Scotland has a lot of lochs (‘loch’ is Gaelic for ‘lake’). I’m not sure what the most famous one would be, perhaps Loch Lomond, or Loch Ness, but there are lots of others worth a peep, and one of those is Loch Earn in Perthshire.
As is the case with many of Scotland’s lochs, Loch Earn is long and narrow, and jolly nice for bobbing about on in a kayak, or just gazing at from the shore.
At the eastern end of Loch Earn lies the pretty village of St Fillans. That’s it over there, on the other side from where I was standing taking this photo:
One day not so long ago, my delightful assistant and I trotted off to St Fillans for a lochside stroll, followed by luncheon in the wonderfully relaxing Four Seasons Hotel.
It was getting on for 2.30pm by the time we rolled up for lunch (I’m relieved to report that we had stopped for tea and scones en route) and they’d stopped serving their full menu in the restaurant. They were pleased, however, to offer us sandwiches in the bar area instead, which suited us very well, especially as we had it all to ourselves:
I chose a cheese and chutney sandwich, which came with crisps and a few interesting little leaves. I forget now what my glamorous assistant had, and appear not to have any photographic evidence, but she also had a sandwich of some sort.
Usually, in a hotel in a small place like this, I might expect there to be one or two types of black tea, and maybe a selection of fruit teas, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the Four Seasons menu:
My assistant opted for the Mysore rich coffee (which came in a large cafetiere containing five cupfuls), and I had Lapsang Souchong tea (which came with enough hot water for five cupfuls – 10 hot beverages between the two of us!), with a couple of pieces of home-made shortbread on the side. We sat there, very contentedly, enjoying the restful calm of the hotel bar and delighting in the splendid view from our window seats:
On our way out of the hotel, we passed the hotel’s interesting lounge:
While driving through the village to the hotel, we had noticed an attractive looking church. I wasn’t really expecting it to be open, but fancied a closer look all the same:
I don’t seem to have a record of the name of this church, I did a quick Google search but couldn’t find it.
To make up for this lack of information, I’ll relate an interesting bit of recent history about the village of St Fillans.
In November 2005, a builder began creating a housing development at the east end of the village. His plans meant disturbing a big lump of rock that, according to legend, was home to fairies. The locals did not want him upsetting their fairy community, and persuaded the builder to change his plans in order to leave the rock alone. The rock now forms the centrepiece of a little park in the middle of the building development, and the fairies are – so I’m told – happily still in situ.
As it happens, the church was, to my great delight, open for viewing. It was quite plain inside, but very restful:
There were a number of bibles on the pews and I flicked open the cover of this one, perhaps because it was unusually imprinted with the name of a well-known Scottish regiment:
Inside the front cover there was a letter, dated 11 February 1946, to a Major Stewart. The first couple of paragraphs read: ” I hope you will not mind my taking the liberty of sending you the 6th BW Bible for custody. For security reasons I was advised to leave it at home when we sailed for North Africa! Many a time its larger print would have been useful for lesson-reading in the odd and sometimes dark places in which we worshipped.”
After an enjoyable time soaking up the ecclesiastical atmosphere, we stepped out into the sunshine again, and the view of knobbly hills across the loch from the church steps:
If you happen to be passing through this bit of the country (and it is quite a popular tourist area being near The Trossachs National Park) I can recommend a detour through St Fillans.