Looking out of the Glengoyne Suite at the Macdonald Forest Hills hotel near Aberfoyle, it was amazing to see the magnificent Loch Ard now at peace with itself and glistening in the January sun.
As we drove up from Lancashire to Aberfoyle in Scotland we were struck by the high water levels in the lochs and rivers and the flooded fields which had been adopted by ducks enjoying a dip in their make shift ponds!
Aberfoyle is in the heart of the Trossachs, one of the nicest parts of Scotland and with some breath-taking scenery. It’s a great place to visit too, especially for the outdoor enthusiast as there are plenty of watersports to enjoy as well as opportunities for hill walking, orienteering and abseiling.
And with the lovely town of Callender just close by and nearby Port of Menteith, home to the Scottish celebrity chef Nick Nairn’s culinary school, there is plenty to do.
Visiting so early in the winter has its advantages and disadvantages, the latter being that most of the attractions, such as the boat trips on the nearby spectacular Loch Katrine are closed until Easter.
But the advantages are that the area is so peaceful at this time of the year and you can see why it was one of legendary writer Sir Walter Scott’s favourite haunts.
The Macdonald Forest Hills hotel and resort sits majestically on the hill overlooking Loch Ard and it’s a lovely spot to enjoy the area.
The hotel chain has a reputation for class and this former MP’s home has it all. The hotel has kept many of the original features and lodges to rent have been added on in the 25 acres of mature woodland which surround it.
The view from our room was to die for and one you could have spent all weekend looking at. Loch Ard in all its glory. But the hotel has so much to offer, that you have to tear yourself away. From the cosy lounges where you can spend a morning reading the newspapers infront of a big fire, to the impressive dining room, which served home cooked Scottish full breakfasts ready to set you up for the day.
The hotel has just undergone a £1m. refurbishment and looks well with its classic tartan upholstery and the bedrooms have all the mod cons from wide screen televisions to Wi-Fi to keep everyone happy.
The Garden Room restaurant which all serves as the breakfast room, offers fine dining with a heavy hint on local produce and the Rafters Bar and Bistro just across from the hotel is the ideal choice for families, with a more informal style of dining on offer and just the job for fussy eaters like Ruaridh (8) and Flora (6) who happily tucked into their chicken and fish dishes, while mum and dad dined on the more sophisticated steaks and salmon.
As well as the 55 bedrooms, there are 1-3 bedroom lodges on site for people who want to enjoy all the facilities of the hotel, but self cater.
A luxury swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi is open to all and the spa housed in the same building boasts one of the most relaxing back massages I have ever had.
Tennis courts and giant size chess and draughts sets are dotted around the grounds and just below the hotel, there is a huge watersports centre, where in season you can enjoy Loch Ard by canoe or the latest craze, a hamster ball, where humans take on nature in a huge plastic ball rolling across the loch. A sight not to be missed!
Factfile: if you need to banish those January blues, then a stay at Macdonald Forest Hills hotel could just be the ticket. Its only 40 miles from Glasgow and has the most spectacular views. And up to March 30th, the hotel is offering a fabulous midweek break. For £138 per room per night, two nights accommodation can be enjoyed by two adults with a full Scottish breakfast and dinner, plus a wee tasting at the nearby Glengoyne distillery and a Glengoyne gift left in your room. And you can upgrade the room for £30 extra. For more information, log onto www.Macdonaldhotels.co.uk/ForestHills, quoting WY7.