I’ve always thought there’s something exotic about holidaying on an island. The ocean is never far away, there are always scores of beaches to enjoy, as well as inland cities, towns and villages to explore. There’s a unique romance about island life.
And do you know what? We’ve got it all right here on our doorstep. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we Britons live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. So, in these uncertain times, why not take the opportunity to jump in the car and set off on a road trip?
Not long ago, my husband Jim and I decided to do just that. Instead of our usual trek up to Gatwick or Heathrow, we set off from our home in South Devon for a 500 mile drive north to Auchterarder in Perthshire. And we felt like a couple of kids again.
We were heading to CLC World’s luxury resort, Duchally Country Estate: a fabulous hotel plus 55 superb self-catering lodges, set in 27 acres of glorious Scottish parkland.
We decided to make the most of our journey. Funnily enough, one of our early highlights was a leisurely stop at one of the most delightful service stations in the country… Gloucester! Normally, we just grab a sandwich at a service station, moan loudly about the price and drive on. But Gloucester is totally different. And so, as we were in no hurry to catch a flight, we decided to have lunch in their charming restaurant and farm shop.
Then it was onwards to Chester, where we had booked into a lovely riverside pub called The Boathouse. The next morning, refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we drove on to the Lake District. It’s years since I’ve been there, but it was just as beautiful as I remembered. I’d done a bit of research and managed to find a country hotel by one of the least populated lakes, Haweswater. It was perfect: peaceful, scenic and relaxing.
In fact, it was almost as delightful as our welcome to Duchally. The hotel is a grand country house dating back to 1838, and it feels warm and cosy as soon as you step over the threshold.
Before checking into our lodge, just a stone’s throw from the main hotel, we took a quick peek at the Whisky Bar. Well…when in Scotland!
It was all we’d hoped for…oozing wood panels, log fire warmth….and stocked with an impressive range of more than 50 whisky choices. There’s also the resort’s very own Gatehouse Gin which is produced on the premises.
There’s something about the clarity of the Scottish light and the dramatic contours of the rolling hills that I’ve always found bewitching. And, after our long drive, Duchally was the perfect place to chill. We had a spacious lodge with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a well-appointed kitchen and living room, our own deck and outdoor furniture: it was more than a home from home.
And the menu in the hotel restaurant, Monteaths, was all too tempting. We thoroughly enjoyed our starters of venison haggis and monkfish scampi, followed by delicious, tender rib-eye steaks.
It’s easy to see why Duchally is judged to be one of the best destinations in Scotland.
And we shall definitely be returning for a longer visit to explore everything the resort and its surroundings have to offer.