Saturday, 15 December 2012

Merry Christmas from Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead, Scotland

Wee Santa at the loch garden gates with Little Briar and Briar Cottage behind

Wee antique santa and Aphrodite in Briar Cottages garden Loch Earn

Merry Christmas and thank you to everyone who stayed at Briar Cottages Lochearnhead and those who left a TripAdvisor review sharing photographs  and experiences here during 2012.

Thanks to everyone who is coming back to see us during their favourite week or special occasion for a holiday or short break in 2013 too.

Are you aware that 2013 is "Year of Natural Scotland"? Those of you who have visited will know that there are few places as natural and unspoilt as this area. Scottish tourism was born around here thanks to visitors like Sir Walter Scott, Queen Victoria and William and Dorothy Wordsworth who spread the word throughout Britain and the world, making others curious about this magical landscape of lochs, towering mountains, ancient forests and wildlife. We are lucky to have very little light pollution here and around other parts of The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park too.

It is not too early to enquire about 2014. Especially with big events planned for Scotland. The Ryder Cup 2014 takes place at Gleneagles Golf Course, Auchterrarder,  over the weekend of 26-28th September 2014.  Anyone staying here week 20th-27th September 2014 or 27th September to 4th October 2014 might want to get tickets for the exciting event which is taking place only 40 mins by car from here. We are lucky to have St Fillans golf club and a choice of other golf courses nearby, e.g. Killin, Comrie, Crieff, Muthill, Callander.  Briar Steading our luxury cottage shows Sky Sports so anyone staying there can still watch the Ryder Cup or catch up with the highlights. 

If you are planning to go the The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,  it is only 60 miles to Glasgow taking no more than 90 minutes from here.  From Glasgow travel 30 miles on the M9 to Stirling junction 10 and 30 miles on the A84 all the way to Lochearnhead- easy.  So if you want a holiday week and plan to fit the Commonwealth Games into your itinerary this might be the place for you. You can even drive to Stirling, take a train to Glasgow and park your car at the train station all day for £3.50.  The Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014. 

Then there is Homecoming Scotland.  Visit Scotland and Event Scotland are planning to rally as many people with Scottish blood back to the country to engage in events, trace their family history and celebrate all things Scottish.  If you are into genealogy you might want to keep an eye on planned events. We have a history of McLarens who lived in Briar Cottage for 200 years as well as McGregors who lived here under the pseudonym of Murray.  My maiden name is Donald and thanks to my dad I am aware of links to hundreds of other people and surnames through my grandparents.  Incredibly, this includes a  Janet McLaren my 7 times great grandmother born in 1690 in this region and also McNabs who hid Bonnie Prince Charlie!  I plan to blog more about my mix of ancestors next year.

Of course we have our own special "Annual Events in Lochearnhead" e.g.
  • The Great boat race -April
  • The Lochearn Shears championships- July
  • The BLS Highland Games, Lochearnhead –July
  • WakeScot, wakeboarding championships – August
  • The Balquhidder/Lochearnhead/Strathyre Horticultural show –August
  • The Lochearnhead village Fete- August
  • The Loch Earn open water swimming race- September
  • The Lochearnhead New Year village party- December
Do not hesitate to get in touch with Fraser or me with any queries and have a lovely Christmas break with your families and loved ones.

Kim and Fraser

Monday, 17 September 2012

Scots Magazine Features Loch Earn Tourist Villages and Personalities

It was my great pleasure to accompany D C Thomson & Co Ltd  journalist Garry Fraser on a tour of the four villages around Loch Earn in July on behalf of The Loch Earn Tourism Initiative (LETI) of which I am a member.  Garry Fraser was considering material for a story in The Scots Magazine.

August edition of The Scots Magazine
LETI members support each other in looking after visitors and in  promoting local  events, services, private tours, Perthshire holiday accommodation and places to eat and drink via website .  I drove Garry around Loch Earn to the picturesque villages of St Fillans, Strathyre, Balquhidder and Lochearnhead visiting many points of interest and covering local stories and folklore. We visited St Fillans Golf Club (Sandy Lyle's favourite inland golf course), the entrance to majestic Munro Ben Vorlich from Ardvorlich House,  Edinample Falls and bridge beside Edinample Castle, Glen Ample (where Diana Rigg once lived with SAS founder David Stirling's brother Archie),  Balquhidder Kirk which houses stories of famous visitors including Queen Victoria and William and Dorothy Wordsworth and where Rob Roy MacGregor is buried,  Sula Soft Furnishings new workshop,  The Lochearnhead Hotel and The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre.  We discussed ancient pine forests, the drove roads, fairy stories, the close knit community, wild camping, The Highland Games, the annual sheep shearing event and The Black Face Sheep trophy,   The Villagers newspaper, The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre, fishing, history of the first person to water ski on Loch Earn, local Munro's, ospreys on Loch Earn and so much more.  The result was a four page feature in the August edition of the magazine with a quote from yours truly and a photo of Fraser and me in front of Briar Holiday Cottages.    Garry returned to interview local personalities including Loch Earn's resident sea plane flying instructor and The president of The BLS Highland Games. This time a seven page feature was published in the September issue. The front cover is a fantastic photo of the local red sea plane taking off at the water sports centre. The shot was taken by local photographer Alistair Barclay of Alba Virtual Tours.

September issue of The Scots Magazine

 A two page teaser view of the September issue can be seen on the Scots Magazine website. 
I have been very impressed with the quality of articles and the people that are interviewed for The Scots Magazine. I am about to order three 2013 calendars for relatives in Canada and America and am now planning a subscription for a family member for Christmas.  

NB: For a self catering holiday cottage on Loch Earn for Christmas or New Year visit .


Friday, 10 August 2012

#Brave doll meets Kelly James (Olympic torch bearer) at her fund raising stall, Highland Games, Lochearnhead 2012.

Merida Dolly holds the Olympic Torch that young fundraiser Kelly James Held
#Brave doll meets Kelly James (Olympic torch bearer) at her fund raising stall, Highland Games, Lochearnhead 2012.: My #Brave doll met "fellow" red head Kelly James (Olympic torch bearer) at her fund raising stall, during the Highland Games, Lochearnhead 2012.

Looking forward to the launch of the Disney Pixar cartoon #Brave this August? I suspect that  more adults will watch it than children all over the world. Well, so many generations were brought up with the fantasy world of Disney and it never leaves you. We love the Brave trailer as the fantasy setting reminds us of Loch Earn and the surrounding area full of lochs, mountains, ancient forests and castles and many folklore and fairy stories, like the ones that I tell to our holiday cottage guests.  Anyone who is into Natural Scotland; the imagery, wildlife, peace and outdoor activities will be in seventh heaven at Briar Cottages in Lochearnhead, bang in the centre of Scotland.

Merida, Brave doll at Lochearnhead Highland Games

Merida with a McLaren, Lochearnhead

Merida with local character Maggi

Merida doll copies the Highland dancers Lochearnhead

Merida Dolly at Briar Cottages Loch Earn

Merida doll points to Briar Cottage thatched roof

Merida does highland dance to piper music Lochearnhead

Video of Gordon McLaren at the McLaren marquee, Highland Games Lochearnhead 2012. Gordon's  ancesters lived in Briar Cottage Lochearnhead over a 200 year period.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

New Lochearnhead Circular Bus Journey linking Breadalbane and Strathearn Country

Loch Earn, Lochearnhead on The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer route
A new summer tourist bus "The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer" will offer holiday cottage guests of  Briar Cottages self catering in Lochearnhead and holidaymakers in the surrounding regions a fantastic opportunity to be driven around some of the most scenic routes,  popular attractions and mountains in this naturally beautiful area. The bus service started by The Breadalbane Co-operative will be operated by Kingshouse Travel of Balquhidder.  The hop on and off service links Lochearnhead, Killin, Kenmore, Weem, Aberfeldy, Crieff, Comrie and St Fillans together for the very first time,  in one continuous loop.   The area will have tremendous appeal to visitors who can leave the car behind and explore, eat and do outdoor sports at their leisure covering a large territory of Perthshire and Stirlingshire for just £9 a day or £15 for a 2 day ticket.  Its great news for locals too!  Whether you are into sight seeing and exploring, photography, eating,  walking,  cycling, wildlife watching,  munro bagging or fishing, each of the points along the route offers plenty to see and do including; the Rob Roy Way, The Lochearnhead Water Sports centre, fishing points, hotels, Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin,  Cycle Route 7, The falls of Dochart, village walks, Killin Golf Club, Ben Lawers and its Hotel, The Crannog centre and oldest Inn in Scotland at Kenmore,  Highland Safaris, gold panning and a deer centre near Weem, The Birks of Aberfeldy, A stunning drive through the Small Glen past Amulree,  The Glenturrett Whisky Distillery and visitor centre at Crieff,  Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre and coffee shop at Comrie, Boat Hire, hotels and a Golf Club at St Fillans - then back to Lochearnhead.   These are just a few of the attractions that each area has to offer.  I cant wait to try it myself.  Launching on 17th July 2012 there will be six circular journeys per day offered 4 days per week and the full circle is estimated to take 3 hours.   There will be leaflets in Briar Steading and Little Briar Cottages here for our guests however more details of the timetable can be accessed by facebook users at now. 

The service will run throughout the summer  on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 16th September for this year.  Dont forget your cameras folks!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

TripAdvisor 2012 Winner and Certificate of Excellence 5 out of 5 for Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead

Fraser and I are delighted to have received a "2012 Winner" Certificate Of Excellence rated 5.0 out of 5.0 for Briar Cottages from TripAdvisor for the second year running.  We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our guests who have taken time to give us feedback; verbally, in our guest book and on review sites like TripAdvisor.  We are aware of the time that it takes and that your descriptions, suggestions and photographs help other people decide on accommodation that is best suited to their parties number, budget, requirements and taste.  TripAdvisor is an excellent forum which we use ourselves and it encourages businesses like ours to keep working at improving our facilities and services.

We received a letter of congratulations from Christine Petersen, The President of TripAdvisor for Business that we would like to share with you as follows: "

Briar Cottages
FK19 8PU
United Kingdom

The Certificate of Excellence
A Testament to Your High Standards

TripAdvisor has become the worlds largest travel site by recognising the power of travellers feedback and today, we're proud to recognise Briar Cottages for earning exceptional ratings over the past year.

The certificate of Excellence honours businesses that consistently earn top ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.

With a rating of 5.0, Briar Cottages has earned a place among the very best

This award, which is given only to the most exceptional performers in TripAdvisor's global business community, is a significant achievement deserving recognition, from both travellers and staff. We hope that you will proudly display the enclosed certificate for everyone to see....

Congratulations again and we look forward to working with you to build a successful 2012.

Best wishes

Christine Petersen
President, TripAdvisor for Business "


Our very best wishes

Kim and Fraser
Twitter @Briarcottages
01567 830 443


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Brave Events and The BLS Highland Games Lochearnhead

Little Briar in Spring 2012

Spring is long gone. Funny to think back to these 22 degree hot sunny days in March when there was still snow on Ben Vorlich and Stuch a Chroin opposite. April and May teased us with scorching days when Fraser and I swam in Loch Earn. The barometer on the summer house read 35 degrees (sorry no photos of us in our swimsuits!)

We witnessed an amazing event on Loch Earn during Jubilee weekend 2nd and 4th June. The British Water Ski Racing Championships. Water Skiers were pulled at up to 110 miles per hour around a course with life jackets and crash helmets by formula 1, 2, and 3 power boats. Incredible! Lets hope they return next year.
The Lochearnhead Water Sports centre was the perfect venue to host the event and the evening entertainment on 4th June.  See my video of a boat warming up the day before and you will appreciate the speed! There is also some footage live from one of the teams here on You Tube. If you are more into fun and leisure water sports then look out for the giant  doughnut ride, banana boat, pedaloes, kayaks and water zorbing balls.  You can also hire a 4 man motor boat to take for a pleasure cruise or for trout fishing.  There is a kiddies soft play area inside the cafe and a sand pit made from a rowing boat flying the skull and cross bones.  Sit inside the cafe or outside and watch activities or feed the greedy local mallards.

The 19th Lochearnhead Shears, sheep shearing competition will take place in the Lochearnhead Games Field 30 June-2nd July 2012.  An incredible display of skill and strength, speed and accuracy and well worth  witnessing even once.  Then we prepare for the traditional BLS Highland Games in Lochearnhead on 21st July. This year the chief of The McNabs will lead the parade with his clan followed by local clans McLaren, McGregor, Stewart and Campbell who will also do battle against each other in the  tug of war.  A great day out for all the family with open heavyweight events as well as; local fun races, a hill race, dancers, pipers and popular band Pure Malt perforning in the beer tent.  Luxury Briar Steading is already booked however Little Briar cottage is available 21st -28th July.

August sees the launch of Disney Pixars cartoon Brave. Having seen the adorable Brave trailer with voice overs by Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly and Robbie Coltrane amongst others you might think that the story was based on the ancient clansmen from the territories around Loch Earn where we still boast; local clan chiefs, naturally beautiful mountains and glens, ancient forests, folklore stories, castles, standing stones, an abundance of wildlife,  a sense of humour and some smart and feisty females.  Come to the BLS Highland Games 21st July, Lochearnhead and see for yourself! 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Golf, Tea, Wildlife Park, Petrol, Dinner Vouchers with 7 nights in Lochearnhead cottages

Highland Cow at Auchingarrich
Briar Cottages self catering holidays, Lochearnhead are giving away local hospitality and activity vouchers for selected 7 night bookings in Briar Steading and Little Briar  cottages, valued between £15 and £80.   Check out our monthly offers on our price list.  Book 7 nights in May and June to receive free tickets to Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, Comrie   You will be awarded 4 tickets with luxury Briar Steading and 2 free tickets when you book Little Briar Cottage. If you prefer, use the voucher in the coffee shop where they serve delicious snacks and lovely cakes indoors or outside on the wooden deck looking over the children's novelty play park and the beautiful Strathearn Valley.

Golfers will appreciate our July vouchers for both cottages.  2 can play from Little Briar cottage and 4 can play from luxury Briar Steading or 2 people can play twice. The 2 and 4 player vouchers are for 18 holes at St Fillans Golf Club, St Fillans, at the east end of Loch Earn.  The course is quoted at Sandy Lyle's favourite inland course. No wonder it is very picturesque as well as a great course to play on. The voucher can be used at weekends as well as week days. Its your choice. Show the voucher again and again over the course of your weekly stay and you can arrange
St Fillans Golf Club, St Fillans, Loch Earn
any number of 18 hole rounds at half price.

September visitors will receive vouchers for Afternoon Tea at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel,  St Fillans where pets are also very welcome. Enjoy views over Loch Earn while you tuck into a sandwich with your favourite filling followed by scones, tea bread, shortbread and pots of tea or coffee.  Luxury Briar Steading bookings award 4 vouchers and pet friendly Little Briar mean that 2 vouchers will await your arrival. Look out for other vouchers for dinner and drinks in The Chef owned Lochearnhead Hotel and for free petrol from Lix Toll garage 5 miles from Lochearnhead.   Keep checking for additional vouchers throughout the year or telephone  Kim and Fraser with any queries and to book 01567 830 443 or 07917 416 49.  Remember that you can fish free of charge, launch and moor a small boat or canoe, use the summer house and picnic spots within the three acre gardens and ask for a shot of our hot tub too!    Twitter @Briarcottages 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Little Briar Cottage Gets a Makeover

Lounge from dining kitchen Little Briar
Double room faces south over Loch Earn
Glass dining table
Massage chair and Arie Vardi print

Can not believe it!  At the end of March it will be 4 years since we took Little Briar Cottage on Loch Earn  into our lives.  The detached stone cottage is cute and cosy and charming however we decided to treat it to a little makeover.  So, the sunny yellow walls are now a little more sophisticated in toasted almond.   We moved the large mirror behind the sofa to make the lounge look more spacious and reflect more light.  I love the curtains.  Cream, brown and "beige meets gold" with a lustre effect, all in horizontal stripes. We even changed the old wooden curtain poles to more modern black metal poles to set them off.   We placed a large Arie Vardi limited edition print called Running Wild,  behind the electric massage chair.  The print is set off by a chunky  cream coloured frame which works well.  New textured neutral shade cushions  on the leather lounge furniture finish it off nicely.  Guests who have been before will appreciate the difference.  Oh  and for those that remember the big bulky telly it is now a flat screen TV in the corner with Sky Freeview.  We have also put a new chiminee outside to burn logs in the garden.   2-4 guests can sleep in the pet friendly cottage.  Little Briar holiday cottage offers a double and a twin room with one bathroom and electric shower.  2 guests can bring up to 2 dogs and 4 guests can bring 1 pet.  Tel: Kim or Fraser to book 01567 830 443 or check our website for Lochearnhead Cottages.

Lounge windows face south

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Wee Santa poses in the calm before the Storm

santa in the west loch garden, Loch Earn 

Happy New Year. Please look at these pictures of wee santa at Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead

Wee santa at the picnic table Briar Cottages

He is an antique little guy that belonged to Frasers Aunt. A possible contender for BBC Antiques Roadshow if it were not for the fact that his red hat was actually a 1980's red sock! Sshh! Dont tell him. 

He is lovingly brought out every year with a big smile on his face. Fraser's children and grandchildren get a little spooked by his appearance however he is a fun little man once you get to know him.  All he asks for is a little respect. 
Briar Cottages summer house Big and Wee santa catch up
He looks magnificent against the back drop of snow around our holiday cottage grounds. Look at him sitting with big Santa Claus who is stuffed and propped up at Briar Cottages every year. This year Big Santa was at home in the summer house.  No wonder. What a view he gets of Loch Earn, Edinample Castle and Glen Ample.  

Wee santa sits on the swing in the garden, Loch Earn
Swing in front of xmas tree

Wee santa on one of the loch garden lights
Wee santa near the stair to the jetty, Loch Earn

In front of Briar Cottage and Little Briar
Venus protects wee santa near the slipway, Briar Cottage garden

Wee santa in front of Briar Steading

These photographs were taken around Christmas 2011 when the snow fell. Look how calm and pretty the loch was then compared to the video below taken in yesterdays storm on 3rd January 2012. Or was it a hurricane?  It blew out in about 3 hours then the sun came out. Hard to believe when you see the loch. Click on the arrow and take a look.

Thank you to everyone who stayed at Briar Cottages Lochearnhead in 2011. Wishing you a magnificent, happy and healthy 2012 with long sunny days in spring, summer and autumn.   Okay... maybe a bit of rain to keep Scotland looking green and luscious with quality crops.