We were up at the crack of dawn; our tour to Scotland was beginning. It has come round quickly but I am excited to get underway. The journey from Todmorden in West Yorkshire to Stonefield Castle is scheduled to take around 6 hours, so off we go!
Pulling in to the services after two hours, my 20 month old daughter chants “castle, castle”. “Not yet, darling,” I replied, “just the petrol station!” Luckily there was a park to distract her. 7.30am is never too early for the park! She is really quite excited for her trip to Scotland, I think she may just earn the title of ‘little castle lady’ by the end of the trip.
Travelling on a Sunday, the roads are quiet. The scenery on the journey so far has been fantastic. Passing the “Welcome to Scotland” sign lets us know that we have passed the border, but we weren’t quite quick enough to take a picture. Despite the obvious sign we know that we have arrived in Scotland when we approached Loch Lomond, so spectacular was the view that we made a quick photo stop to admire the scenery and stretch our legs. Jasmine was transfixed by the solitary duck gliding across the water. From then on, the scenery continued to impress, greenery all around and water as far as the eye can see. Yes I think I am going to like Scotland!
Along the route we passed Inverary and caught a glimpse of Inverary castle. It is a quaint fishing village with several shops. We would have loved to have stopped but the rain and our quest to reach Stonefield Castle kept us going. Inverary is certainly somewhere that I would suggest stopping for a look around and to take in the quaintness of the place and to visit the castle and jail.
Our journey continued from Iverarary to Lochgilphead, taking the A83 over the “Rest and Be Thankful” Mountain Pass. We continued on our way and we knew we had made it when we spotted a sign for Stonefield in 200 yards, despite this we nearly missed the turning! Heading in to the tree-lined driveway the drive seemed to go on forever and we were wondering who would catch sight of the castle first. As Naomi was driving she was the first to spot it.
The first sight of the castle is wonderful; looking at the castle you can almost feel its past in the stonework. The flag flying over the turret created a smile. When we stepped out of the car the sheer silence was astounding. As we headed in to the castle, the heaviness of the door strikes you, they certainly don’t make doors like they used to!
We were greeted by Fiona on reception and check in was seamless, we opted for tea and coffee in the drawing room, cares melt away as you sit down on the comfy settees in wonderful purple and green colours. The height of the ceilings is impressive with artwork depicting the castle and beauty of the area through pictures.
We were shown to our Principal Room and on opening the door we couldn’t help but smile at the size of the room. The Principal Rooms offer more than just a double room, there is a lounge area also and a large bathroom. The large windows are fantastic offering views over the loch and the view from the bathroom the best I have ever seen!
The Classic Rooms at Stonefield are smaller than Principal Rooms, but offer similar amenities just without the additional space of the lounge. The Principal Rooms if budget allows are definitely worth the upgrade with rooms at the castle offering either a garden view or a loch view. Should you opt for a garden view you do not have to go far in the castle to see the loch with views from the restaurant, library and the drawing room.
I had the chance to meet with Russell, Stonefield's Deputy Manager and take a tour of the property. It has a lovely relaxed feel about it, I can imagine staying for a few days just watching the world go by and reading a good book admiring the views from the window.
As we had made good time arriving at Stonefield we decide to head in to Tarbert the local fishing village around a 5-minute drive from the castle. There is a local tourist information office, a handful of shops and cafés. The highlight for Jasmine was the baby ducks all following mummy duck along the water.
On returning to Stonefield we take a walk around the grounds, the flowers are delightful and there is a path which leads you down to the loch. Certainly a lovely place to enjoy a stroll to admire the scenery. There is lots of wildlife in the area so wildlife spotters would be in their element.
That evening we head down to dinner in the Loch Fyne Restaurant. The large conservatory area has delightful views with the added bonus this evening of a rainbow to complete the setting. Dinner at Stonefield offers great value and I would certainly recommend dining there. For an additional 20 pounds per person you receive an allowance for the A la Carte menu of 25 pounds; you can’t say fairer than that. Depending on your food choices this can most certainly cover a starter, main and desert. I opted for the Crab fritters which were delicious, the roast chicken for main (partly because it came with Jasmine rice!) and finished with the ginger pudding for dessert. Naomi is a vegetarian and she too was catered for, she opted for the gnocchi dish. Stonefield is located right by the water so the delightful seafood choices on the menu are in abundance, a real treat for seafood lovers. I can see why they have the 2 AA Rosettes.
After dinner we relaxed in the reception area by the log fire, we could off sat there all night but Jasmine who had been sleeping happily in her push chair was starting to stir!
The bed was extremely comfy, and after our first day in Scotland a good night’s sleep was had by all.
We were up early for breakfast as we are headed to Oban to catch the ferry to the Isle of Mull. There was a choice of cereals, fruit and croissants on offer along with a hearty cooked breakfast which we enjoyed. The views from the conservatory are beautiful you could sit and savour breakfast for sometime.
Before leaving I had the pleasure of meeting Odette who was on the early reception shift, and the lovely General Manager Anne, who has worked at several castles and has received an award as a dame of hospitality. With such a lovely team you will certainly be well looked after if you choose to stay at Stonefield.
In addition to the warm welcome, the main thing that will remain with me about Stonefield is the sheer tranquillity of the place, it is as if time has stood still and cares have floated away. I could have certainly stayed longer.
After saying our goodbyes we are back on the road again…….Glengorm Castle here we come!
Keep checking our blog for part 2 of Lucy's Scottish Castle Tour, where she will be at Glengorm Castle!
For more information on Stonefield Castle, please click here.