The Easter holiday weekend arrived along with a heatwave, timed perfectly to coincide with a stay at Loch Rannoch Highland Club. The Teen, my mum and Casper’s goofball nephew would all be joining us for a Perthshire escape.
En route to our weekend abode we couldn’t resist a pit stop at Queen’s View Visitor Centre for a scenery and coffee fix. Elbows were needed to get near the famous viewpoint, as a coach load of pensioners had beaten us to it and were snapping selfies on their mobile phones with gay abandon. It seems Instagram hipsters don’t have a monopoly on the selfie after all.
Two hours after leaving the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh behind, we arrived at our destination. It was time to relax.
Loch Rannoch Highland Club
Loch Rannoch Highland Club sits by the shore of Loch Rannoch, at the foot of a wooded hillside. The location is blissfully quiet, yet it’s right on the edge of the village of Kinloch Rannoch. Kinloch Rannoch has a general store, a cafe and a couple of hotels that serve food – ideal, if you’re afflicted with lazy self-cateringitis like me.
Accommodation at Loch Rannoch Highland Club consists of self-catering studios and one – three bedroom lodges (available to let, or own as a timeshare). The properties all boast loch and mountain views. They’re dog friendly too and dogs stay free.
We were warmly welcomed at check in by Reservations Manager, Bobby Paterson and General Manager, John Bristow – both are proud Westie owners and lovers of wee white dugs. I had a feeling we were going to feel right at home at Loch Rannoch Highland Club.
Our accommodation for the weekend was the two bedroom Osprey Lodge which sleeps six. From the outside it looked small. From the inside it gained a storey and was like Dr Who’s tardis. There was loads of space for four humans and two wee dugs.
On ground level, we had a WC and a spacious, open plan lounge/dining kitchen. The decor was fresh and neutral, with tweed and tartan fabrics, plus pheasant adorned cushions adding a stylish, Scottish twist.
The pièce de résistance was a sun room with comfy seating and a fabulous view, which included the iconic mountain Schiehallion (Fairy Hill of the Caledonians). I had a feeling lots of loafing and view gazing would take place there.
Downstairs, there were two bedrooms – a twin and an en suite double. The Teen opted to sleep upstairs in the lounge (far away from my mum who’s been known to snore like a buffalo). The Teen’s bed was a space-saving double which folded away neatly into a wooden unit. Parents of messy teenagers should all buy one of these ingenious devices. Unmade bed getting you down? No problem, simply fold it away (remove teenager first) et viola – out of sight, out of mind.
Just when we thought our accommodation couldn’t get any better, we discovered a sauna in the downstairs bathroom. Given, we were in the middle of a heatwave, but it’s not every day you have access to your own private sauna.
Unwinding at Loch Rannoch Highland Club
We rustled up a buffet for dinner – what would we do without M&S? Buffet ready, we settled in the sun room to graze on sausage rolls and enjoy the view.
Our relaxation was interrupted by the boys, who let us know, in no uncertain terms that they wanted to explore. Mr G and I obliged the demanding pair, who dragged us off in the direction of the loch as soon as we set foot outside.
We passed some sheep mooching around near our lodge. Westies and woolly ladies observed each other curiously, before both parties lost interest and wandered off. I’m working with Scottish Natural Heritage just now to remind dog owners of the importance of observing the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Our hairy-faced friends should always be kept on a lead and under control when livestock are present.
We attempted to tire the terrible terriers out, before returning to our lodge to recommence loafing.
No sooner had we settled back in the sun room, than we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. The tones were subtle but lovely.
We remained in the sun room enjoying the lost art of conversation, long after the sun had gone down. We weren’t remotely tempted to move into the lounge to watch TV. In fact the TV remained idle all weekend and we didn’t miss it one bit.
We all slept soundly that night (even Goofball Nephew who bunked in with my mum).
A new day at Loch Rannoch Highland Club
The next morning we rose early for breakfast, with the exception of The Teen who remained cocooned in a duvet in her lounge bed until breakfast was served.
Breakfast eaten, we couldn’t wait to get outside to bask in the warmth of the sun.
We enjoyed a potter round Kinloch Rannoch, before hopping in the car for a short drive to Rannoch Station.
A ramble on Rannoch Moor
After some scenic stops en route, we arrived at Rannoch Station and bundled out of the car. It was time for a walk – the best way to work up a hearty appetite for lunch.
We crossed the track of the West Highland Line (one of Scotland’s most spectacular rail routes) and with West Highland White Terriers in tow, set off along a path which cuts across Rannoch Moor towards Glen Coe.
We passed a handful of other walkers during our ramble on Rannoch Moor and stopped briefly to chat to another Westie family with a pretty young lady in their company. She took a shine to our handsome duo, which wasn’t a surprise, given they were nattily attired in Harris Tweed bow ties.
Mr G and I had
walked attempted to walk this route before, but last time we were met by a pack of snarling hounds and bitten half to death by midges and horseflies. The snarling hounds, I sent packing when I lost my rag with their bolshie behaviour. The midges and horseflies were made of far sterner stuff. We retreated from the moor that afternoon (turning the air blue with each painful horsefly bite) and into nearest bar. This time round, there were no snarling hounds, midges or horseflies to contend with.
It was a hot, airless morning so walking was an effort. The boys soldiered on but looked puggled (tired), so we took them to Loch Laidon on the moor to treat them to a cooling dook.
Two happy boys had a whale of a time, paddling in the loch and we had a whale of a time watching them play.
Rannoch Station and Tea Room
By the time we finished our walk we were fantasising about ice cold drinks. As luck would have it Rannoch Station houses a wonderful, dog friendly tearoom. It may be one of Scotland’s most remote railway stations, but you can still get a delicious lunch there.
The boys were welcomed at the tearoom with gravy bones which they snatched greedily. The Teen chose waffles with bacon and maple syrup for lunch, while the rest of us opted for the old lunchtime favourite of soup and sandwiches. Our round of ice-cold drinks were gulped down in record time.
Lunch turned into a Westie convention, when Bobby from Loch Rannoch Highland Club arrived for lunch along with his wife and their two adorable wee white dugs.
Life doesn’t get any better than good food and a tearoom full of Westies.
In Scotland, it pays to get off the beaten track. Not only will you find gorgeous scenery and great places to hike, but more often than not you’ll discover a welcoming oasis in the wilderness, like Rannoch Station Tearoom.
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
We left Rannoch Station and drove back towards Loch Rannoch. It was time for another walk, but I requested a short stop first.
“Where are we?” The Teen asked. “Craigh na Dun.” I replied, only to be met by a blank look. “The stone circle from Outlander, where they travel back in time.” I explained. “Are you coming to see it?” Never one to expend too much energy in a day, The Teen declined and remained in the car while the rest of us headed to Craigh na Dun.
The stone circle featured in the TV drama isn’t real, which is probably just as well, as Scotland was a turbulent place in the 1740s.
A daunder on Schiehallion
Feet still planted firmly in 2019, we stopped at Schiehallion next. Schiehallion is one of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains over 3,000ft). My mum’s a huge fan of hiking and the great outdoors too, so she was delighted to get a closer look at the iconic peak.
Mr G and I bagged Schiehallion on our wedding anniversary a few years back. It was a hilarious and memorable day out, involving a couple of slapstick comedy falls on wet rock.
We wouldn’t be tackling the summit on this occasion as it was too hot, too late in the day and we weren’t properly equipped. A short hike up part of the way still got the heart pumping though. Unsurprisingly, The Teen chose to sit it out in the car. She’d discovered a 4G signal in the car park and had disappeared off into cyber space.
A very old tree and a lovely village
The Teen may have felt her morning walk on Rannoch Moor was enough activity for one day, but the rest of us were keen to explore more of beautiful Perthshire.
Fortingall is an insanely pretty village located in Glen Lyon. Think rugged hills, chocolate box cottages with thatched roofs and grazing sheep – it’s idyllic.
It’s history geek heaven too.
Three ancient stone circles stand in a field on the edge of the village.
Yet they could be relative newcomers in Fortingall, compared to a gnarly old yew tree that’s growing in the churchyard.
Experts believe the roots of the Fortingall Yew date back 5,000 years, making it Europe’s (and possibly the world’s) oldest living thing. It’s almost impossible to comprehend a living thing so mind bogglingly old. Even The Teen was (unexpectedly) impressed by the Fortingall Yew, deigning to leave the car to gaze in wonder at its gnarled, old branches.
It’s getting hot in here
After feasting on ice cream and chip shop suppers in Aberfeldy for dinner, we arrived back at Loch Rannoch Highland Club for a second night of blissful relaxation.
Before settling down for the evening (and despite spending a long day out in the sun) Mr G and I decided to have a wee sauna. We were keen to fully enjoy the Loch Rannoch Highland Club experience. It was nice to sit in our swimwear and bask in the heat for a while, without walking in it.
Heat endurance challenge complete, we settled in the sun room to enjoy the beautiful view and a well-earned rest. Two plum tuckered boys snoozed soundly – tired after a fun day out.
Farewell Loch Rannoch Highland Club
Easter shenanigans at Loch Rannoch
We woke on Easter Sunday to another gorgeous day. After breakfast, we packed the car and said a sad farewell to our fabulous, Loch Rannoch Highland Club lodge.
Our spirits were soon lifted when we met not one, but two adorable Easter bunnies down by the loch.
Their faces looked strangely familiar, but we couldn’t quite place them.
The Easter holiday fun didn’t end there, as I happened to have giant bubbles with me – as you do. The Teen played no part in our cringeworthy, bubble blowing shenanigans and hid in the car, pretending she wasn’t with us.
I don’t care what anyone says – giant bubbles are the best thing EVER (bunny ears are optional).
And so ended our fun, family break at Loch Rannoch.
Loch Rannoch Highland Club – the verdict
I wasn’t sure what I expected Loch Rannoch Highland Club to be like, but I loved it. Our well-equipped, lodge was superb and conveniently located for visiting Perthshire’s main attractions.
The resort offers the best of both worlds too. There’s a regular programme of activities (including guided hikes for those who like to keep active), but it also offers peace and tranquility for those who prefer to take life at a gentler pace. It’s somewhere you can go to shake off the stresses of modern life – read a book, watch the sunset and enjoy some down time. We opted for a mix of both during our stay and left feeling calm and refreshed.
A miracle happened on our dawdling journey home – The Teen left the car and actually enjoyed walks at Blair Castle AND The Hermitage.
Although our accommodation at Loch Rannoch Club was provided on a complimentary basis, all opinions are my own.
Until next time……..