I chatted with Sue Steward, the manager and owner of The Four Seasons Hotel at Loch Earn in Perthshire. Although Scotland is currently in lock down and we should absolutely not be travelling beyond our local areas there will be a time when we can travel in Scotland again. It's good for our wellbeing to dream and plan for that time, so I asked Sue about her favourite walks and cycles in the area.
Me: Once the situation we find ourselves in is over a lot of us will be desperate to get back out into Scotland's magnificent countryside. What would be your number one recommendation for a hike that shows off the beauty of your local area?
Sue: There are lots of walks to enjoy but in my opinion, you cannot beat the old railway line walk that runs parallel with Loch Earn. It heads westward and the views are breathtaking.
Me: And on the same theme is there a particular cycling route that you would recommend?
Sue: Well, the railway line is being converted into a cycle path as we speak! This will eventually join onto NCN7, parts have been completed but still some to do. It will be a great route when it is soon complete – maybe by the summer months when this madness is over?
Me: When you get a day off/morning off from your busy schedule where do you go for a walk to find a bit of peace and calm?
Sue: If my time is limited Finn (my beautiful black lab) and I head over to the golf course but if I have longer then we head a bit further afield. Either to Glen Ogle which is the forestry commission, Glen Lednock in Comrie, or to Lady Mary's walk in Crieff (the latter being a riverside walk) so it really varies. I’m so lucky to live somewhere with all these beautiful walking trails on my doorstep!
Me: From looking at a map the south road along the shore of Loch Earn looks like it would be a wonderful cycle. Would you recommend this?
Sue: Yes, this is a very popular and safe route - it is a walker/cyclist friendly road. The path is a bit up and down so is not straightforward it stays fun and interesting.
Me: The road on the north shore is the A85. Is this an okay road to cycle on?
Sue: This is a popular road too as flatter. You can in fact walk/cycle all round Loch Earn - a little over 20km
Me: Are there any secret things that readers might not have heard of, such as ruins, standing stones or beauty spots that can be found on a hike or bike ride?
Sue: Yes, we have a Fairy Stone in St Fillans! This is a large stone that, according to local folklore, has fairies living in it. Our little town made the news back in 2005 when a building developer had his plans denied so as not to disturb the fairies! There is the old Stewarts of Ardvorlich ruined cemetery in the golf course and numerous waterfalls along the way.
Me: Is there a particular food and/or drink special to the area that you would recommend trying?
Sue: Our nearest whisky distillery (Glenturret) is in Crieff so its always worth a visit – when in Scotland and all that! I would say our shortbread is to die for – but I may be biased! We also have artisan food producers in the area; Strathearn Cheese and Wildhearth Sourdough plus Comrie Butcher which is an award-winning butcher. Again, I’m so lucky to live in an area with such amazing local produce. It is usually easier to shop local than at big supermarket chains which I love.
Me: I do have a particular love of combining cycling with coffee and cake stops. Where does the best coffee and cake in your area?
Sue: If I want to treat myself then I head in to Comrie to Hansens Kitchen - all is home-made and their yummy cakes change daily… It’s definitely worth a visit. Although, as I mentioned you can get some delicious shortbread and coffee back at the hotel after a long cycle!
The Four Seasons Hotel is located in St Fillans on Loch Earn, around 12 miles west of Crieff.