Discover the story of the UK’s largest landscape scale restoration project.
- Immerse yourself in the wild landscapes of Cairngorms Connect.
- Learn about the importance of large scale ecosystems.
- Watch local ospreys - an icon of conservation success.
- Witness the comeback of the Caledonian Forest.
- 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.
During this weekend retreat, we’ll explore the landscapes and wildlife of Cairngorms Connect, Britain's biggest habitat restoration initiative. Cairngorms Connect is a partnership of neighbouring land managers, committed to a bold and ambitious 200-year vision to enhance habitats, species and ecological processes across a vast area within the Cairngorms National Park.
The Cairngorms Connect area stretches over 600 square kilometres - it is a landscape of superlatives. Ancient woodlands intersected by sparkling rivers and lochs, encircle an Arctic-like mountain massif – the most extensive and wildest of its kind in Britain. There are vast tracts of blanket bogs, tranquil wetlands and secret woodlands. It is a place where eagles soar, wildcats prowl and red squirrels forage; home to plants, insects, birds and mammals found in few other places.
Day 1: After arrival and introductions, we enjoy our first meal together before an after-dinner presentation setting the scene for our adventure.
Day 2-3: We’ll explore the rewilding reserve at Ballintean, our base for the weekend, and search for the local ospreys that nest alongside the river. Next door lies the acclaimed Glenfeshie Estate and we'll take a walk alongside the braided river to see first hand, a landscape recovering after decades of over-grazing. This is an area that encapsulates what rewilding can achieve given the chance. We take a private cruise on a nearby loch and discover the importance of Insh Marshes, one of the country's most important wetland habitats with a variety of breeding waders and lined by nationally important stands of aspen.
During the retreat, we’ll visit some of the best remnants of the Caledonian Forest, where a new and exciting approach is seeing the forest expand benefitting red squirrels, crested tit and Britain's largest grouse, the capercaillie. We'll get up close with red squirrels and spend an evening watching badgers and pine martens from a dedicated hide.
This Wilderness Weekend will provide a fantastic insight into one of the UK's most exciting nature-recovery projects, whilst immersing yourself in spectacular scenery and searching for some of Scotland's iconic wildlife along the way.
Day 4: We say our farewells after breakfast on Monday.
|DATES: 15-18 May 2020||GUIDES: James Shooter||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
Single supplement: £0
- 3 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 5c to 15c with the possibility of strong winds.
Midges aren’t usually an issue at this time of year but can be present on calm, mild days. 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:
15-18 May 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 to 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.