- Relax in our mountain lodge and dine on delicious food
- Explore Highland glens for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares
- Visit the Caledonian Pine Forest, home to red squirrels and pine martens
- Venture to secluded wetland to watch the resident beavers
- Enjoy a day trip to Scotland’s west coast in search of white-tailed eagles and otters
- Learn about rewilding initiatives from those at the cutting edge
- Receive a complimentary copy of our landmark book: SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey
What is rewilding? What does it look like and why does it matter?
Imagine a Scotland where nature is reawakened. Where the lost tapestry of Scots pine, rowan, birch, oak, aspen, alder and hazel that once draped itself across our hillsides is stitched back together. Where our land and seascapes teem once again with wildlife. Where nature-based enterprises support thriving communities. Where human connections to the natural world are strengthened in villages and cities. Where land and sea, people and wildlife, businesses and culture flourish together.
This is rewilding.
Rewilding in Scotland is part of a growing worldwide movement that seeks to bring about the large-scale restoration of ecosystems on land and at sea. This means thinking differently, thinking beyond our network of nature reserves: thinking about the Big Picture.
Despite the UK lagging behind much of Europe, there are many exciting rewilding initiatives underway in the Scottish Highlands that will see large areas of forest, peatland and wetland restored and revitalised. 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 again.
Our retreats visit inspiring rewilding projects where we’ll hear first-hand from the experts on the ground. Along the way, we’ll visit amazing primeval forests, dramatic glens and sparkling highland lochs in search of ospreys, eagles, red squirrels, pine martens, beavers and otters.
Our adventure will be enhanced by fascinating 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...)
A key element of rewilding is for communities to see the economic benefit in wild nature and our Rewilding Retreats demonstrate and support this principle.
Dates: 8-14 Jun 2019
Single Supplement: £0
Group Size: 8
Guide: James Shooter
Cost Includes: 6 nights accommodation in en-suite room; 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.
Day 1: After arrival and introductions we enjoy our first meal together before an after-dinner presentation setting the scene for our adventure.
Day 2-6: We like to retain flexibility in order to react to weather and wildlife watching opportunities, but the retreat will be an action-packed adventure visiting some of Scotland’s most spectacular wild places and searching for its charismatic creatures.
From our mountain lodge we can walk through our rewilding reserve to watch ospreys at a private nest site. We look for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares in a remote glen and white-tailed eagles, now prospering throughout much of Scotland, on the rugged west coast. We visit the Moray Firth in search of bottlenose dolphins and reintroduced red kites and in rich Caledonian Pine Forests, we watch red squirrels scampering and pine martens foraging from a local hide. 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.
During the retreat, we’ve arranged to meet 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.
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 on Friday.
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 choice 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 5pm on arrival day. Our first evening meal is normally taken at 7.30pm.
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.
James is one of the Directors at Scotland: The Big Picture and an established photographer and filmmaker with a passion for conservation communication. He has spent several years guiding in Scotland, developing an acute knowledge of its wildlife and landscapes. A personable and engaging character, James will ensure you get the very best from your time with us.
By booking a Rewilding Retreat you’ll be directly supporting local jobs and services in the Scottish Highlands, demonstrating that wild nature has a tangible economic value. All of our food and services are sourced from local suppliers wherever possible.