I’d stayed by Loch Lomond before, in a soulless hotel squeezed between the western shores and a ridiculously busy main road.
This time was different. Part of the Unique Home Stays collection, Luxury self-catering cottage, Little Eden, is a former grain mill nestled in a woodland clearing within sight of the Loch’s eastern edge. The burn (which presumably once powered the mill) rushes by at the foot of the cottage’s immaculately tended, Titchmarsh-shaming garden.
Inside, most of the ground floor’s a large open-plan space including a (really well-equipped) kitchen, dining area and a lounge with a wood-burning stove. There’s a large clock on the gable wall, the gaps between each tick seeming to lengthen as body and mind settle into the soporific surrounds. A WC and a separate bathroom occupy the remainder of the lower level, the latter with a large roll-top bath and walk-in shower. The underfloor heating ensures that leaving your nook by the stove is never too much of bind.
Upstairs, secreted beneath the eaves, are a double and a twin bedroom, cosy, quiet nests to lay your head and drift to sleep, lulled by the sound of the bubbling burn below.
Just as well that the aim of our visit was relaxation. To some that may seem like sacrilege, given that this little corner of Scotland is a haven for walkers, cyclists and paddlers. The start of the path to the Ben Lomond summit is just a few miles along the road and the West Highland Way skirts the far end of the vast front lawn.
The height of our exertions was a two-kilometre stroll along the Way to Rowardennan for a pub lunch of scampi and chips. We did also tear ourselves away from the cottage for lunch at Luss, the picturesque village that was the setting for the Scottish TV soap Take The High Road. The food wasn’t up to much but the trip was worth it for the half-hour ride on the water taxi to get there. It was a bright, early autumn day and we saw loads more of the Loch, including its many ‘ inch’ or islands (including Inchcailloch, the ‘island of the old women’ named after the nunnery founded there by St Kentigerna, and Inchlonaig, ‘the island of the yew trees’, planted there under order of Robert the Bruce, to supply his army with bows).
Safely ensconced back in the cottage and we weren’t for leaving. Over the course of our long weekend, a steady stream of weary West Highland Way walkers passed by, pausing to look up through the gap in the trees to old mill and wonder, “which lucky sods stay there?” Us, we smugly whispered, grateful but wishing for more than a long weekend at Little Eden.
For more info on Little Eden visit Unique Home Stays.