Every now and then I find a place that leaves me never wanting to leave. Okay, a lot of places in the world have that effect. But not many of them are in the UK. And on my new quest to explore my own country, this place has served me well: the Scottish countryside and Inverlochy Castle.
After arriving at Edinburgh, you can be transferred, by helicopter no less, to the Castle. I took the road…but here’s to dreaming (come on lottery…). Sat at the foot of the mighty Ben Nevis Mountain, Inverlochy Castle sits in the most tranquil of locations with rolling green hills, emerald lochs and stretches of pristine farmland. Matching its surroundings are the castle interiors: stark contrasts of colours, rich fabrics, and elaborate period pieces that easily make you feel like you’re on the set of Pride & Prejudice.
Each of the castle’s 17 bedrooms are unique, and individually decorated with gorgeous bathrooms and stunning views to match. The Castle was built in 1863 by the first Lord Abinger and, until 1969, it had remained a private residence. It has had a string of important guests stay within its walls, including her Majesty Queen Victoria who spent a week at the Castle sketching and painting the grounds and famously writing in her diary that she ‘never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’. I couldn’t agree more, Vicky.
The great thing about this place is that you can make your stay as relaxing or active as you want. Lounge in the sitting room and catch up with some reading, jump into the resident Rolls Royce (at your beck and call, naturally) to explore nearby towns or take to the countryside. Clay pigeon shooting, anyone? Or maybe it’s a canter on the Castle’s horses you’d like. In the summer, you can battle the rivers nearby with some whitewater rafting. The temperatures were a little arctic when I visited so I hope you won’t blame me for skipping this one… Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK, and while I didn’t brave the climb, a lot of visitors do and I am seriously thinking about returning to give it a go.
As I have a Scottish background, I love Scottish food, but it has its limitations. So I was pretty pleased to see the Michelin starred menu had ventured further afield than how many different ways to cook a haggis. Not that I don’t love haggis…promise.
The dining room itself is pretty amazing, furnished by visiting Royal families. Just the way I like my dining rooms. Then it’s to the drawing room with a glass of whisky. If you like whisky. I don’t, so it was red wine for me. Sorry. I guess the Scottish genes didn’t come through as strongly as they should have.