Issue 21, Autumn 2004

When we first organised our Lochs and Glens Holidays many years ago, they were restricted to the traditional Scottish Season - April to October. In those days the hotels closed at the beginning of November and the staff group who had been hired, trained and who were by now well experienced were, sadly, paid off. Although the five closed months offered a welcome relaxation there was always the prospect of the new season looming and the problems involved in recruiting another staff team as well as re-commissioning the hotels ready for opening. This usually involved repairing the numerous frost-damaged water pipes that had eluded the draining down procedures.

Things are much different now. The hotels remain open throughout the year, our staff are permanently employed and the hotels kept warm and frost free during the worst of the weather. But there has been another unexpected benefit. The off-season holidays have proved to be remarkably popular. Apart from being keenly priced, they offer a unique house-party atmosphere during the dark evenings.

There is the added benefit that the highland roads are almost traffic free and the Scottish scenery can be even more attractive with a fall of snow on the hilltops. Our cover picture of Oban in a late winter's afternoon makes the point more eloquently than I could.

Our plans for a new hotel are proceeding well, although a little slower than we had hoped. This is the first planning application for a major development in Scotland's first National Park, so there is inevitably a great deal of negotiating to be done to meet the requirements of the many interested parties. But we are still optimistic that work can commence before the end of the year, with a view to opening in the Summer of 2006.

The site is right on the lochside at the foot of Glen Croe - many of our guests will know the summit of the Glen by the more popular name of 'The Rest and Be Thankful'. I hope to be able to report more progress with the project in the Spring edition.

Michael Wells

Scotland in Miniature

Arran has long been known as 'Scotland in miniature.' The reason being that although the island is just 20 miles long, like Scotland it is divided in two by the phenomenon known as the Highland Boundary fault with underpopulated wild mountainous country to its north and lush fertile farmland in the South.

Geologically Arran is of great interest because of its complexity and is a popular destination for university field trips. Next season we have organised a day excursion that includes a circular tour of the island where you can see this fascinating diverse scenery in the space of just a few hours.

The day begins by travelling South, crossing the River Clyde by the elegant Erskine Bridge, then on to the seaport and former holiday town of Ardrossan, where we join the ferry for the 50 minute crossing to land at the island's main town of Brodick. Here we visit Brodick Castle, the former residence of the Dukes of Hamilton, but now owned by the National Trust. There will be time to explore the impressive gardens before travelling on via Glen Sannox to the picturesque village of Lochranza, situated on a beautiful inlet of the sea at the northern top of the island. The castle here dates from the 13th century.

From here the road bears south on the water's edge until we arrive at Machrie, famous for its wealth of Bronze Age sites. At that time this area was an important ritual centre and it is believed that some of the surviving standing stones were once used as primitive astronomical observatories to track the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

We now cross back to the eastern side of the island and rejoin the ferry for our voyage back to the mainland to complete an unforgettable day.

Iain Wells and Melanie Graham

On a beautiful sunny afternoon in June our elder son Ian married his long-time love Melanie Graham. They met at the Loch Tummel Hotel during Ian's first tenure as General Manager, and have been together ever since. When Ian moved to Head Office, the couple lived in Helensburgh, but have now returned to Tummel with their two young children, Jasmin and Josh.

We all drove in a be-ribboned convoy of cars the 13 miles to Pitlochry for the marriage ceremony, after which we returned to Tummel Bridge for the reception. This was held in a marquee in Ian and Mel's lovely loch-side garden. Leaving Jasmin and Josh with their aunt, the happy couple flew to Venice, and then cruised the Adriatic.

Michael and Ann Wells

Fort Augustus & Culloden Battlefield

Wherever possible we try to arrange our day excursions in the form of a circular tour and, new for 2005, we are including just such a day in many of the Loch Tummel Hotel itineraries.

The excursion takes us through the magnificent highland scenery of the Grampian Mountains. We begin by travelling north to the distillery village of Dalwhinnie where we leave the main road to follow the shore of the picturesque Loch Laggan to Spean Bridge. Here we enter the Great Glen, the geological fault line that divides Scotland. There will be a stop at the famous Commando Memorial, which stands watch over the wild countryside where commandos trained in the Second World War. We then continue to the village of Fort Augustus where the Caledonian Canal joins Loch Ness. Originally surveyed in 1773 the canal was not finally completed until 1847 and, for many years, it was much used by sailing boats as it avoided the long voyage around the stormy waters of Cape Wrath. Now it is almost only used by pleasure boats. Dominating Fort Augustus is a series of locks that lifts boats right through the centre of the village.

From here we follow the eastern shore of Loch Ness - keeping an eye open for any unexplained ripples on the water - until we have arrived at Culloden, the site of the last ever battle on British soil. We then return south through wild and remote mountain scenery to the Loch Tummel Hotel.

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