Our small group Rewilding Journeys are a carefully crafted blend of learning, inspiration and fun, in the company of expert guides and like-minded fellow travellers.
Immerse yourself in beautiful wild places, breathing in the air, listening to the silence. Picnic alongside cascading rivers and seek out enriching encounters with wild animals. Along the way, discover and learn about pioneering rewilding projects that are fighting back for nature, and meet the inspiring people involved.
Retreat to the wild!
|DATES: 6-11 May 2023||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
|DATES: 10-15 Jun 2023||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
|DATES: 21-26 Oct 2023||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
Single supplement: £0
- Travel to/from the retreat
- Travel insurance (it is a condition of booking that a suitable policy is in place)
- Alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner)
- Personal expenses
- Carbon offset fee
Our exact itinerary varies to reflect the time of year, local wildlife activity and of course, the weather! Here, we present a sample of the experiences we enjoy on our Rewilding Journeys.
Day 1: After arrival and introductions, we savour welcoming ‘Scottish’ cocktails and a pre-dinner presentation setting the scene for our adventure. We then get together around our farmhouse dining table to enjoy our first evening meal together.
Day 2: We begin our journey right outside the door with a walk & talk along the River Feshie in our rewilding reserve, part of the Northwoods Rewilding Network. Following a hearty breakfast, we explore a secret forest waterfall before descending into the spectacular and regenerating landscape of Glenfeshie.
“After many years of decline, the last remnants of the Caledonian Forest in Glenfeshie, are beginning to recover. The gnarled granny pines, some centuries-old, are now surrounded by new life as saplings begin to erupt from the undergrowth and spread.”
Thomas MacDonnel, Conservation Director, Wildland Ltd (owners of Glenfeshie).
After a picnic lunch by the tumbling river, we visit a local osprey nest offering great views of these majestic raptors, so symbolic of nature recovery in Scotland over recent decades.
Supporting local communities is a significant part of our Rewilding Journeys and so, we may round the day off with coffee and cake at a local café – rewilding can be such hard work!
After dinner, there is the option to spend the evening watching badgers and sometimes, pine martens, from our nearby floodlit hide.
Day 3: Today we head east to the opposite side of the Cairngorms National Park, a landscape of very different character. We spend time travelling through extensive areas of patchwork grouse moor, discussing how and why the landscape is managed in this way.
After lunch, we meet the rangers at Mar Lodge Estate, where after decades of traditional management, large areas of land are being allowed to regenerate naturally. We see how the pinewoods, home to red squirrels, golden eagles and pine martens, are once again spreading over open moorland, bringing abundance and diversity of life as they go.
Our evening meal is taken at a local restaurant before we journey onto Scotland’s longest-established beaver wetlands. Bamff Wildland is another partner in the Northwoods Rewilding Network and here, we learn about the fascinating habitat-restoring work of beavers. With luck, as dusk sets in, we will catch a glimpse of these industrious animals going about their wetland engineering work.
Day 4: After a late finish yesterday, we take a slightly later breakfast before our next meeting with a rewilding practitioner. Three years ago, Ballinlaggan Farm comprised sterile sheep pasture but thanks to the vision and hard work of its owners, it is slowly being transformed into a vibrant mosaic of habitats.
Following a picnic lunch next to the River Spey, we meet another couple committed to nature recovery. Lynn and Sandra of Lynbreck Croft, another Northwoods partner, have transformed their upland farm and are pioneering ways to combine high-quality food production with the principles of rewilding. Their story is one of inspiration.
This evening, we welcome David Hetherington as our dinner guest. David is a widely respected ecologist known for his work with Eurasian lynx, a species that SCOTLAND: The Big Picture is working to reintroduce. David will provide a fascinating presentation about what it would be like to once again, live alongside this enigmatic predator.
“One of the most inspiring aspects of our Rewilding Journeys is the diverse array of stories and perspectives from our guest experts, stimulating new thinking about the future for Scotland’s wildlife and wild places."
James Shooter, SBP guide
Day 5: This morning, we take a short drive to a nearby wetland – a wonderful mosaic of ponds, channels, reedbeds and scrubby woodland, where with ospreys circling overhead, it’s easy to imagine cranes, beavers and even elk making a home here.
We enjoy a leisurely circular walk around the wetland and back through regenerating woodland, before a well-earned lunch in a secluded spot looking out over the alluvial fan of the River Feshie, as it runs into the Spey.
Abernethy is one of the largest surviving tracts of the magical pine forest that once stretched across vast areas of the Cairngorms. Our final expert guest shows us the work of Cairngorms Connect. We learn that despite the howl of wolves falling silent (for now), the forest itself is now expanding for the first time in centuries, attracting new species, such as breeding white-tailed eagles.
After our final evening meal, we sit back with a ‘wee dram’ and enjoy a film that brings together many of the places and principles we have seen and learned about during our journey.
Day 6: We say our farewells after a hearty breakfast.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
When is the best time of year to visit?
Each season has its own charm and character. Our rewilding journeys in spring and early summer capture the fresh growth in plants and trees. The days are long and the birds are at the height of their breeding season.
In autumn, the trees are ablaze with colour, the air is crisp and the first snows dust the mountain tops.
Where do we stay?
Our Rewilding Learning Hub is a beautifully converted farm steading, known as ‘Ballintean Mountain Lodge’ and is located in Glenfeshie, near the village of Kincraig in the Cairngorms National Park.
The lodge has a rustic, contemporary feel with furnishings inspired by nature. All rooms have private facilities and there is Wi-Fi throughout. Mobile phone reception is generally good.
What meals are served?
Breakfast and evening meals are taken within our accommodation and prepared by our own catering team. We offer home-cooked, wholesome food prepared with fresh, local ingredients. In the field, we take a picnic lunch and home-bakes. We might also squeeze in coffee and cake stops along the way! We can almost always accommodate specific dietary requirements - just tell us on the booking form and we’ll make sure to satisfy your needs.
How do I get there?
Public transport is generally reliable and we offer free transfers from Kingussie, our nearest village (8 miles).
Train: Services to Kingussie are regular and can be booked here.
Bus: Services to Kingussie are regular and can be booked here.
Car: Safe parking is available and there is an EV charging point. Directions will be sent as Satnav is not always reliable. Our postcode is PH21 1NX.
Air: Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles)
Can you collect me from the airport?
Yes. Inverness airport is one hour from our base and we charge a flat fee of £50 per single airport collection or drop off. This can be shared if there are other members of the group travelling by air. We collect at 4pm on arrival day and drop off at 10.30am on departure day.
How do we get around during the retreat?
We use a modern, comfortable 9-seater minibus. For larger groups, we use an additional 9-seater minibus!
Who are your guides?
We work with knowledgeable and friendly guides from within the Cairngorms area and all are familiar with Scotland’s rewilding narrative.
What size are your groups?
We generally work with small groups (up to 8 guests) except for bespoke rewilding journeys when larger groups are requested. In this case, 12 guests is our maximum group size.
Do I need to be fit?
Our walks are mostly on established paths and tracks but the terrain can be uneven and sometimes wet and/or slippery. You should be reasonably agile and able to walk at a leisurely pace for up to 7km. Waiting for wildlife can sometimes involve staying quiet and still for extended periods.
What wildlife will we see?
Our Rewilding Journeys are not focused on wildlife sightings, although we do include several species-specific viewing opportunities for the likes of badger, pine marten and beaver, for example. During our walks, we will keep an eye out for any interesting wildlife and where appropriate, spend time enjoying the sighting.
Will biting insects be an issue?
Midges aren’t usually an issue but can be irritating on calm, mild evenings in mid-late summer. If you’re travelling with us during this period, we suggest you bring a suitable repellent. For anyone who has experienced midges on Scotland’s west coast, they don’t come anywhere close in the Cairngorms!
What will the weather be like?
Weather in the Highlands is very changeable and at any time of year, you should expect anything from warm, calm conditions to wintry squalls. Temperatures are likely to range from 10c to 22c in the spring/summer to 0c to 10c in autumn. If you’re unsure what to pack, we’ll be pleased to advise.
How does my custom benefit rewilding?
After covering the necessary costs associated with delivering our experiences, such as accommodation, food and transport, we are left with a surplus which, unlike a commercial tour operator with shareholders, is reinvested into our rewilding work.
Do local people benefit from my booking?
Yes. We are committed to developing nature-based business models that show how a landscape rich in nature can also support vibrant communities. Your custom allows us to train and employ local staff and to purchase supplies and services from local businesses. In doing so, we can demonstrate that rewilding is an economically viable land use in Scotland.
Are you encouraging travel that produces harmful emissions?
Fundamentally, we believe that nature-based tourism is a force for good. However, it would be easy to ignore the inconvenient truth that travel - air travel in particular - contributes to climate change, something that impacts on us all. As an organisation, we are constantly reviewing ways to reduce our carbon footprint, so we can continue delivering high impact experiences with a low impact on the planet.
Can I offset my travel?
Yes. We offer all of our guests the opportunity to offset the carbon created through their travel to and from our experiences. We use a simple carbon offset calculator with all offset fees paid into this fund to make more rewilding happen.
OUR REWILDING LEARNING HUB
Set in a private, elevated position, Ballintean Mountain Lodge is a beautifully converted farm steading, perfectly located for exploring the wild landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR REWILDING LEARNING HUB