Loch an Eilein

OUR STORY

THE BIG PICTURE

Rewilding Escapes is the nature tourism arm of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a charity that works with a diverse range of people to make rewilding happen. Our vision is one of a vast network of rewilded land and water across Scotland, where both wildlife and people flourish.

We are more than just another travel company.

We are, of course, committed to delivering fun and fulfilling experiences, but beyond that, your custom contributes to a bigger picture. Every pound you spend with us allows us to employ local staff and to purchase our supplies and services from local businesses. In this way, we are able to demonstrate that wild nature provides not only ecological benefits, but has a tangible economic value that helps to sustain vibrant communities.

When local people benefit from rewilding, the case for an ecologically richer future becomes stronger.

WHAT WE DO

We specialise in welcoming small groups and taking them into beautiful wild places. We take time to immerse ourselves within the landscape, breathing in the air, listening to the silence. We seek out hidden natural gems and enriching encounters with iconic wildlife. Along the way, we discover and learn about pioneering projects that are fighting back for nature and we meet the people involved.

We believe that spending time in the wild boosts our wellbeing and refreshes our perspective.

When we walk through an ancient forest, gaze upon a mountain view, or watch a red squirrel scamper through the canopy, it makes us feel better; it leaves a lasting impression and a stronger connection with the natural world.

LIGHTENING OUR FOOTPRINT

It would be easy for us to ignore the inconvenient truth that travel - air travel in particular - contributes to climate change, something that impacts on us all. To this end, we encourage our guests to minimise their travel emissions as much as possible by utilising transport with a lower carbon footprint, such as the train or car-sharing with a fellow guest.

As an organisation, we are constantly reviewing ways to make our retreats more sustainable, so we can continue delivering high impact experiences with a low impact on the planet.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Right now, there is a global ecological emergency, in which nature-based tourism can be a real force for good. We invest all profits from Rewilding Escapes directly into our work, so by joining our retreats, you are contributing to rewilding projects in Scotland. These include:

OUR BASE

Ballintean Mountain Lodge is our base and the location for all our retreats in the Cairngorms. This beautifully converted steading is set in a stunning rewilding reserve at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty containing some of Scotland's most treasured wild landscapes and wildlife. Vast ancient forests, hidden lochs and snow-capped mountains provide a breath-taking backdrop for an inspiring yet relaxing retreat. 

Ballintean started life as a small farm, but over the last 25 years has been re-shaped into a quiet, nature-focused getaway. Apart from a small herd of Highland cattle providing natural grazing, nature is left to do its own thing. The result is a rich tapestry of habitats, from regenerating native woodland to open meadow. Ospreys nest next to the River Feshie, buzzards mew overhead and pine martens forage at either end of the day.

 

MEET OUR TEAM

Our small team has many years of nature-based travel experience and is dedicated to ensuring your time with us is enjoyable and informative – having fun and learning along the way.

James Shooter

Guide

James is one of the directors at SCOTLAND: The Big Picture and is the Head of Rewilding Escapes. He is an award-winning nature photographer, filmmaker and guide with a passion for rewilding. He enjoys taking small groups of people to search for amazing wildlife in spectacular scenery, whilst exploring the potential for wilder landscapes. James is an advocate for ecotourism as one of the benefits of rewilding and has been guiding nature lovers and photographers across the Scottish Highlands for several years.

Jack Ward

Guide

Jack has been a professional guide in the Highlands for the past ten years. He now works directly for the Cairngorms Connect project, carrying out practical conservation on the ground within the project area. He has combined a lifelong love of the outdoors with a working knowledge of land management in the Highlands. He is enthusiastic to share the wonders of the Cairngorms and the conservation work of Cairngorms Connect project with guests from around the world.

Malcolm O'Reilly

Guide

Exploring wild places with others has been the theme of Malcolm’s 20-year career in the outdoors. His passion for helping people discover the natural world, combined with his broad experience and sense of humour, will enrich your time together. Originally a graduate in Zoology, he has made the Cairngorms his home since 2001. You will certainly be in safe hands too, as well as working year-round as a wildlife guide, he is also a qualified mountain leader.

Ewan Miles

Guide

Living on the Isle of Mull surrounded by sea lochs, mountains and glens, Ewan provides a range of wildlife and photography experiences. His passion for bird conservation has led him to become the BTO Regional Representative for North Argyll and a Golden Eagle Fieldworker on his island patch. Ewan incorporates the monitoring and recording of wildlife into his guiding role and hopes to provide all his guests with a memorable and educational experience, reconnecting them to the natural world.

Helen McCallin

Guide

Helen has 20 years experience working extensively with animals in lecturing, wildlife rehabilitation and ecology roles. She gained her MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, researching deer repellents as a way to remove fences and improve capercaillie numbers. Much of her younger years were spent in Scotland, exploring the Cairngorms and it’s unique natural enviornment. She is a passionate advocate for rewilding, spending most of her time watching a local beaver family and educating others on the many benefits they bring.

Zoltán Nagy

Guide

Zoltán is an award-winning nature photographer and guide from Romania. In 2011 he graduated with a degree in 'Wildlife and Environmental Photography' in the UK and has subsequently moved back to his home country. Here he has carved out a niche as a nature photographer, wildlife guide and more recently as a documentary filmmaker. As a licensed guide, Zoltán has always enjoyed sharing with others his intimate knowledge of Romania's rich natural heritage.

Emma Brown

Behind the Scenes

Emma is a marketing professional with a background in eco-tourism and, having been based in the Scottish Highlands for almost 20 years, she is passionate about the area and its spectacular wild places. The person you’ll most likely speak to when booking one of our retreats, Emma deals with all the logistics and admin. She works extremely hard behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly and to ensure you have the best time possible on one of our retreats.  

Gilly Howarth

Catering

Gilly has lived and worked in the Scottish Highlands for nearly 30 years as a qualified cook. She loves gardening and trying to grow as much as she can in her own back yard to use alongside local produce. Foraging is a hobby too – and at certain times in the year Gilly finds chanterelles, wild garlic, sloes, juniper berries and brambles to use alongside freshly grown herbs that adds a wonderful flavour to her signature dishes.

Sam and Dougal

Catering

Sam and Dougal are two young, yet experienced caterers proud to call the Cairngorms their home. Their catering reflects the energy and passion they have for creating delicious, locally sourced food. Their expert skills in the kitchen are always well received by guests and recently this has led to them receiving recognition at the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards. They are fast building a reputation for a first-class service and always with a smile!