Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Big Fun without the Sun; Why Go South When You Have Stunning Scenery and the Great Outdoors at Home? Hit Scotland and the Lakes, Says Lucy Tobin but Take Your Wellies

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Big Fun without the Sun; Why Go South When You Have Stunning Scenery and the Great Outdoors at Home? Hit Scotland and the Lakes, Says Lucy Tobin but Take Your Wellies

Article excerpt

Byline: Edited by Cathy Adams

WHEN I first pondered booking a family trip during what travel boffs dub the "shoulder season" February, March, October and November, when you can't expect proper warmth without going long haul I'd considered the usual suspects: Canaries, Cyprus, Cape Verde. But there, if the weather doesn't play ball, you're left with little to do. UK hotels are geared up for cold and rain, and luxury costs less out of season. So we packed jumpers, and puddle suits for the kids, and flew to Edinburgh.

The first stop was Gleneagles, an hour's drive to an estate that calls itself a "glorious playground". For once, such brochure bragging was right. We went from check-in to the hotel's "snug" and took part in activities that felt more exciting than lazing on the beach.

There was clay-pigeon shooting, then a bracing walk across fields to a session in the outdoor hot tub, before laps of two huge pools. There was Gleneagles' falconry HQ, where harris hawks, peregrine falcons and golden eagles beadily analysed us for our viability as lunch.

Our guide swiftly had a hawk gliding around a field to my beaming, not yet two-year-old's glove. We hired bikes which, like everything at the resort, were immaculate (until we squelched through puddles on them). We had facials and massages; the pools and courtyard loungers of the hotel spa could justify a trip of their own. Gleneagles also has tennis, off-road driving, archery, fishing, zip wiring and photography lessons and that's on top of its three famous golf courses. If such a hotel were near London it would be flashy. Here, though, guests and staff were uber-friendly. When our kids whined while waiting for lunch at the Dormy restaurant, a waiter took them to see the tandoor and whipped up some naan bread. The food was stellar: pad thai sweet potato chips; tandoori steak. …

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