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Straloch, Heaven in The Highlands

by Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

With foreign travel looking very unlikely this summer and schools mostly closed until September, I decided I needed to find the perfect place for families to spend their holidays. I then had a light-bulb moment, Perthshire of course!

I grew up there spending my summers with my sister playing in our tree house, swimming in the river, eating scones and re-living Swallows and Amazons. In one of Perthshire’s prettiest glens, Straloch is located on the southern fringe of the Cairngorm National Park, right in the heart of Scotland. Set against the dramatic backdrop of a steep rocky ridge with a tranquil loch in front, the scenery is breath-taking and spectacular. To the north, there is nothing but miles of rugged heather moorland and mountains and to the south, the gently rolling pastures and wooded hills of Strathardle; and with 3,000 acres to discover, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.

Straloch is perfect for families who want to enjoy outdoor adventures together like den building or rowing across to the island for a campfire tea. Both gardens have play frames and the quiet estate road is safe for children to cycle up and down. It’s also wonderful for parents; with so much to do, hopefully your little darlings will be so exhausted that they will fall every night into a deep sleep dreaming of next day’s adventures leaving the grown-ups to have some well-deserved “me” time. The beauty of Straloch is that it feels wonderfully remote, but is only 15 minutes’ drive from the popular visitor hub of Pitlochry. It’s also well located for taking off on day trips, whether it be Royal Deeside to the north east, Aviemore and Loch Ness to the north or one of the many famous castles in the area such as Blair Castle, Scone Palace or Glamis.

For those who are a little more adventurous, all awaits, from white-water rafting, to bungee jumping. With many families home schooling Straloch can arrange nature treasure hunts for children to help hone their observation skills and ‘Wildlife Explorer’ guided walks where they can learn to identify Straloch’s more elusive animals like pine marten and the otter from the signs they leave behind. There’s pond dipping equipment too with ID charts, giving children the first-hand experience of true nature. This can finish off with The Campfire tea on the Island where camp cooking equipment is provided, how better to end an enchanting day?

To the north, there is nothing but miles of rugged heather…

If you are of a more sporting nature, with a resident population of Red and Roe deer and wild Brown trout in the loch, Straloch has plenty to offer to the sporting enthusiast. Whether it’s a day’s stalking on the hill, or a peaceful morning fishing on the loch (both by arrangement) and appreciating the bird wildlife, a memorable experience in stunning surroundings is ready for you to enjoy. Go kayaking in one of their three kayaks or take out the rowing boat. There is also Skiing with Glen Shee Ski Centre just a 40-minute drive away. Open your front door and you will find lovely walks, from a gentle stroll around the loch to the energetic Ridge Walk with stunning views.

Straloch also offers guided walks according to your particular interest, whether it’s birds, wild flowers or archaeology. Each of Straloch’s wonderful accommodation options has a book from which you can plan each day’s activities. For couples that may want a little romance, Straloch will prepare a bespoke picnic, prepared especially for you and delivered to the site of your choice – it could be a traditional Highland picnic up in the heather hills, down by the waterfall on the river or for the true romantics, dinner for two on the jetty by the loch. If that was not enough, they can even organise a banquet for 10 or more people up in their lunch hut.

Their picnic baskets are sublime. You can ask on arrival for a menu and your choice will be delivered. All is hand-made and can include wine, jugs of Pimm’s and soft drinks. I simply adored the lunch hut; it seats 10, so if you have friends in the glen it’s a perfect location. The River Hut is also enchanting, and for a little romance, there is the walled-garden pagoda. You will have to give two days’ notice as these sumptuous picnic baskets are prepared with the best local ingredients and with lots of love. As we are all missing Wimbledon this year, why not have your own grand Slam? There is a hard tennis court five minutes’ walk away and a games room with pool table, table tennis and darts shared between the two houses. Stalking on the estate can be arranged in season via their agent Woodmill Shootings. Whether you’re an old hand or a complete beginner, their expert stalkers will maximise your chances of a successful day. Guests are advised to contact Straloch or Steven Wade at Woodmill Shootings directly well in advance to book.

The stunning Witch’s Stone in winter @John MacPherson.

ishing on the loch is available by arrangement too at a special guest rate of £15 per rod per day (fly only, three rods maximum, rod for hire). Salmon fishing can be organised locally with notice, as well as fishing on neighbouring hill lochs. Now, when it comes to a good night sleep, Straloch has three enchanting properties, although at the moment only two are available, as the charming Fishing Hut is currently under refurbishment. Stalker’s Lodge sleeps six, dogs are welcome and Wi-Fi availably. It features a glass-fronted extension with glorious views across the rolling fields and glen. The ground floor is semi-open plan with generous living space, with oak flooring combined with contemporary design for a modern but comfortable feel. The kitchen is sleek and well equipped, perfect for convivial cooking. The dining table comfortably sits up to 10 guests. The Lodge also features a wood-burning stove. Sliding doors open to the deck out and to the patio at the rear, where there is a table and chairs for outdoor eating and a charcoal barbeque.

A wireless music system with built-in ceiling speakers allows you to enjoy your music from your smart phone or iPod. The all important boot-room provides plenty of space for outdoor gear, dog beds and drying things. Stalker’s Lodge can be booked together with Keeper’s Cottage, which is next door, making it perfect for two families or an extended family get-together. The charming Keeper’s Cottage dates back to the 19th century and has been sympathetically renovated, combining original features and traditional Highland décor with contemporary elements, resulting in a cosy and exceptionally stylish holiday property. The open-plan ground floor features a snug sitting area with a wood-burning stove, a sleek modern kitchen with stone worktops and a bold contemporary staircase with steel rails and oak treads. To the rear of the house, there is a large private garden which is securely fenced. There are swings and a tree-house slide to keep the children amused. A shallow stream runs through the garden with a waterfall that cascades over a stone wall, providing a wonderful peaceful background for eating al fresco or for a relaxing drink.

For enquiries and reservations:
Tel: +44 (0)1250 881267
Email: lucy@straloch.com
All pictures courtesy of John McPherson

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