THERE are few better Scottish views to wake up to outside the Highlands than overlooking the Lake of Menteith.

I’m writing this as ducks ease across the mist-shrouded waters; waters only broken by a leaping trout; waters haunted by the ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots who once hid away on a wee island in the middle of the loch. It’s a glorious welcome to the Trossachs, one of Scotland’s most beguiling corners.

I haven’t stayed at the Lake of Menteith Hotel in years and on arrival, I instantly ask myself why.

Parking by the grand Port of Menteith Parish Church I snatch a glimpse of the lake before ducking into the bar, where a roaring log fire warms me in. And then there is that view of one of Scotland’s very few lakes.

READ MORE: From Balti restaurants to art galleries, Birmingham has a lot to offer

The hotel has recently been taken over by Karma and they’ve just refreshing the public areas this month. With that view, you could argue they don’t need to make an effort, but they do with trout from the lake served as a pâté starter, then Menteith trout fillet laced with a mussel cream as a main.

My room – aptly called Menteith – has two big armchairs gazing out over the water; I find it hard to get out of bed the next day as I watch cormorants fishing just past the foot of my bed.

The Trossachs, though, are definitely worth getting out of bed for. Unlike further north in much of the Highlands the hills are still blanketed with swathes of forest. The peaks tempt too, proper mountains. It’s a deeply scenic oasis – the drive or cycle on the Duke’s Pass between Aberfoyle and Callander is like rolling through the Highlands despite being so close to Glasgow and Edinburgh. I highly recommend it, even on a day trip.

Such is the beauty of the Trossachs that they have long held a magnetic appeal for artists, painters and dreamers. Both William and Dorothy Wordsworth sought inspiration here. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was another poet who was drawn to the local hills and lochs. Thomas Carlyle, Hans Christian Andersen, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Jules Verne were drawn in too.

Painters have been similarly entranced by the Trossachs – JMW Turner, Alexander Nasmyth, John Knox and Sam Bough have all visited.

I follow the literary trail to Loch Katrine. This picture-perfect loch sits beneath a fold of rugged hills and thick forest. They run boat trips out on the loch, most dramatically on the grand old SS Sir Walter Scott. Its name comes from perhaps Scotland’s greatest novelist, who was so charmed by the Trossachs that he was inspired to write his Lady Of The Lake epic poem. His novel Rob Roy also draws heavily on the drama and romance of the local landscapes.

From Loch Katrine, one of the hills you are looking up to is Ben A’an. It may only be 461m high, but I reckon it’s got one of the best effort-to-reward ratios in Scotland. You eke up through the forestry in search of the face of the hill. It’s quite a steep yomp upwards, but worth it to get to a wide summit that offers superlative views of the Trossachs shimmering all around in a smorgasbord of hill, loch and forest.

There are enough walks in the Trossachs to keep you going for a year. Another favourite of mine is Glen Finglas.

It swims in its own cultural connections and is ideal for a lovely day walk. It swims in Victorian scandal too. John Ruskin famously stood here to be painted by his protégé John Everett Millais. Millais not only captured his image, but also the heart of his wife, leading to the break-up of their marriage.

The Trossachs are part of the much larger Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, so you’ve got endless possibilities if you’re staying at the Lake of Menteith.

I choose on the last day of my weekend back here to tackle a section of the Rob Roy Way on the western banks of Loch Lubnaig. I’ve eyed up this scenic stretch from the A84 many a time on the east bank. It proves a joy, sweeping through the trees above the loch as I burrow south in search of a pint in Callander.

All too soon, it’s time to leave the Karma Lake of Menteith ( I savour another trout pâté with a wee dram from local distillery Deanston – they’ve got it in the hotel’s Whisky Vault.

The last time I was here, I was lucky to enjoy a rare dram with famous whisky aficionado Charles MacLean. Now there is a man who enjoys a good dram! And no doubt a cracking view too.