1. Where to Stay
Request room No. 11 at Monachyle Mhor—an eighteenth-century farmhouse overlooking Loch Voil—for the old-fashioned cast-iron stove and twin rolltop claw-foot tubs. Other rooms run the gamut from contemporary cool to hunting-lodge chic, complete with antlers and salvaged chandeliers.
Play to the manor born at Ardeonaig Hotel (from $120 per person), a rolling highlands estate on 8,000 acres of land. Dinner and breakfast are included, and there are plenty of activities, like deer stalking and grouse hunting.
Cook your own steak at the Mid Torrie Farm Holiday Cottage (from $330 for three nights), a self-contained stone-and-shingle cottage (sleeps six) situated on a family-owned Highland Beef cattle farm.
2. Where to Eat
Bite into a burger made from Highlands beef at the Lade Inn, a convivial, family-run joint located at the foot of Ben Ledi. Wash it down with a pint of craft ale from their on-site ale shop.
Pull up a barstool at the Forth Inn in Aberfoyle, a cozy pub and restaurant known for its selection of hard-to-find malt whiskey, locally sourced produce, and a robust fireplace.
Be a carnivore at the Ardeonaig Hotel Restaurant, a white-linen-tablecloth establishment where the locavore menu, designed by Nelson Mandela’s former personal chef, draws on the hotel’s cattle herd and flock of black-faced sheep. For a less formal experience, dine in the subterranean cellar room surrounded by bottles of South African wines.
Order bubble and squeak and other pub food with a straight face at the Old Mill in Killearn, a tiny parish north of Glasgow. Even the condiments are made on-site.
3. What to Do
Stroll down Main Street in nearby Callander, a village filled with diamond-paned shop windows and gray stone church spires. Sustainable, line-caught catch of the day is cooked to order at MhorFish, a fishmonger and café. Afterward, stock up on retro favorites at the Old Fudge Shop, a Wonka-esque candy store filled with lemon sherbets, macaroons, and Edinburgh Rock, a popular hard candy.
Learn about contemporary Scottish cooking with an all-day course at the Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith. Nairn is the youngest Scottish chef to receive a Michelin star; his classes cover everything from knife skills to creating nouveau-Scottish dishes.
Head to the Glengoyne Distillery to try your hand as a master distiller. The single-malt nirvana, housed in a wooden glen of the Southern Highlands, offers a “Master Blender Session” ($50) where you’ll create and take home your own blend.
Gather staples like home-baked scones and smoked trout from the nearby Stirling Farmers’ Market (second Saturdays of the month) just southeast of Callander, then have a picnic lunch on the grounds of Doune Castle, a semi-ruined medieval relic just a few miles south at the confluence of the rivers Teith and Forth.
4. Insider’s Tip
You can get fantastic prepared Scottish salmon in lots of places, but custom-smoking services are a much rarer treat. Take your catch to George Campbell & Sons, a traditional smokehouse in Perth that will cold- or hot-smoke loch-caught salmon or trout. The process takes around three days, but the Campbells will FedEx your fish to you.
5. Oddball Day
Take a wintry tour through the Scottish countryside starting at Trossachs National Park. There, find Scottish folk hero Rob Roy’s haunts near the medieval village of Balquhidder. Look for signs to his grave site behind the town’s church, then follow Creag an Tuirc, the grassy forest trek leading to Inverlochlarig, the tiny farm where Roy spent the last years of his life. As you traipse along the glen, you’ll pass stunning vantage points of the Trossach’s 720 square miles of craggy hills, lochs, and waterfalls. Warm up at the tucked-away Kings House Hotel, a family-run Tudor pub with tartan carpets and a blazing fire. Spend the afternoon on a Highland safari (tours leave at 1:30 p.m. daily; $58 per person) where for two and a half hours, you’ll ride an SUV through Central Scotland’s mountains, stopping at a hut, or “bothy,” to refuel with a dram of whiskey or coffee. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of red deer and Scottish birds of prey. Have a sundowner and some hand-harvested wild oysters from the west coast at Mains of Taymouth Courtyard.
Check the local chapter of the Slow Food movement Scotland for more locavore-friendly restaurant recommendations.
Keep up with countrywide food trends and buzz on EatScotland.com blogs.
Your one-stop shop for information on local events like the Callander Jazz Festival, weather reports, and bracing outdoorsy activities can be found at the design-frenzied www.Incallander.co.uk.
Can’t quite get your head around the vernacular? First Foot.com provides a crib sheet of sorts on Scottish slang.