the next, and I’d highly recommend trying the drink pairings.

On the drinks menu, you’ll likely find some of Matilda’s father’s wines from his vineyard in China. And yes, there’s sake, locally made beer, cocktails and more available to try too.

Tom and Matilda’s team really do know how to bring magic into the dining room and if you’re able to, I’d recommend sitting at the Chef’s Table. Every seat in the dining room faces towards the open kitchen, but the experience of feeling like you’re almost in it is too good an opportunity to pass up.

© Supplied by Julia Bryce
The perfect place to wind down. Image: Julia Bryce

Stay overnight if you can as the breakfast is so worth it. Don’t forget to explore the surrounding Pitlochry area while you’re there, and be sure to pay a visit to the kitchen garden as it is beautiful. There are lots of walks close by and you may even spot Tom out foraging for ingredients while you do some exploring.

Loch Muick

© Supplied by Julia Bryce
Glas-allt-Shiel was built by Queen Victoria on the banks of the loch. Image: Julia Bryce

Neighbouring Munros overlook the 12.5km Loch Muick circuit which is located on the Balmoral Estate. This walk is brilliant and mostly flat, meaning it’s accessible for all levels. It is also home to a beautiful waterfall and the views are incredible. The sandy beach at the halfway point makes for a perfect picnic spot and there’s a good chance you’ll spot red deer around the perimeter of the loch, so keep your eyes peeled.

You can also enjoy the impressive Glas-allt-Shiel house built by Queen Victoria in the 1860’s on the western side of the loch. If you’re feeling up to it, why not bag a Munro while you are there and take on Lochnagar.

This is one of my favourite places to visit when I stay in the village of Braemar, especially when that means I can devour a hot pie from the Braemar Butcher on the way back to the accommodation.

© Supplied by Julia Bryce
Julia’s boyfriend Calum is always keen to join her on adventures. Image: Julia Bryce

Don’t forget to visit The Fish Shop in Ballater, which has recently received a stream of accolades, if you’re looking for a fancier bite to eat after. Serving incredible seafood, you’ll be tickled pink at the offering here. However, it would be worth changing out of your hiking gear for your reservation as this sister venue of the five-star Fife Arms is just as excellently elegant.

You could also nip along to Crathie where you’ll find the best butteries at The Highlanders Bakehouse or book an hour’s session at Stravaig Saunas at Torgalter to relax – the view from the Finnish sauna is breathtaking.


© Supplied by Julia Bryce
Islay is world-renowned for its distilleries. Image: Julia Bryce

Home to outstanding whisky and seafood, Islay is one Scottish island you must visit in your lifetime. With outstanding vistas as far as the eye can see, the most picturesque whisky-tasting locations, plus wildlife galore, everywhere you look feels like a dream. Coorie yet wild is how I’d describe this magnificent island and it is somewhere I’ve had so many wonderful foodie experiences.

For those that love seafood you really can’t go wrong on Islay. The freshest langoustine, scallops and lobster, plus lots of fish, make it a haven for fresh, quality seafood. Wash it down with a fine dram and you’re onto a winner. Why not pair the two on the Islay Sea Adventures Seafood Special Trip and enjoy epic scenery and wildlife at the same time?

© Supplied by Julia Bryce
Julia and Calum ready to enjoy a dram at Ardbeg. Image: Julia Bryce

If you’re a fan of Scotland’s national drink, then be sure to walk the Three Distilleries Pathway. This 6km adventure sees you pass three whisky distilleries including Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, and you’ll also benefit from outstanding views while getting your steps in.

Kilchoman Beach at Machir Bay benefits from white sands and electric blue sea in the summer, although it is beautiful all year round. For those staying at Glenegedale House or The Machrie pay a visit to Kintra Beach, you won’t regret it, especially around sunrise and sunset.

And if you’re getting the ferry over, don’t forget to try the ‘famous’ CalMac macaroni cheese. It is almost a rite of passage for any ferry-goer.

For more travel tips, follow Julia at @juliabryce92 on Instagram.