A Weekend Away in the Angus Glens

This time of year is perfect for an escape – and where better than the Angus Glens to get out and about in our beautiful countryside? We’re part of a walking group – and have been for around 20 years – so we get together to enjoy the great outdoors as a group 4-5 times a year. As the years tick by, some of the celebrations get larger! This month, we gathered in the picture-perfect Glenprosen – the most westerly of the Angus Glens. Here’s a little more on our weekend away …

More and more old houses are opening themselves up as exclusive hire destinations across Scotland – perfect for groups of folk who love to explore the countryside with the added bonus of staying in unique houses where there’s more than a dusting of history and heritage. We discovered the brilliant Balnaboth House.

A family home for over 30 years, the current owners have now decamped to a smaller farmhouse on the estate just a short drive from this charming, rambling and very old house. Parts are more than four centuries old and it is bursting with character. 

The house sleeps 22 (there were 17 of us) – and there is plenty of space with around 30 rooms in total across the house.  Everyone has (more or less) en suite rooms – bath and shower rooms of different styles and size are just a few steps from your bedroom door. And there are lovely public rooms – from the first floor drawing room with views across the huge lawn at the front of the house to the more tucked away library. It runs between two sides of this old property that, at one time, was four separate houses – 13th century hunting lodges near the head of the glen. They were joined together around 200 years ago. There’s more than one kitchen: we gathered in the ground floor kitchen complete with a toasty Aga – all well equipped for our stay.

The house was a magical base for our group. As the owners tell all via their AirB&B listing, “bear in mind that this is NOT a modern house, far from it. There is good oil fired central heating, but also a lot of draughts!“. The season was turning during our stay – stunning sunny days but cold, clear nights and frost on the ground each morning. A real plus – on top of the lovely grounds – was a wonderfully warm hot tub … perfect for an early evening soak before dinner.

As explained, we’re a walking group – of all ages – so our time was planned to explore and discover some new sights as well as to rediscover some old haunts. Some walked out from the house to take on the Minister’s Path – a four mile waymarked route that climbs from the Glenprosen church over the hill before descending into Glen Clova to the north. Others set off by car to Glen Clova (where they parked and walked to Loch Brandy) and others set out on more hill top ticking quests and returned with reports of huge numbers of mountain hares.

We took to our bikes and cycled up Glen Clova for a coffee break at the Glen Clova Hotel before returning down the opposite side of the Glen (with the wind behind), enjoying a picnic with views up the Glen to the Cairngorms National Park and across the Glen to the Rottal Estate.

The estate is another in the Angus Glens to help with the area’s sustainability by developing old properties for holiday lets – attracting tourists to the area as never before. They have a variety of accommodation available – catering for couples to larger groups. Their cosy bothy sleeps two whilst their old lodge can sleep up to 18.

Both Balnaboth and Rottal properties have very limited digital service: but you’re not here for online connectivity … instead taking time out to connect with the countryside. There are thousands of acres of wild hills to explore – with Corbetts, Munros, woodland, rivers and lochs to find and enjoy … on foot as well as by bike.

The Angus Glens are an often overlooked part of Scotland. We’ll be back – and we hope this wee Blog might inspire you to visit.

 

How to find Balnaboth …

The house is about 10 miles north of Kirriemuir – allow 20 minutes by car as the road narrows and gets more bumpy the further you drive up the glen. Planning a trip from further afield? It is only 90 minutes from Edinburgh, an hour from Aberdeen and around 40 minutes from Dundee – home to the newly opened V&A Dundee.

… and how to escape!

There’s no mobile phone reception within 3 miles.
There is broadband, but it’s satellite & only good for email & light browsing.

A little more history?

When an Ogilvy ancestor, the then Earl of Airlie, was exiled to France in 1746, his brother Walter Ogilvy kept his head down at Balnaboth, until he eventually succeeded to the Earldom. They still have his law books in the library! Australians may be interested that his son, the Hon Donald Ogilvy who succeeded to Balnaboth, appears to have been brother in law to Lachlan Macquarie an early governor of New South Wales. And Sir James Barrie, author of Peter Pan, rented Balnaboth for 2 summers in the 1920’s and wrote of it with great affection.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks to Geoff Smith for the featured image!