Travel Review: Duchally Country Estate, Perthshire
PUBLISHED: 18:18 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:18 17 September 2018
Bridget Galton enjoys beautiful weather on a trip to Scotland for fly fishing, stunning scenery and a Highland safari
Standing on the bank of an idyllic Scottish lake in a sweltering heatwave, I am swishing my line back and forth in ever increasing arcs, desperately trying to channel Brad Pitt in the movie A River Runs Through It.
Yet again my ‘fly’ or lure, snags on a clump of grass – and I’m reminded that what the Compleat Angler author Izaak Walton called “the contemplative man’s recreation” is years in the learning.
Suddenly there is a cry from my teenage son. He’s got a bite, and with the patient help of our ghillie (who admits to wagging off school to perfect his casting) he carefully reels in a respectable sized brown trout with the help of his younger sister.
Sadly I was still too tangled up in wire to snap this exciting, Instagramable moment. But after two hours of enjoyable fun, we drove back to Gleneagles in the merciless heat with our ‘Scottish air-conditining’ (or windows down)
We had booked the activity through the famous golfing hotel www.gleneagles.com which is nestled in extensive grounds among the Perthshire hills.
But while its bustling luxury makes it a lovely place to pause for a cold, cold drink, we were glad to be staying in the more intimate and secluded surroundings of CLC’s Duchally Country Estate www.duchally.co.uk two miles away.
There are lxury hotel rooms, but their comfortable self-catering lodges are ideal for families like ours, who can choose to self-cater in the well equipped kitchens, or dine in the reasonably priced restaurant Monteaths, where the watchword is seasonal Scottish ingredients; think smoked salmon Aberdeen Angus steaks and line caught trout. (‘though sadly not by me).
The grounds are beautifully landscaped; a duck pond, stream and nature trail among mature trees (beech, fir and cedar) where you might spot a rare indigenous red squirrel.
Best of all for our three children, was a leisure centre with pool where we could unwind after a day out and a whirlpool and steam room for the adults. In the evening we sampled one of 50 blended and single malts in the Whiskey Bar while the kids played pool in the games room.
We had made the trip north for my partner’s 50th birthday – if you are canny you can book a direct train from King’s Cross that takes just 5 1/2 hours.
Needless to say the weather (overheated rails, a trackside fire) had caused havoc with the timetable and it took hours longer.
(You might consider flying to Glasgow or Edinburgh and hiring a car if it’s too sunny/snowy/leaves on the line)
But arriving in Scotland in the full bloom of a warm late June was a joy, as we chugged past the Wallace Monument, (site of William’s famous victory against the English at Stirling), through the pretty town of Dunblane (home turf of Andy Murray), and into the immaculate station where a million golfers have alighted to play the area’s legendary greens.
Before the fishing trip we had ventured even further north past the tourist and Whiskey town of Crieff (home town of Ewan McGregor) up to Aberfeldy whre the Red Deer Centre and Highland Safaris www.highlandsafaris.net occupies a scenic spot overlooking the valley below.
You can choose from mountain, forest safari, or 4x4 off roading, they even have a rib on nearby Loch Tay. But we paused to enjoy a delicious lunch of home-made quiches, salads and cakes in the café while the kids explored the play area and grounds.
Our trip up the mountain with knowledgable guide Cameron turned out to be highly educational - even if we didn’t spot too much wildlife.
Full of facts about the area’s geology, flora and fauna we learned all about the habits of the red deer, red squirrels, where to find edible plants and how to respect the local environment.
On their first trip to Scotland, the children fell in love with the country’s peaceful beauty and we all appreciated the friendly good humour of all the guides and hotel staff, who were eternally patient with the children.
For my partner there were those two precious hours, lost in the contemplative recreation of an activity he’d not been able to indulged in since having children. We would love to return to explore the area’s towns, lakes and even further north into the Cairngorms. There’s nothing quite like Scotland when the sun is out.
Bridget Galton and family were the guest of CLC World Resorts and Hotels at their Duchally Country Estate. www.clcworld.com