My family and I recently enjoyed a short break staying at the Macdonald Forest Hills Resort, situated in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Luck was perhaps on our side, and we managed to time some relatively nice weather for most of our trip.
It was to be our first family holiday, taking along our four-month-old baby son, as well as our other child – Paddy, the dog. Finding good dog-friendly hotels is not always easy, so we were glad to learn that Macdonald Forest Hills Resort could accommodate our pet pooch. Paddy is a firm fixture in the family, and we are always reluctant to leave him behind if we can really help it.
The resort in Kinlochard is in a beautiful setting – right on the banks of Loch Ard, surrounded by lush green forests, and rugged hills. Lots of fresh air, outdoor exploring, and plenty of walkies awaits us. It’s hard to believe we are only an hour’s drive from our home in Glasgow, as we look out at the gorgeous view from the balcony of our apartment.
The apartment itself is very spacious, and has all the modern facilities you would need for self-catering – it even has our own private sauna.
Macdonald Forest Hills Resort is very much family orientated, but it still has a feel of luxury and tranquillity about it. There are plenty of activities to keep the children entertained such as tennis courts, a football pitch, swimming pool, and adults can make use of the gym, have a spa treatment, or eat in the AA Rosette fine dining restaurant. All of this and more is available on site, but if you simply want to unwind, the beautifully landscaped gardens, offer a little peace and quiet, amongst the trees and singing birds.
And of course there’s plenty of nature for us to explore outside of the grounds. On our first day we headed to Inversnaid on the west shore of Loch Lomond. Here you will see a steady stream of intrepid, weary looking walkers emerging from the woods as they take on the West Highland Way.
We had planned a short hillside walk here which would take us past waterfalls, and through woodland. However, we had only been in the woods for a matter of minutes before the dreaded midges began their assault.
We decided that an open air walk, away from trees would be a better option. This is Rob Roy country, and we set off along an old military road, which was built to enable soldiers to control cattle thieves, back in the days of the infamous clan leader. The 6km walk takes us along the north side of Loch Arklet, giving majestic views all the way to Stronachlachar Pier on Loch Katrine, where we enjoyed a well-deserved cup of tea and cake. The day was warm, so on the way home we stopped off at pretty little Loch Chon, where Paddy enjoyed cooling off with a splash around in the water.
The following days were more of the same – lovely, tranquil walks through woodland, up hills, and along shores such as those of Loch Ard, Loch Lubnaig, and Loch Venachar. Although I have visited The Trossachs National Park many times over the years, you could never tire of its beauty.
It’s been an active few days, but we are feeling refreshed. On our final evening we dine in the Garden Restaurant of the resort. It was a perfect way to end our holiday – the restaurant gives a panoramic view through its large windows.
The food is of excellent quality – I had grilled seabass to start, followed by ribeye steak, and a berry cheesecake for desert. The meal is a bit on the pricey side, but we felt we had earned a little indulgence.
It’s hard to leave behind such stunning scenery, but we are all feeling revitalised, which is always the effect a good dose of nature brings to the senses. And of course, we know will be back for many more trips in years to come, as we continue to explore these much loved landscapes.
P.S: Loch Lomond has the largest surface area of any loch at 71 square kilometres. The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park also contains Scotland’s only lake: the Lake of Menteith.
Factfile: Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa: visit macdonaldhotels.co.uk or call 0344 879 9057
Red Maple Lodge, self-catering, with lounge, kitchen and two bathrooms, sleeps six, £162 per night. Pets Go Free (normally £75 per booking) in September and November. The Garden Restaurant offers three-course meal for two, with bottle of wine, for £130.