It doesn’t take much to persuade me to venture into the Cairngorm National Park. This is where I based my fieldwork for my dissertation in 2008, studying the forests and the relationships on managing the local indigenous fauna. When we got the invitation to stay, plus dogs and plus my twin brother to the Sweetheart Cottage, we were only too delighted to accept. Lizzie wanted to pick our brains on the area and some of the building they are doing to create a highland retreat centre. Sounds like my kind of place!
We drove up a road that is becoming super familiar through Blairgowrie into Braemar, taking in all the local scenery. Despite it being May, we had seen the forecast and had a message from Lizzie showing us a blizzard and snow on the ground. We caught a small break in the cold weather (2 degrees!) in Braemar to pee the dogs and the humans before we continued up past Balmoral into the single track roads that led us to the cottage.
We were warmly greeted with hot red pepper soup, sandwiches, hot drinks and some food from the local shops and cafes for high tea. This was taken in the communal kitchen, all bright and with windows all around as we saw the chickens and horses running around while the dogs greeted and howled the place down.
Alan and I stayed in the Sweetheart Cottage which is joined to the main building. It was super cute and so perfect for a couples getaway. We found it so private, quiet and set up to be comfortable. We ended up falling asleep in front of the fire with the dogs (who had their own dog beds, treats, and supplies for walking dogs in the area).
To the left of the Sweetheart Cottage, there was a hot tub and snug for use and a small rise up towards the new project, which is where Alastair was staying. He was staying in one of the prototype cabins that will be expanded for another 8-10 cabins surrounding a retreat space. At the minute, there is one super insulated log cabin, containing accommodation for two and ensuite bathroom.
How cute is that?
We had such a lovely time, and as we were leaving, chatting, and taking photos, Lizzie brought us the morning’s fresh eggs from the hens to go down the road with and some of the scones from the high tea that we couldn’t finish. This set us up for the day to go out and take photos and do what we do when we hang out with my twin brother.
I cannot wait to see how they adapt the prototype cabin and create the others. The land is all marked out, ready for the development, creating a private, yet luxurious hideaway in the Scottish highlands to bring more people to feel the magic of the country, explore their own connection to mindfulness, and failing that, pet some horses and chickens!
All photos by Alastair Wilson, AJW Photography Scotland