A journey of rewilding across the spectacular Scottish Highlands.
- Explore Highland glens for golden eagles, mountain hares, and rutting red deer.
- Visit the Caledonian Forest, cloaked in autumn gold, home to crested tits and pine martens.
- Get up close with leaping salmon and red squirrels.
- 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.
- Relax in our mountain lodge and dine on delicious home-cooked food.
- Receive a complimentary digital copy of our landmark book: SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey.
Autumn is one of the most beautiful times to explore the spectacular landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.
After many years of decline, the last remnants of the Caledonian Forest 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. Birch, aspen, willow and rowan glitter these woodlands with golden hues and fungi, in all their wonderful forms, decorate the landscape.
Rewilding is taking hold in many parts of the Cairngorms, but of course it's about so much more than just trees, and our base in the Cairngorms is the perfect location to explore a variety of habitats - from upland to wetland and croftland to coast. The autumn months see shifting priorities in the wildlife we search for. Salmon leap up waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds, red deer are roaring throughout the glens, red squirrels hurry across the woodland floor and crested tits are calling from the tops of pine trees.
It's an exciting time for rewilding in Scotland and we’ll explore a diverse array of stories and hear first-hand from some of the experts on the ground helping nature to recover.
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 begin our retreat by exploring our surroundings with a walk through our 120-acre rewilding reserve and spend time searching for crested tits in the surrounding pine woods. We look for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares in a remote Highland glen and discover the regenerating landscape of the acclaimed Glenfeshie Estate.
We explore the rich Caledonian Forest of Glen Affric with its mesmerising views across sparkling lochs. While on the rugged west coast we look for white-tailed eagles, now prospering throughout more of Scotland. We watch red squirrels scampering across the woodland floor and spend an evening watching pine martens and badgers from a local hide. One of the season's most impressive sights can be salmon leaping up challenging waterfalls as they migrate to their natal rivers to spawn.
We'll visit the various landscapes of Cairngorms Connect, the UK's largest landscape-scale restoration project and throughout the retreat, we've arranged to meet with several rewilding experts working on exciting projects. They will provide a fascinating perspective on their work, stimulating new thinking about the future for Scotland’s wildlife and wild places.
The retreat will be an immersive experience set against stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife and interspersed with thought-provoking discussions across a broad spectrum of rewilding topics.
Day 7: We say our farewells after breakfast on Friday.
|DATES: 31 Oct - 6 Nov 2020||GUIDES: James Shooter||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
Single supplement: £0
- 6 nights accommodation in an en-suite room
- All meals
- Transport during the retreat
- Transfers to/from Kingussie
- Travel to/from the retreat
- Travel/cancellation insurance
- Alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner)
- Personal expenses
Your room at Ballintean Mountain Lodge will be available from 4pm 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 / bus: Train and bus travel is generally reliable and we can offer free transfers to/from Kingussie (7 miles).
By Air: Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles) and we can offer transfers at £40 each way, 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 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 we satisfy your needs.
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 at this time of year and you should expect anything from mild, calm conditions to wintry squalls. Temperatures are likely to range from 0c to 10c with the possibility of strong winds. Conditions underfoot can often be wet!
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 and 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.
Join James on the following retreats:
31 Oct - 6 Nov 2020
Ballintean Mountain Lodge
Ballintean Mountain Lodge is your home from home for our Cairngorms based retreats. This beautifully converted steading is based in Glenfeshie at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The wild landscapes surrounding Ballintean contain some of Scotland’s most treasured habitats as vast ancient forests, hidden lochs and snow-capped mountains provide a breath-taking backdrop for an inspiring retreat. Here you can explore the lodge’s extensive grounds where ospreys nest, red squirrels forage and our very own highland cows wander the meadows and along the river feshie.
Ballintean Mountain Lodge is comfortable and full of character. Specially designed for house parties, there is a choice of single, double or twin rooms, all with private facilities. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home!
The Lodge has a Wi-Fi connection although due to its remoteness phone signals can be patchy.
- Stunning, private location with spacious on-site parking
- A mixture of single, twin and double en-suite rooms
- 100% organic white bed linen & towels provided
- In house chefs providing home-cooked, locally sourced cuisine
- Large farmhouse dining room where we eat our meals together
- Spectacular two-tier lounge with views to surrounding mountains
- Set amongst 120 acres of rewilding reserve
- Free WiFi throughout the lodge
THE BIG PICTURE
- By booking a 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.
- Whilst we realise it’s not always possible to travel by public transport, we offer a £25 cashback scheme to anyone travelling by train or bus to help cut down our carbon footprint.
- We supply all our guests with a complimentary reusable water bottle and limit our use of single-use plastic wherever possible.
- A native tree will be planted on behalf of every guest in our woodland grove operated by Trees For Life.
WHAT OUR GUESTS THINK
"Good guide, good food, spectacular views and wildlife."