There is wildlife aplenty at Tigh a’ Mhaide and in the surrounding area but many of our resident or visiting creatures are shy – or nocturnal – so spotting them isn’t always easy.
However, thanks to a wildlife camera in the woods, we’ve recently been treated to images of foxes, deer and a local badger.
We’ve even caught a fleeting glimpse of a passing otter which came almost nose-to-nose with one of the foxes before retreating hastily to the river. There are an estimated 8,000 otters in Scotland, living along the coasts or beside clean rivers and lochs and although the population is flourishing, it was still a surprise to see one.
Our most common visitors are roe deer. Along with red deer, these are native to Scotland and are a common sight.
The holiday accommodation at Tigh a’ Mhaide has been named Scottish Newcomer of the Year, 2020 in the LUXlife Magazine 5th annual resorts and retreats awards.
It’s our first award and we’re chuffed!
In customary fashion we would love to say thank you to whoever nominated us, but we don’t know who that was so instead, we’ll just say a heartfelt thank you to all the guests who have stayed with us since we opened and to the many who have left us kind words and glowing praise in our guest comments book.
Having opened for business mid-way through the 2019 summer season and spent a significant part of the 2020 season closed because of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, we now dare to hope that 2021 will be our first full summer season. But regardless of when we can reopen, we will still be striving to create a holiday home for our guests that is as perfect as we can make it.
As Scotland is in either Covid-19 Level 3 or 4 over Hogmanay and Ne’erday, celebratory shindigs will be of the online and socially distant kind instead of the more usual crowded and close-up variety. It’s traditional the world over to sing Burns’ song Auld Lang Syne at the bells (midnight) and this year, perhaps more than any other, its message of friendship and remembrance of times gone by seems appropriate. While the song is attributed to him, Burns acknowleged it was a much older song and that he was simply the first to write it down. Although it was initially set to a different melody, the combination of words and music familiar today has been used for more than 200 years.
As we reflect on an extraordinary year, here’s Dougie MacLean with his version of Burns’ famous song. We wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2021.
Gaelic was a native spoken language in The Trossachs until at least the 1950s and is still evident in the place and house names in the area. The name Tigh a’ Mhaide means ‘house of the timber’ and may have been coined because of the sections of tree trunk used to support the porch at the front of the oldest part of the house.
The familiar English names of some of the most popular places to visit in the area derive from Gaelic names which are often wonderfully descriptive of the location or feature. For example:
Ben A’an comes from the Gaelic name Am Binnein meaning the pinnacle or apex. It’s easy to see why the familiar triangular peak earned its name.
Loch Achray comes from Loch Àth a’ Chrathaidh which has the intriguing meaning of Loch of the ford of the shaking.
Ben Venue comes from A’ Bheinn Mheanbh meaning the small mountain and though it may not feel like it on the long walk to the summit, Ben Venue is a mere 729m high compared to neaby Ben Ledi at 879m, or local munro Ben Lomond at 974m.
Loch Venachar’s name is from Loch Bheannchair meaning the horn-shaped or tapering loch and a look at a map shows that it’s a good description.
Gaelic may no longer be the usual native spoken language of people living in The Trossachs, but it remains an important part of the landscape and much else in the local environment and wider culture of Scotland.
There was great excitement here last month when we were joined by four young Khaki Campbell ducks (actually, three ducks and a drake to be more precise). They have kept us entertained, and on our toes, as they have adjusted to their new life on our duck pond.
The drake quickly earned the nickname McQueen, after US actor Steve McQueen’s famous, fence-leaping, motorcycle stunt in the 1963 film The Great Escape. In our McQueen’s case, the leap was wing-assisted rather than motorbike-assisted. Happily, we persuaded him back into the enclosure in which the ducks spent their first few days here while they became accustomed to their new home.
One of the joys of living in, or visiting, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is the chance to see just how many stars are visible to the naked eye in the night sky. Simply looking up on a clear night can offer some fabulous views. In urban areas, around 100 stars are visible at night. In contrast, in rural areas of the Park, where light pollution is minimal, 1000s of stars can be seen.
Other locations are out of bounds for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown, but a recent spell of good weather with clear night skies has been a great opportunity to star gaze at Tigh a’ Mhaide. Despite our woodland setting, it is still possible to see some well-known constellations and even catch of glimpse of the Milky Way.
Update: Since this post was published, new government advice for self-catering properties means we have closed to guests for the time being. We will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
As the country gets to grips with the coronavirus pandemic and everyday life changes more every day, we are taking a number of precautionary measures to allow us to remain open for those of our guests able to travel here safely and in keeping with the latest government advice on limiting the spread of the virus. We will be keeping that advice under review and, in the meantime, taking the following steps in order to protect our guests and ourselves. We will:
Ensure a minimum of 48 hours between bookings.
Clean intensively after every booking. Tigh a’ Mhaide is always spotlessly clean when guests arrive, but our usual cleaning routine is now even more intensive. In particular, after every booking we will:
Wash all towels, bed linen and protectors at the highest possible temperature.
Disinfect all surfaces and appliances.
Put all crockery, cutlery, pots and pans through an intensive dishwasher programme.
We have already installed a lock box so that guests can check themselves in and out without face-to-face interaction with us (though we will still greet you from a distance and be available if you need help).
We will also temporarily remove any indoor games that cannot be easily disinfected between bookings. Outdoor games (croquet, putting/mini-golf and table tennis) will remain available.
In addition to these measures, we ask all our guests to follow the latest government advice about travel, handwashing and social distancing in order to protect themselves and others. You can check that advice here.
For anyone going out walking, whether for a gentle stroll or a more challenging hill walk, there is also new guidance from The Ramblers and Mountaineering Scotland about how to do that safely. Details here.
This year seems unlikely to be a white Christmas in our corner of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park but we’ve already had some wonderfully crisp, frosted-white and sunny winter days. This image is of nearby Loch Lubnaig on just such a day earlier this month when I ventured out to practise with my new camera. It was so cold my fingers were quickly numb but the scenery was at its breathtaking best.
With the solstice now behind us, at Tigh a’ Mhaide we are already looking forward to the return of the sun and longer days. We wish all our guests and blog readers a truly merry festive season and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors to The Trossachs in 2020. Don’t forget you can book with us directly at http://www.tam.scot.
Pine martens are native to Scotland but are an uncommon sight. About the same size as an average cat, the pine marten is now a protected species with only an estimated 3,700 adults in Scotland.
Numbers declined dramatically in the 19th century when they were frequently killed by gamekeepers on sporting estates to stop them eating the young pheasants being reared for shooting. But they are again appearing in areas where they were once common and the native woodlands around Tigh a’ Mhaide are a perfect environment for them. They are beautiful creatures with their dark brown fur, long bushy tails and creamy yellow bibs.
A new playhouse has arrived at Tigh a’ Mhaide. It’s intended for our younger guests but adults will be allowed too. The playhouse overlooks the croquet and putting course so is perfectly positioned for a summer’s afternoon of outdoor play.