A haven of calm

By Elaine Hunter

BASKING in the streaming sunshine immersed in a hot tub while my seven-year-old son dives in and out of the bubbly water beside me, it’s hard to believe we’re actually holidaying in Scotland … in the middle of November. This is a Scottish holiday as it should be. Five-star quality all the way. We’re staying in a luxurious cottage on the Mains of Taymouth Estate in Kenmore, in Perthshire, – deep into Rob Roy and Campbell country – and the surroundings couldn’t be more relaxing.

We have our own private garden, with courtyard and barbecue; hot tub, and of course sauna … and the ‘cottage’ which is set on three levels is just a stone’s throw away from Taymouth Castle – which is currently being refurbished. The award-winning cottages on Mains of Taymouth, which are just yards from the River Tay, were once old farm buildings on the Taymouth Castle estate and have been converted to luxury, state-of-the art accommodation.

Our ‘cottage’ – which is more boutique hotel than rustic lodge – has more bathrooms than we know what to do with; a kitchen Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson would fight over, a massive wood burning stove, long luxurious leather sofas and satellite TV.  Not that you’ll be tempted to watch it because there’s just so much to do here.

Our home for the weekend is just yards from the River Tay; a 10 minute walk from a stoney beach and five minutes from the ‘hub’ of Kenmore, which boasts an olde worlde hotel, some gift shops, a deli, stables and a post office. Plus there are so many walks to discover; it’s hard to pack it all in during a short stay like this – which guarantees that we will be back.

The Courtyard Restaurant, below, at Kenmore, which is just next door to our cottage, has bistro charm and quality; is child friendly and the sumptuous smells that waft from it constantly are hard to resist. But the cottage and its to-die-for kitchen is hard to leave; even for quality dining like this on our doorstep – and for us with four children under eight – we choose to eat at home in the comfort of a kitchen the size of most people’s gardens.

And that’s what makes a self-catering holiday so appealing to families; the chance to do the usual feeding, bathing and bedding routines, but somewhere else. And you don’t want to have to arrive at your accommodation and start cleaning up either. You want to get there and for it to have that ‘cleaner than clean’ feel to it; and the accommodation at Mains has this in spades. It’s immaculate and fresh. Just what all mums need when they’re home from home.

When we do eventually venture out of our cavernous cottage, we are amazed by the amount there is to do in this quaint little village. There’s boat cruises; canyoning, canoeing, rafting, pony riding and of course, golfing on the historic castle estate. But with four little ones to keep happy, we opt for a Forest safari organized by Highland Safaris; which is just a five-minute drive from our base, on the way to neighbouring Aberfeldy.

We have relaxed very quickly in these beautiful surroundings; spending days on walks and evenings in the hot tub looking at the stars in the clear and dark sky – and there’s no doubt this little haven of heavenly luxury has been Kenmore’s secret for too long. It’s Scotland as you’ve only dreamed about. Dream no more; it really does exist and it’s only a car-drive away.

Price for family of four –  from £450 – £660 for midweek break in Archway Cottages up to £1100 for cottage which sleeps six. Contact: 01887 830226 – Mains of Taymouth cottages and mews style homes at Castle Gardens; www.taymouthcottages.co.uk or email info@taymouth.co.uk


Directions to Mains of Taymouth: From Glasgow (90 min), and the South: take the motorway to Stirling (M80), onwards to Perth (45 min), A9 to Ballinluig, then A827 to Aberfeldy and Kenmore. From Edinburgh (90 min), take the M90 to Perth, A9 to Ballinluig, then A827 to Aberfeldy and Kenmore. From Oban (90 min) and Fort William (90 min): take the A85/A82 form Fort William, to Crianlarich, then A85 to Killin, then the A827 to Kenmore.