From a distance the 4WD vehicle looks like any other off-roader roaring through the mud but as it gets closer to me both the car and the driver seem to shrink. Kids aged from six to 12 years who prefer engines to horses can get behind the wheel of amazing Land Rover replicas (built especially for Gleneagles at a quarter of the parental original) and test their driving skills over a purpose built course. This is the first place in the UK to offer junior off-road instruction. Teens and parents who donít want to be left out can try the adultís all-terrain course, so the whole family can mess about in the mud.
For kids with a good aim there is a ten lane archery range and older children can try their hand at air rifles or clay pigeon shooting. While your child is notching up all the outdoor skills a Scottish landowner needs they can also try fishing in one of the hotelís trout lochs. Local ghillies will supply rods, flies and a wry sense of humour. All your child has to have is the patience to wait for a bite. Croquet, tennis, pitch and putt, and a swimming pool are also available.
Inside there is just as much fun to be had. In the large playroom Gleneagles has the kind of dressing-up box I could only dream of as a kid. Children can play at being everything from knights in shining armour to Bonnie Prince Charlie and there are plenty of floaty, Lady-of-the-Manor dresses too.
The really little guests arenít forgotten either. Gleneagles offers special activity sessions for mums and bubs under two to bond in the pool or in the playroom.
If the batteries run low in your little Energizer Bunnies there are board games and toys aplenty. They can also chill out at the foosball or pool table, decorate cookies or loll on beanbags playing online games or watching movies.
If families donít want to stay in the main hotel, two- to four- bedroom luxury lodges are available to rent in the Gleneagles-owned Glenmor Village, but personally I think for little clan-chiefs-in-training (and their parents) you canít beat staying in the historic hotel.
On our way home we stop over in the elegant city of Edinburgh for a night at The Balmoral. If your name is even in the slightest bit Scottish your family should enlist the services of the hotelís special Tartan Butler, the charming Andy Fraser. Apart from cutting a fine figure in his kilt and sporran, Andy can help you trace your lineage to its Braveheart beginnings. He can even help you create a family tartan; now thereís an original souvenir.