But not so on that day. We'd managed to get a deal for a night's stay near Aberfoyle in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, so instead we diverted via Oban, a town I hadn't visited in 12 years.
We wandered around town, checked out the ferry, had some ice cream - and drove off. Leisurely.
As we neared Callander, it had started to drizzle and road warnings told us the road along the western side of Loch Lomond was closed due to an accident. Change of plan! Instead, we took the scenic route from Callander to Aberfoyle. I say 'scenic' as it was indeed breathtaking, middle of nowhere territory. As was the road which shouldn't really be labelled 'A'. Sharp bends, up and down, winding its way past small, picturesque lochs and through forests and heather. Idyllic. Perfect getaway.
But not in the pouring rain!
The heavens had opened and it was bucketing down. We could at times barely make out the road (I should really say, lane), but with very little traffic we could take our time. Better slow than sorry. I only regret that we couldn't get out and have a look around. A fine drive for a dry day, one day again.
We came through the village of Aberfoyle, a cosy looking place, and found Gartmore House with no problem. Wow! An 18th century Gothic style manor house that just oooooozes drama. Surrounded by parkland with tall, old trees and shrubs, a wee bit overgrown in places, it is a writer's dream hideaway. I definitely fancy coming back with the laptop, settling by the fire or looking out over the sweeping landscape.
|Gartmore House, Aberfoyle|
Staff were very friendly on arrival and our room was small but comfortable and clean. We explored the open parts of the ground floor, including a large lounge - a family lounge according to a 1905 photo near the entrance - and what's now the TV room which resembles a small ballroom! Incredible architecture!
|Gartmore House gardens|
Our deal included a three course dinner, which was very nice. As it had stopped raining, we went for a walk in the soaked grounds. Fabulous! The air had cooled, everything smelt fresh and the views - as far as we could see in the falling dusk, the sky pink and blue - was incredible.
But the facade of the house is crumbling, metal stairs are rusty and a sad sign of neglect over the decades showed (not by the current owners, a charity, who are trying bring it back to its former glory by hosting groups, conferences and now guests as well). A sad, beautiful place!
Later, we enjoyed the bottle of wine we were given in the huge lounge, where a fire was lit, throwing cosy lights across the room. A wonderful atmosphere.
Sadly, it continued to rain heavily the next morning, so, with the option of exploration gone (I hadn't taken my padded rain jacket which would've been too warm anyway), we slowly headed home, surprising our cats by arriving early. At least they were happy...
Just writing all this down makes me want to go back. Not just through Pitlochry, Drum and Ballachulish (and seeing Glencoe again), but also to explore the Trossachs again. At least, the national park is just an hour's drive from home, perfect for a day trip.
Roll on a dry weekend!