Finding a home from home is one thing, but finding one with heart is something altogether more special.
If there’s one thing you can’t escape at Errichel, in the rolling hills of Perthshire, it’s the love and care that has gone into creating a rural retreat with character and soul.
A working farm that has been in the family for two decades but in recent years has evolved into a destination in its own right after falling under the wing of decorated chef Paul Newman and wife Rebecca, whose parents first fell in love with the charms of a unique slice of Scottish countryside in the late 1990s.
With self-catering cottages, the Errichel House bed and breakfast, acclaimed restaurant Thyme and its cookery school, shop stocked with fresh produce and picture postcard views there’s lots for visitors to soak up.
All of those elements are very different but brought together by the beating heart of Errichel – the farm itself and an extended family comprising cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and much more in between.
We had the privilege of being led on one of the very first of the new guided farm walks introduced for the summer of 2017 and it proved a huge hit with the Way Too Much Luggage brood, with a relaxed morning spent exploring all corners of the stunning grounds and getting acquainted with some of the characters to be found … from the new baby of Errichel, a week-old calf who our youngest decided to name Jack, to Islay, the matriarch of the herd of horses and ponies keeping watch over her family.
Following in our bootsteps was Fergus, a dutiful Shetland pony called upon to transport the mouth-watering cakes and refreshments that provided the perfect end to the perfect morning down on the farm. Our hosts for the morning – Rebecca, Dervla and Raina – brought the story of Errichel to life and time flew past.
At the end of our weekend stay – based at the fantastically spacious Croit na Greine, with four bedrooms and space for family groups of up to 10 there were none of the usual challenges of squeezing our party of five into holiday accommodation – we all felt well and truly at home.
Every window at Croit na Greine has a different view of a different slice of Perthshire and Errichel is a great spot to explore from, just a few miles from Aberfeldy and onwards to some of the area’s best known attractions and best kept secrets.
Loch Tay, from Kenmore with its waterside charm to Killin and the clattering Dochart Falls, is ripe for a meandering road trip. The Scottish Crannog Centre offers a glimpse of ancient life, remnants of which can be found on the hillsides of Errichel itself, and there’s more history to be found at Castle Menzies – the seat of the Menzies clan for more than 500 years. The Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie are within easy reach and if the Scottish weather isn’t shining brightly there’s always the newly restored Birks Cinema in the centre of Aberfeldy for some big screen entertainment.
Plenty for a weekend trip – and lots in reserve for a return visit, which makes for as good excuse as any to make sure our first venture to this unspoilt corner isn’t our last.