ONE possible method of escaping the harsh weather that will soon overcome Scotland is to grab a plane ticket for the Bahamas.

Although it really won’t do for the entire population to scurry abroad for the winter months.

For when we return to Scotia, those cunning grey squirrels will have taken over the country. (If they can overcome the red squirrels with relative ease, it should be no problem ousting a bunch of vacationing humans.) So instead of bustling off to the Bahamas, a better idea is to spend as much time as possible dodging the dreichness in a cosy local hostelry, where you’ll enjoy a warm welcome, warmer food and perhaps even a toasty-hot fireplace.

Mooching around in an amiable boozer also means you’ll be safe from a sneak attack by the grey squirrels, who tend to be teetotallers, and therefore avoid pubs, no matter how snug.

The following home-from-home hostelries are our favourite places to hunker down and ignore the calamity of the freezing c-c-c-cold …

The Drovers Inn North Loch Lomond, Inverarnan
On the banks of Loch Lomond, which (our sources tell us) are bonnie, sits the equally bonnie Drovers Inn, a 300-year-old bucolic watering hole that has been visited by the likes of movie star Gerard Butler and jaunty rapscallion, Rob Roy MacGregor.

Alas, they didn’t visit on the same day, for that would have been an interesting conversation to nosy-in on. The Drovers is such a welcoming gaff that even the dead aren’t entirely willing to leave the premises, which explains why a bunch of boisterous ghosts frequent the joint. (Unfortunately those skinflints from the spirit world never pay for the booze they imbibe. They’ve got bar tabs going back centuries, yet still refuse to hand over a solitary groat.) Folk music at weekends adds to the bonhomie.

The Herald: The Drover's InnThe Drover's Inn (Image: The Drover's Inn)

Rab Ha’s 83 Hutcheson Street, Merchant City, Glasgow
This Merchant City watering hole is named after one of Scotland’s most extraordinary athletes, Robert Hall, aka Rab Ha’, who had a remarkable talent for gobbling grub.

The Glesga glutton was a happy-go-lucky vagrant who survived by entering eating competitions, which he usually won.

Rab finally bit the dust (we told you he’d eat anything) in 1843, breathing his last in a hayloft, after spending the night on the sauce (not tomato ketchup with chips, but bucketloads of ale).

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As you’d expect, the modern pub that carries his name provides a good selection of hale and hearty meals. There’s also a welcoming fireplace, ensuring you’ll be as comfy as roister-doister Rab in his hayloft.

Falls of Dochart Inn & Smokehouse Gray Street, Killin, Perthshire
The chill in your bones will be warmed by the open fire, and the poetry of your soul will be set aflame by the candlelit bar. The Falls of Dochart Inn & Smokehouse has various antiques decorating the walls, including Jacobean swords, which make a pleasant change from the cutthroat razor blades that decorate the floors of the less salubrious watering holes of Glasgow.

There’s an excellent sound system playing haunting Gaelic tunes plus more jaunty traditional folk music.

Impromptu live music sessions, involving bagpipers and other talented noodlers, means there’s usually a lively atmosphere.

The Herald: Falls of Dochart Inn & SmokehouseFalls of Dochart Inn & Smokehouse

The Belle 617 Great Western Road, Glasgow
The Belle is a bamboozling sort of bar, for although it’s situated in the hurly-burly hub of Glasgow’s west end, it seems to think it’s a traditional country inn. Stag heads peep at you from stone walls, and there’s a crackling coal fire to toast your tootsies.

And if your tootsies are still feeling a tad chilly, there’s usually a few friendly fidos lounging around.

So just pick up a pooch and plop it on your feet. (Though best to ask the pooch if it agrees to such treatment, or you’ll be hearing from that irate pooch’s lawyers. And, remember, these are well-heeled west end canines, who can afford the sharkiest of solicitors.) The Belle is also a great place to hear folk music while you’re enjoying the extensive selection of beers and malt whiskies.

The Herald: The Belle, GlasgowThe Belle, Glasgow (Image: unknown)

Dram! 232-246 Woodlands Road, Glasgow
You can tell that Dram! is an impressive venue because of that exclamation mark at the end of its name. It’s a well known fact that only the finest pubs are awarded their own exclamation mark. (By the Bureau of Excessive Punctuation, Whitehall.) OK, all of the above is an obvious fib. But what isn’t a lie is that Dram! is a warm and welcoming drinking establishment, with or without the punchy punctuation mark.

The folk who run the business undoubtedly adore most things Scottish, and all-things doggy.

Meaning your mutt is a welcome customer, and you’ll feel extra welcome when you start guzzling the locally produced beer and whisky.

Over 70 malts are available, though probably best not to drink them all at once. (We advise having a wee sip of water between malt number 69 and malt number 70.)

The Drake Bar 1 Lynedoch Street, Glasgow
This elegant gastro pub boasts nosh as posh as King Charles’s cufflinks, though at affordable prices.

The wood-beam ceilings and crackling fireplace give it the ambience of a Shakespearian tavern. (That old rogue John Falstaff will be joining you, any minute now, to imbibe a merry ale or two …) A winning blend of hipster cool and history-drenched atmosphere.

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The Islay Inn 1256-1260 Argyle Street, Glasgow
Folk bands who play the Islay Inn often have intriguingly exotic-sounding names, like The Raggaels and The Mad Ferret Band.

(Personally, we’d rather deal with a mad ferret than a raggael, though only because we’re not quite sure what a raggael is, even if it sounds like it might be handy with its mitts.) There are also regular pub quizzes and musicians’ workshops.

The Boat Inn Charlestown Road, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire
Nothing beats chomping pie and mash while sitting beside a crackling hearth. Okay, chomping pie and mash and supping beer while sitting beside a crackling hearth is a wee bit better.

All of the above are available at this ravishingly rustic bolthole, well-hidden from the hellish histrionics of the 21st century.

Sandy Bell’s 25 Forrest Road, Edinburgh
The daily folk sessions are legendary, and there can hardly be a banjo-plinker or fiddle-flailer in the world who hasn’t heard of Sandy… or his Bell.

There is an excellent selection of beers and whiskies on tap, which will limber you up nicely, and get your legs tip-tapping along to the music.

The Old Inn Portnacroish, Appin, Argyle
This traditional drinking den first got punters tipsy way back in 1670, which proved to be very inconvenient for the punters in question, because they had to wait over 200 years before they could phone for a taxi to drive them home.

The Old Inn provides a base of operations for a highfalutin ghost – James Stewart of the Glen, no less – who is believed to have been wrongly hanged for the notorious Appin Murder in 1752, an event which inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.

The pub is a snug blend of rough-hewn stone walls, wooden plank ceilings, and spectacular views of Castle Stalker.

Locally sourced steaks are yum, and there are regular folk music sessions.