You don’t have to bring a dog to enjoy the full experience at Milton Farm Lodges, but it might help. I doubt you are going to enjoy the dog spa that’s on offer as much as your faithful hound, but hey, who am I to judge?

Michael and Janice Sands have been welcoming guests at Milton Farm in Abernyte, in Perthshire, for the past six years, and have managed to bring together a few assets of their various businesses to create a relaxing retreat for their visitors. On their working farm there are two stunning and spacious holiday cottages which each sleep six people comfortably. Janice also runs their dog boarding kennels as well as the dog grooming business, and Michael takes care of the farm with the help of son, Neil.

The lodges sit side by side, each with a deck which stretches the length of the front of the house. The sitting room and kitchen have the luxury of a double height ceiling which means that it’s all about light and views. The sitting area, dining area and kitchen are all in the one massive room, the cottages are often booked out together by the same party, so it helps that the dining table sits 12, so that everyone can gather in one cottage and socialise together.

Now that they have gone through the process of jumping through the hoops required to get planning, building warrants, and deciding to make the cottages as ‘green’ as possible, they are delighted with the outcome. Janice had a vision in her mind at the beginning of the project and it took some time to find the right lodges.

“We looked at a lot of designs but they just weren’t right, then we were advised to go to Aberfeldy where there was a farmer who could build them for us. The moment I walked in to the timber framed house, I knew this was the ones we had to have.”

Having four children kept Michael and Janice busy when they were little, and now that they are grown up, they are now coming in quite handy with their own skill set. Son, Michael is a builder, he works from an office on the farm, and he laid the foundations for the cottages. Daughter, Jennifer helps as much as possible despite having a toddler and working herself; and son, David, runs his financial services business from the farm too. I say the farm is like a little rural hub: “Yes,” Janice says: “they haven’t gone far.”

Now that the cottages are complete and operating as a thriving business, they have been assessed and awarded a four-star rating by Visit Scotland.

Janice was nervous of the rating, she worried that people wouldn’t like having to drive through the farm to get to the cottages, but it seems that the fact that the cottages are on a working farm is an attraction.

Visitors are welcome to walk around the perimeter of the farm where they can see Michael’s spring calving cows, his Simmental crosses and their Limousin cattle. They also have Texel crosses and son, Neil has recently brought in some Blackies, which has Michael shaking his head at the mention of them. They can also interact with the pet lambs, if it is around lambing time, and the hens. “We take the farm for granted, but people love finding out about the animals and watching how we farm and the amount of work involved,” says Michael.

The area around the cottages is a mix of fields and woodland. There is a slope at the back of the cottages which runs down through the forest to a river with brown trout in it. Looking at the visitor’s book it is clear that kids adore having the freedom to explore this area, there is even a den. Just down by the dog boarding kennels that is a picturesque pond, and from the lodges there is a stunning waterfall that guests can walk to.

And if you are taking dogs, they are going to love you for it. With Janice’s background in dog boarding and grooming, she can organise dog sitting if you are out for the day. She will walk your dog/s, and if you wish, she can book them in for the doggy spa, which includes being groomed, a shower, pawdicure, and a conditioning treatment. It’s a dog’s life, right enough!

Just past the farm’s boundary is the Scottish Antique Centre, and the couple have put a gate in the fence, so that guests can walk to their restaurant if they don’t feel like cooking. There is fresh bread, cakes, scones, and guests are given a 10% discount on everything in the restaurant.

If it is a special occasion, then Janice can organise for a chef to provide all your meals, or you can use the local hotel, the Inchture Hotel, which will provide a taxi service to pick you up and ferry you home if you would like to have a few drinks.

The cottages, as mentioned, have three bedrooms and three bathrooms, with open plan living in the kitchen, dining and sitting room, they are decorated in a contemporary style with all the mod cons needed in the kitchen. Jacuzzi baths and extra-large showers are also included. The bedrooms can be made to suit your needs from super king beds to singles, just let Janice know. There is a BBQ area to the side of the cottages too. Janice makes sure the basics are there for guests arriving, washing powder, bin bags, tea towels etc. All the little things that people forget.

They have noticed that they get a lot of farmers visiting. For some it is their first time away from their own farm. Maybe it’s been a compromise, they will go, but only if it is to another farm. Michael has had a few guests who keep the same early hours as him, arrive out the lodge as the sun comes up, basically looking for something to do. It’s a farmer thing.

Being in rural Perthshire doesn’t mean you are cut off from anything. Dundee is just 10 minutes away, Perth is 15 minutes away. Edinburgh is just one hour with St Andrews just 40 minutes away. The cottages attract quite a lot of local custom. People who want a weekend away but don’t want to travel far. Folk from Aberdeen and Edinburgh come often.

As for activities, the cities mentioned above can give you any type of entertainment needed, particularly for kids. If you are more inclined to take to the outdoors, then there is a local estate that offers shooting packages. There was a group of French shooters staying in one of the cottages while we were there chatting. There is fishing, walking tracks, you can cycle, play golf, or just relax and eat your way through your visit. Or cosy up in the cottages and play some of the games and DVDs that are there for use.

Janice is a people person, she is welcoming and chatty, a perfect host. Michael is happier working on the farm, helping out when he is needed. And now that they have perfected running two lodges, they have future plans in the pipeline that they are excited to talk about.

Having looked at the market, they can see that couple-only holiday breaks are very popular, and they have just received planning permission to build two luxury couples-only accommodation choices. Janice talks about their plan to have hot tubs which can be entered through sliding doors from the bedroom, they will look out over the wooded area, ensuring privacy. The couple hope that they could get started on this new project by the end of the year.

As for now, Janice is expecting their next guests, she is busy looking after the dogs she has boarding and Michael has pet lambs to feed as well as running the farm. It’s all go at Milton Farm, but they always have time to welcome their guests, who keep coming back time after time. That’s the biggest compliment they can wish for.


Minimum three nights stay

Short breaks start from £396, one week starts from £650.