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A Loch Tay Adventure
It’s always a bit strange arriving somewhere new in the dark. Thanks to the ever-earlier darkness at this time of year and lashing rain for most of our drive, we arrived at Loch Tay in central Scotland with no idea of what the area looked like or what to expect from the surroundings of our home for the weekend.
Taymouth Marina, a waterfront spa resort, invited us to come and review their lochside self-catering holiday apartments. Having visited many areas of Perthshire before, but never Loch Tay, we were excited to spend a weekend enjoying all it had to offer for our little family of 3.
It may have been dark on our arrival but we quickly bundled the baby and all our things inside and found it very warm and welcoming. All the apartments have names, and Ben Oss, a one-bedroom ground floor apartment complete with spacious kitchen and living area, was our home for the next couple of days.
The best part? It came complete with our very own hot tub on the front terrace, overlooking the beautiful loch and mountains beyond! This luxurious addition was what I was most looking forward to.
Before we could soak up the cosy atmosphere of our apartment we needed to get Baby B down to sleep. A travel cot was ready and waiting in our bedroom which made things much easier, and before long we were relaxing in the living room with gin and pizza in hand!
After a sound sleep in the comfortable bed, we woke up eager to take in our surroundings. I peeked out between the curtains of our floor to ceiling living room windows and was greeted with a stunning misty view of the flat-as-a-pancake loch and mountains bathed in wispy clouds. Definitely worth the drive the night before!
It happened to be the Rugby World Cup Final that morning, and with an Englishman for a husband there was no way were going anywhere, so we settled down to watch while making further plans for the day. There is actually a TV in both the bedroom and living room, plus a selection of DVDs, should I have preferred not to watch the team that kicked mine out the week before!
Although the weather is on the turn at this time of year there are still plenty of things to do in Perthshire. Actually, it’s arguably one of the best times to visit the area thanks to the stunning autumn colours that I think give New England a run for their money. We debated whether to do the close by Falls of Acharn walk, or venture further afield, but the weather wasn’t on our side with on and off rain so we thought exploring the more local area would be our best bet.
From Taymouth Marina it’s a short walk or even shorter drive to Kenmore, which you can see at the end of the loch. However, it took us much longer than it should have though thanks to pauses to appreciate and take photos of the stunning views around and across the loch!
The small village is home to Scotland’s oldest inn, the Kenmore Hotel, which also has a restaurant, lounge, and bar. Robert Burns actually visited the in 1787 and wrote a poem into the plaster on a wall in the Poet’s Bar. We had a quick look around the town and a simple sandwich lunch at The Courtyard Bar before returning to Taymouth Marina just in time for the pouring rain to start again!
Although the Taymouth Marina Restaurant is no longer there, they have opened up a Burger and Toastie Shack and the Cakebox Cafe alongside the bar area that directly overlooks the loch. In nicer weather, it would be a fantastic place to relax in the chairs strewn across the grass. As it was we were able to shelter in the undercover part of the bar area to the pleasant sound of the rain falling on the roof above and enjoy some delicious cake from the cafe, and a drink of course!
The rain had come to stay so we headed back to our apartment to make the most of the hot tub. It was so wonderful not to have to think or worry about anything and just sit back and relax in the warmth with the fabulous view.
There is also an onsite Hot Box Sauna and spa area, but travelling with a baby meant we wouldn’t be able to enjoy it together, which is partly why it’s so fantastic to have your own private hot tub attached to your room, so instead we took turns going in (they are unsuitable for children under 5) and the experience has very much spoiled me as I’ll want one everywhere we go!
While the apartments aren’t fully waterfront, as there’s a carpark and small road in-between them and the loch, they have been cleverly designed so that once you’re in the hot tub all you can see is the view. In our case, this was the rich autumn colours of the trees on the hills across the loch, the snow-capped mountains further down, and the expanse of sky above. Some of the apartments slightly higher up the property appear to have loch views from the hot tub as well.
I loved it so much that the next morning I had another soak in the hot tub, and wished we were staying even longer! Alas, it was time to return to Edinburgh. Travelling with a baby means we’re always a little slower to see the sights and can always use more time, and we definitely could have spent a lot longer staying at Taymouth Marina and exploring Perthshire!
We made a quick stop at The Hermitage, one of the most popular spots in Perthshire. It’s a stretch of forest boasting some of the tallest trees in Britain, with paths between them leading to the crashing Black Linn Falls. The unique thing about it is that there’s a small stone building that was constructed in 1757 that overlooks the roaring water. Baby B loved reaching out for all the autumn leaves and the mist drifting up from the waterfall!
Rooms at Taymouth Marina
Taymouth Marina offers 1 and 2 bedroom waterfront apartments, like ours, as well as 2 and 3 bedroom terraced townhouses. They also have 2 detached cottages, and for ultimate luxury I would love to return to stay at The White Tower, perched in the forest above the River Tay. It basically looks like a castle and comes complete with rooftop hot tub! You can check out the different types of rooms here.
Our accommodation had everything we needed and that you would expect from a self-catering apartment, plus a few extra comforts. There’s a pod coffee machine, instant coffee, tea, milk, and dishwasher tablets to last until you make it to the shops, or for us it was enough for the 2 days.
I loved that they had a washer and dryer too as these would be great for longer stays, especially with a family. I’d recommend bringing what you might need with you as once you’re there you won’t want to have to worry about heading out to find stuff!
Ben Oss apartment is closer to the carpark and road, but it was very quiet and there was barely any traffic at all going past. The bedroom is at the back of the apartment, followed by the bathroom and then the expansive living area at the front. Although the bathroom could use an upgrade to bring it in line with the luxury of the rest of the apartment, it had everything you needed with a shower, bath, and Scottish-made toiletries.
The 1 bedroom apartments can actually sleep up to 4, with 2 children on the couch in the living room, but if we stayed again as a family I would probably choose a 2 bedroom apartment or townhouse for the added space.
I mentioned it already but the absolute best thing is having a hot tub literally on your doorstep. It’s partly sheltered by the balcony above and partly out in the open. I love soaking in a hot tub in the rain so it was perfect for me. Being able to use it whenever you like is fantastic and I envied those I read about in the guest book who had clear nights or even snow! Robes and slippers are also provided which is a lovely touch.
The Taymouth Marina Resort has all sorts of facilities to enhance your stay and I think this is where the real luxury lies.
As mentioned, you can grab a bite to eat at the Burger & Toastie shack, or try soup, sandwiches and delicious cakes at the cafe which are all lochside with stunning views. There’s also a firepit and fairy lights strung about, and I can imagine it would make a wonderful spot to watch the sun go down and chat with over guests into the night.
The opening hours of the eateries and bar are more limited in the off-season but it’s enough to be able to go there for lunch or afternoon tea as you also have cooking facilities in your apartment or plenty of dinner options in the surrounding area.
But a real draw and touch of luxury is the Hot Box Spa area. It’s a 40ft long sauna overlooking the loch, where you can get yourself nice and toasty before going down a slide into the loch or tipping a bucket of cold water over your head!
Follow that up with a soak in the large hot tub that overlooks the loch and another fire pit, before relaxing on the loungers with a drink from the exclusive spa area bar. Yes, please!
Taymouth Marina offers watersports activities and rentals to people visiting as well as staying. There’s kayaking, paddle boarding, motorised boats and paddleboats, and Canadian canoes, as well as more unique activities like a water trampoline and an iceberg to slide down into the loch.
These are closed from November due to the change in seasons so we just missed out, but already have plans to return and go paddleboarding next year!
Things to do in the area
Perthshire is a large area in central Scotland, home to lots of beautiful villages, walks, castles, and adventure activities. While many travellers drive along the A9 stopping at The Hermitage, Pitlochry, and Killiecrankie, there are plenty more things to see and do!
Things to do near Loch Tay
Here are a few closer to Taymouth Marina, although there are many more:
Scottish Crannog Centre: On the doorstep of the resort, a living Iron Age museum, which a house to explore, plus exhibitions.
Loch Tay Safaris: Take a cruise on the loch for a different perspective
Walks: The Falls of Acharn is just across from the Scottish Crannog Centre, and includes a Victorian “Hermit’s Cave” and the popular Ben Lawers, the highest mountain in the south of the Highlands is close by.
Highlands Safaris and Red Deer Centre: Take a Land Rover safari, go mountain biking, or meet the magnificent red deer at this award-winning attraction.
Castle Menzies: Just one of the many spectacular castles in the area, where you can roam freely amongst the restored rooms and get a real feel for castle life.
Glen Lyon: Described by Walter Scott as the “longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland”.
Cluny House Gardens: The best place to see the rare red squirrels in Perthshire, a native species that have drastically reduced in numbers.
Places to eat near Loch Tay
Despite being in a more remote area there are plenty of pubs, restaurants and cafes on offer close to Taymouth Marina. We only had time to try a few!
Here are some options if you don’t feel like dining in, just make sure you check opening hours for the day and time of year (some places aren’t opened Sundays or have more limited hours in the offseason):
The Courtyard Bar & Restaurant: We had a casual lunch here of sandwiches and chips.
Paper Boat: A Scandi-Scottish cafe serving locally sourced and sustainable food
The Waterfront Restaurant: A popular lochside restaurant
Birks Cinema Cafe: A selection of cakes, paninis and soup. We stopped on our way home and they offered to make us paninis even though it wasn’t quite lunchtime yet
The Watermill: A delightful bookshop and cafe
Habitat Cafe: Offering speciality teas and coffees
We had a wonderful and relaxing weekend at Taymouth Marina and Loch Tay. Before we knew it we were on our way home, definitely far sooner than we would have liked to have been!
Continuing your Scotland adventures? Here are some ideas for places to visit!
- North East 250 Road Trip: Adventure, History, Whisky & More
- All You Need to Know About the Best Scottish Islands
- Adventures Around Fort William: The Best Things to Do
- 20+ Things to Do in Fort Augustus, The Gateway to Loch Ness
- Two Days in Glasgow: What You Need to Know
- Edinburgh in Winter: Things to Do + Reasons to Visit
Disclaimer: We were invited to stay at Taymouth Marina, but as always, all opinions are entirely my own!