Nessie, ales and Highland midges - part 2

After a hearty, cooked breakfast, we briefly met with the outlaws one last time before we hit the road along the Caledonian Canal south. Our usual 'slow' route takes us through Fort Augustus, Fort William and through Ballachulish and Glencoe, my favourite places, back to Stirling and the central belt.

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.

Oban
Funnily enough, Oban hadn't changed much. We parked up on a hill and wandered down to the seafront, browsing shop and estate agents' windows. Clouds scattered the sky which had remained blue throughout our stay in Drum. Temperatures were still high, though, in the mid 20s C, and muggy. Yes, folks, that's high! ;-)

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!


4 comments:

  1. Again Wow ... and what a superb house ; it's screaming "Goooothiiiic" ....... !!! Just reading all this makes me want to fly there, explore and discover, too ... I'm just green with envy :-) maybe I'll hide in your pocket next time ... haha... just be warned *^-^*

    Makes me think about "Brave" that I just saw a few weeks ago : this was such a phenomenal, gorgeous and enchanting movie - in another life I want a big Scottish boyfriend who'll talk to me in Gaelic .... BIG *sigh* ....haha !

    Did you have the opportunity to go and see it, because I highly recommend this one !

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    1. You can pretty much roam around and explore the rooms open to the public. Some fab architecture! Mind you, hubby compared it to The Shining as it's so quiet!

      Haven't seen Brave yet. It sounds good, though.

      Think I might have to check my pockets next time we're roaming... ;-)

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  2. Lovely and how wonderful for a suspense/adventure author!

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    1. Isn't it just, Alexa? Just what I thought when we drove up, and then later in the dusk even more so. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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