Sunny St Fillans by the Loch

Scotland has a lot of lochs (‘loch’ is Gaelic for ‘lake’).  I’m not sure what the most famous one would be, perhaps Loch Lomond, or Loch Ness, but there are lots of others worth a peep, and one of those is Loch Earn in Perthshire.

As is the case with many of Scotland’s lochs, Loch Earn is long and narrow, and jolly nice for bobbing about on in a kayak, or just gazing at from the shore.

At the eastern end of Loch Earn lies the pretty village of St Fillans. That’s it over there, on the other side from where I was standing taking this photo:

One day not so long ago, my delightful assistant and I trotted off to St Fillans for a lochside stroll, followed by luncheon in the wonderfully relaxing Four Seasons Hotel.

It was getting on for 2.30pm by the time we rolled up for lunch (I’m relieved to report that we had stopped for tea and scones en route) and they’d stopped serving their full menu in the restaurant. They were pleased, however, to offer us sandwiches in the bar area instead, which suited us very well, especially as we had it all to ourselves:

I chose a cheese and chutney sandwich, which came with crisps and a few interesting little leaves. I forget now what my glamorous assistant had, and appear not to have any photographic evidence, but she also had a sandwich of some sort.

Usually, in a hotel in a small place like this, I might expect there to be one or two types of black tea, and maybe a selection of fruit teas, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the Four Seasons menu:

My assistant opted for the Mysore rich coffee (which came in a large cafetiere containing five cupfuls), and I had Lapsang Souchong tea (which came with enough hot water for five cupfuls – 10 hot beverages between the two of us!), with a couple of pieces of home-made shortbread on the side. We sat there, very contentedly, enjoying the restful calm of the hotel bar and delighting in the splendid view from our window seats:

On our way out of the hotel, we passed the hotel’s interesting lounge:

While driving through the village to the hotel, we had noticed an attractive looking church. I wasn’t really expecting it to be open, but fancied a closer look all the same:

I don’t seem to have a record of the name of this church, I did a quick Google search but couldn’t find it.

To make up for this lack of information, I’ll relate an interesting bit of recent history about the village of St Fillans.

In November 2005, a builder began creating a housing development at the east end of the village. His plans meant disturbing a big lump of rock that, according to legend, was home to fairies. The locals did not want him upsetting their fairy community, and persuaded the builder to change his plans in order to leave the rock alone. The rock now forms the centrepiece of a little park in the middle of the building development, and the fairies are – so I’m told – happily still in situ.

As it happens, the church was, to my great delight, open for viewing. It was quite plain inside, but very restful:

There were a number of bibles on the pews and I flicked open the cover of this one, perhaps because it was unusually imprinted with the name of a well-known Scottish regiment:

Inside the front cover there was a letter, dated 11 February 1946, to a Major Stewart. The first couple of paragraphs read: ” I hope you will not mind my taking the liberty of sending you the 6th BW Bible for custody.  For security reasons I was advised to leave it at home when we sailed for North Africa! Many a time its larger print would have been useful for lesson-reading in the odd and sometimes dark places in which we worshipped.”

After an enjoyable time soaking up the ecclesiastical atmosphere, we stepped out into the sunshine again, and the view of knobbly hills across the loch from the church steps:

If you happen to be passing through this bit of the country (and it is quite a popular tourist area being near The Trossachs National Park) I can recommend a detour through St Fillans.


53 thoughts on “Sunny St Fillans by the Loch

  1. Hi Lorna, sweet little place by the lake there, I didn’t see anything scary poking up from the water, (all good!) Nice how the sandwiches come with some crispy little chipped on the side, chutney & cheese, yum!

    Hope all the book drama is slowly working out and it’s all starting to come together for you. 🙂

    • As far as I know Loch Earn doesn’t have any Nessie type monsters, but you never know what might be lurking in the depths… Thank you for your kind thoughts Alice, the book drama continues but I think it is coming together, and now I just have to be patient!

  2. Hi..I signed up for your post this morning..and lo and behold some Scottish folk strolled into the shop today where I work in Australia…I told them about your blog and your upcoming book. I’m doing some PR for you from the other side of the world! Now I just have to add Scotland to my ‘bucket list’..and follow the Tea Room trails.

    • Thank you for signing up! I see you’ve just started a blog, welcome to WordPress, it’s a great place to be.

      How marvellous of you to be plugging my blog and book, thank you so much! I’m going to be making some flyers that I was thinking of putting in tearooms and anywhere else that might take them, so if you would like any I’d be happy to send some. 🙂

      I hope I can tempt you to visit Scotland’s tearooms, they are many and varied, although I appreciate that you could hardly go further for a cup of tea!

    • That thought crossed my mind too, Annie, but thankfully most people are honest and kind. I think it’s lovely that someone has left it there with the letter inside for anyone to read.

    • Thank you Heather, I’m delighted that our paths have crossed, we share those two favourite things! I had a quick look at your blog just now and I love your header photo. I will be investigating further very soon…

  3. I’m there! Bobbing about in kayaks, gazing at knobbly hills, eating sandwiches with little leaves…what a charming picture you paint, Lorna. Besides, a village that rallies to protect its fairies is rare, indeed, and well worth a visit, in my opinion.

    • Thank you Robin, it’s the first time I’ve heard of a village protecting its fairies but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s happened before further north. The highland Scots are a canny lot when it comes to fairyfolk.

  4. What a fab post, thank you, Lorna! I’ve driven through St. Fillans many times on our way to friends in Islay, and always wanted to stop. I must arrange to do so someday. The letter inside the Bible is very moving. And I laughed out loud at the “heaters can be hot / Be still and know I am God” signs!

    My very favourite part of your post is about the fairy rock. Thank goodness modernity hasn’t obliterated magic in every respect!

    • I recommend lunching at the Four Seasons Hotel, if you do stop in St Fillans some time, and perhaps nipping into the church for a brief visit if you have the time, for a chuckle at their pew notices. It’s a lovely tale about the fairy rock, isn’t it? As you say, nice to know that there’s still a bit of magic around.

  5. Hi Lorna, thanks for this post, St. Fillans is just around the corner where we will stay next week, so I’ve put this hotel on the lunch list..

    • That’s great Erna, I’m really glad! I hope the sun shines on Loch Earn while you’re there, it’s lovely on a fine day. If you’re in Crieff The Loft is really nice for lunch too, it’s on the main street and is part furniture shop, part cafe. I only discovered it the other day.

  6. It looks like a perfect way to spend the day. What a sweet little church. Lovely, thank you for sharing the pleasures of St Fillans.

  7. What a refreshing post — Lovely scenery, a restful and atmospheric church, history, fairies — and pick-me-ups in the form of massive quantities of teas. And shortbread.
    Made my day, by proxy. Thank you.

  8. your post filled me with feelings of contentment and peaceful pleasure. what a lovely way to spend a day. i like your style. 🙂

  9. What a lovely place, how amazing is that Bible and the letter?? Wonderful. We haven’t explored around Loch Earn very much, but it looks very worthwhile.
    On a ‘tea’ note, I am currently enjoying ‘Arctic Fire’ from the Kent & Sussex Tea Co – it is a Chinese black tea with blue strands of cornflower, and scented with mint and fruit. It’s really refreshing.

    • It is a particularly attractive loch, I think, Jo. At the other end of it, at Lochearnhead, there are various water sports places, so you can hire a kayak or a little boat and take out on the water.

      Your tea sounds splendid! I can imagine it must look very pretty with the cornflower strands, and the name would certainly attract my attention if I saw it for sale.

    • Thanks Ashley, I thought it might be, because of Nessie. Loch Lomond features in a famous Scottish song (…”on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”) but that might not be much known outside Scotland.

    • I’m glad to have been of some assistance. There aren’t that many people in Scotland who speak fluent Gaelic, but I think ‘loch’ must be one of the few Gaelic words every Scot is familiar with.

      • It’s funny that what constitutes common knowledge is different in different countries. I had a friend from Thailand that didn’t know the American flag had 50 stars! I was shocked! It was silly though, because how was she supposed to know?

  10. Hello Lorna, I’m fascinated by the letter in the bible – that’s real history. But the best part of your post is that the villagers managed to convince a developer to change his plans on the basis of fairies. That makes me very happy 🙂

    BTW I’d love to go for a paddle around the Loch too! Lovely spot.

    • Thank you Finn, the fairies seem to have gone down very well! It is rather splendid that such community spirit still exists and that people do still value the spiritual and mystical. I’m sure a paddle round the loch would be utterly delightful.

  11. Thank you for giving us another picturesque travel-tea locales of Scotland. Loved the idea of chutney cheese sandwich! I am going to try making one at home 🙂 Cheers!!

    • Thank you Aparna, I hope you enjoy the sandwich! It’s quite a popular option in cafes here. The cheese is usually cheddar but the chutneys vary enormously. The stuff I had in St Fillans was curried with big lumps of capsicum in it. I had a lovely smooth and fruity beetroot and apple one a couple of days ago somewhere else, you just never know what you’re going to get.

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