Alladale Wilderness Reserve
THE HIGHLANDS, SCOTLAND
Extensive, remote and wild estate in the Scottish Highlands for back-to-nature retreats in cosy, traditional accommodation.
From £2,750 per week
IN A NUTSHELL
Sitting in isolated splendour, and surrounded by 23,000 acres of dramatic mountains, gorse-clad hills and icy, black lochs, this wilderness reserve venue in Scotland offers a lodge, two high-end cottages and a more remote bunkhouse for superb get-away-from-it-all retreats. With its 100 square kilometres of private estate, Alladale's rugged surroundings are the perfect base for hiking, biking, yoga, fishing, photography and conservation retreats, as well as business retreats and more. You'll be looked after by enthusiastic staff, passionate about the reserve and the local area.
INDOOR RETREAT SPACES
There's a brilliant yoga or workshop space at Eagle's Crag cottage on the estate, and the large sitting room, smaller meeting room and dining room at Alladale Lodge all make perfect workshop spaces for different needs - the meeting room can also accommodate eight mats for yoga practice if needed.
Alladale Lodge has a small private gym and an attractive sauna area. The sauna seats up to four people at a time, and separate showers and changing rooms can be found just across the hall. Close by there is also a dedicated massage room.
Twenty yoga mats, blocks, straps and blankets are available, as well as white boards, flip charts and other workshop necessities. Writing materials are also offered for those wanting to take notes or people on writing retreats.
OUTDOOR RETREAT SPACES
The Highland wilderness is on your doorstep, with hiking and mountain biking routes, and, depending on the season and water volume, two rivers to swim in, so you can truly enjoy the great outdoors. The grounds are carefully manicured, and blend beautifully into the forests beyond. Expect to see deer nibbling the lawn.
The 12 bedrooms can accommodate up to 20 people when Alladale Lodge and the cottages - Ghillie's Rest and Eagle's Crag - are all used. In total, 12 singles are available, along with 11 doubles, nine twins and a dorm that sleeps four. Ten of the bedrooms have a private bathroom, while two have shared bathrooms.
Deanich Lodge has five shared rooms with a mix of single beds and bunk beds. Varying in size, from large suites to smaller doubles, some with baths, some with only showers, the bedrooms in the lodge are traditional and comfortable, with good quality wooden furniture and tartan and tweed decor. Warm throws are provided, and in the bathrooms you'll find organic toiletries made from wild harvested ingredients.
Ghillie's Rest is remote, and can accommodate up to eight people with two doubles and two twin bedrooms. There is a large main bedroom on the ground floor, and a comfortable twin or double on the first floor, and a large, shared bathroom.
Eagle's Crag can also sleep eight, and offers two spacious ground floor main bedrooms, each with its own large wet room. On the first floor, there's a large attic room, also with its own bathroom.
There is an array of interesting studies, libraries and lounges in both the main house and the lodges in the grounds where you can hang out and chill.
In Alladale Lodge, you'll find a well-proportioned sitting room with a log fire, sofas and sturdy armchairs, and a large dining room, appropriately lit by stag antler chandeliers in the evenings.
There's also a small television room and a snooker room, along with a drying room, where a collection of wellies, walking boots, walking sticks and waterproofs are kept for guests to borrow.
Many guests take themselves off for a "solo day" - a silent day out on the reserve, with no phone and no books. The goal is to be self-reliant, immersed in nature with your own thoughts.
Or you might choose to stay closer to your base and wander round the Aquaponics Vegetable Garden, the reserve's zero waste food production system.
Go wild swimming in the two rivers, take guided hikes or go foraging for food.
Rangers are on hand for advice, routes and guidance, and will also give you a tour of the re-wilding project on the reserve, which has been restored from a barren landscape to its former glory.
Mountain bikes are available for those who want to explore the area on two wheels, and there are facilities for clay pigeon shooting.
Treatments, such as massages or facials, can be arranged with fully-certified therapists from the local town of Dornoch. You can also get a hair cut and a manicure on site and use the sauna and gym.
Within an hour's drive you can reach beautiful beaches, historic castles and world-class golf courses.
A private chef is available, and menus are low on meat and high on veggies. Local, seasonal, high quality ingredients are used to create flavoursome dishes. Homegrown venison, which is lean and ethically-sourced, is a favourite. No pork, chicken or farmed salmon are served, and the trout on the menu is at the end of its life cycle. Vegetarian and vegan options are available and any dietary requirements can be discussed before arrival.
There's a single table seating 20 in Alladale Lodge's grand, traditional dining room. For al fresco eating, tables can be set up outside Alladale Lodge or you might prefer a picnic on the lawn or at a remote picnic spot, reachable only with a 4x4. Barbecues are another option.
Each of the cottages has its own eating space. Ghillie's dining room overlooks Glen Alladale, while Eagle's dining area connects to its living room and boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve hopes guests on nature-based retreats will get involved with conservation and embrace a sustainable way of living, as well as taking part in rewilding projects. To date, some 800,000 trees have been planted.
As well as rewilding vast areas, the reserve aims to keep deer numbers down to below five per square kilometre, allowing for natural tree regeneration. It also checks on all flora and fauna found in the reserve. Several species have been reintroduced, including the red squirrel and Scottish wild cat.
Ingredients from the Alladale estate are used in products which are developed and promoted, and veg from the zero-waste aquaponics garden, fertilised by fish, are used in the kitchens. To eliminate supply chain miles, food is sourced locally, where possible, with organic, fair trade and direct trade options sought out. Animal products are sourced only from abundant species, and the reserve is committed to self-sufficiency with its own organic produce.
Alladale works closely with the local community and collaborates with small, sustainable local businesses, as well as promoting them with the reserve's guests. Staff are recruited locally, and training schemes and work experience placements are offered.
Any extra electricity produced by hydroelectricity is fed back into the local grid. Plastics use is kept to a minimum, and single use plastics aren't tolerated.
Water quality and waste water in Alladale's system of septic tanks is continuously monitored before being allowed back into streams and rivers.
The rewilding programme that aims to bring back ancient flora, fauna and animal species, like the Scottish wild cat, that have all but disappeared; the remoteness of the lodge; heart-stopping mountain views.
The Less Than Ordinary
The hugely unreliable weather - brilliant sunshine one minute, hail, mist, drizzle, rain the next; midges can be plentiful, depending on when you visit.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve