It was on a whim that I decided to go away for the last weekend of 2017, and I’m so glad I did! A little cottage came under my radar in a village called Dunning, a place I’d strangely never heard of. Driving there didn’t take long as it’s tucked on a windy road between Stirling and Perth, and when we arrived everything was covered in snow. Stunning. Rhymes, I know.
It felt very old, and there was barely a person in sight. One father and daughter came by with a sledge, but sleepy is the most accurate way to describe Dunning. And perhaps a little spooky – in a curious way. As it turns out, the village is pretty legendary. Saint Serf is believed to have slain a dragon here back in the day, and so Serf Church was built around 1200.
I had a feeling that Dunning was the sort of place ‘witches’ would have been trialled, and turns out I was right! As you drive away from the village, there’s a stone cairn by the road topped with a cross. It was here that Maggie Wall was burnt as a witch in 1657. Chills.
Our cottage was on a tiny little street near the middle of the village. Old Bank Lodge was such a find! It’s cosy, comfortable (with a decent book selection), and has a huge shower. Inside is open plan, and a wooden ladder takes you up to a mezzanine loft bedroom overlooking the living room. The first night, I heard an owl right outside the window for about an hour, it was pretty magical.
We had our traditional weekender burgers on the first night in the cottage, followed by Stranger Things (in the perfect spooky village setting!) and several games of Dobble (a stressfully addictive circular card game). The following day, we ate at the Kirkstyle Inn, a characterful pub which was built in 1716 after the village was burnt to the ground…anyway, I had the Kirkstyle Pie. It was delish, as were the triple cooked chips!
We spent our last morning of the year here before heading our separate ways for Hogmanay. It was the perfect end to a topsy turvy year, and I have a feeling I might be back to these parts one day.