Well, we called it a Festive Cracker – and it absolutely was! We’ve just come back from an absolutely superb festive break at the Winnock Hotel, which is situated in the little village of Drymen close to the Southern tip of Loch Lomond. This hotel has a great reputation, so we were really excited for our first stay and were particularly looking forward to the Scottish themed entertainment that the hotel provides.

The hotel itself is a 17th century coaching inn with heaps of history, stunning Scottish décor and a lovely open fireplace which really added to the atmosphere with the fire crackling beside the Christmas tree. Our meals and entertainment each night were in the Capercaillie Room – the hotel’s main function room with a good sized dance floor

GREAT ENTERTAINMENT

The first night’s entertainment was a Michael Buble tribute act, followed the second evening by a fascinating weaponry talk and demonstration and included an overview of Scottish Jacobite history. It was fascinating to see just how big the Claymore is!

Our third night’s entertainment was ‘Hogmanay’ on our festive itinerary, which also fell on St Andrew’s Day for our trip! So it was a traditional Scottish four-course set menu consisting of Lentil Soup, Haggis & whisky sauce, a choice of either Lamb or Rainbow Trout as the main, and finally Cranachan as dessert. In traditional Scottish style, the Haggis was piped in to the dining room and Robert Burn’s famous poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ recited by our bagpiper before the meal. Afterwards, it was time for a proper Scottish ceilidh with ceilidh band, piper and Scottish dancer both demonstrating dancing and encouraging us to join in (we did!)

Added to all of this was a free bar each night with complimentary wine on each table, and packed lunches each day!

We also enjoyed some excellent excursions each day:

EDINBURGH CHRISTMAS MARKET

Our first day dawned in proper ‘Scottish mist’ style with the fog laying low over the countryside as we headed for our excursion to Edinburgh. Luckily, just 20 minutes outside the city, the sun came out and we had glorious blue skies for our day in Scotland’s capital, which was perfect for exploring Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets in Princes Street Gardens, as well as the Royal Mile and Georgian Old Town.

STIRLING & GLENGOYNE DISTILLERY

On our second day the fog had lifted for our short journey to Stirling, where our passengers had free time to explore. Some of our group headed up to the stunning Stirling Castle which sits on a rocky outcrop above the town, while others indulged in a little shopping. From here, we headed back to Glengoyne Distillery which was located just 20 minutes from our hotel. The tour at Glengoyne was superb, informative and entertaining and gave us a wonderful insight into the whole process of whisky distilling – from stream to shot glass!  One of the highlights of the tour was the warehouse, which had an amazing display of 30 years of whisky ageing – fascinating to see how the liquid darkens over the years and how this is affected by choice of cask and wood! Finally, we got to try a wee dram or two ourselves and learn more about how to sample whisky – a fantastic visit enjoyed by all!

KELPIES & CALLENDAR HOUSE

Our final excursion was to Falkirk, where we began the day with a visit to the famous Kelpies. These amazing 30 metre sculptures are well worth a visit to truly appreciate the size and scale of them. Fun Fact – they are actually based on two real-life Clydesdale Horses, Duke and Baron, who even attended the opening ceremony! From the Kelpies, we made the short journey to Callendar House, which is definitely a hidden gem in the heart of Falkirk! This was originally a 14th century tower house, but was extensively remodelled and extended into the style of a French Renaissance Chateau in the 19th century. It is being restored and is now open to the public – and has been used as a filming location for the hit TV series, Outlander. At Callendar House we enjoyed one of the best afternoon tea’s I’ve ever seen, with a glorious selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes, trifle and other treats, before free time to explore the house and gardens.

All in all our trip to the Winnock Hotel was an absolutely superb festive holiday and one we’ll definitely be looking to include again – a proper Scottish cracker of a break!

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