Travel: Glen Tanar, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire
It says something about the architecture of the 19th century that the outbuildings and servants’ quarters of stately homes can today have as much charm as the grand buildings they were built up around.
At Glen Tanar, a pretty 25,000-acre estate in the heart of Royal Deeside, the main house has all but gone, leaving behind a scattering of cottages and farmhouses, all now available for use as holiday retreats, with all the glory of the estate as their communal garden. n
WINING AND DINING? Glen Tanar’s cottages are self-catering so if you want to prepare your own grub you’ll have to plan in advance. Not in the mood for cooking? Liz’s Larder, run by estate housekeeper Liz Peck, is a great service offering home-cooked treats delivered to your door. This could be anything from picnic goodies to a full meal. We arrived to find home baking waiting for us, a delicious teaser of what’s on offer from the larder. As for eating out, nearby Ballater has a number of strong offerings including The Green Inn and Darroch Learg, both fine dining institutions in the area.
ROOM SERVICE? Since accommodation is housed in the collection of quaint buildings on the estate, no two properties are the same, and sleep anything from two to 11 people. We stayed in the Butler’s Lodge, a pretty pink granite cottage sleeping six which was once home to the butler to Lord Glentanar. As a Downton Abbey fanatic, I rather relished the prospect of playing at Carson for the weekend, though Glen Tanar turned out to be more of an ‘upstairs’ experience, with luxurious touches ranging from a wood-burning stove to sumptuous bed linens.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? The beauty of a visit to Glen Tanar is that you don’t have to leave the estate. Of course, with Ballater just six miles down the road (play at royal warrant spotting – you’ll see it on everything from florists to garages) and all the glory of Royal Deeside unfolding before you, it’s tempting to jump in the car and explore all the area has to offer. However, the estate itself is a treasure trove of country walks, and it’s easy to while away a weekend exploring its nooks and crannies.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? A stay at Glen Tanar is undoubtedly luxurious, but it can be blissfully budget if you’re bunking up with pals. Like all self-catering properties, it’s all about economy of scale. Boutique touches like under-floor heating in the bathroom give the Butler’s Lodge the edge over more standard self-catering properties, but it’s an affordable treat.
LITTLE EXTRAS? Exploring the glen uncovers all sorts of little surprises. After a lazy afternoon stroll, we found ourselves in the grounds of the estate’s beautiful chapel, which is about as picture postcard perfect as it gets. The charming kirkyard is filled with the gravestones – still lovingly-tended – of past lairds and the staff who served them. It’s a peaceful spot, made all the more pretty by the unexpected fall of snow we had when we visited.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? A cosy hideaway with all the beauty of Royal Deeside on the doorstep. A three-night stay in the Butler’s Lodge costs from £441. A range of self-catering cottages and packages are available, contact Glen Tanar Estate (01339 886 150, www.glentanar.co.uk).
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
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