WITH summer upon us (allegedly), here’s your excuse, if you need one, to head to the glorious Trossachs for a day of lochs, glens, forest rambles, wide open spaces and some fantastic destination dining.

The Courtyard Cafe, Fintry

Situated at Knockraich Farm in the beautiful Endrick Valley, this is the home of the famous Katy Rodger’s Artisan Dairy whose products are all made using milk from the farm’s 60-strong herd of British Friesian cattle.

This is one of my favourite tucked-away gems for a breath of fresh air, panoramic views and food for the soul. The Courtyard Cafe feels a little bit like being invited into someone’s country kitchen for lunch.

(Image: NQ)

All menu items are freshly prepared using home-grown and locally sourced ingredients, many of which are picked from farm’s kitchen gardens. On the breakfast menu you’ll find bacon rolls, pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, bagels and French toast.

Lunch features light bites such as quiche, sausage rolls, fish cakes and soup, sandwiches and ciabatta. There’s also a delicious selection of home baking and cakes. Great home-made food in idyllic setting.

Mhor Bread, Callander

Among the ice cream, sweetie, fish and chip and geegaw shops (I find it reassuringly comforting that the street I remember from many years ago is still pretty much the same), you’ll find artisan bakery Mhor Bread, part of Tom Lewis’s local Mhor empire.

Mhor Bread is all about simple, delicious, wholesome feel-good food. You’ll be drawn in by the window display of huge sourdough and Mediterranean tear-and-share loaves, behind which you’ll find shelves laden with a mouth-watering display of giant meringues, squashy doughnuts, millionaires shortbread, strawberry tarts, sausage rolls and pies.

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I’m lucky to have this as my local bakery, so on Saturdays, it’s “treats from the baker’s day” for hungry teenagers and weekend visitors.

The Real Food Cafe, Tyndrum

This is an iconic food stop for the many who travel through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Full disclosure – The Real Food Cafe is a client of mine at Shine PR. However, everyone I know has a fond foodie tale about the restaurant, so it would be remiss of me not to include it.

The cafe’s menu features homemade soup, award-winning fish and chips, Scotch beef and venison burgers, Scottish salmon, salads, home baking and organic and fair-trade coffee. The Real Food Cafe is also a Coeliac UK Accredited Caterer, with an A grade rating for its gluten-free fish and chips, and a dedicated gluten-free menu.

It is a regular in any “top-10 fish and chips restaurants in Scotland” feature, so it’s a menu must if you’re visiting. If it’s too early for fish and chips, I can recommend their cinnamon rolls which are nothing short of heavenly.

The Smiddy, Blair Drummond

Blair Drummond Smiddy is a family-run farm shop a mile or so from the safari park, outside Stirling, and brings together an impressive range of fresh, local produce.

The bustling cafe has huge windows and views over the Gargunnock Hills and an excellent menu, ranging from soup and sandwiches to burger and fries, macaroni cheese and baked potatoes.

Outside, the Smiddy Express is a next-level food van, serving hot filled rolls all day and freshly brewed local coffee.

You’ll also find a sizeable grocery stocked with local, seasonal fruit and veg, a huge selection of cheeses from nearby and further afield, deli delights, ready meals, pies and everyday essentials.

The Byre Inn Brig o’ Turk

The Byre Inn, situated between Loch Venachar and Loch Achray, is frequently listed on “Scotland’s Best Pubs” lists and no wonder.

There’s a lovely quirky vibe, great food, friendly staff and a beautiful location – and this thick stone-walled, characterful inn is perfectly placed for anyone taking a trip to the Trossachs for a hike, cycle or meander and looking for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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You’ll find quality, local, seasonal produce on the menu and delicious homemade classic pub food such as burgers, fish and chips.

The pub has become renowned as a pizza pit stop, so for me it’s Pinot with pizza made on a cast-iron skillet in a wood-fired oven.