A journey of rewilding across the spectacular Scottish Highlands.
- Explore Highland glens for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares.
- Discover the Caledonian Forest, home to red squirrels and pine martens.
- Visit secluded wetlands 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.
- Relax in our mountain lodge and dine on delicious food.
- Receive a complimentary digital copy of our landmark book: SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey.
The Scottish Highlands is home to some of the UK's most spectacular landscapes and best-loved wildlife.
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.
Rewilding is taking hold across large parts of the Highlands 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. This season brings new wildlife watching opportunities with ospreys back on their nests and the long summer evenings allowing the best chance for a glimpse of recently reintroduced beavers. Many animals are busy collecting food for their young and early summer is one of the key times of the year for fantastic wildlife watching opportunities.
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 start our retreat by exploring our surroundings with a walk through our 120-acre rewilding reserve and watch our local pair of ospreys. 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.
On the rugged west coast we look for white-tailed eagles, now prospering throughout more of Scotland. We visit the Black Isle in search of reintroduced red kites and the world's most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins. In rich Caledonian Forest, 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 once persecuted.
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.
This retreat is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands. We will search for some amazing wildlife and learn about a broad spectrum of rewilding initiatives along the way.
Day 7: We say our farewells after breakfast on Friday.
|DATES: 30 May - 5 Jun 2020||GUIDES: James Shooter||STATUS: Fully Booked||JOIN RESERVE LIST|
|DATES: 6-12 Jun 2020||GUIDES: James Shooter||STATUS: Almost Full||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 to 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 in the Highlands and you should expect anything from warm, calm conditions to wintry squalls. Temperatures are likely to range from 10c to 20c with the possibility of strong winds.
On warm, calm days midges can be present at this time of year. We suggest you bring a suitable repellent.
James is an award-winning nature photographer, filmmaker and guide with a passion for rewilding. He is one of the directors at SCOTLAND: The Big Picture and manages Rewilding Escapes. Here he enjoys taking small groups of people into spectacular locations, in search of amazing wildlife 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:
30 May - 5 Jun 2020
6-12 Jun 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
“This exciting and superbly organised retreat has really exceeded our expectations in so many ways.”
"James was a fountain of knowledge on the geography and wildlife encountered.”
"Very comfortable accommodation in a quiet and wonderful location surrounded by nice walks and only the sounds of nature. Could not have asked for more.”
"The whole week was an incredible experience and I enjoyed everything about it. It was well planned and organised.”
"WOW! What a week! An inspirational cocktail of nature experiences and learning."