Natasha Blair travels with a friend around Scotland visiting both the Highlands and the Lowlands, discovering its magical beauty.
Glorious Ben Nevis
With the advent of the low-cost airline, getting to Scotland
by air can now be a very cheap way of visiting the country.
Because we wanted to maximise seeing as much as possible,
while at the same time having a break, we organised the trip
so that we started off in a relaxed fashion.
This we did by going directly to the Borders, namely
Peebles. One of the interesting things about Scotland, as
well as its scenery, is its lack of people. It boasts 10m sheep,
2m cattle and just 5m people.
About a 40-minute drive from Edinburgh, Cringletie
House, set in 28 acres, is an ideal place to chill out. Recently
under new ownership, money has been spent on making it
stylish, but comfortable, with facilities for wheelchair access.
Built in the 19th century, the mansion is typical of Scottish
baronial-style architecture, complete with its own walled
vegetable garden. A real perk is its proximity to Stobo Castle
health spa, for which Cringletie has a special arrangement
so that guests can enjoy its facilities.
I was impressed by the 25m ozone-treated pool as, after a
swim, I didn’t come out smelling of chlorine. I also benefited
from the many treatments on offer with a relaxing facial.
Nearby, too, is Dawyck Botanic Garden, a woodland
garden with over 300 years of tree planting, which is famous
for its collection of trees and shrubs. For golfers, the Borders
operates a ‘Freedom of the Fairways’ scheme of three days
£65 or five days £90, which gives access to 18 of the 21
golf courses in the area. Apparently the courses, which
include some championship ones, are never that busy, so
it is comparatively easy to get a tee time.
We also visited Traquair, part of which dates back to the
11th century, and said to be the oldest inhabited house in
Scotland. It is presently the family home of the Maxwell
Stuarts, including Catherine, 21st Lady of Traquair.
You are able to wander around the rooms, many of which
are much less prepossessing than one usually sees when visiting
stately homes. They also have their own private chapel,
a maze, and a working brewery, with tasting of the ales in the
gift shop. Mary, Queen of Scots was a visitor to Traquair, and
her rosary and crucifix are in the museum on the top floor,
accessed by a narrow winding staircase. What is quite novel,
is that there are three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms,
where you can stay on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
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