It’s a Saturday afternoon in early September. Two young children are repeatedly using that ‘are we nearly there yet?’ line to suggest backseat boredom has set in. We’ve only been on the road just over an hour on our drive north from the central belt, but a seven and eight-year-old are restless. I tell them a view is coming that will reenergise them, one of those iconic Scottish scenes that produce the ‘wow’ factor.
Pulling into Kenmore from Aberfeldy, the vista doesn’t disappoint. It’s a wonderful setting in Highland Perthshire that I enjoyed on many family travels as a boy, and here I now am passing it down the generations. On that little inlet of stony ground, one could day dream all day, staring right down Loch Tay. At 17 miles long, it is Perthshire’s largest and also full of history.
Ten minutes later and those two little people, seemingly approving of the location for this whistle-stop weekend break, are bouncing into The Scottish Crannog Centre to learn about a bygone time on this very water. (www.crannog.co.uk)
An award-winning attraction boasting approximately 20,000 visitors over seven months annually, it brings history and archaeology to life through a unique reconstruction of an ancient loch dwelling. Rachel introduces us to what life was exactly like 2,500 years ago in the early Iron Age through food and clothing, before Jason whisks us away on an enlightening tour full of charm and practical activities. Inside the distinctive roundhouse, we learn up to 20 people would be housed, along with sheep, pigs, geese and a communal toilet (!), before Jason impresses us all with his fire-making skills.
Two hours later and we drive back into quaint Kenmore, over the Loch-River bridge and check in at Mains of Taymouth Country Estate & Golf Course. (www.taymouth.co.uk)
Originally the home farm to Taymouth Castle, this family-run 160-acre estate is delightful, with the holiday cottages located in a stunning 19th century traditional courtyard setting.
We marvel at our superb 4/5-star self-catering cottage (they can sleep 2 to 12 people), keep the welcoming outdoor hot tub in mind and then make a quick change of clothes to head for the first tee, just a short wedge shot away. When in Perthshire, always pack the clubs!
The 9-hole course is idyllic. Measuring less than 3,000 yards off the yellow tees, it is perfect for all ages. My son and I have a ball in the late evening air, with the little par-3 7th a favourite.
Set in wonderful woods amidst the magnificent backdrop of Highland Perthshire, the course only opened in 1992 but has a feeling of being long established. Golfers also note: Mains of Taymouth are offering free golf for all guests at the estate in the coming winter months!
With weary limbs, the onsite Courtyard Bar & Restaurant provides the par-fect venue for after round refreshments, with delicious food and drink at affordable pricing for a family of four, as well as games and a pool table to keep the kids happy.
Emerging from a cosy bed the next morning is a struggle, but a dip in that hot tub has the children and mum content, before we make our way to the water again and meet Loch Tay Safaris.
This is the ultimate way to explore the loch in a modern, purpose-built boat – and also blow the cobwebs away! ‘Explore the water, discover the story’ is their catch line. Donald is our driver, taking the kids to the front to wear the captain’s hat for a giggle, while Norman’s insightful talks and audio visual keep everyone entertained over 90 fun-filled minutes.
It is an inspirational journey full of history, nature, heritage and mystery – including Deep Point. At more than 150 metres deep, it is a spot equivalent to 30 double decker buses staked on top of each other! There are daily departures from April to November. (www.lochtaysafaris.net)
Finally, we visit the Red Deer Centre, meet the welcoming Tony and pan for gold. Yes, pan for gold! After a lovely spot of lunch, we head for home. And within minutes the children are dosing. Certainly, too much excitement for one weekend! But Kenmore, we will be back… (www.highlandsafaris.net/red-deer-centre)
(Posted on Friday 5th October 2018)