Are you on-board with the Slow Living lifestyle? I am in theory, or at least with the idea of stripping back to create time and space for fulfilment & balance.
Meanwhile, the hustle, bustle, and sheer speed of my everyday (real) life seems more intent on slowing my intentions than allowing time for living them. So whilst it’s more of a slow process for the moment, I opted to feed my wanderlust instead. And, with a little help from from one of Canopy & Stars’ unique retreats, we discovered a pocket of the Highlands as close to slow living perfection as you could get.
In the wee hours of a mild October morning, we embarked on the ten hour road trip from Sussex to Perthshire. Our destination: Pilot Panther. Overlooking the dramatic lochs & mountains of Blaquhidder Glen, you’ll find a lovingly converted 1950’s showman’s wagon nestled in the grounds of family run farm & hotel, Monachyle Mhor. Let me show you around …
We spent most of our days drinking in the views and the crisp cool air, soaking up the Autumn hues of the Glen, before curling up by candlelight to the soft crackles and spits of the toasty log burner in the wagon…
In the mornings, we were greeted by the neighbours before heading to the hotel to freshen up for the day…
And in the waning light & descending mist of the afternoons, we relaxed in the lounge, warming our fingers around cups of hot chocolate before dinner…
\\ Prior to departure, whenever I mentioned that we were planning to drive up, folks looked at me like I was nuts! “Just fly!” they’d say. Well, OK, but in actuality, that process would’ve taken nearly as long anyway, & we couldn’t have taken our home comforts (like pillows (is it just me that likes to have my own pillow with me?), food supplies & my new favourite mug, for example!) Plus, I like the freedom that comes with having our own car with us. My recommendation – Take the drive. Watching the land rise, skimming past the trees, rivers & Lochs, and having the freedom to explore is totally worth it.
\\ Feast wise, Pilot Panther is well equipped for cooking up wild style on the BBQ or over the firepit, and also has a small oven with a hob & grill. We cooked sausages on sticks & jacket spuds over the fire one night, but I highly recommend treating yourself to a meal at the Monachyle Mhor hotel restaurant. The experience & slow food ethos is well worth it. And if fine dining isn’t quite your style, take a drive back out to Mhor84 Motel for a more informal (but just as delicious) bite.
We headed out for a morning in Callander where there is a good range of local shops for stocking up. Mhor Bread is a bakery, shop & tea room (a loaf awaits on arrival at the wagon – if you try nothing else, try this!) and is a good stop for lunch. (stopping in every Mhor family establishment actually wasn’t part of the plan, but I’m mighty glad we did! The only one we missed was Fish…there’s always next time.)
\\ There are plenty of walks for all levels straight from the wagon, but with little legs, we opted for a reasonably short one starting from the church in Balquhidder itself. It was pretty quiet so we were able to park up by the start of the path, but I suspect in warmer months it may be busier. Keep an eye out for the waterfall where we spotted red squirrels, and if you’re lucky, you may spy deer, or perhaps hawk. The hotel has plenty of info on local hikes & can provide packed lunches if you’re out for the day too.
\\ Aside from bathing conveniences (currently), the Pilot Panther is a self-contained retreat, so you can pretty much hide yourself away, or experience the best of both worlds with a warm welcome up at the hotel. Take a torch for the walk up. It’s not far, but it’s abit tricky in the dark!
\\ I have to admit, even with the promise of the log burner, I was a little concerned about how warm we would be at night. We took some extra blankets and duvets just in case, but the stove genuinely did the job of keeping the wagon toasty. At this time of year, we didn’t bother stoking during the night, but it wouldn’t take much to keep it burning and be totally fine in the depths of winter.
\\ Overall, I wouldn’t say my “wild adventurer” side was fully met, but that’s not for lack of opportunity. More a case that, on this occasion, we allowed ourselves to partake in the indulgence of slowing down. To retreat, rest & find a little balance. That, we achieved in spades, and departed with a sense of fulfilment and a thirst for return.
With gratitude to Tom, Lisa & the team at Monachyle Mhor, who provided our stay as part the Canopy & Stars Collective. To find out more or book your own unique retreats at the Pilot Panther, visit canopyandstars.co.uk. You’ll also find more stories from our adventure over on my Instagram feed, if you fancy a peek.