When lockdown lifted I took my 'Fab Four’ to the quiet shores of Loch Earn to experience a cabin hideaway at the Four Seasons Hotel. Its dinky chalets were home to The Beatles during the Scottish leg of their Autumn UK tour back in 1964 when the Liverpudlians shacked up in Chalet Number 1 and Number 6 on the steep banks of the scenic loch.
Owner, Susan Stuart, is happy to share tales of the hotel’s most prestigious guests. Late on Monday night, on October 19 1964, the rain fell heavily as Britain’s most famous musicians arrived at the Four Seasons in St Fillans, fresh from their gig at the ABC Cinema in Edinburgh.
Apparently around six hotels had been booked in the area to throw fans and the press off the scent, but it was the secluded shores of Loch Earn that hosted The Beatles for two nights where they were welcomed with steak in the dining room, before finally going to bed in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
As we hauled our bags into Chalet 6 we pondered which exact Beatles had slept here before us, George and Ringo, or John and Paul? The accommodation is compact and cute with serene views of Loch Earn – perhaps exactly what you need after A Hard Days Night (sorry) of loud music and fans screaming your name.
The interiors are relatively simple, offering a seating area, plus a small television and fridge. It’s a place to chill out, read, relax, soak in the views and explore. The Beatles were ahead of the curve in their desire to social distance, putting space between themselves, the press, paparazzi and their fans. In this peaceful setting you’re more likely to spot deer and red squirrels in the woods, rather than music moguls or the media.
The Liverpool legends meant nothing to my kids, who were more excited that their bedroom featured bunk beds, but photographs of the Fab Four peppered the rooms, and sparked conversation about the band; rousing renditions of Yellow Submarine replaced lullabies as night fell.
Apparently John and Paul were the first to rise the following morning, taking a walk by the loch, throwing sticks for a local dog, and boating on the still waters before heading for their Tuesday night gig in Dundee’s Caird Hall. It’s said that fans followed the band back from Dundee that night, and a party ensued at the hotel. With the men’s whereabouts now known, the lads spent most of Wednesday tucked away in their chalets avoiding the attention, before being whisked to Glasgow for their final Scottish gig of 1964.
The band’s tour schedule was incredibly busy. Easy to understand, then, why John and Paul took the opportunity to get outdoors, mess about on the water and breathe in Perthshire’s fresh air before heading back to another city for another performance. I can equally understand why Ringo and George spent their time sleeping and chilling in the chalet, recuperating from one gig before hitting up the next one.
Admittedly, our schedule was slightly less taxing, and we found a lot to engage us in the surrounding countryside. We followed an art trail in the Trossachs, discovering installations by the water including a pyramid-shaped viewpoint on Loch Lomond, a reflective mirror box look-out point on Loch Voil, and ‘Woven Sounds’, an intertwined metal viewing platform that draws your eye to the crashing Falls of Falloch.
An unexpected curiosity for history buffs is Cultybraggan Camp, an eerie abandoned WWII Prisoner of War camp near Comrie. Rows of Nissen huts remain, including an exhibition of cartoons and sketches drawn by a prisoner reflecting everyday life in the camp. Visitors can also head east into Auchingarrich to discover a family friendly wildlife centre, home to Scottish wildcats, lemurs, meerkats and coatis. Dip a little further north to discover the Scottish Crannog Centre and step inside a reconstructed prehistoric home on the banks of Loch Tay. Or, make like the Beatles, and get on the water. Be it a civilised cruise aboard a steamship on Loch Katrine, or hiring a SUP from Crieff Hydro’s Action Glen to paddle Loch Earn, there is a range of kayaking, fishing, canoeing and boating experiences available across the Trossachs.
For us, the post-lockdown focus was leaving the worries of the day behind, getting back to nature, and hunkering down in our family cabin. In many ways, not hugely dissimilar to The Beatles’ aims when they shared these rural boltholes in the 1960s.
Details: The Four Seasons Hotel (thefourseasonshotel.co.uk; 01764 685 333).