It’s a shame how little of Scotland I’ve actually discovered since moving here back in 2006 but it’s just a bit difficult without a car (and without a driver’s licence in my case – working on that at the moment).
Luckily my parents are increasingly choosing rent-a-cottage-and-car-type holidays and this spring took them to Callander, a convenient 20 min drive outside Stirling so I could easily join them for the weekend and enjoy the countryside and amazing scenic views.
On Friday night, starved as we were, we found trendy little cafe Mhor Bread on Callander’s Main Street that’s known locally for serving a slightly fancier version of fish & chips than you’d get at a chippy. The portions were huge, the fish was fresh and the chips were double fried… Unusually for Scotland, they also offered mushy peas so we just went the whole hog (surprise, surprise). As they’re not licenced to sell alcohol on the premises, it’s BYOB but the Tesco next door has quite a nice selection of wines. For desert we chose some pies and a meringue from their very own bakery next door and weren’t disappointed. Douze points!
Woke up to bright skies on Saturday morning so mum and I went for a little wander around the local golf course (stunning location if you’re into the game) before setting off to the Loch Venachar-Loch Katrine area with dad behind the wheel. We found ourselves a lovely looking forest track and only realised we’d walked 8-10 km, mainly uphill, once we’d gotten back down, checked the time and looked at the map. Beautiful walk, beautiful scenery though we didn’t quite reach Ben Venue summit (they say it takes 6 hours).
After a walk like that everyone deserves a hearty pub meal so we set off for local tourist centre Aberfoyle in search of some grub. With a minor detour along the way (Queen Forest Drive seemed like a good idea but we got stuck behind an ancient VW van that actually couldn’t exceed the 10 mph recommended speed limit), we finally arrived at the local pub for a very late lunch and devoured our pub classics quite quickly – best steak pie I’ve had in ages.
In keeping with the general vintage-ness of our holiday, we played a couple of games of Scrabble in the evening with dad coming first both times and mum the last. Board games are so much fun!
We set off early on Sunday morning as we hoped to get to Oban in under two hours and succeeded. The drive was super-scenic even by Scottish standards with so many lochs and glens along the way. Weather-wise we were quite scared of having to spend the day sheltering inside as we drove through many a storm along the way, but thankfully discovered Oban drenched in sunshine (the wind, however, was howling). Consulted the local tourist info centre on where to find the best seafood in town and headed over to Ee-Usk restaurant right on the sea front for an early Mothering Sunday lunch. The mussels, salmon, crab and lobster were all approved and I’d go back for more in a jiffy if only I lived that little bit closer…
Oban is a very pretty little town from which you can see the first of the Hebrides and hop on the ferry to get to them if you have the time. We chose to stay on land and took a slightly treacherous coastal walk over to Dunollie Castle, ancient home of one of Scotland’s larger clans – the MacDougalls.
I hear the local whiskey is great but unfortunately we ran out of time to end the day with a wee dram.
– Miss Red
P.S. Head to any of the abovementioned locations for some highland cow spotting!