- Relax in our mountain lodge and dine on delicious home-cooked food
- Hike through the inspiring landscapes of the Cairngorms Connect area
- Immerse yourself in the Caledonian Forest and search for its special wildlife along the way
- Learn about landscape-scale conservation whilst exploring this important project
- Receive a complimentary digital copy of our landmark book: SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey
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 bog, tranquil wetlands and secret woodland bogs. 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.
There must be no better way to immerse yourself in nature, than on foot. During this action-packed week of adventure, we’ll be walking through some of the wildest landscapes in Britain.
What our guests think
WOW! What a week! An inspirational cocktail of nature experiences and learning.
Dates: 4-10 Jul 2020
Location: Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
Single Supplement: £0
Group Size: 8
Guide: James Shooter
Cost Includes: 6 nights accommodation in an en-suite room; all meals; transport during the 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: Our walks will coincide with a number of visits to inspiring rewilding projects where we’ll hear first-hand from the experts on the ground. The majority of our walks will be focused on the Cairngorms Connect project area. This is the UK’s largest landscape-scale restoration project. Here we’ll be immersed in some truly wild and regenerating landscapes such as Glenfeshie, Glenmore and Abernethy Forest. We will walk through primeval forests, dramatic glens and alongside sparkling highland lochs keeping an eye out for some of the area’s best-known wildlife, including ospreys, eagles and red squirrels.
If the weather suits, we may set our alarm clocks early one morning for an optional sunrise hike. This can be one of the loveliest times of the day and there can be no better way to enjoy a peaceful walk to the tune of the dawn chorus in early golden light.
This retreat offers the chance to learn about one of the most important conservation projects happening today, whilst exploring these wild landscapes by foot.
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, 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.
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: 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 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 of our walks will be between 5 and 10 miles per day on good paths and tracks, but the terrain can sometimes be uneven and potentially wet and slippery. Several of the walks will include going to higher ground and you should be of good fitness and comfortable with hillwalking whilst being able to carry your own pack that includes extra layers, lunch, water and any personal items you may require.
Weather is very changeable in the Highlands and you should be prepared for several seasons in one day! From calm and balmy to erratic and squally with sleety showers, especially at higher ground. Temperatures are likely to range from 5c to 20c with the possibility of strong winds. This is all part of the adventure!
On warm calm days, midges can be present at this time of year. We suggest you bring a suitable repellent.
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 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 the Rewilding Escapes woodland grove operated by Trees For Life.