A very fishy business
The drive along the side of Loch Venachar sets the scene for the majestic setting of the Trossachs, but nothing can prepare a visitor for the stunning location of Tigh Mor. Nestled between Loch Achray and the summit of Ben A’an, the turreted former hotel looks over the calm waters to the monolithic Ben Venue, its peak often hidden by clouds.
Within the spacious grounds that stretch between the properties and the lochside lies Tigh Mor’s newest secret. On a patch of previously unused land in the corner of the grounds, a brand-new fishing pond has been excavated and has been stocked with, initially, some 250 brown and rainbow trout. Fed by the burn that flows down the slopes of Ben A’an, the pond is constantly provided with fresh water, before being released gradually into Loch Achray, which is only a stone’s throw away. The new pond, known as the Lochan, meaning ‘little loch’, can be enjoyed exclusively by those staying at Tigh Mor Trossachs. The new feature aims to accommodate both experienced anglers and complete beginners – and all stages in between.
The Lochan’s ghillie, Morris Miekle, is stocking a mixture of rainbow and brown trout. Because rainbow trout are not a species native to the area, and hence will not breed, they can be fished all year round (any brown trout caught out of season will have to be returned, however).
Following what has become a Tigh Mor tradition, lessons will still be taking place in the grounds on Sunday mornings. The main difference is that people will now be able to put their newfound casting skills into practice, as the pond is right next to where the lessons are held. Until now angling neophytes have had to travel to a fishery around 45 minutes away. “No other HPB sites have anything like this, and even locally there is nothing of this calibre,” Morris avers. “You would have to go as far as Stirling to find a pond this well equipped.”
For those who miss the Sunday morning lessons, private tuition will be available at an extra cost, with the aim of catering to beginners and hoping to get children ‘hooked’ on angling from an early age. As well as being able to take fish home there is also the option to have them cooked at Tigh Mor’s Bistro, furthering the all-in-one-place nature of the site’s fishing facilities.
While other nearby lochs offer fishing, HPB has access to a couple of rods on the local River Teith, only a 15-minute drive from Tigh Mor. This is available to Bondholders at subsidised prices, and is ideal for those who are keen to take their new fishing skills further than the Lochan. HPB also owns a popular salmon beat, on the River Ericht, a 90-minute drive away, comprising almost a mile and a half of sought-after double-bank fishing, running with wild brown trout, salmon, sea trout and grilse in season – a definite ‘next step’ for the more adventurous. HPB has built two fishing lodges plus a ‘bothy’ at nearby Blairgowrie, to accommodate fisher-folk (and their companions) in comfort and style.
But back at Tigh Mor, site manager Nikki McKenzie expressed her feelings on the versatility of the onsite fishing. “Often when a family goes for a fishing lesson on a Sunday, the mothers are stood back watching, but Morris always gets them involved and they always love it, I know I did when I had a turn!”
“There really is something for everyone here,” added Nikki. Tigh Mor offers the usual HPB facilities such as the pool and tennis courts. There is also a family room – very popular with the younger visitors – large grounds to explore and an onsite beautician. With many family-friendly walking and biking trails in the area there is the option for an active holiday, while the peaceful surroundings also make the Trossachs the perfect place to go if you want to do absolutely nothing.
While it may not seem the obvious place to stay if you are attending the Edinburgh Festival, Nikki suggests that for those who want to experience the festival but avoid the ‘busyness’ of Scotland’s capital, at just an hour away Tigh Mor is a great location. It’s an easy drive – but regular train services to both Edinburgh and Glasgow give Bondholders the chance to experience everything the cities offer, before returning to the quiet countryside of the Trossachs.
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