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Loch Lomond

Where to go – Breaks in 2021

Travel restrictions have reduced our options but the desire to get away for weekends and enjoy dining out is strong. We explore the best places to experience the glories of the Scotland during the pandemic. The accommodation, restaurants and cafés who go the extra mile to be COVID safe and still make their guests feel relaxed.

Up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Scotland is available at the Scottish Government website. (Updated 19th February 2021)

Beautiful places and safe spaces – featuring the pick of Scotland’s best places to stay, restaurants and cafés that go above and beyond to keep guests safe.

Places to Stay

Easterhoull Chalets, Shetland

easterhoull chalets, shetland

Have you ever been to the Shetland Islands? If not then perhaps 2021/2022 will be the ideal time to explore this beautiful part of the country. We’ve suggested Easterhoull Chalets as an accommodation option within this guide because they’re wonderful – perched on the edge of the sea are 9 self-catering chalets, each with a 3-star award from Visit Scotland. Enjoy the view of the harbour and Scalloway Castle in the distance, as well as the occasional boat lazily passing by your window. These chalets aren’t just gorgeous though, they’re also very comfortable and homely. Each chalet comes complete with a very good wi-fi connection, as well as kitchen and laundry facilities. The only issue you’ll have is that you’ll find it hard to leave!

The Fife Arms, Braemar, Highlands

the fife arms braemar

Already legendary in the few short years since opening. A stay at this reimagined hunting lodge on the edge of the Cairngorms is the ultimate antidote to the lockdown blues. Dressing up for dinner is a must in such a glamorous setting, the perfect opportunity to dust down the glad rags. A magnificent staging post for a host of Highland outdoor adventures. As you would imagine every effort is made to offer guests total reassurance, including temperature checks for guests and staff.

Assynt House, Ross-shire

assynt house ross shire

Assynt House is a stunning 7-bed country house situated in the Scottish Highlands. As a 5-star rated Exclusive Use Venue, the building is unsurprisingly spectacular – a grade II-listed Georgian mansion surrounded by jaw-dropping Highlands scenery that once housed President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, during their honeymoon tour of Scotland. Choose from either a self-catering stay or in-house catering (including either formal dinners or one-pot meals). Be sure to visit the website to see images of the building and the surrounding area, as well as to read the testimonials of very satisfied guests who have stayed at Assynt House since the business was established in 2006. Once we’re able to travel safely, Assynt House would be a fantastic place to visit for a domestic holiday trip.

Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Sutherland

alladale wilderness reserve

It’s great to visit hotels and indoor venues, but after the year we’ve had there is nothing like getting outdoors. Where better to explore the beauty of Scotland than Alladale Wilderness Reserve, a 23,000-acre estate nestled in the Scottish Highlands. It might seem like a remote paradise, but believe it or not the reserve is only an hour’s drive north of Inverness – practically a stone’s throw. There are 4 different lodges on the reserve that you can stay at, and although they’re all stunning, our pick of the bunch would have to be Deanich Lodge. It’s one of the most remote lodges in Scotland, and is probably the ideal location for any city dwellers who have had a bit too much noise recently.

Windlestraw, Walkerburn, Scottish Borders

windlestraw walkerburn scottish borders

Windlestraw is an independently-owned small luxury hotel overlooking the picturesque Tweed Valley in the stunning Scottish Borders. Set within two acres of private, landscaped grounds, Windlestraw was originally built in 1906, as a wedding gift for the future wife of the Scottish cashmere mill owner, John King Ballantyne. Award-winning Windlestraw offers 5 star gold accommodation and an intimate three AA rosette dining experience. Guest numbers are strictly limited during the pandemic, and those lucky enough to bag a room will receive a highly personal, yet sensitively-distanced stay.

Restaurants and Cafés

Archerfield Walled Garden, Archerfield, East Lothian

Forming part of the Archerfield Estate, the 18th century Walled Garden boasts an inviting garden café serving simple family friendly food with an emphasis on seasonality, as well as a gift shop and well-stocked food market. Visitors are encouraged to explore the restored kitchen gardens, the extensive estate grounds and to follow the Magical Fairy Trail through the woods.

Born in the Borders, Lanton Mill

As the name would suggest, there’s a distinctly Scottish feel and lot of warmth and humour to everything produced under the Born in the Borders banner. The menu at the Lanton Mill restaurant is pure no-nonsense scran, the wall murals are a brilliant pop art mash-up of Scottish icons, and the beers from the brewery, simply lip-smackingly good. A great lunch spot for families with plenty of space for kids to run around safely.

Drift, North Berwick, East Lothian

Operating in the current conditions is especially challenging for a small gem like Drift that plies its café trade from an up-cycled shipping container perched on the cliffs facing the Bass Rock. Hats off to the whole team for making it work, and keeping everyone safe in a way that retains all that makes this place so special. In addition to the new adapted layout inside, there’s the #DRIFTaway trailer for those who prefer their brunch, coffee and cake al fresco.

Loch Fyne, Cairndow, Argyll

Let there be no pretenders. This is the place to indulge a fancy for seafood, Loch Fyne’s original oyster bar is home to great heaps of sweet briny oysters, langoustines and Tarbert lobster. An old Scottish institution with a loyal following that will always welcome new faces – entirely trustworthy and steadfast in uncertain times. Somewhere that the new normal can almost feel like the old normal.

Restoration Yard, Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian

Set in the glorious grounds of Dalkeith Country Park, near Edinburgh, Restoration Yard is the perfect place to meet outdoors to enjoy a crisp winter walk followed by a restorative visit to the Kitchen to enjoy brunch or lunch in the beautifully restored 18thcentury stables. The Larder is also open for takeaways, just enough of a nibble to refuel before visiting the eclectic selection of clothes, homewares and gifts in the fabulous Store. Younger visitors will be delighted to know that the adjacent Fort Douglas adventure park is open for fun and frolics.

 

Places to visit

 

Coldstream Museum

olympus digital camera
© Copyright Kevin Rae and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

The Coldstream Museum is situated right in the centre of Coldstream, in the Market Square (pictured above). The town is well-known for being the home of the Coldstream Guards regiment in the British Army, and the history of the area is well explained within the museum. However what we love about this museum is that it doesn’t just detail the history of the local region, it also includes an exhibition programme that offers a variety of historical artifacts and stories. The museum itself is great to visit, but there is also a indoor children’s play area and a courtyard that you can sit within. Once this museum reopens it’ll be a great place to visit for a history lesson!

There is little information about when the museum will reopen currently, but we will update this page as soon as we have more information.

 

Hawick Museum

fountain in wilton lodge park geograph.org.uk 754819
fountain in wilton lodge park geograph.org.uk 754819

Hawick Museum is the oldest museum in the Scottish Borders and a 4-star attraction baaed in Wilton Lodge Park. This 18th century mansion was converted into a museum in the early 20th century, and many of the exhibits and artifacts outline the fascinating history of the local area. However this is not just a museum about Hawick – the museum has a global history section too that is well worth a look. The museum is especially popular with motorcyclist enthusiasts as it has exhibitions about Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop, 2 motorcycle champions from the local area.

There is little information about when the museum will reopen currently, but we will update this page as soon as we have more information.

 

 

Old Gala House

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© Copyright James Denham (geograph.org.uk)

The Old Gala House is a 16th century building based in Galashiels. Once home to the Lairds of Galashiels, the building is now used as a museum and gallery packed with information about the local area and the people that lived there. The history of the town is explored via interesting exhibits and artifacts, and helps to shed light on the textile heritage of Galashiels. It’s all presented beautifully and within a building that has really stood the test of time.

While you’re there you can enjoy art from varied sources including local and international artists.

There is little information about when the museum will reopen currently, but we will update this page as soon as we have more information.

 

Callander Kirk

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© Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Callander Kirk is a church based in the lovely town of Callander near Stirling. First opened for worship in 1844, the church is a staple of the town and a beautiful piece of architecture. Church services are held on Sunday mornings and evenings every week, and even during the pandemic they’ve been running online services. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to visit again soon to enjoy the beautiful interior and the uplifting services.

Only a stone’s throw away is Trossachs Church, situated on the shores of Loch Achray, a small freshwater loch located just below Ben A’an. The views across the water are stunning and it is a popular wedding venue for this reason. This church opened 5 years after Callander Kirk and has a similar design and interior.

We’re not sure when we’ll be able to visit these great churches again but we will update this page as soon as we have information.

 

 

Balgonie Castle

balgoniecastle04
Wikimedia Commons

 

Situated on the south bank of the River Leven sits Balgonie Castle, a 14th century castle that Rob Roy MacGregor once captured in the 18th century. At less than 4km away from Glenrothes, the castle is in a bit of strange location – it doesn’t seem like there is much to Glenrothes when you visit, but Balgonie Castle is a great example of what you can find within touching distance of the surrounding area. The castle itself is semi-ruinous doesn’t draw hundreds of visitors every day, but the castle is beautiful and has quite a bit to see, including the occasional reenactment. Plus the area surrounding the castle is great for walks and simply enjoying.

You can visit the castle now but a few of the areas have been closed for the moment, we’ll update this guide when we learn more.