BLACKLOCH Bothy is the kind of place you feel instantly better for having discovered. So what’s so special about this small, but oh-so-perfectly formed abode?
Perhaps it’s the way in which it melds the best bits of a B&B with the privacy of a self-catered stay. Maybe it’s the smart interior, or even the fabulous location sandwiched between Dunkeld and Blairgowrie.
The Bothy is the work of Anne Lonsdale and her husband James Cope, who moved to Blackloch around 15 years ago to farm its land. Having built themselves a striking new home designed to embrace the elements (on the site of the original farmhouse), the couple decided to convert a section of a derelict stone-built steading into an office for Anne.
More recently, Anne’s attentions have shifted from a career in leadership development to her lifelong passion for yoga, which she now teaches. With no real need for an office, the couple had a re-think about the use of this space.
It’s now been a year since they welcomed their first guests to the little haven they chose to create here. Anne and James have strived to provide a space in which guests can re-energise, and reconnect with the elements. A small loch visible from the Bothy is home to an array of wild birds, and the serene rural location attracts visitors from destinations as diverse as the States and Stirlingshire.
Although the Bothy is promoted as a yoga retreat (Anne’s studio resides within a beautiful circular room atop the couple’s home), it’s not a compulsory facet of a stay here. The rather lovely environment alone attracts many guests.
Using the existing template of the office – which comprised one large room with separate kitchen and shower room – Anne and James revamped the space in a warming, yet pared-down style. Tongue-and-groove wall panelling immediately afforded the main space, now home to the bedroom and living area, a gentle rusticity. But it is essentially the discriminating approach to furnishing the space that has achieved such seductive results.
“We wanted to use things we already had,” says Anne, “and to put them together in a creative rather than a contrived way.”
It was nevertheless important, the couple felt, to buy some things new, such as high-quality lighting, and a bed, since guests’ comfort is top priority. Dressed simply in fresh linens the new bed has been slotted into one end of the Bothy’s main space. Alongside is a little table that, in its former guise was James’s boarding school tuck box. Above, on the ledge formed by the tongue-and-groove, old postcards are framed. A Romanian ballet school and Blair Castle are among the diverse images on display here, which Anne has collected over the years.
Two original maps of the farm dating from the 19th century have also been framed for display, while a giant Ordnance Survey map fills a wall in the sitting area.
“Blackloch is right in the middle of the map,” says Anne, “so it’s a very practical addition for walkers, as well as just being rather interesting.”
A wooded area covering around 50 acres of the farm is a source of fuel for the biomass boiler that the couple had installed 18 months ago and which runs this space as well as their own home.
“We’re pretty self-contained,” says Anne, who regularly uses seasonal produce from the land here to stock her cupboards with jams, chutneys and compotes, while honey comes from a beekeeper based on the farm. There are fresh eggs from the Blackloch hens too and guests’ organic breakfasts are also likely to include Anne’s own-recipe muesli as well as James’s homemade bread.
All of this is served up to guests at the dining table. And although there’s no cooker (this is not self-catering, after all), there is a stock of tea and coffee as well as a little fridge where guests staying a few nights might like to stash some goodies. Anne suggests a shopping trip to a great local deli in Blairgowrie.
On occasion the couple will cook evening meals, with vegetables from their garden featuring on the menu, usually for guests who are here for the whole yoga experience.
Overlooking the dining space, shelves host an array of ceramics and other interesting objects, again collected over the years. A vintage coat hook made from an intriguing piece of timber was discovered years ago in an antique shop.
“Most things here have a history connected with us,” says Anne, who loves the little 1930s wardrobe that her grandparents bought when they married. Decoratively, Anne maintained a light touch. Her regular forages into the aforementioned woods often result in the spontaneous addition of flowers.
“Even in winter I can find a branch or some twigs that can be used in an interesting way,” she says.
Other little treats include organic soaps in the shower room, and outside, use of a tennis court that the couple had built two years ago.
Anne and James are glad they took the step to welcome guests to Blackloch. Reviews of the accommodation here are awash with comments about the warm welcome received. But while they have gone the extra mile to make this space super comfortable, Anne and James also believe in allowing guests their privacy.
“We let people get on with their own thing,” says Anne; “It’s an advantage of the style of accommodation that guests can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
B&B prices start from £80pp for two sharing, tel: 01250 884249, www.blackloch.com