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Bring on the bells
It’s often a tricky old business getting the tempo right when you’re opting for a quieter New Year’s Eve. But Pitlochry strikes a great balance, finds Anna Millar
Y ou know the drill. It’s a week before Hogmanay and you’re deciding which shindig you don’t really want to go to. The local street party’s not quite doing it for you, and honestly you’d rather be anywhere but here. So where to start? Firstly, don’t panic. If there’s one thing Scotland – and indeed Europe do well – it’s offering an array of great NYE getaways, whether it’s in a lighthouse, a converted farmyard, a castle or at a stunning Paris landmark. Better still, we’ve done the hard work for you, cherry-picking our top ways to bring in 2012 over the next three pages.
If you want to stay close(ish) to home, the Woodland Lodges at Blair Atholl Estate in the heart of Perthshire have a lot of bases covered. A stone’s throw from Blair Atholl village, the lodges feel suitably remote, surrounded as they are by woodland forests (complete with handily marked trails for walking and biking) and local wildlife. Inside the lodges, there’s a distinctly modern feel, an open plan living, dining and kitchen area boasting all the mod- cons you’d need if you want to batten down the hatches. Two or three bedroom lodges are available, with each lodge coming with an outside decking area, to sup a nice wintry mulled wine and take in the views of the nearby Tulloch Hill, which can be climbed if you’re feeling fit enough.
If you’re making a long weekend of it (New Year’s Eve does fall on a Saturday this year) venture to the castle, which is open to the public from Wed 28–Sat 31 Dec, or simply explore the vast surrounding gardens. Not for nothing is the area well used for trekking and walking jaunts either. Woodland, rivers and hills make up the 145,000 acres at Atholl
Estates and The List has more than one favourite. The seven-mile Red Squirrel Trail is a nice morning wander, perfect for spotting (funnily enough) the vast amount of red squirrels on the Estate. The more relaxed 4.5 mile Woodend Walk takes in tranquil valley views and a pretty stunning glimpse of Ben Vrackie. If you’re someone for whom a casual walk is not quite adrenaline-pumping enough, Nae Limits (naelimits.co.uk), the outdoor adventure sports camp, has its HQ nearby, offering everything from canyoning to abseiling and quad-biking, depending on the conditions. There’s no pressure to exert yourself, though: you could opt to simply enjoy the attractions of the village and beyond, whether it’s the Atholl Country Life Museum, the Arts Studio or the Water Mill. Foodies can head for the wines and speciality foods of House of Bruar, while panto fans can check out Pitlochry Festival Theatre (this year’s production is Sleeping Beauty). See pilochry.org.uk for tickets.
If you have indulged in a spot of QT on New Year’s Eve, there’s plenty of scope to get the party going on 1 January, with nearby Pitlochry’s much-loved Street Ceilidh. Started as a celebration for the millennium over 10 years ago, it’s become an annual tradition, with the main street closed from 1–4pm to make way for a ceilidh of impressively gallus proportions. Around 2500 people join in, as local butchers supply the obligatory pies and sausage rolls to bring in a new year. Lovely.
See athollestateslodges.co.uk for more. Weekly rentals from 27 Dec–3 Jan start from £715 and include free entry to the castle.
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