Rewilding Retreat - Rewilding Retreat - Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Rewilding Retreat

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

  • Enjoy top accommodation and food in our country lodge.
  • Search Highland glens for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares.
  • Visit the Caledonian Pine Forest home to red squirrel, pine marten and wildcat.
  • Explore woodland lochs at dusk for beavers.
  • Visit Scotland’s west coast looking for white-tailed eagles.
  • Learn about rewilding initiatives from those at the cutting edge.
  • Contribute to the preservation of wild places.
  • Free SCOTLAND: The Big Picture book for every guest.

What is rewilding? What does it look like and why does it matter?

Rewilding is the conservation of the future. It happens at a landscape scale over a long period of time and its ultimate goal is the creation of more wild places brimming with wildlife.

Although the UK lags behind the rest of Europe when it comes to rewilding, there are many exciting initiatives underway in the Scottish Highlands that will see large areas of forest, peatland and wetland restored to a more natural state. These are the places where sea eagles soar, pine martens forage and beavers shape forest and loch. These are the places where one day, lynx might stalk their prey.

Our unique retreats visit inspiring rewilding projects where we’ll hear first-hand from experts on the ground who will provide a fascinating insight into their work and explain why rewilding is important for both wildlife and people. Along the way, we’ll visit amazing primeval forests, dramatic glens and sparkling highland lochs searching for spectacular wildlife  such as ospreys, eagles, red squirrels, pine martens, beavers and otters.

Our adventure will be enhanced by fascinating rewilding discussions amongst our group, picnic lunches in the field and of course, the odd coffee stop. At the end of each day, we will return to the comfort of our mountain lodge for a relaxing evening meal with a glass of wine (or two!)

Outline itinerary

Day 1: After arrival and introductions we enjoy our first meal together before an after-dinner presentation setting the scene for our adventure.


Day 2-5: We like to retain flexibility in order to react to weather and wildlife watching opportunities, but your time with us will be an action-packed adventure visiting some of Scotland’s most spectacular wild places and searching for its charismatic creatures.

We will make an early morning visit to watch ospreys at a private nest site. We will look for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares in a remote glen and sea eagles, now prospering throughout much of Scotland, on the rugged west coast, where otters also forage. An evening vigil will with luck, give us a glimpse of the recently reintroduced beaver, a wetland engineer and a real symbol of our changing attitudes towards species that were historically vilified.

Elsewhere we will watch red squirrels scampering through their woodland home and pine martens from our private hide.

During the retreat we’ve arranged to meet up with several rewilding experts working on exciting projects from forest restoration to lynx reintroduction. They will provide a fascinating perspective on their work, stimulating new thinking about the future for Scotland’s wildlife and wild places.

Weather permitting, we will make a journey west through some of Scotland’s most dynamic scenery to Handa Island, home to thousands of seabirds and along the way, jewel-like lochans support equally jewel-like red and black-throated divers.

This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the wildness of the Scottish Highlands, witnessing some amazing wildlife whilst enjoying great food, all against the backdrop of a rewilding narrative sure to stimulate and revitalise your perspective.


Day 7: We say our farewells after breakfast.


Dates: 8-14 Jun 2019

Cost: £1145

Deposit: £300

Single Supplement: £0

Group Size: 8

Guide: Duncan MacDonald

Cost Includes: 6 nights accommodation in single, en-suite rooms; all meals; transport during retreat; guiding; presentations; transfers to/from Kingussie train station.

Cost Excludes: Travel to/from the retreat; travel/cancellation insurance; alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner); personal expenses.


Duncan MacDonald

Duncan MacDonald

Duncan has been passionate about wildlife, particularly birds, from an early age and has been lucky enough to make a career out of it.  As a guide, environmental educator and countryside ranger, he has worked on various conservation projects both in the Highlands and overseas. He's worked to conserve species as well as foster greater concern and responsibility among the wider community.  Duncan is a storyteller, using the history and culture of the Highlands to bring an experience alive.  He lives with his family in Badenoch.



Our accommodation in the Cairngorms is a lovely converted steading at the foot of the Grampian Mountains. Ballintean Mountain Lodge is comfortable and full of character - specially designed for house parties. We have a range of single, double and twin rooms, all with private facilities. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home! 

The Lodge has Wi-Fi connection although due to its remoteness phone signals can be patchy. 


Your room at Ballintean Mountain Lodge will be available from 4pm on arrival day.

By car: Cars can be safely parked. Directions will be sent as Satnav is not always reliable. Our postcode is PH21 1NX.

By train: Train travel is generally reliable and we can offer free transfers to/from Kingussie station (7 miles).

By Air: Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles) and we can offer transfers but we charge £40, which can be shared if other members of the group are travelling by air. We collect at 4pm on arrival day.


Breakfast and evening meals will be taken within our accommodation and prepared by our live-in chef. We offer home-cooked, wholesome food prepared with fresh, local ingredients. In the field we take a lunch picnic 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 you get what you want.


Most sites are accessible via a short walk but the terrain can be uneven and sometimes wet and/or slippery.You should generally be able to walk up to 2km, sometimes over uneven ground. 


Weather is very changeable in the Highlands and you should expect anything from warm, calm conditions to wintry squalls. Temperatures are likely to range from 5c to 20c with the possibility of strong winds.

Giving Back

By booking a retreat you’ll be directly supporting nature-based tourism in the Scottish Highlands, adding economic value to wild places and wildlife.